Long before Motor City filed for bankruptcy in 2013, local entrepreneurs, politicians, and urban planners were at work rebuilding their town. You’ve probably heard about these rebuilders—vegan bakeries, lust-worthy watches, and so on. But a slew of new large-scale construction ideas are the works, as well, some of which are now on display at the U.S. Pavilion at the Venice Architecture Biennale.
“The Architectural Imagination” features 12 proposals, by as many architects, for four underutilized areas in Detroit. Among those proposals are models and blueprints for fairly typical industrial regeneration projects, like urban farms and shared public parks; while others, like a Detroit Reassembly Plant that would recycle material from the city’s razed buildings, and a new skyscraper built from wood, from locally grown trees, confront the issue of sustainability.
Our favorite display belongs to Los Angeles architect Greg Lynn, who shows off his plans for the future of the Packard Plant with a HoloLens, Microsoft’s augmented reality headset. The 1905 factory closed in 2010 and even then wasn’t fully operational. Lynn reimagines Packard as a new-age factory that manufactures robots and autonomous vehicle technology, with an online retail fulfillment center. The HoloLens view shows people and goods moving through the new facility, a useful visual aid for an architecture exhibit. To imagine the future of a building, it helps to see it in use—even if it’s just in hologram form.