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A way to revive the city. Detroit Revival Project

Dobrawa Bies
26 of February '21

A number of projects by Polish architecture students made it into the finals of the Detroit Waterfront District competition. This time we present the concept of Martyna Podrazka and Michal Skowronski from the Warsaw University of Technology. Inspired by nature, the authors proposed extending the theme of the competition to the whole of Detroit, creating a green city.

The task of the competition organized by YAC was to design a complex containing mixed-use space with a diverse theme: office, service, apartment and hotel. The main requirement was to propose appropriate architecture that would respond to the problems facing Detroit and become an inspiration for the city's future development.

Waterfront Detroit

Detroit's waterfront with a green district

© Martyna Podrażka, Michal Skowronski

Detroit Waterfront District is a competition promoted by the Manni Group in cooperation with the Sterling Group, the task was to be an opportunity to design a set of buildings redefining the city's skyline. Creating a new symbol of the rebirth of one of the most iconic and controversial cities in the history of the United States of America.

Zielone Detroit

Students designed Detroit's new green district

© Martyna Podrażka, Michal Skowronski

Detroit Revival

The definition of the word revival is not clearly defined, while it combines many other concepts in effect bringing us to one main thought - the future. Thus, when thinking about the future of the city, we must also delve into its past. Distinctive features, original elements, unique buildings. While analyzing the historical fabric of Detroit, we came to some interesting information about its beginnings. What shaped this city and initiated its development? Factories - brick, steel-framed and simple structures. A unique architectural detail is the arched window finials on the top floor of the buildings. Revival also means a state of renewal, new life, growth. Detroit's rebirth understood as the growth of new tissue, planting new life and watching it grow. The shoots of sown plants symbolize new buildings being built in the heart of the city complementing its tree canopy, which is a symbol of the skyline, the authors explain.

Zielone miasto
Detroit

The creation of the green district encouraged the authors to expand the concept to the scale of the entire city

© Martyna Podrażka, Michał Skowroński

inspired by nature

Inspired by the symbolism of the newly planted tree, the students created the design of the Detroit neighborhood.

In the words of the young architects:

The sprouting and rising seed refers to the tallest object in the entire designed complex. As it grows, the tree's shoots cast the earth aside to climb upward. Our premise is a representation of this process. The tree is a symbol of life, and represents a combination of three stages of development: the lower one, understood as the past, the middle one - the present, and the upper one - the future [...]. The concept is to be inscribed in the skyline - the tree stand of Detroit.

Zielone miasto, plan Rzuty budynków inspirowane
naturą

The streamlined shapes are a reference to the cross-section of the tree rings and the growth of branches

© Martyna Podrażka, Michał Skowroński

The neighborhood's location gave students the opportunity to complement the skyline, but also to extend it. Inspired by the cross-section of the tree, the distribution of its rings and the irregular grid, they designed the development and shaped its form and the position of the surrounding vegetation. Streamlined shapes increase the usable area, while numerous green terraces bring nature into the city and serve as its green lungs. The vegetation that overgrows them is adapted to the climatic conditions of the state of Michigan.

Wnętrze luksusowego
hotelu

Also, the designed buildings take an organic form

© Martyna Podrażka, Michal Skowronski

green city

The creation of the green district encouraged the authors to extend the concept to the scale of the entire city. The heart of the entire premise is the designed district, from which green belts spread organically, symbolizing the roots of the tree and connecting the entire city. The introduced greenery serves as public space, which includes streets, sidewalks, squares, plazas, parks and a promenade along the river. Green belts connect the city's most important facilities, facilitating communication between them. New developments placed in close proximity to the river are favorably exposed by surrounding vegetation and enhanced by green terraces.

In the finals of the Detroit Waterfront District were also students from Gdansk University of Technology with the Spectrum project, and an honorable mention was given to the project by a team from Poznan University of Technology.

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