#39 - Malls

Detroit’s American Riad

The American Riad in Detroit is where old and new, east and west, art and architecture intersect. It is a communal housing project to break down the social isolation of Muslims and immigrants in the United States. Initiated by the Ghana ThinkTank artist collective, which feels that many U.S. problems stem from an Architecture that creates social isolation, the project aims to connect renovated homes and commercial spaces with a communal covered courtyard inspired by traditional Moroccan riads.

Sculptor Christopher Robbins designed the American Riad not only to rehabilitate blighted structures, but to encourage neighborhood interaction. The courtyard will offer a public space for gatherings, workshops, gardening, performances and the display of local and international art.

Scheduled for completion in 2020, final material choices for the courtyard covering are varied. Ghana ThinkTank partnering artist Ulysses Newkirk told ArchiExpo e-Magazine that “the first unit is aluminium and next will be stainless steel. I don’t know what the units after that will be.”

We’re learning what works best. This is an art study as well as architecture.

*Correction: Sculptor Christopher Robbins was only one of the many Detroit and Moroccan artists who designed the American Riad.

About the Author

Hilary Edesess is a freelance journalist based in Marseille, France. She blogs about culture, art and urban design.

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