Sustainable Projects

Art and Sustainability Help Solve Foreclosure Problem in Detroit

Foreclosed and Abandoned houses are a real problem in Detroit but Power House Productions has proved that turning to art and the principles of sustainability can prove a viable solution.

Like many other houses in Motor City, following a foreclosure, the home that was to become project Power House had become a center of drug activity in the neighborhood. But that was until Gina Reichert and Mitch Cope, and architect and an artist, decided to get involved and take back their neighborhood. Right at the start of 2008’s financial crisis, the two bought and remodeled the foreclosed house with just $1,900, using financial grants. From a derelict building, the house really became a colorful Power House powered by solar and wind energy, aplace where members of the community could get together and find ways to help in an active way.

The Power House is an off-the-grid venue that produces its own electricity and heat, with the intention of powering another adjacent house. By becoming an example of self-reliance and sustainability, the Power House encouraged and empowered locals to take control of their community in the face of trouble. Since the stage of public remodeling and retrofitting, the artistic  development encouraged conversations and involvement within the neighborhood, turning a place that might otherwise have become a center of criminality and decay, into an art venue.

The success of the Power House, which is now used to host artists-in-residence, provide gallery space for visiting artists, and serve as a homebase for the community building programs of Power House Productions, has led to the purchase of eight other foreclosed houses and four vacant lots, in the same four block neighborhood. While helping restore and remodel the houses, visiting artists also use them as canvases for their work, and Reichert and Cope hope this inspires designers, artists and architects to buy Power House Production Houses or other homes in the area.

 

Photos via Design99

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