Thursday, April 14, 2011

021: The PowerHouse Project

Design 99, the husband and wife team of Gina Reichert and Mitch Cope, have taken a formerly forclosed drug house purchased from the bank in 2008 for $1900 and spawned a neighborhood redevelopment strategy from their experience with its renovation. Their intention was to renovation the house keeping it off the grid and using artist initiatives and neighborhood participation as the volunteer workforce. 

From the PowerHouse Productions website:

"The term Power House describes two functions. First, the house is a power creator meaning it produces its own electricity from solar and wind power with an the intention of powering an additional adjacent house -- thus creating a localized power grid. Second, the term implies a kind of taking control of ones own community by becoming an example of self reliance, sustainability and creative problem solving through education, communication and increased diversification of the neighborhood. In all a place that symbolizes hopefulness and curiosity by integrating a complex web of social and artistic ideas into a neighborhood that might otherwise end up into a typical cycle of decay and criminality."

Through the PowerHouse Project, Design 99 has developed a plan for the future development of their neighborhood which is quite extensive and promises a rich and vibrant community rooted in sustainability, design, and public well being. You can read the plans for future development here

Although the Power House has been critically focused and designed, thanks in part to the participation of a architectural team from the Netherlands, 2012 Architects, many of the associated neighborhood homes which have been taken over by the artists collective which has centered around the project are less critically informed. 

The brightly painted colors and eccentrically designed fencing and landscape which illuminate the Power House and point to its drastic efforts at environmental neutrality have been hijacked in the subsequent artists houses and stripped of their poignant association. The spectacle remains, but the message has gone. 

With a critical eye and a little editing, the whole PowerHouse neighborhood would have the potential to become a generative planning model for the city. 

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