Dwelling on Waste: Flint is an extension of the thesis work that I and Matthieu Bain completed for the University at Buffalo graduate architecture program. This series of projects is an investigation into consumerism and the indifference to waste which has become so prevalent in modern culture. By focusing on abandoned materials and structures, we are able to not only reduce consumption of new materials and energy, but can help resuscitate spaces which haven't seen life in years and revitalize neighborhoods through a series of interventions which are physically, financially, and intellectually accessible. This type of design-build is an encouragement of self-sufficiency, an argument against static space, and most importantly a re-evaluation of 'trash.'
The precedent to this, Dwelling on Waste: Buffalo had heavier traces as a Survivalist architecture. Moving into the $800 home without heat, running water, or electricity we began to become involved in issues of social structure, morality vs. legality in city building policies, environmental sustainability and economics. The work here and this blog will still largely reflect our inhabitation of the space as well as the structural and material urgencies of the house, but with established utilities and an expected fate for the house beyond our own lives there, its expected that any notions of humanitarian architecture will shift from the somewhat introverted view of the last project to one which is more communal and urbanistic.
The house at Flint, most recently known as Spencer's Funeral Home, is currently under lease from the City of Flint for three years, after which its state of being will be reevaluated. As one of many projects under the Flint Public Art Project the goal of our interventions is to bring the building from urban blight to an artists' co-op that will foster community activity and a revitalized effort to rebuild local economy and culture, using locally sourced waste material as the prime medium of working.
Photo by Sinan Imre