Friday, August 26, 2011

Design Ideas for Detroit's In-Between Spaces

You walk by this space everyday. Maybe it's an alley, or a surface parking lot, or a shadowy nook under an overpass. You think to yourself how great it could be. You imagine it filled with people and activity instead of sitting there looking all sad and sorry. It wouldn't take much, you figure, to turn this site into a really cool spot.

Architects and planners call these spaces the "missing teeth" in our urban fabric. As buildings are torn down for parking or empty lots, our streetscapes take on a gap-toothed appearance. Sometimes it's the smallest slivers of space that can make the difference between a vibrant, walkable neighborhood and a place that feels uninviting or unsafe.

Mind the Gap is a public ideas competition to generate creative new ideas for these in-between spaces in our city. Alleys, bridges, overpasses, sidewalks, storefronts, surface parking lots, vacant lots -- you get the idea, right?

For the sake of this project, we're not looking for major in-fill developments. We're looking for small-scale interventions that could have a large impact. We're looking for simple ways to stitch Detroit's urban fabric back together.

For this exercise, we borrow the Green Garage's motto:
Small is big.

You need not be an architect or planner to enter this competition. All you need is the ability to describe your site and solution.

Ready...set...imagine. What do you see?

Maybe something like this:

Candy Chang's interactive mural in New Orleans. (

Or this:

Food carts in Portland, Oregon. (

Or this?

The Green Alley in Midtown Detroit. (

Click here to see some ideas. Then click here to submit your own.

Anyone can submit an idea through this website or in person at Bureau of Urban Living. Submissions are due Monday, September 12, 2011, 5:00 pm EST.

Submissions will be reviewed by a jury, and a $100 cash prize will be awarded to the best idea. A selection of ideas will be displayed during Detroit Design Festival (September 21-28, 2011).

Mind the Gap Exhibit:
Thursday, September 22, 2011
5:00 - 8:00 p.m.
Bureau of Urban Living
460 West Canfield Street
Detroit, MI 48201

For more info, click here.