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Borderline Detroit

Academic, Columbia University, Fall 2018 

Studio: Borderline Detroit | Tutors: Mabel Wilson | Team:Seda Oznal + Jonelle Jerwick



In the age of globalization, mass migration and digital connectivity, this project contemplate on Detroit, and Belle Isle, as a border that can be studied over the next 50 years. It speculates on what would happen if a global company like Amazon injects its protocols into a city that is emerging from urban decay. It questions how control and freedom, and our comprehension of the two, function within an increasingly interconnected, technological surveilled world. It explores different pressures and modes of resistance to the privatization of public space and infrastructure by imagining an overlap of two contradictory social scenarios. As it oscillates between the two, the narrative of territory and the public change within the projection of 50 years.


The project studies the spatial dimensions of how Amazon would territorialize the city and how it could become an ever-expanding archipelago. Today, Amazon continues to increase its sovereignty as it branches out into a transnational behemoth, and it feeds on two paradoxical futures: Society of Control and Postscarcity Society. It was found that these two contradictory futures contain similar structural systems. In this scenario, Amazon expands to eventually become a quasi-state where people give up freedom to gain security, order and societal predictability. Amazon does this by advocating for freedom and equality, but simultaneously increasing control over its privatized territory to become the only mechanism of power. The company controls all resources from “a to z” while there is a continued illusion of freedom. People are not restrained by physical enclosures but rather other forces that create constant confinement. Public and free space becomes surveilled and controlled space where bodies are not their own but are perpetually disciplined, fragmented and examined by Amazon. The two futures operate at multiple scales simultaneously in the project and the tension between the two fluctuates throughout the time. 

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