“Searching for Sugar Land” is the result of an extensive and complex Final Thesis, completed at the Escuela Técnica Superior de Arquitectura de Madrid; it explores alternative understandings of the current state of Detroit and offers planning and design strategies for the future. The project proposes a global intervention in line with the territory’s urgent state, reconnecting and boosting the urban fabric through interactions with its citizens and using new technological tools.
Jaime Castilla Santos places particular emphasis on the concept of a ‘hypercity,’ first proposed by the Swiss historian André Corboz and related to the concept of ‘metapolis,’ which was coined by François Ascher. A hypercity aspires to describe both a morphology and an urban sociology. Regarding the shape of the hypercity, Ascher postulates that it is heterogeneous and not necessarily constituted by contiguity—it loses the topological pattern of the traditional city and is characterized by the phenomenon of space fragmentation.
A dynamic urban cartography establishes the pattern of architectural and urban development to pursue. Following a matrix of 500 by 500 meters within three categories (habitability and culture, production and innovation, and vegetation and energy), it identifies potentially prosperous landscapes. The outcome axonometric of the hypercity reveals a global and multi-scale vision of Detroit: selected fragments of the city work together simultaneously in the extended network of such a large mechanism. This transversal analysis allows global interventions for Detroit within an operative and open urban strategy. It also generates a catalog of strategies for transformation and improvements for isolated hubs of activities.
Detroit could become an archetype of urban regeneration. Through a strategic reactivation of the city, new landscapes would generate settlement models that are consistent with the environment and local resources. A sustainable and participatory urban model that would work for all Detroiters would be enabled by communication modes and new technology.
several decades, the citizens have been reinventing sustainable way of living
through entrepreneurship, creativity, and collaborative work. Detroit is considered a hub for industrial design and an art laboratory,
making it no surprise that the city joined the UNESCO Creative City Network in 2015.
 Andre Corboz is a Swiss historian of art, architecture, and urban planning. Following his statement: the postindustrial city might be defined by its relation system more than by its own geometry system.
 François Ascher is a French urban planner and sociologist.
DATE: 2016-2017 / STATUS: Final Thesis, Escuela Técnica Superior de Arquitectura de Madrid / COLLABORATOR: Jorge Aritz Urgoiti Serrano / IMAGES: Courtesy of Jaime Castilla Santos