Detroit Design 139

Coming this Fall:

Inclusive Futures

Sept 09 - 30, 2019

As the nation’s only UNESCO City of Design, Detroit has a unique opportunity to utilize inclusive design in order to create a more equitable and sustainable future for both our city and those around the world. By prioritizing diverse experiences, accessible opportunities, and collaborative relationships, Detroit will show how inclusive design develops goods, systems, services, buildings, communities, and urban spaces that work for everyone.

Throughout history, cities have been shaped by significant design decisions made by a few, for the many. These design solutions were meant to solve issues relevant to a city’s specific time period and were often made by experts without meaningful input from the people impacted by these plans. As a result, urban design solutions have often resulted in unintended consequences for subsequent generations. This repetitive cycle of top-down design outcomes – divisive highway infrastructure, failed public housing, anti-pedestrian streetscapes and under-utilized public parks – can be found in cities around the world.

In response to the vision laid out in Detroit’s UNESCO City of Design Action Plan, Detroit Design 139 proposes that through inclusive design, Detroiters (designers and non-designers alike) can prioritize the importance of both PROCESSES and OUTCOMES for all future projects throughout Detroit’s 139 square miles. Through exhibitions, events, and shared conversations, we will explore inclusive design strategies that break this repetitive cycle of creating future problems by acknowledging all aspects of our shared history in order to solve long-standing urban issues. With this approach, we will focus on creating multi-generational design solutions that result in INCLUSIVE FUTURES for everyone.

Exhibition Focus Areas

In September 2019, Detroit Design 139 will showcase inclusive design projects, policies and concepts throughout the built and natural environments of Detroit and other UNESCO Cities of Design. The program will be structured around five focus areas that emphasize learning from the past in order to inform a successful approach to the inclusive design process. Each focus area will consider the entire spectrum of human diversity and individual experiences – in the past, present and future – but with dramatically different outcomes.

  • Public Space

    How do we design inclusive public space, regardless of scale? What does inclusive and accessible public space look like? What activities are offered in those spaces? These projects will demonstrate the importance of public space as an inclusionary network within and throughout the city.

    Project submissions may include, but are not limited to: vacant land re-use strategies, community gardens, neighborhood land networks, parks, plazas, waterfronts, etc.

  • Economy

    What is the role of design in a more inclusive economic future? Where should these economic centers be located to provide the most opportunity for all? What are the new design models for economic development? These projects will spark discourse on the current and future design trends for economy-based space.

    Project submissions may include, but are not limited to: mixed-use developments, light industrial development, future work environments, adaptive re-use demonstrations, comprehensive retail masterplans, shared office models, etc.

  • Neighborhoods

    What does a more inclusive future offer our communities? Is it possible to live, eat, shop, work, learn and relax within the same neighborhood? How can we design new residential developments without displacing current residents? These projects will explore strategies for inclusive neighborhoods that integrate diverse living options, neighborhood retail opportunities, walkable streets and welcoming public spaces.

    Project submissions may include, but are not limited to: community masterplans, large-scale neighborhood developments, form-based code, community-oriented adaptive re-use, shared community assets, future streetscapes, neighborhood retail, commercial corridor revitalization strategies, etc.

  • City Systems

    How do we develop inclusive systems, services and infrastructure for our future city? How do we make the most of our shared urban assets while planning for a more sustainable future? How do we make it easier for people to move freely, safely and efficiently throughout our city? These projects will look at the visible (and invisible) inclusive infrastructure projects that will bring people, neighborhoods, industries, places and things closer together in a cohesive future urban environment.

    Project submissions may include, but are not limited to: sustainability strategies, wholistic infrastructure, storm water management, alternative mobility systems, shared digital technology networks, vacant land ecosystems, future streetscapes, etc.

  • Housing

    How do we design inclusive housing? How do we make it affordable and sustainable? These projects will consider the future of housing, changing lifestyles and inclusionary growth.

    Project submissions may include, but are not limited to: mixed-use developments, affordable and market rate housing typologies, alternative housing models, etc.

  • Need More Information?

    Download the full abstract for additional information on the INCLUSIVE FUTURES exhibition.

Principles of Design

In 2015, Detroit was awarded the first UNESCO City of Design in the United States, joining a worldwide network of cities committed to utilizing design as a driver for sustainable urban development, social inclusion and cultural vibrancy. In celebration of that designation, design advocates from across the city came together in 2017 to demand a higher design standard for all future projects within the city’s 139 square miles. In pursuit of that ideal, these advocates curated the inaugural Detroit Design 139 exhibition around ten guiding design principles. The first exhibition, “Detroit Shapes Design” showcased 41 projects that represented a future Detroit populated with thoughtful projects that honored the city’s design legacy, while pushing the city towards becoming a leader in world-class design excellence. Crafted to benefit all Detroiters, the ten guiding design principles are

  1. Advance design as a means to improve the quality-of-life for all people.

  2. Advance a thoughtful design process rooted in meaningful community engagement.

  3. Seek creative solutions to solve long-standing urban issues.

  4. Honor context and history through contemporary design.

  5. Activate the public realm.

  1. Balance community cohesion with aesthetic diversity.

  2. Impress the value of design on all projects and all audiences — emphasizing equity, design excellence, and inclusion.

  3. Explore new ways to live, work, and play together in the 21st century city.

  4. Celebrate Detroit’s design legacy, while contributing to the city’s design future.

  5. Balance function and beauty.

Imporant Dates