Catie Newell Talks About The $500 Architecture Project

Catie Newell Talks About The $500 Architecture Project

Architect Catie Newell, a speaker at our upcoming PSFK SALON DETROIT, speaks with us about what inspires her and the Five Fellows: Full Scale project.

Dan Gould
  • 9 august 2010

On the morning of August 12th, PSFK will host a special event in Detroit designed to Fuel Imagination with the support of Syfy. There will be a number of inspirational talks by key creative minds and a panel discussion about trends and ideas in Detroit and beyond.

The $500 Architecture Project

Two of our speakers will be architect Catie Newell and Monica Ponce de Leon, Dean of Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning at University of Michigan. They will discuss the Five Fellows: Full Scale project that re-interpreted abandoned houses to bring a creative spirit back to communities.

We talked to Catie to find out more about her work, and to see what’s inspiring her.

Can you tell me a little about the $500 Architecture project?

“The  project that you are referring to is Five Fellows: Full Scale. As a simple description, it is the work of the 5 Fellows in Architecture at Taubman College, University of Michigan during the 2009-2010 academic school year. Collectively we purchased a house in the Northeast side of Detroit at the annual Wayne County Auction. Starting bids are $500. Using the house as a site and a set of materials, each of us worked on an architectural intervention to the house. Of course, acquiring the house was a project onto itself.”

What is inspiring for you right now? What inspires you about Detroit?

“Especially within the context of Detroit, I have been greatly inspired by our mentors through the entire project: Mitch Cope and Gina Reichart of Design 99. This artist and architect couple has managed to fully engage their neighborhood, and the great context of Detroit in their work primarily as a way of living. In other words, their alterations to houses and elements of the neighborhood such as the alleys is all done out of a sense of betterment for the community. It is not just work for the sake of art or a statement, rather they see the need for attention and care in Detroit, and specifically their neighborhood and act on it in their pieces; enhancing the spaces, drawing attention to them, and progressing things forwards. It is examples such as theirs, and for other artists and do-ers in Detroit that really inspire and interest me. This, of course leading in to your second question, what excites me about Detroit are all the people who are now there, doing something, caring for it, and doing so in an optimistic way. I find a lot of the art community and those who are living, supporting, and staying local, are concentrating on Detroit with all of their energies. The population might be thinning out relatively speaking, but those who are there, and who have a vision, are working hard.

Pulling back out of the direct context of Detroit, to respond to the first question of inspiration, perhaps it would also become evident in our 5 projects, but the works people such as the firms of Balls-Nogues, Lead Pencil Studio, Philip Beesley, and Weathers, are inspirational to me in that these firms are leading interesting paths towards the questioning of what architecture is, and further how we live with and amongst space. For me it is not about fulfilling certain typologies so much as as stringing into the very direction condition that are present and opening up the discussion of how we operate in space. It is such a loaded question it is certainly nice to just sit here and type on it. Those would be firms and works. You’ll note as you read through the projects, mine is the Weatherizing project in the garage of the house. So elements of the weather, ambient energies, electricity, storms and odd lighting all inspire me greatly.”

Thanks Catie!

Tickets are just $25 and available here. If you don’t live in the area but know someone who might enjoy PSFK SALON DETROIT then please let them know about it!

Five Fellows: Full Scale



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