Packard Motor Plant in Detroit reused as Ecological Engineering Centre
Packard Motor Plant in Detroit reused as Ecological Engineering Centre

The site represented once the height of the American Industrial Era, but after the economic downturn became a symbol of Detroit’s collapse. The aim of this competition was to find ideas, which would turn the site into a successful urban node and help Detroit to recover from industrial and urban decline.

The proposal honors the historical significance of the existing plant by preserving most of the structure of the main buildings and making the site significant economic contributor again in a form of an Ecological Engineering Centre. In contrast to the past, the new activities will be diverse, have positive effect on the environment, and serve to overcome multiple challenges facing the community and the region now and in the future.

In order to make the economic and social contribution sustainable, the site is introduced with great variety of urban activities.

Industrial scale urban farming however, forms the economic backbone for the area, and its relevance is based on the environmental analysis of the region: the Midwest region will be substantially affected by the extreme weather and flooding in consequence of the global warming, with negative effect on local agriculture, while the global demand for food increases.

Proposed vertical farming concept provides protection from the hazard weather events and enables yields 5-10 times higher, while the waste and energy management concept operating in symbiosis with the farming plant takes pressure from the overloaded local sewage system. The nutrients and water are reused in closed biological circles, making the production of plants and fish more robust and economically viable. There are no runoffs of pesticides, nor fertilizers, and organic waste is reused for composting and biogas production. Beside all other benefits, this contributes to the ongoing recovery effort of the Detroit River and the Lake Erie.

The proposal is designed to activate, encourage and integrate the local community with the economic and environmental events and programs. The facilities are run by the locals according to their own needs, and participation is made easy by integrating the core functions into the public spaces in a form of various gardens surrounded by mixture of community supporting activities.

Location:Detroit, MI. USA
Client:Parallel Projections
Type and Year:Open international competition, third prize 2014
Gross Floor Area:240 000 m2
Architecture:Toni Yli-Suvanto Architects
Photography:Clayton Studio
Visualisation:Toni Yli-Suvanto Architects