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Last on

Tue 7 Jun 2011 11:30 BBC Radio 4 FM only

30 minutes
First broadcast:
Tuesday 07 June 2011

In a city that has shed almost fifty percent of its population since its peak in 1950 - the problem of abandoned houses and crumbling neighbourhoods in Detroit is a significant one.

As architect Dan Hoffman, remarked, "unbuilding has surpassed building as the city's major architectural activity." Since 1970 almost one-third of the city's occupied houses, more than the total number of occupied dwellings in the entire city of Cincinnati, has been demolished - but many more still remain.

The city has become a site of artistic pilgrimage for some - often times painted as a ghost town, with images that contain no trace of humanity - just skeletal, abandoned structures reaching up into the sky. But concealed behind the symbolism of this grand, decaying industrial city and its emptiness lies a vibrant network of artists, activists and architects - seeking to beautify, to transform and to re-imagine Detroit.

In this programme we discover how charred, crumbling buildings and dilapidated factories - remnants of Motown's industrial past- have been transformed into riots of colour and sound. Featuring contributions from the artists Scott Hocking, Tyree Guyton and Olayami Dabls.

Produced by Eleanor McDowall
A Falling Tree Production for BBC Radio 4.


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