As cramped as they sometimes feel, cities can be full of empty space, especially these days as houses foreclose and construction sites stall. What to do with those empty lots has been a hot topic these days: San Francisco groups like Local Code and Hayes Valley Farm propose re-greening, spurred by city legislation encouraging developers to keep unused lots active. In New York, construction sites are becoming art projects. Chicago’s Pop-Up Art Loop puts galleries in empty storefronts.
But what about Detroit? With one of the highest foreclosure rates in the country, Detroit is full of thousands of empty houses. Where some see blight, though, others see a canvas. John Hantz is proposing farms. Design99 is turning houses into art projects. And two New Yorkers are making a popsicle.
For their Ice House Detroit project, Gregory Holm and Matthew Radune got an abandoned house from the city in exchange for agreeing to pay back taxes on another foreclosed home. Since the middle of January, they’ve been spraying the building with fire-hydrant water almost constantly (24 hours a day recently, according to their blog). Why? Well, why not? The pair’s goal is to “raise awareness” of Detroit’s housing collapse. I’m not sure if that’s necessary at this point, or if this is the best way to go about it (is it just raising awareness of how damn cold it is there?). But you have to admit, it looks better now than when it was boarded up. And on these bleak winter days, isn’t that enough? Aesthetics isn’t everything in a city–but it’s a lot.
The Ice House, pre-ice