spencers art house: a design laboratory and community space spencers art house: a design laboratory and community space
oct 10, 2013

spencers art house: a design laboratory and community space

spencers art house: a design laboratory and community space
all images courtesy of andrew perkins




transforming an abandoned funeral home in flint, michigan ‘spencer’s art house’ is an alternative community space for architects, designers, artists, and engineers to collaborate. the city was the birthplace of general motors and it has struggled ever since the decline of the auto industry – the project aims to become a catalyst in restoring its surrounding neighborhood. the experimental renovation uses reclaimed materials salvaged from vacant houses, construction debris, and other sources of waste, which helps to keep costs low and reduces the environmental impact. the house is designed to contain apartments on the second floor, while the first floor will be used to host workshops, classes, exhibitions, small performances and other community programs. the building itself will act as a blank canvas, continually changing, it hopes to be a model for the recovering of abandoned structures that is physically, financially, and socially accessible.


spencer’s art house is running a kickstarter campaign, which you can view here.



‘spencers art house: a design laboratory and community space’
video courtesy of andrew perkins



working with community members, local artists and builders, and an at-risk youth program, the project has become as much about interaction as physical improvements.


‘this summer we were able to hire four students from metro flint youth build – an at-risk youth program which also teaches building skills – to work directly with our seasoned builders and make their mark on the building. we’ve also worked with church groups, a number of artists, local universities, and even strangers just passing by and wanting to contribute.’  says the designers.


spencer’s art house has already hosted a number of community events, art exhibitions, puppet shows, concerts, potlucks, and film screenings – breathing life into a space that just months ago was a major eyesore in the neighborhood.



past and present state of the building



the adjacent vacant building has been embraced as a canvas and performance space



a 2000 gallon rainwater collection system is made from recycled containers used to ship syrup



a gordon matta-clark inspired cut opens the space between two stairwells, LED’s are embedded in the cavity of the wall



musicians, sculptors, painters, and cooks activate the formerly disused space



old floorboards are repurposed as an attractive siding detail



scrap pieces of wood, too short to be of use, create trusses that will repair a piece of the roof structure



a sample of completed projects



projected landscaping and paint schemes



materials from to-be demolished houses, construction dumpsters, and road-side rubbish are reinvented



designboom has received this project from our ‘DIY submissions‘ feature, where we welcome our readers to submit their own work for publication. see more project submissions from our readers here.

  • Hot cha! Superb!! A true delight and inspiration for all the community to see and create alongside artists, designers and architects.Reuse, respect and recreate a new Detroit. Grab all the old Detroit to sew it into the future lives of each participant. Not just in this city but everywhere it is needed.

    Lightmaker says:
  • brilliant idea and great job!

    annarita says:
  • Great reuse of a building… hope there is more like this on the horizon!

    bilbaggins says:

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