Detroit: The Next Berlin?

  • NPR recently wrote about an interesting piece of bottom-up urbanism in Detroit. A collective started by Mitch and Gina Cope recruits artists from around the world to move to the Motor City, buy the foreclosed houses and rebuild. The ideamakers hope that the prospect of inexpensive housing will help lure other artists to their Detroit neighbourhood.

    They have already managed to convince about a dozen working artists to move into the neighbourhood, from all kinds of places: the Netherlands, Germany, New York City. The initiators assume they can make the whole place operate for around $60,000, a cost they hope to help cover with grants. Mitch Cope bought a foreclosed house down the street (listed for sale for $1,900) which he wants to turn into a neighbourhood art center and a bedroom for visiting artists. “Cope believes that if he can just get artists to visit the neighbourhood, they’ll want to stay. And he hopes the cheap real estate will lure them there”, NPR writes.

    Detroit is doing the Berlin thing. Bottom-up urbanism projects like these can be of greater worth to a neighbourhood than most of the other planning methods to get the city back on track.