Build a Chair =
Reframe a House

In Detroit, diverse individuals, groups, and organizations are currently renovating thousands of vacant houses purchased from the Detroit Land Bank Authority (DLBA) into livable homes for themselves and their communities. How can architecture contribute to this milieu of construction?

Building on more than a year of conversations with homeowners, city officials, and community organizers, Build a Chair = Reframe a House is an engagement workshop that connects skillbuilding with design imagination. 

Architecture is Relationship Building

Detroit residents have already created incredible formal and informal support networks, including YouTube channels, material salvage centers, instruction manuals, and social media bulletin boards. In designing the workshop, we sought to mirror the way we see architecture as a means to build relationships. Build a Chair = Reframe a House allowed us to bring in community partners who provide both resources and knowledge.

Models are Tools

The workshop also explores the capabilities of architectural models as attractors and tools for learning. Participants are guided through the steps of building HOUSE-CHAIR, designed to teach fundamental skills for framing the walls, floors, and roof of a house. Afterwards, participants can inhabit HOUSE-WORLDS, an augmented reality environment that extends the use of the physical chair into imaginative virtual scenarios.

Every aspect of the workshop was designed to create a new collective experience, including participant engagement, community partners involvement, workshop layout and choreography, and narrative and communication. Advancing the workshop format would allow us to demonstrate that architects can serve people that the profession has historically not reached, as well as celebrate and uplift Detroit and other American cities as places for alternative stories of development.

Workshop Proposal, Narrative, Planning, and Outreach: De Peter Yi
House-Chair Design, Construction, and Manual: Laura Marie Peterson
House-Worlds Augmented Reality and Set Design: Cyrus Peñarroyo
Team Members: Owen Sims, Mardy Hillengas, Akash Dhanturi, Stephanie Rosas, Heather Cheng
Photography: Yojairo Lomeli
Workshop Partners and Support: Engage Michigan at the University of Michigan, Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Design, Carhartt Workshop Detroit, Architectural Salvage Warehouse of Detroit, Detroit Land Bank Authority, James and Grace Lee Boggs Center

Press: Model D Detroit, Architect’s Newspaper

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