PAST BY

HISTORIC LANDSCAPE WITH A DIGITAL LENS

Timothy Gobel

César Torres-Bustamante

March 2021

The United States exhibits a rich continuum of human evolution: its landscapes are etched with relics of lost histories, and its cities are flush with snapshots of different cultures and time periods. Nevertheless, Americans have a difficult relationship with history, often sacrificing authenticity for profit. “Historical” areas are paved over, redesigned, and/or disneyified — immortalized by a gilded facade. Detroit, Michigan, is something of an anomaly to this system. It is defined by its strong cultural identity in conjunction with its socio-economic turmoil; distinguished by its underdeveloped landscape and many vacant buildings. Though these are typically designated as urban blight, the abandoned spaces offer a rare and underappreciated perspective on history. They stand firmly in opposition of a culture obsessed with modifying its past. My proposal aims to preserve this authenticity by integrating a site’s history with its physical and digital landscape. Set at the former Packard Automotive Plant, this restoration will translate its history into a digital reconstruction of the past, while retrofitting the site to address the needs of present Detroit.

Vogue_Template_TGobel.jpg

ABOUT ME

I am a naturally creative person. Growing up, I would animate, reimagine, and reconstruct my surroundings. Clay to fluid, legos to people, cardboard to terrain, toys to stop-motion: I managed to overcome the ennui of suburban America. I pursued landscape architecture after realizing that I did not want to construct things, but moments. I want to create an environment that moves, adapts, and breathes as a cohesive experience. Participants should long to explore it, and the design should guide them every step of the way­-- provoking a sense of culture, community, and change.

Introduction
Introduction

Summary of Detroit's socio-economic history, complemented by different ethnographic maps

press to zoom
Spatial Analysis
Spatial Analysis

Recognizing the limited resources available to Detroit residents

press to zoom
Packard Automotive Plant Analysis
Packard Automotive Plant Analysis

press to zoom
Introduction
Introduction

Summary of Detroit's socio-economic history, complemented by different ethnographic maps

press to zoom

SITE ANALYSIS

Detroit has a significant history of racial prejudice, the effects of which are still felt today. Despite this, residents have been extremely resilient, and formed what journalist Drew Philips described as a “radical neighborliness”. I want my design to not only address the problematic elements of Detroit’s past, but also bolster this growing community and give it the advantages it has historically been denied.

Introduction
Introduction

How the app works

press to zoom
Gamifying the Learning Process
Gamifying the Learning Process

This app was designed to incentivize visitors to explore and learn about the site

press to zoom
Safety Concerns
Safety Concerns

Safety is my #1 priority with this sort of project. I want to confirm that visitors will not be distracted when stumbling into potentially hazardous areas

press to zoom
Introduction
Introduction

How the app works

press to zoom

MIXED REALITY APP

This app utilizes the preserved areas of the site as the setting for a “Mixed Reality” adventure video game. Users would explore the abandoned buildings and, with their phones in hand, see what the site used to look like while talking to digital reconstructions of its former workers. I intend for the game’s story to be told from the perspective of these workers, relying on personal accounts and historical record.

Master Plan
Master Plan

press to zoom
Focus Plan 1- Central Plaza
Focus Plan 1- Central Plaza

Aesthetically, this design reflects more of Detroit's past. I wanted to address how its history of prejudice and discrimination had scarred the landscape and fractured the community.

press to zoom
Redefining Corridors
Redefining Corridors

The vacant buildings in Detroit can bring up painful memories: the architecture acts as a physical monument to decline, and can create a dreadful, looming presence. I wanted my redesign to set a more positive tone, and utilize the ceiling and wall planes in a way that scales the site down.

press to zoom
Master Plan
Master Plan

press to zoom

PHYSICAL REDESIGN

Detroit does not need to mimic New York or Chicago or San Francisco. It is unique, and I want to respect how its changes have defined it from a conventional city. As such, my site program explores the ways the architecture can work for local area: one half being more concerned with education and community events and recreation, and the other half looking at how food can be grown and the environment revitalized.