DetroitI know I’m a stickler for Detroit and, anyway, it’s so far away that it might seem like just serves as a reference. Or not. Obviously, it is an extreme case but we can see it, without becoming apocalyptic, as a confirmation of a fact: cities have their moments throughout history and nothing prevents them, when the time comes, from seeing how their population is reduced, their economy stagnates and loses all its vitality. European cities or city-regions such as Liverpool, Leipzing/Halle or Genoa are being analyzed from the perspective of shrinking cities.

A few weeks ago I highlighted how Detroit had entered a process of unscheduled demolition after observing how in the period 2006-2009 10 demolition permits were granted for each new construction permit. It is precisely the period in which the impact of the crisis (the current one in the case of Detroit is only the final straw to a more structural crisis in the city due to its dependence on the automobile sector that gave it splendor years ago) has made Detroit is the subject of different proposals on how to deal with its decline. So, while it was being discussed, the story actually kept running.

After this time of doubts without really knowing what to do, it seems that the bet is already clear: scheduled demolition. The mayor has decided to take out the bulldozer and tear down 1,500 abandoned or disused buildings in 90 days. Demolition man in action . Rightsizing call it. The detroit city planners city have before them a challenge of enormous proportions, with an uncertain solution and which a city has rarely had to face. Having lost half its population in the last four decades and with a total area of ​​abandoned land similar to that of the entire expanse of Paris, it is not an easy guess, but it seems that they have accepted that we have to start throwing things away. planned and orderly, in order to generate viable surfaces for its new urbanization or, simply, to reduce the size of the city and, consequently, the costs of public maintenance services and provision of infrastructures.

There really is no other. In recent years, solutions have been offered for Detroit (and other cities in similar conditions such as Flint) that can only be partial, small-scale and adaptive. By way ofurban laboratory (in this case, with people), different proposals have sought to offer advantages for young entrepreneurs to occupy some abandoned buildings as centers of social innovation, free up gaps projects to turn the city into one big urban farm (with projects like (The Greening of Detroit< /a>, Detroit Eastern Market or Earthworks Urban Farm) or even rehabilitate certain buildings to help revitalize certain neighborhoods. In fact, there’s even some half-joking proposal (I’d like to believe) to make a zombie theme park. But mass demolition and selective (analyzing which neighborhoods or areas are more likely to find a way out and which ones it is better to abandon directly), given the magnitude and territorial extension of the problem, it seems the only alternative to make the revival of the city viable in the form of a new housing redensification and possibilities for the reindustrialization of the city as a post-conflict or post-natural disaster reconstruction. Detroit Works Project is Mayor Dave Bing’s plan< /strong> to take this daunting task forward, with an approach that reaches for actions from short term and long term planning actions. This video summarizes what has happened to Detroit and what is the general idea of ​​the reconstruction:

What Happened To Detroit?! from Publius on < to href="">Vimeo.

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