makeLab™ blog

‘McDUH’ by Jim Stevens

Neil Gershenfeld suggests that the fissure between producer and end-user may be chipped away via increase in awareness and application of personal digital fabrication technology. Ideally, through digital fabrication processes, individuals’ discontent with the conditions of their built environment may possess the means to, without reliance on anachronistic ‘manufacturers’, alter their immediate tangible background.

Theory intact, we may observe a practical complement to this position in some Detroit neighborhoods. Dissatisfied with the condition of these environments, and unable to effectively appeal to a viable top-down prescriptive remediation, more than a few citizens have turned to urban homesteading. Disused lots are transformed into premises of farming, congregation, and living, as envisioned and built by those who benefit. The proposed program, ‘Mass Customized Detroit Urban Homesteading (McDUH)’ identifies this philosophical overlap between urban homesteading and digital fabrication, and aims to develop the necessary tools to facilitate urban Detroit neighborhoods’ increased autonomy in revival, production, and maintenance via digifab processes.

Specifically, the McDUH system consists of a template to analyze existing materiality/ formal conditions, determines the ideal corresponding programmatic uses as converted urban homestead components, and assigns the appropriate digitally fabricated ‘kit-of-parts’ typology to accomplish this adaptation.

-Jake Chidester


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