Akoaki & “Detroit Cultivator” @ Detroit Free Press
While the narrative about Detroit’s comeback and big plans for development often seem to revolve around a few corporation-owned-and-operated corridors, a design duo called Akoaki, comprised of wife-and-husband architecture team Anya Sirota and Jean Louis Farges, has been quietly at work for the past four years in close conjunction with community members and cultural partners in Detroit’s North End neighborhood.
“We met people in the neighborhood, and we started listening to stories,” says Sirota, who is also an assistant professor at University of Michigan’s Taubman College of Architecture + Urban Planning. “Understanding the narrative of the place made it impossible not to try and figure out how to participate in recounting that story.”
Sirota and Farges have some revolutionary notions about the application of design, not as a slick, aesthetic driver for development initiatives that benefit wealthy investors, but as a tool in the service of an existing Detroit population, comprised of individuals that may find themselves struggling to hang on as gentrification comes to their neighborhoods in the guise of progress.