Saturday, March 28, 2009

Good People: The Power House Project

The Power House was started by the Design 99 duo, Gina Reichert and Mitch Cope in March of 2008 with the purchase of one house and two empty lots totaling $4,900. These properties were purchased with the kind help of family members and friends.

What is a Power House?
The Power House intends to be a stimulator and not an end in itself as a singular art object. The house is a broadcaster of potential ideas and a place to plug those ideas into. It will be used as an interactive site, by Mitch, Gina and their neighbors. The Power House is meant to be a symbol for creativity, new beginnings and social interaction within a neighborhood.

upcycled free paint - renovation begins

The house is meant to act as a cultural catalyst and an opportunity for cultural exchanges through workshops and residencies. It will also provide lessons in wind, solar, and sustainable strategies by implementing these systems and introducing them to the community. Installations in the landscape will be the first outward sign that draws attention to the facility and its mission. The exterior skin of the house itself will also exhibit unique characteristics and 'green' materials and strategies appropriate for the Michigan climate. Power House will serve as a showroom both inside and out.

Why create a Power House?

The communities of Detroit have been hit hard economically for many years now. Prior to the foreclosure crisis the property values in Detroit had been extremely low, and they have hit an all time low due to the current real estate market. There has always been a need for low income housing, but often what is called low income is not really that affordable to purchase or sustain. The Power House is designed to prove that it is possible to take advantage of the housing crisis and produce super efficient, self-sustaining homes all for under $99,000. By taking advantage of today’s housing crisis, the Power House Project can help people to rethink their city's aged and decaying housing stock and bring the homes back to life.

neighbors help plant a community garden

Long Term Goals
As the foreclosure crisis hits all around them, with house after house going vacant and vandalized, they began to strategize ways of making positive changes. In 2008, Gina and Mitch purchased a bank foreclosed house in Detroit for $1900 (originally valued at $85,000), almost on a whim, simply to try and take control of their immediate surroundings which were quickly destabilizing due to a spike in foreclosures. Since the house had been scrapped- all its electrical, plumbing and heating systems stolen- the idea became to work with the house in a way that turned a negative value into a positive asset by reinventing the house as a Power House.

Positive Ideas + Interactive People = Healthier Neighborhoods
The Power house Project was designed to stimulate communication and action within an otherwise challenging but unique Detroit neighborhood by way of mining out the existing positive and productive aspects of the neighborhood. The Power House is designed to be a space where people can feel comfortable to share their ideas, knowledge and expertise about the fundamentals of neighborhood living, i.e., gardening, house work, new technologies, safety, and so on. The Power House is also designed as to be magnet for gathering whether they be neighborhood resources, energy, social change, story telling or simply a place to produce and view art and culture.

candidates for future power houses in the neighborhood

Future Power House Projects
Each Power House will be capable of creating enough energy for its own consumption and produce enough excess power for at least one neighboring home. This is feasible due to the extremely low cost of purchasing property in Detroit and the amount of available small single family vacant homes in Detroit. A certain percentage of each Power House would also function as neighborhood hubs by producing not only electricity but also a new point of identity, gathering place of creative exchange, thus a new type of neighborhood where undesirable homes become experimental factories for community action and power.

Currently they are in the process of bringing other artists in to help set up a small neighborhood radio station and sculpted landscape work.

Learn more about the Power House project and Duo 99 HERE.

Info and photos in this post credit to Design 99 and the Power House Project.


Sam said...

What a very worthwhile project. Thank you for the post - very interesting. PS: I love your new banner of daisies!

Pfeiffer Photos said...

sam: Thank YOU for visiting and reading the post--these folks completely inspired me with their ideas and outlook! :) Glad you enjoyed it and the daisies!!

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