Flower House

Photos courtesy of Flower House

This October, a team of florists from around the country will converge on a dilapidated two-story house in Detroit and fill it to the brim with fresh flowers and greenery.

Flower House exteriorFlower House, the brainchild of Detroit-based florist Lisa Waud, is just one of many projects that grapples with the challenge of revitalizing a struggling city while also honoring and respecting its complex history.

Because the ephemeral nature of such a project, the house will only be open to the public for one weekend (Oct. 16-18) before the property is finally "deconstructed" and transformed into a sustainable flower farm. In that brief window, however, visitors will have the chance to witness a house immersed in thick floral carpets, leafy green walls and ceilings that are positively dripping with hanging vines.

"When the visitors are gone and the flowers have wilted, the materials will be the first to make up the composting system at the future flower farm," Waud writes. "While it may seem wasteful to have used them for a brief, artful weekend, the flowers will have been a part of a story being recounted, told and written. Just like the materials in the structures, the flowers will live on as something new and beautiful."


Once a global manufacturing powerhouse and a thriving city of fine art and grand architecture, Detroit has witnessed a tremendous economic and population decline over the past several decades — a history lesson in deindustrialization and suburbanization of the mid to late 20th century. From 1950 to the present day, the city's population has decreased by 164 percent — from 1.8 million to around 700,000.

As residents began to leave the city in droves — some for lack of jobs, some due to white flight — the houses and buildings where they once lived, worked and attended school remained, monuments of another era. Over the years, many of these abandoned structures have succumbed to the forces of nature and have been demolished.

The Flower House will meet a similar fate soon enough, but rather than simply tearing down the structure and sending all the waste to a landfill, Waud and her time hope to bring beauty and joy to the home one last time before remaking the land into something that can benefit the people of the city.

Flower House installation

To ensure that this process is as ecologically responsible as possible, Waud and her team have partnered with Reclaim Detroit, an organization that eschews traditional demolition practices in favor of a more eco-friendly "deconstruction" method. Through the selective dismantlement and reclamation of the materials on abandoned properties, Reclaim Detroit helps create job opportunities for local Detroiters who face barriers to employment.

"The goal is to dismantle the structures and divert as much 75 percent of the reusable materials out of the landfill," Waud explains. "The hope [is] that this deconstruction and land repurposing will inspire others to see abandoned structures as platforms for art and business, and to use them in an environmentally responsible way."

Continue below to see a sampling of what's to come in the October installation, and if you'd like to help subsidize the eventual transformation of the property into a flower farm, consider donating to the Flower House Indigogo campaign, which is rapidly approaching its deadline.

Mossy chair in the Flower House
Hanging tulips in the Flower House
Vegetation wrapped around chicken wire in the Flower House
Blue blooms in the Flower House
* * * 
Catie Leary is a photo editor at Mother Nature Network. Follow her on Twitter and Google+.

Catie Leary ( @catieleary ) writes about science, travel, animals and the arts.

Abandoned Detroit home scooped up from foreclosure to be festooned with flowers
Following this floral installation, the property will be deconstructed and transformed into a sustainable flower farm.