Core77 Feature

Catie Newell’s Salvaged Landscape Reclaims an Arsoned Building in Detroit

by Lisa Smith on Tuesday, November 2, 2010 in Features

Another fantastic project from Detroit: Catie Newell’s Salvaged Landscape takes wood reclamation one step further, transforming burnt lumber from an arsoned house into a new spatial volume and material landscape. Supported by Detroit nonprofit The Imagination Station, Newell has been working hard since September to bring the project through its first phase, which opened last Saturday at 2230 14th Street, one of two uninhabitable buildings the nonprofit has endeavored to clean up. Catie gives an energetic tour to Stephen McGee below:


Demolition of this severely damaged house was imminent, but instead of a traditional tear-down, Newell removed the charred wood timbers from the frame of the house and stacked them on their sides to form an outside wall that extends to become a moody passageway inside. The surface highlights the unburnt insides of the timber in its cross section, exhibiting the contrast between the char of the surface and the warmth underneath.

The inside of the passageway.

The house before Newell started work.

The next phase of Newell’s demolition will involve removing the rest of the house, leaving the Salvaged Landscape standing alone. Then, the construction will be flipped onto its flat side to create a different kind of place, a monument to the original building with an inhabitable, enclosed space created by the passageway currently in place.

An excerpt from Catie’s description of the work:

Irreversible, transformed, and impaired – the material and spatial qualities of a house are dramatically altered with the introduction of fire. Severely damaged and unsafe, the house at 2230 14th Street necessitated a deconstruction. Framed by the setting and pace of demolition, Salvaged Landscape appropriates the charred wood from an arsoned house to create spatial adjustments which uncover the material qualities reliant on flame to exist. Amidst a purposeful tear-down, the project responds to the new textures, spaces, and light effects that resulted both from the fire and demolition. Using existing material from the house as the palette and existing spaces as form-work, Salvaged Landscape creates a new room in the life of the house keying into the opportunities present in its own timeline; constructed with the demolition of the house occurring around it. As a study of materials and light, the work explores the raw and scorched depths of the wood while simultaneously providing the work and the house with light punctures and the explorations of spaces intentionally left dark.

Read more about the project, Catie and The Imagination Station here.

Originally published on Core77