A Detroit designer wants to convert the doors of abandoned homes into colorful, creative bus stops


(Craig L. Wilkins, 2013)

The painstaking process of revitalizing Detroit will include dealing with its enormous inventory of abandoned real estate. Just last week the city announced that they would begin hosting eBay-like auctions for abandoned homes, and to give you a sense of the potential home value of some of the properties, bids start at $1,000.

A Detroit designer wants to convert the doors of abandoned homes into colorful, creative bus stops. (Craig Wilkins)
A Detroit designer wants to convert the doors of abandoned homes into colorful, creative bus stops. (Craig Wilkins)

But beyond eliminating the blight of abandoned homes and distressed neighborhoods, Detroit also has to find a way to make people want to live there again.

In an effort to address some of those issues simultaneously, artist Craig Wilkins has conceived of converting old doors, salvaged and donated from the city’s homes, into works of art that can also serve as inviting and pleasant-looking bus stops. In the process, he hopes to contribute to what will be a long process of changing perceptions about the troubled city.

From the team behind “Door Stops”:

Bus stops advertise the transit system to the public. A stop that looks dirty or neglected, or whose waiting passengers look hot, cold, wet, confused or vulnerable sends a devastating message: you’re lucky you don’t have to ride the bus. The use of public transportation is typically read as being without means; that the people, place and service of public transportation are at best, secondary considerations in the economic and environmental operations of the city. We wanted to change that.

It seems to make perfect sense: When people see tired souls huddled around a bus stop that looks dilapidated or unsafe, they may be loathe to use it themselves. Is it a small consideration in the context of the massive problem of poverty, urban flight, and debt problems Detroit faces? No doubt. But the project seeks to not only change the physical space, but also restore some of the dignity of people who rely on public transportation.

Wilkins and the project’s creators also have another goal:

As functional architecture, these structures must offer tangible benefits to riders of weather protection, boarding identification and rest area. As pieces of art, they must offer constantly changing public art and opportunities for local artists to ply their trade and talents. Together, they have to provide an opportunity for riders and residents to create a space of their own making; a choice that will ultimately comment on the state of transportation and the quality of the public realm.

The benches are designed to be mobile so they can be more responsive to changes in public transportation. The project was the winner of the A’ Design Award competition. And in a second phase of its design, Wilkins is looking at incorporating solar lighting and GPS markers in the structures.


(Craig L. Wilkins, 2013)
Abby Phillip is a general assignment national reporter for the Washington Post. She can be reached at abby.phillip@washpost.com. On Twitter: @abbydphillip
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