Finding Opportunity in Unexpected Places

By: Emma Lyne Pouch

            Traveling takes you to the places you’ve always dreamed of seeing, the sites you have only been able to experience through pictures and settings that you only come across when wandering. Often times we are not prepared for the journey before us and something takes us completely by surprise. In my most recent travels to Venice, the Biennale was that experience that continued to take my breathe away as I turned every corner and ventured through each individual exhibit.  They succeeded in finding the perfect combination of lighting, materials, media and arrangement that kept my camera snapping and my eyes focused on each project, yet excited for what was still to come. The exhibition that undoubtedly captured my attention was Grounds for Detroit due to the way it took a single space and gave it a new rendition showing the opportunity to a part of the city in decay.
            This project began with five architects coming together and buying an abandoned single-family house located at 13178 Moran Street in Detroit. The house cost $500 paid in cash at auction and from there they let their minds wander and discover the potential of what that space could be. What we see of this project is not a livable home but concepts to give a new perspective to the existing. As you walk into the space you notice on the floor the original plans revealing the earlier condition. In this we see the kitchen, dining room, bathroom and bedrooms that are outlined with a metal frame to represent the past as the new interiors put forward the ideas for the future.
            It is in these interior spaces where I find the most intriguing elements. They take shaping space to a new level giving it an entirely new purpose. Upon entering the exhibit we find on our right an outline of what was once a garage implied by a delicate yet dark form floating in space and casting shadows on the ground below.  It is mysterious and haunting, resembling the run down feel of the current condition of the neighborhoods near Moran Street in Detroit. But as we look to the left we see a house suggested by the mesh-covered frame, yet the first thing my eye noticed was the variety in materials. The sculpture like space creates an abstract form with forced perspective and opposing walls of wood and mirrors with slats that challenge the mind and make you question what is actually before you. As you walk around the space you find each room filled with new materials, colors and perspective that leave you wondering, “What is this?” We may not understand at first glance but it isn’t supposed to be easy. It is to spark new ideas and create a spirit for a place that is dead. To make us rethink what has so long been set in stone when giving purpose to space. This select group of architects molds a space to form future opportunities.
            To conclude this exhibit the back walls that you view before leaving this space supplies a collection of different medias that show the real transformation happening in Detroit. They put on display the new approach of architectural practice and reveal how our imagination can revitalize a city. In Diego Hernandez’s blog he states, “Architecture is cast as a means rather than an ends- a means to finding opportunity rather than solving problems- a technique that resonates with the contemporary condition of a city like Detroit.”


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