Last year, three Dutch architecture students spent their holiday in Detroit. Watching the way the city’s residents contended with faulty infrastructure, disinvested neighborhoods, emergency management, water shutoffs, and tax foreclosures, these twentysomething scholars were impressed. They’ve decided to take a year off from education to put some of their ideas into practice — and doing some good for Detroiters in the process.
The students, Bob Hendrikx, 22, Dominik Lukkes, 23, and Ronen Dan, 22, say that, despite the hardships residents faced, they picked up on Detroiters’ “positive energy” and were inspired by the way city residents have “developed a strong do-it-yourself culture, in which they make use of the available space, materials and freedom.” As designers grappling with the issues of climate change and sustainable building technologies, they know all to well that innovations that help reduce energy consumption and lower household utility bills are often so expensive that only the well-to-do can afford them.
So the trio joined forces with a few other students from the Netherlands, setting out to test their ideas and ideals by purchasing a building and rehabilitating it into a model of self-sufficiency. The group has purchased a home on Detroit’s west side, at 1995 Ford St. The project of radically remaking the house is called “the Motown Movement.” Illustrations of the plans for the house include vegetable gardens, solar power arrays, a turf roof and a wind turbine.
In the end, they envision it will be part environmental showcase, part business incubator, part community center hosting free workshops, and part home, with a living space given to a Detroit family that has lost its home due to tax foreclosures.
The group will be working with Detroit-based nonprofits, such as Focus: Hope, EcoWorks and the Greening of Detroit, but is eagerly seeking more collaborators, from local nonprofits to businesses and contractors in the immediate vicinity of the house.
Another product of the endeavor will be a website, which they will use to share low-budget and do-it-yourself methods with educators, researchers, suppliers and neighbors. They hope it helps Detroiters learn more about how to reduce utility costs and aid in the global fight against climate change, while making sustainable housing more accessible for everyone.
Want to learn more or help the Motown Movement? Get in touch by calling 313-204-5572 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. See the website at themotownmovement.com.