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Grassroots Architecture

Grassroots Architecture is a thesis proposition based on architectural and cultural regeneration, framed around the practice of adaptive reuse synthesized with public interest design and representation. The subject building for adaptive reuse is the former Banner Tobacco Factory in the East Poletown neighborhood of Detroit. It is currently occupied by the non-profit artist organization 555 Arts, serving as the public interest design collaborator for the thesis. The organization seeks to transform the building into a community asset for public events and a safe-haven for Detroit artists to work and live. 555 Arts acts as the very foundation of my approach to adaptive reuse, and the source of the thesis parameters and objectives.

The current mainstream method of presenting an architectural design is with a photo-realistic depiction of what is considered “real”, in doing so, a predetermined and rigid perception of space is presented to its viewers. As a creative alternative, Grassroots Representation explores and capitalizes on its artificiality, compelling its viewers to perceive a space as a fictional form of representation, and presenting a space with diverse possibilities. The vignettes reveal the historic character of the building through both its architecture and its occupants. The "ghosts" of the Banner Building share the space with the new residents along with the new architecture.




M Arch



Brandon Haarer

Brandon Haarer has worked in the architecture department at Ghafari Associates for the past three years. He received a Bachelors of Science degree in Architecture at Lawrence Technological University and is completing his Masters of Architecture in Fall 2021.

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