The studio takes an interest in the library conceived as an institution that is iterative and experimental. Part of a relational and intersubjective web of community members, collections of things, spaces, and practices of sharing. Composed of structures and kits of parts with varying durations and lifespans, where new services and means of service can be incubated and tested. A cultural actor and social infrastructure that is both situated in place and distributed in time and space.

The studio operates via paradigms of radical reuse, multifunction, and abberent material ecologies to propose an adaptation and expansion of the Bowen Branch Library in Detroit’s Mexicantown. Closed since the start of the pandemic, this historic building and allied urban spaces will be re-imagined and re-imaged, re-programmed and re-coded, re-energized and re-formulated.

The ethos and working methodology of the studio is to embrace collective knowledge production, sharing, borrowing, and lending. The studio began with collecting precedents on local library buildings, nonstandard libraries, and critical spatial practices. The site and building were explored by collectively mapping local actors, networks, and assemblages. Students developed their own program for the expanded Bowen Branch starting with the development of a Charter+Code of Relations that define and script the relationships, practices, possibilities, and architectural approaches.




For years the Bowen Branch has operated as a haven for learning and opportunity within Mexicantown in Southwest Detroit. This addition will continue to grow the Library as a haven for safety and favorable opportunities and conditions for literacy and learning which are not always presented in society. The tension between needs for safety while offering accessibility will be the binding force for both program and community. The Haven will expand the library as social infrastructure by creating accessible outdoor space, mediating between street activity and privacy, and mesh network of public community wi-fi.

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