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The armature of Civitas

The contribution creates the infrastructure for a hyper local connected Detroit.

Photo of Naseem Alizadeh
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The contribution aims to encourage pedestrian mobility, engage the local population of Corktown, North Corktown, and the West Side Industrial Area, and intensify the local economy within the Impact Area through a new urban armature that aims to reduce the impact of automobile use and promotes social interaction. 

This is a project which uses very basic Urban Design principles at the hyper local level, which, when twinned with current technological innovations, creates safe, aesthetically pleasing, and useful systems for movement which could be repeated in any neighborhood, but would be piloted at The Michigan Central Station Impact Area. 

The impact area is first broken down into smaller, 1/2 mile grids (called districts). The residents and business owners in each district would determine the facilities in their district (and the greater impact area) which they believe should be the nodes that connect the new armature. The nodes would be connected using existing streetways/sidewalks, but these would be enhanced, repaved, and all of the necessary street furniture and adjustments (such as lighting, benches, landscaping, waste and recycling bins) would be made along the armature connecting the nodes at regular intervals. This creates a layer of urban street furniture/"parkitecture" along an urban ribbon (the armature) which collects these elements into one system and connects them throughout the impact area. These street elements  act as "ingredients" and the recipe is repeated in each 1/2 mile district. The process for identifying districts, then nodes, etc, is easily replicable throughout the city. Along the armature would be 3 "Huddlepoints" per each district. These Huddlepoints would provide urban amenities such as waterbottle refill stations, wifi points, mapping, Little Free Libraries, and bike rental points. 

However, the contribution appreciates that while increasing bus use (through enhancing bus stops) and facilitating pedestrian mobility is useful, services can still be unreachable or unavailable. Therefore, the flip side of increasing user mobility, increasing provider mobility, is also part of the contribution: within each 1/2 mile district, mobile service providers would have a designated spot along the armature (Mobility Van Station) . Each day of the week a different service (or services) would occupy the parking spots for the district. For instance, Monday might be the mobile dentist and hair salon for district 3, while in district 5 it might be the fruit/vegetable van and the dietitian. This aspect of the idea would seek out and encourage local service providers to offer their products or services at this hyper local level. It provides opportunity for employment and for business transactions. The use of technology to enhance the physical nature of the project would consist of an app that allows local residents to find out which mobile provider is in their district that day (or how far they would have to travel within the impact area to reach the one that they need). The app would also allow for residents and users to identify lighting that is out, or waste bins that need emptying. It would also allow local residents to advertise their skill set to their district or beyond.  

Describe your solution's stage of development

  • Initial Design - you are still exploring the idea and have not tested it with users

Tell us about your team or organization (500 characters)

Team of one. Architect and Urban Designer with experience in the US and Europe.

Size of your team or organization

  • I am submitting as an individual

Team or Organization URL

Funding Request

  • $100,000

Rough Budget (500 characters)

$60,000 towards new street furniture, paving upgrade $30,000 towards the purchase of vans $10,000 technological improvements

Describe how you would pilot your idea (1000 characters)

Pick a district to start. Contact local residents and business owners in the district to elicit what they feel should be used as nodes within their district (ie: letterbox, banks, clinics, schools). Identify the streets that connect those nodes and begin layout of armature in that district.

Describe how you would measure the success of your pilot (1000 characters)

Success in that one district would be measured by use of App, mobility vans and their ability to gain business traction, residential feedback regarding accessibility and increased mobility, in addition to increased interaction with their community as a result of the armature.

Sustainability Plan (500 characters)

The utility services in Detroit (such as DTE), and major local corporations (Chase) along with funders (Kresge) would be instrumental. However, the rental of the mobile vans could help to maintain the amenities provided by the armature.


Join the conversation:

Photo of Boratha Tan

Hi Naseem Alizadeh thanks for submitting! I am part of the facilitation team for City:One. This proposal reminds me of the "Block Clubs" that we have in the city of Detroit. Small neighborhoods have these block clubs, and neighbors would voice their concerns about different things. However, they do not have the resources that you described above. Do you think that a collaboration could be made with the city of Detroit to integrate?

Photo of Naseem Alizadeh

Hi Boratha, I apologize for not seeing your response earlier - this is actually the first that I am seeing it (in January!) - I never received any notification that someone had posted. Thanks for looking at the proposal. Yes, I am familiar with the block clubs in Detroit. I think that a collaboration would be appropriate, yes. It's definitely at that scale of integration.