Unreal Estate

The term “unreal estate,” means “urban territory that has fallen out of the literal economy, the economy of the market, and thereby become available to different systems of value, whether cultural, social, political or otherwise.” Author of The Unreal Estate Guide to Detroit, Andrew Herscher describes Detroit as an area that is hardly recognized as a city in the eyes of other people. It is a shrinking city, a city that goes through extreme loss of population, jobs, infrastructure, investment, and property values. As Herscher reveals, a shrinking city is another term for an incredible city that is saturated with endless opportunities to undergo urban revitalization but is precluded in cities that function according to how the government plans. With no will to function outside of society and take leadership, downtown Detroit will not be undergoing urban renewal anytime soon. “Taking advantage of these opportunities requires an approach to the shrinking city not so much as a problem to

“Taking advantage of these opportunities requires an approach to the shrinking city not so much as a problem to solve than as a prompt to new understandings of the city’s spatial and cultural possibilities… Relinquishing the desire to repair the shrinking city may thus present excruciating challenges to architecture and planning” [1]. If one form of property value, namely the exchange value brokered by the failing market economy, is decreased, what does that imply what will happen to the rest of the economy? It is salient that Detroit doesn’t fall even lower in terms of crime, poverty, and unemployment rates when we consider the remaining citizens that choose to reside there. Therefore; the level of effort in imagination and innovation for the revitalization of Detroit should match the level of concern we have for the city plummeting into even darker despair.


 

Kevin Lynch, author of The Image and the Environment, recognizes that people “understand mentally process the form of cities through the recognition of key physical elements; these elements provide organizational clues and way-finding devices for people to oriented themselves in space; they engender emotional security and a sense of place-based ownership” [2]. Lynch uses the term “imageability,” which refers to the shape, color, or arrangement that helps us facilitate processing a city that is vividly intricate. It is also the quality in a physical object that will contribute to a high possibility of evoking a strong image in any observer. As a result, the observer of the city is able to perceive a strong, distinctive image and is also able to process, store, and organize the image with meaning. Some of

It is also the quality in a physical object that will contribute to a high possibility of evoking a strong image in any observer. As a result, the observer of the city is able to perceive a strong, distinctive image and is also able to process, store, and organize the image with meaning. Some of research methods in the field of environmental psychology can help us determine the imageability of a city include (but are not limited to) cognitive mapping, in-depth oral interviews, travel maps, direction observation, field reconnaissance walks, pedestrian interviews, aerial and ground-level photography, synthesis maps, and psycho-geographical maps.

Some element types include paths, edges, districts, nodes, and landmarks. These types of elements operate together to create different patterns of city layout. Observers tend to group elements of a city layout and organize them as complexes, which are sets of images that can overlap and interrelate with each other. Overall, the imageability of a city can be made by reducing, eliminating, adding, fusing, and distorting elements into a patterned rhythmic whole, helping us create a good plan for revitalization of the architecture and infrastructure of Detroit.


 

Works Cited

  1. Herscher, Andrew. The Unreal Estate Guide to Detroit. Ann Arbor: U of Michigan, 2012. Print.
  2. Lynch, K. (1960). The City Image and Its Elements. In Lynch, K (Eds.). The Image of the City. Cambridge: The MIT Press.