Isovist Map of Indian Village Detroit Neighborhood

by: Magdalene Kuhns

This map was created as a piece of research into the Indian Village neighborhood. We wanted to
examine how the viewsheds became restricted by the dense number of homes in 1951 and then opened
back up after blight took parts of the city out. As a part of a course that required us to design a response
to a Detroit neighborhood that had experienced major demolitions, we felt it was important to examine
how it changed spatially over time.

The images were produced using a Grasshopper visual script in a Rhino model of the
neighborhood. Firstly, my team and I created maps of the neighborhood in 1910 and 1951 using
Sanborn map database. Then we created a 3D model with the Elk plugin, which used Open Street Map
data to create the building masses. Once we had the model, we used the Isovist component to create
our viewsheds. The component starts at a selected point (designated by the “plus” signs on the map)
and draws bursts that connect to the closest points of each geometry near it.

This process allowed us to look at how different homes on the site were connected by view, and
when we got down to ground level, we could compare how it felt to be in the neighborhood at its most
dense and at its most sparse. Honoring the dignity of the residents was important in the design process,
so our response needed to take into account the experience of the street.

Maggie is a student interested in observing life at all scales through varied mediums. Currently studying at Lawrence Technological University, she is pursuing a dual-degree in civil engineering and architecture with the eventual goal of studying urban design in postgraduate work.

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