Equitable Landscapes

Equitable Landscapes prioritizes anti-racist, grassroots environmental justice centered around urban design activism, the strengthening of community and care for local wildlife, setting the stage for global environment change.  The discriminatory practice of redlining has put black and brown bodies directly in the path of environmental harm, residents are subjected to unsafe temperatures due to urban heat island effect and severe air pollution caused by the close proximity to major highways and industrial facilities. In addition, there is a direct correlation between neighborhood wealth and the diversity, health and prosperity of the native plant and animal species.  The work explores the connections between systemic oppression, lack of biodiversity and environmental injustice in majority BIPOC communities, proposing collaborative eco-architectural expressions. 

The site is located in the southernmost neighborhood of Rouge River, Detroit. The neighborhood of Boynton hosts a strong-knit community, yet has been branded “Michigan’s most toxic neighborhood”, surrounded on all sides by industrial complexes, including Marathon Petroleum, USS Steel and the Detroit Sewage and Water complex as the worst pollution offenders.  Residents have voiced their deep concern of the health and wellbeing of their neighborhood.

Equitable Landscapes combines existing environmental, social justice and community networks to envision a series of ‘Bio-follies’, or living landscape/architectural ecosystem habitecture typologies.  These typologies, identified through extensive research, categorization and assessment, will fit each individual species’ needs, overtime growing to become self-sustaining, healing ecosystem kit-of-parts that can be applied to marginalized at-risk communities on a macro scale.  The Bio-follies serve multiple purposes; providing space for native critters and plants to grow and thrive, utilizing native plant species and natural building materials as both pollution mitigation and green buffer, and creating public eco-commons for community members, providing seating, shade and garden planting space.  Equitable landscapes seeks to foster multi-species kinship while healing the environment through equitable co-creation.
Faculty Advisor:
Gina Reichert