students experience Detroit from street level and above
School of Architecture hosted 12 students and two professors from
Ecole d’architecture de Paris Val de Seine, who came to Detroit
for three weeks last June to explore the city. The group not only
walked Detroit, they experienced it from cars, an airplane, by boat
and by train. For example, they walked the entire length of the
six radial avenues, from the center of downtown to the edges of
the city, and they flew over the avenues and other streets on a
One might wonder why they needed such an extensive look at the
city. The students, led by professors Nicola Borg-Pisani and Remi
Schnebelin, came here as part of a workshop to document the city
through photographs, videos and other audio and visual recording
devices. The workshop was organized by Kyong Park, who has joined
with the School of Architecture on many occasions and most recently
served as a visiting professor of urbanism.
Like early explorations of this area, but with new technologies,
this workshop allowed the students to discover their initial experience
of Detroit and its metro area. The students also explored the question
of "What is community?", and in doing so, collaborated
with three community groups in the city.
The visit culminated in a dialogue that allowed UDM colleagues
and the surrounding community to share their own ideas and dreams
on the future of the city and its environs. The French students
asked such questions as “How do you feel about bakeries, nature
walks, urban agriculture, public spaces, bookstores, cafes, health
clinics, community centers, pedestrian paths and recreational facilities?
" The goal of the discussion was to engage the community in
how individuals can become a vital force in determining the future,
planning the city and developing relations among different communities.
The French students took notes at the discussion and will create
visual representations based on the dialogue to be presented later