Rethinking the Role & Site of Social Services: Mike Kelley’s Suburban Home at MOCAD

Image via Artlog

Michelle and I visited this project when it first appeared at MOCAD back in 2010, and it’s incredible to see the next phase of this, just announced as a massive new addition to the project in Detroit that seems possibly not unlike Project Row Houses, but with a distinct Detroit feel.

From the article on Curbed:

The installation will be a replica of Kelley’s childhood home in the suburbs which will be used to provide social services to Detroit residents. Kelley himself oversaw the first stage of the project in 2010, when a mobile-home version of the suburban dwelling made a maiden voyage from downtown Detroit to visit the original Kelley home in the suburbs. The video of this, completed just before he died, is what premiered at the Whitney Biennial yesterday. Kelley’s idea was to create a symbolic reversal of the white flight that occurred in Detroit in the 1960s.

From the NYTimes article:

It will function nothing like a traditional museum or gallery and will show none of Mr. Kelley’s work, at his own insistence. The mobile-home part will remain detachable and will sometimes take its leave of the rest and journey through Detroit. The home as a whole will operate as an unconventional community service office, providing things like haircuts, social services, meeting space and a place to hold barbecues and perhaps for the homeless to pick up mail. “We’re thinking that our education staff will actually move out to the homestead and work from there,” said Marsha Miro, the acting director of the contemporary art museum.

It’s really curious to think about a long-term project like this being launched by an artist and carried forward (posthumously) by a museum, not to mention the complications of the politics of the architecture itself. I’m not sure what it will mean for the community immediately surrounding MOCAD, but it’s an incredible example to point to in terms of how we might rethink a number of institutions that provide social services.

I Never Grew out of Liking Tree Houses

Here is an interesting alternative to a conventional patio; all it needs is a barbecue. Who else would want to hang out in this tree house during the summer months? Unfortunately I can’t find the source of this image, but it was found on Inhabitat. I’m pretty psyched to work on our upcoming wooden letters by the way!

12 Container House

This house, made of 12 shipping containers, is included in Han Slawik’s book Container Atlas. I’m sure most people have heard of the concept of container houses in passing, but haven’t had the chance to see a successful example in detail. This particular example is pretty lavish, but the idea of using recycled structures as a shell for a home is a brilliant example of an alternative–and pretty sustainable–building technique. According to the book, this method has also been used for public buildings and small offices.

Via: We Make Money, Not Art

Continue reading “12 Container House”

The Artist, The Good Neighbour


Theaster Gates is an artist, an activist, a community instigator and organizer, a repairman, a homeowner, and a believer in the importance of a neighbourhood. His art practice, which sits somewhere between and amongst all of those titles all at once has led to him buying an old candy store in Chicago’s South Side and beginning to renovate it into a home and a cultural anchor.


At the corner of 69th and Dorchester, Gates’ home / workspace became a hub for neighbourhood activity. He says that, “As the neighbors grew more interested, I decided to allow them to assist, when possible and have given classes, workshops, public dinners and even exhibitions in the space. Dorchester has been an informal lab for social and community experiment.”

His decision to stay and work in his city has become a catalyst for other activity, and a reason for other people to stay as well. So, I can’t help but feel that we probably need to find even more ways to turn the BCL HQ into a hub of even more activity before something else in the balance collapses and we lose the space. Maybe we need to have weekly sleepovers?

[via Art21]

Memory Lane


Scott Wayne Indiana set out on Memorial Day to map out the floor plan of his childhood home to try to coax some memories from the space.

Using public space for a large-scale mapping project might be an interesting way to work with some of the long grass around the city. Of course, putting something like masking tape down would be lost, but making paths by walking through the grass might be a different way of thinking about it. I want to spend more time outside soon.

[via Wooster Collective]

Work Worth Doing

Now House

Work Worth Doing is an interdisciplinary design studio working to understand the intersection of design, society, and the environment. They’ve been working on retrofitting wartime homes with sustainable design and technologies, getting them down to zero energy use through affordable practices. This model would be a no-brainer for any city, but particular Windsor, which has a huge number of neighbourhoods scattered with wartime bungalows. It’s also similar to the Green Corridor’s Ecohouse initiative, which is still underway.

Oh, and by the way, this is happening in Windsor.

The Windsor Essex Community Housing Corporation has 125 wartime homes in their portfolio of social housing. The Now House Project team is working with Windsor Essex CHC to design the retrofit of five houses in their portfolio to net zero energy use and greatly reduced operating costs. The houses would serve as demonstrations for the possible retrofit of the other wartime homes in the portfolio. Work Worth Doing is the head consultant on this project in Windsor, which will also involve St. Clair College students, and maybe also University of Windsor students.

Indian Road

Broken City Lab presents preliminary documentation of a section of Indian Road, a street located immediately west of the Ambassador Bridge in Windsor, Ontario. This area is one of our potential research sites. Ideas?

Stencil Demo/BBQ

I am going to do a run-though of stencil making skillz, AKA technique, material, etc for spray paint.

Friday July 11th 2008

4:30pm-?? Michelle’s backyard


+an exacto knife and an image you want to make into a stencil

+anyone else who wants to see the demo and enjoy my sweet backyard

+food if you don’t want veggie burgers

EMAIL: for the house address

feel free to come out and get your stencil on, hope to see you there! -Michelle.



Michelle going stencil crazy