Michael Kennedy

It seems about the right time to look at how we might re-use and re-purpose our understanding of housing types and patterns of living  as both investigatory and design tools.

The studio embraced these processes-in-transition, using both types and patterns towards twin goals: to study programmatic relationships based on shifting dynamics of domestic and family life and to understand how housing types might adapt themselves to new demands of a changing urbanism in Detroit.

The primary studio focus was to explore the spatial and social design opportunities that arise from designing housing for use by occupants across generations.

When we speak of inter-generational or multi-generational living what comes to mind?

Perhaps it is the ‘classic’ ideal of a multi-generational household when three generations of a family live together: Grandparents, Adult Children and Grandchildren.  In our current time, complex social and culture conditions suggest that other inter-generational living arrangements are a lively part of our world.

As the studio refined new pattern / program networks, we turned to reconsidering construction and building systems, materials and methods to deploy on our Townsend Street site.

Following our re-look at patterns and types we began to review architectural elements looking for new means to readapt Semper’s original four to design challenges framed by contemporary urbanism and intergenerational living.  How might the intertwined elements of hearth, mound, roof and screen  be reconsidered in material and assembly terms?  How might the development of the site landscape be considered an equal partner to this timeless quartet?

The two projects which represent the studio work were selected for exhibit as they display the designers’ depth in developing site and life pattern networks that create a flexible and accommodating arrangement of spaces that equally frame, inspire and comfort the residents across the changing range and seasons of their lives.

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Student Work

S Britain + JC Bradberry + S Chizmadia “Overlaps”

Our proposal aimed to explore the usage of gradient, rhythm, and threshold in service of the revitalized Detroit neighborhood. We sought to use materials and cultural elements from the Great Lakes Region, building with a mix of modern CLT and glass with traditional stone construction. Harmonizing with the existing rhythm of the lots, urban grain, and the street, we designed the possibilities of a communal space rather than designing for a singular purpose.

We sought gentle transitions between public and private through threshold, warmth and safety through material, and playfully layered light and views.  These spaces helped define soft boundaries separating different patterns of life.

We sought to explore inter-generational living and the POSSIBILITIES of community. Through adjacency and transition, we aimed to help define what it really means to be a member of the neighborhood.

Specifically, we were interested in a mixing of modern and traditional materials, the experience that those materials create, the concept of surfaces and layering, and a balance of stacked living spaces with an array of natural and built communal spaces. We explored our project as the combination of four key elements:


We explored threshold through gardens, how that impacts one’s perceptions of the space they are in.  We explored threshold through layering, how spaces are always relationally connected, and how visual interruption can help enhance that connection.

We explored threshold through transitions, material to material haptics and phenomenology that helped us highlight the importance material has in creating space.

Bruna IunesSanches + Benjamin Alexander + Zach Effa “Rethinking a Corner in Detroit”

With our site at the intersection of Kercheval and Townsend Streets, we were interested in exploring new spatial and programmatic solutions in order to redevelop a prominent corner condition in Detroit, where a smaller residential street intersects with a wider commercial boulevard. With an emphasis on intergenerational needs, “Rethinking a Corner in Detroit” provides a carefully designed community with a range of spatial propositions, from semi-public to fully private. The project contains two typologies in order to accommodate the needs of multiple generations while providing a wider range of neighborhood accessibility. An open, street-facing terrace apartment that provides residence for smaller families, and a more private, garden-facing sideyard apartment that provides residence for larger, non-nuclear intergenerational families. The variety of spaces maintains a focus on green space, the kitchen as the center, and maintaining lines of view between the inside and outside. It does this through the use of a privacy gradient, created by the relationship of frontages that respond to the street conditions the typologies are located on. After an extensive study of the neighboring sites and communities, we included three main programs, creating a new heart of the community: the small to middle sized residential units, small commercial spaces, and communal gardens. These drawings and images offer a look into the imagined life of our project in regard to those varied relationships and establish the need for well-considered design strategies that aim to reinvigorate Detroit communities and neighborhoods, one corner at a time.

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