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Architectural Activism | Ice House Detroit

February 3, 2010

Paul Sancya/Associated Press

No way to expose the housing market freeze than to, well, freeze a house. Yep. Photographer Gregory Holm and architect Matthew Radune have spent the last several weeks in subzero weather hosing down an abandoned house in Detroit until firmly encased in ice; an installation-slash-activism campaign designed to bring about social change and draw attention to the housing crisis in a city notorious for its staggering rate of foreclosures.

Ice House Detroit addresses this contemporary urban condition, and involves the acquisition and recontextualization of one of the 80,000 abandoned houses in the city. Gregory and Matthew started out by picking a house that was slated for demolition, and in returned agreed with the state’s land bank to pay the back taxes on another foreclosed house so that a Detroit woman could move in.

Watch a 360 view of the frozen house here.

In their words:

“Once it is frozen, the common architectural and urban references of the house will be temporarily obscured, providing a period of reflection.
Aside from the installation itself, we will be producing fine art prints, a limited edition art book, and a film which will document the transformation of the house and potentially the legal and bureaucratic maneuvers necessary to pull off such an endeavor.
After completion of this project, we will be working with groups who will deconstruct this house, recycling the wood, metals, glass, and the cement foundation; keeping these materials from entering our dumps. Once the house is demolished, It is our intention to donate the property to local urban farmers for the cultivation of neighborhood vegetables.”



In collaboration with several Detroit organizations, including ASWD, the project promotes concepts of neighborhood integrity, material reuse, public art, social empowerment, and urban farming.

Visit the blog to see the project in progress and for some great info on Detroit’s urban condition :
The IceHouseDetroit Blog


Ice House Detroit is the first is the first in a series of large scale artworks conceived and produced by Gregory Holm and Matthew Radune. These artworks will exist as time-based architectural installations exploring the nature of contemporary culture. The primary artworks will serve as starting points from which explorations can be done in several media including photography and film.

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