University of Michigan's Five Fellows turn foreclosed house into architecture project

Five University of Michigan architecture fellows, through the help of Design99, purchased the house at 13178 Moran from the city's foreclosure auction for $500 and have turned it into their architectural canvas and a piece of public art for the neighborhood.

Inside the you'll find a Q-Bert-esque staircase, a space called the "Tingle Room," another staircase leading up to a skylight, a removable nook in the back, and the garage drilled with 1,000 holes and jammed with 1,000 glass tubes. Each would require more than 1,000 words for explanation.

"We've collaborated but we have five different projects throughout the house," says Ellie Abrons, one of the fellows.

The four of the five, Abrons, Tom Moran (a coincidence his last name is the same as the street), Meredith Miller, and Rosalyne Shieh, are from other parts of the United States. One, Cathlyn Newell hails from metro Detroit.

As for they house, each chipped in $100 to get it off the foreclosure auction. From the outside it doesn't look like much, just another neglected house, but once inside, it comes to life. It hasn't been rehabbed for humans. In fact, it hasn't been rehabbed at all. It's more of a vehicle to hold their projects.

Typically, UM brings in three architect fellows for a year. They work on projects throughout that year and present them in a gallery. It's mostly conceptual, usually drawings or blueprints. This year, however, they wanted to go full-scale.

"We're not trying to be exploitive to the neighborhood," Moran says. "We don't want to burden the project with that. We're not trying to think of solutions or fix anything here."

Yet, the project has engaged the neighborhood. The fellows all say they've been approached by residents of the block curious to what is going on. "We had no idea how active this block actually was," says Abrons. "It's been an opportunity to get the neighborhood out."

They have since donated the project to Design99 for one dollar. "They still owe us that dollar," says Moran, laughing. The project is ongoing and the fellows will be at UM for two years teaching. Unfortunately the house isn't open to the public but if you catch a fellow at the right time, just ask for a tour.

Source: The Five Fellows, University of Michigan

Writer: Terry Parris Jr.

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