A Country Vibe in the City

Detroit. (2023) Ongoing

A Country Vibe in the City is a sustainable, accessible, and affordable community within a community. This Detroit neighborhood was once densely populated with single-family homes, but due to disinvestment and racial discrimination, it has been demolished into a rural area with a few boarded up homes, dumping grounds, reclaimed lots for local farmers, and a few legacy Detroiters that have remained in solidarity with one another. As such, this project contributes to existing neighbors remaining in their homes, rather than being displaced by rising rent costs.

The design focuses on increasing agency, accessibility, and ownership where people share in building their community through stewardship. In addition to fixed-income rental homes, shared resources designed throughout: a tool library, community agriculture in partnership with the existing urban farmers in the area, and everyday needs such as laundry, cooking, and childcare will be co-located in communal spaces.

The first phase is the rehabilitation of an existing single-family home into a YouthBuild Learning Center, where youth with disabilities learn entrepreneurial skills around real estate and construction. This notion of self-sufficiency and creative and economic development extends into every aspect of how this project is conceived. Many of the residents will live on fixed incomes; hence, sustainable infrastructure reduces their living expenses, while a portion of the sell-back profits go towards the existing neighbors. The individual home design and shared recreational spaces focuses on intergenerational relationships, aging-in-place, and the needs of dis/abled folks and their caregivers. 

The site itself is politically and environmentally contentious. Located next to a major automotive plant, the residents have high levels of asthma and other health impacts from air pollution. Additionally, due to the lack of investment in stormwater infrastructure, this area experiences frequent and devastating flooding. Lastly, we are challenging zoning regulations and parcel structures in order to provide a diverse community within a community.