Though I’m not sure that “decorating” is the correct term (my vocabulary is failing me right now), I know that this idea has come up a number of times in various discussions on what to do with the houses on Indian Road, and other abandoned properties throughout the city. Doing something like painting the boards over the windows on abandoned buildings highlights them in a way that helps to keep them from fading into the periphery, while also arguably helping to raise the aesthetic of the surrounding area.
A similar project involving literally highlighting urban blight that’s probably more well-known was the Detroit Demolition Disneyland series of interventions where buildings marked for demolition by the city of Detroit were painted bright orange by an anonymous group. I think it worked for what is was, though the issue is entirely different than what’s going on here in Windsor.
So, do we need to consider tackling the vacant property throughout the city? I would be curious to figure out just how many vacancies we face, but beyond that, does a project like the one above, which is in Liverpool, do anything else other than decorate the neighbourhood, and is that enough?
[via Wooster Collective]
4 Replies to “Highlighting / Decorating Derelict Buildings”
More than Indian Road, I would like to see the vacant burned out houses dealt with. There is one in my area that’s been a shell for 2.5 years now…
I think the Detroit Orange Paint Project was more about shaming the powers that be, than anything else.
Interesting questions. A little bit of shame directed at the bridge company and the city might not be a bad idea. But a big part of the problem, referring to Andrew’s comment as well, is the question of how to get developers interested in small scale investments in older, central neighbourhoods. How many empty lots are there where perhaps there was a fire years ago, but now there’s just grass that might get cut twice a year? (Jodi and I call these ghost houses, because usually the walkways and steps are still there.) Interventions might at least bring the city’s attention to the problem, but of course part of that problem is that the city seems to have no real development strategy that doesn’t involve megaprojects. Maybe the city could consider a rider on development projects such that for every $100K is invested in building something big, $5K has to be invested in something small.
Our neighbourhood is full of those ghost houses, and the burned-out places Andrew mentioned will become the same. Wouldn’t it be great if the city could offer start-up grants for small, community-focused business projects to happen in some of these spaces? Stuff like small rental garden plots, or a bike repair shop.
That reminds me, Justin: Garth Rennie was telling me about the Gateway Public Park below the old railway underpasses on Wyandotte and University and how a group of people hand-dug a terraced garden landscape as part of a charity project that ended up going belly-up before planting started. It’s ripe and ready to go and apparently off the city’s radar. Might be a good location to pitch a garden project to the city as the property (which might belong to the railway, actually?) stretches down to the riverfront.
Thanks for that term Peter and Jodi, “Ghost Houses,” I quite like it. I completely agree that it would be in the city’s interest to try to encourage some alternative use / development of these properties, whether it’s through a type of rider on other development as Peter mentioned, or highlighted as potentials through micro-grants from the city. In the meantime, a good strategy might be to target some commercial property that’s sitting vacant and trying to work out a really, really low lease to do some projects / studios / bike repair shops.
Thanks for reminding me of that terraced garden, Garth had mentioned it to me at Phog later that evening, but it had since slipped my mind. We at least need to take a look at this site, see what’s there, its accessibility, etc. Garth wasn’t sure, and I’d like to determine, whose property that falls on… I wonder if you might be right about it being the railways…
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