students chasing their dream

making sustainable housing accessible for everyone


Rebuilding Detroit

transforming broken-down houses into self-sufficient homes

The Motown Movement

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    Why do we do it?

    Fight climate change by creating a sustainable society.

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    How do we do it?

    Inspire people and make sustainable technology accessible for everyone

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    What do we do?

    Design an affordable and DIY method to transform broken-down houses into self-sufficient homes.

Inspiration & motivation
Why doesn’t everyone fight against climate change with the technologies already at hand? We stumbled upon this question during our architecture studies at the Technological University of Delft. We are able to transform old broken-down houses into self-sufficient homes all over the world, yet we show a lack of effort to inspire, motivate and empower others to do the same. This way, technical innovation and brilliance is left almost untouched by the majority of people.
Therefore, our goal is to upscale the fight against climate change by making sustainable housing accessible for everyone. We want to inspire and motivate others to take action for their own financial benefits, but moreover for the benefit of our future world and generations. Two birds with one stone, we would say.

Why Detroit
Before we visited Detroit, we expected to see an exceptional phenomenon happening: a metropolitan city in full decay. Instead, we saw a city putting itself back together and recovering its lost glory. What a resilience. This inexhaustible dedication inspired us as young architecture students.
We see great potential in implementing simple but effective technologies that go along with the Motor City’s resilient, creative and independent spirit. Residents have not only shown us that they embrace bold bottom-up initiatives, but also that they have the urge, capacity and desire to realize change. That’s why the ideal city for our pilot project is Detroit: the do-it-yourself city.

What we do
We develop and share low-budget and do-it-yourself methods to transform worn-down houses into self-sufficient homes. To demonstrate the methods, we will build showcases in Detroit and elsewhere around the world.
The different methods and techniques will serve as a menu for sustainable innovations. Various solutions will be displayed for the same item, added with useful information about the costs, savings, suppliers and assembly instructions.
The home serves as a showcase and a community center. The ground floor will be our demonstration home with a training center. The upper level of the two-family-home will be given to a Detroit family that lost their home due to tax foreclosures. Finally, the basement will be housing the local resource center that provides the neighbors with computers, wifi and books.

For more information you can download our information booklet or contact us.
The Motown Movement is part of a non profit organisation called The Future City Initiative. (ANBI registered)


The method


Reducing living costs by:
Adding extra insulation to lower heating bills. Installing an energy efficient heat pump to replace the old fashioned boiler system. Building a green roof to buffer water during heavy rains and insulate the roof.


Reusing materials and energy to:
Drastically bring back construction costs. Avoiding the loss of useful waste materials e.g. for insolation or construction. Turning surplus heat from surrounding industries into a communal heat source. Bringing back clean water usage, by using rainwater to flush the toilet and spray the garden.


Renewable energy helps increasing your savings and saving the environment with: Solar panels to produce electricity and heat from sunlight. Urban farming to stimulate communal involvement.  A septic tank to turn domestic sewage into biogas and plant nutrients, that can be reused for the urban farm.