A Circle of Wagons Clad in Corrugated Metal: True North in Detroit by EC3
The prize-winning True North ensemble occupies a parcel of land near the centre of Detroit. It comprises eight irregularly positioned units. The space between has been lovingly planted and invites residents to enjoy community activities outdoors. The buildings are Quonset huts - structures of corrugated metal, similar to the Nissen huts used during the Second World War. They stand on concrete foundation plates and, depending on their size and height, are covered in corrugated metal sheeting of various curvatures.
The architects from EC3 have succeeded in transforming these prefab constructions, which are optimized for functionality and efficiency, into living spaces. The transverse walls of the semicircular units are closed off with a combination of steel framing and translucent polycarbonate panels which allow daylight to stream in.
In contrast to the gleaming silver exterior, the inside of each arched construction features sleek, white surfaces or wood veneer. In terms of spatial program, no two of the small huts are alike. The floor plans are intended for creative use; this means they are as free as possible and can be furnished individually. Nearly every unit has an open, integrated half-storey that enlarges the usable space. Some huts have a central operational island. These islands are also of polycarbonate and include the kitchen, bathroom, storage and technical rooms. In other huts, EC3 have placed essential installations along the edges.
The main focus of the True North project is the connecting elements of the small neighbourhood. While residents are well aware of the advantages that come with communal living, they can also withdraw into their respective living or working worlds at any time.