Venice, Italy – Grounds for Detroit is a collaborative installation by five young American practices working collectively: *Alibi Studio; Ellie Abrons with Adam Fure; MILLIGRAM-office; SCHAUM/SHIEH; and Thom Moran. The project is part of the 13th International Architecture Exhibition at the 2012 Biennale di Venezia, curated by David Chipperfield under the theme of Common Ground. In part, the installation revisits a collaborative project from 2010, where the five practices collectively bought the abandoned single-family house at 13178 Moran St. in Detroit, Michigan for $500 cash at public auction and constructed five distinct architectural interventions. The project is on view from August 29-November 25, 2012.
This House Is Not A Home. The plan of the lot at 13178 Moran Street, including the house, backyard and garage, is drawn directly on the gallery floor, revealing its prior condition as a domestic space with an intact kitchen, bathroom, dining room and bedrooms. A lightweight metal frame sits directly on the plan; with a partial covering of translucent fabric, the frame delineates the volumes of the house and partially exposes the five architectural installations designed and fabricated for this exhibition. The plan represents the past, where the installations suggest the possible architectural futures that Detroit’s abandoned houses can support.
Uncommon Practice. Collectively the group imported a single-family house and backyard into the Arsenale exhibition hall, within which each practice constructed a distinct project. As a model of contemporary practice, the project presents strategies of realization where, out of necessity, architecture is nimble, promiscuous and expedient. Compelled to negotiate the ever-changing circumstances presented by Detroit, the five practices operate as a loose collective—negotiating terms that allow for action in an unpredictable environment while maintaining room for individual sensibilities. 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 conditions of a city like Detroit.
Grounds For Detroit. Around the perimeter of the gallery, the project also includes a curated collection of recent work by twelve architects, artists, and writers working in and on Detroit. This includes videos, audio recordings, photographs, drawings, models and texts that present the unique working conditions that Detroit makes possible for architecture. Together, the work highlights new dispositions toward practice, new models of collectivity, novel imaginings for the city’s discarded matter, and propositions for community action.
FAR TOP: Ellie Abrons with Adam Fure, Stubble Step. A voluminous canopy drapes from above, enclosing the interior and amplifying its textural richness.
TOP LEFT: Ellie Abrons & Adam Fure, Stubble Step. Concentrated areas of lavish material treatment scatter across the stepped form, creating rich moments of haptic saturation.
TOP RIGHT: MILLIGRAM-office, Site Double. Site Double seen through the entrance to the Grounds for Detroit gallery.
BOTTOM RIGHT: SCHAUM/SHIEH, About Face. About Face is an entry, stair, and room that cuts diagonally upwards and pierces the roof-plane of the house, to suggest new types of access, views, and inhabitation in the transformation of domestic spaces.
BOTTOM LEFT: Catie Newell, UNLIT. Accentuating the dark volumes captured throughout Detroit as a result of boarding up spaces, Unlit conceptually imports the light leaks from the original garage created throughAccentuating the darklumes captured throughout Detroit as a result of boarding up spaces, Unlit conceptually imports the light leaks from the original garage created through a delicate yet aggressive wooden texture striving for sublime darkness.
About The Architects:
Ellie Abrons is a designer based in Ann Arbor, MI. (ellieabrons.com)
SIFT is a collaborative design practice based in Ann Arbor MI led by Adam Fure. (siftstudio.com)
Catie Newell is the founding principal of *Alibi Studio, based in Detroit. (cathlynnewell.com)
MILLIGRAM-office is the architecture practice of Meredith Miller and James Graham, based in Ann Arbor, MI and New York, NY. (milligram-office.net)
Thom Moran is a designer based in Ann Arbor, MI. (thommoran.us)
SCHAUM/SHIEH is the architecture practice of Troy Schaum and Rosalyne Shieh, based in Houston, TX and Ann Arbor, MI. (schaumshieh.com)
This project was realized with the support of:
Office of the Vice President for Research, University of Michigan
Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning, University of Michigan
Rice School of Architecture