Deconstructing Detroit - Design Bureau

Deconstructing Detroit

Tuesday, August 30th, 2011

Detroit-based architect/artist Catie Newell recently won the 2011 Architectural League Prize for two of her projects, Weatherizing and Salvaged Landscape. Newell's ability to alter existing spaces — in these cases spaces that are unassuming and ramshackle — captured the jury's attention, as well as our own.

With Weatherizing, Newell started with a stand-alone garage and perforated the heck out of it, creating a new relationship between interior and exterior. Linking the two spaces are a thousand glass tubes that function essentially like tiny windows, allowing light and air to flow in and out. It doesn't make for much of a view, but at night, from afar, the atmospheric glow of the funneled light is striking. And during the day on the inside, it's a bit like a low-budget planetarium. 

Once again working with the dilapidated structures of metropolitan Detroit, Newell's Salvaged Landscape examines the relationship of arson and architecture. It's a project that, as Newell says, "was only possible because of the fire." She took a charred house slated for deconstruction and used the existing material to reconfigure the space, thereby creating something new, as everything around it was being torn down. Eventually, Salvaged Landscape was exposed, isolated, and subject to the same demolition techniques used on the surrounding walls.

Newell's latest work, an installation entitled Second Story, opened at Extension Gallery in Chicago in June. For more information, click here.

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