Jazzing Up the Climate-Friendly City: Scripts for Sustainable and Climate-Friendly Rehabilitation in Detroit and the Ruhr

Doctoral Researcher: Juliane Borosch, M.A.

Advisors: Prof. Dr. Barbara Buchenau and Prof. Dr. Michael Wala

Mentor: Prof. Michael Batty, University College London

Graphic of projects. Project Jazzing Up the Climate-Friendly City is highlighted.

The project Jazzing Up the Climate-Friendly City investigates landmarks of the former industrial city as anchor points for sustainable urban renewal in Detroit and the Ruhr Area. The aim is to find out how and by whom these sites are loaded up with future potential for the long-lasting recovery and are, thus, revaluated. This, I argue, happens at the conjunction of the sustainable and creative city scripts through the practice of “jazzing up” as a vehicle for sustainable urban development. The practice or method of jazzing up, meaning “to enliven; to render more interesting, exciting, or vibrant” (OED), offers the project productive lenses to tackle and analyze mechanisms and techniques of urban renewal.

To investigate this, I work with concepts of urban hermeneutics, media studies, and the notion of ‘the city as a text’ as well as materials such as maps, planning documents, and the architecture of buildings in a transnational comparison of two icons of postindustrial urbanity, Detroit and the Ruhrgebiet. Detroit and individual Ruhr area cities are comparable in population size and, although in different industries and to different extents, on the surface were caught in similar spirals of decline. 

My PhD project also includes an internship and research period in Detroit, through which I not only hope to identify the relevant stakeholders for my project, but also to collect material and seek to identify and work on interesting local projects. In my work with Zachary and Associates I will strive to acquire the practical skills needed for the variety of projects they work on and to bring my expertise on media and textual production and analysis to the table. Their close cooperation with academic institutions will help me to further develop and interweave the dual qualities of practical and academic work my dissertation is composed of.