Revitalizing Detroit is no small feat, but perhaps it’s some of the smaller efforts that will help inject some dignity and positive attitude back into the city’s fractured community.
That’s what a group of artists, designers and residents are hoping to accomplish through “Door Stops,” a social project focused on filling the stretches of vacant lots and empty bus stops with mobile furniture—namely bus shelters and benches.
Using recycled doors recovered from demolished or salvaged homes, the group installs bus shelters bespeckled with colorful murals at transportation stops lacking seating for commuters to rest. The goal, according to the Detroit Design Center’s Craig Wilkins, is to change the perception of public transportation and, in simplest terms, brighten up an otherwise dreary landscape. As Wilkins told DesignPRWire’s Frank Scott:
“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.”
Since its inception, “Door Stops,” which is a play on the term “bus stops,” has gained recognition from the A’Design Award & Competition, where it received a silver medal in “Social Design.”
But the project is not meant to be permanent. Wilkins explains the mobile aspect means it’s up to commuters and city residents to determine where the furniture is most needed, which can change as the city evolves.
Sometimes that means not at all where they intended on placing the shelters. Wilkins notes that the biggest challenge so far is some of the first installations have disappeared, possibly by scrappers looking for metal. But he’s not discouraged, and insists the project is a gift to Detroit residents.
“If they find that they’re more useful to take them scrap them and put food on someone’s table, it’s not really our place to say no, that’s supposed to be a bus stop,” Wilkins told Fast Company.
The group has installed around 12 shelters since last September and intends to place about 25 in total by the year’s end. If funding is made available, “Door Stops” plans to include solar panels and GPS markers in the next round of units.
And while Wilkins admits it’s a small part of a larger push to get Detroit locals back on their feet, he contends it is an important part of addressing one of the community’s many concerns.
“It begins small, but has the ability to aggregate into a larger, cumulative impact,” he said.