Imagining the alchemy of shrinkage between the real and the ideal : a resilient design in evolution in Flint, Michigan

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El-Ashmouni, Marwa M.
Janz, Wes
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Thesis (M. Arch.)
Department of Architecture
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This thesis is an attempt to improve the economic problems of the homeless people, either scrappers or squatters living in abject poverty, in the shrinking city of Flint by trying to balance the social problems of the city. This balance in the social life will not be real unless there is a kind of resilience architecture that is able to adjust and be adjusted to that degradation in the social and economic conditions in the shrinking cities. The resilience architecture, from which the self built spirit may spur, may be the only way to give the poor their lost dignity.The specific research deals with the problem of shrinkage in the Rust Belt cities in the USA and the means of its improvement by readopting three terms: evolution, resilience, and alchemy from a social perspective. Suggesting a resilient architecture design project in the particular city of Flint, Michigan relies on the large number of the homeless people living in these devastated places.Shrinking cities, living a state of flux all time, are much more insecure and weighty. The potential profound role of the architecture profession to work with the poor societies, and assist them in the execution of their spiritual needs, relies upon some of the key questions: could architects be a reason in building a resistant community? What kind of architecture do we collectively want to combat the degradation of the world? The key question is: Will architecture able to activate this self built spirit, by reusing some of the leftover materials, in Flint? In this context, I will investigate the architects' ability to intervene by providing an implementation proposal designed to use the city materials. This intervention of the architect will be effective when the potentials of those homeless are empowered. Therefore, I suggest an initial idea for a particular design proposal titled `Scrap and Build; On Our Own Village' that could be used as a catalyst for self builders' spirit. The project is seeking a resilient new vision for the future of shrinking cities, which necessitates surpassing the barriers which exist in the real complexities in these cities' lives.