Manufacturing Commons



Due to low land prices and tipping costs, Michigan has become the hot-bed for solid waste imports in North America. With over 55,700,000 cubic yards of waste filling Michigan landfills every year, this reveals the extent to which our current system of production prioritizes costs through scaling up, creating a highly unsustainable model of production.

If we are to change the perception of how humans relate to ecological waste streams, biological systems, and economics we must give people ownership over their systems of production. Ownership over the means to build their home and produce food could be a potential source of empowerment for the creation of a more equitable society. This thesis proposes an architecture that engages with systems and ecologies of waste management and creates a conversation with the surrounding urban landscape both programmatically and economically.

Manufacturing Commons proposes a recycling model of solid and construction waste that reclaims the economic value for the Poletown East neighborhood in Detroit. Located in this neighborhood, is the Detroit Incinerator—the largest waste-to-energy plant in the United States—which was decommissioned due to environmental violations caused in the surrounding neighborhood, during the 30 years of its operation. This thesis proposes a model of discrete architecture building on the waste ecology of Detroit that encourages small-scale manufacturing in neighborhood centers, building a more inclusive business community. In addition to diversifying a local economic ecosystem, small-scale manufacturing using fab lab/digital commons has the added benefit of expanding economic opportunity to a diverse range of residents creating a circular micro-economy network.
Faculty Advisor:
Jose Sanchez