International Architecture Workshop Publishes Entropia to Document Borderlands Workshop

In the November 2007, Taubman College hosted the International Architecture Workshop. The workshop, which was directed by assistant professor Gretchen Wilkins, was called “Borderlands,” and the proposals and symposium proceedings have been released in the publication Entropia.The Borderlands workshop explored urbanism in Detroit, and Entropia is the product of that discussion.

Borderlands brought together over eighty architecture students and faculty from around the world to join students here at Taubman. The International Architecture Workshop is a consortium of architects and educators researching contemporary issues of architecture and urbanism through design and teaching. It is a collaboration between Taubman College at the University of Michigan; Tohoku University, Miyahi University, and Tohoku Institute of Technology (all from Sendai, Japan); the Royale Melbourne Institute of Technology University (RMIT) in Australia; the Ecole Nationale Superieure d’Architecture de Montpellier (ENSAM) in France; and the Universitat Internacional de Cataluna, Barcelona, Spain. Hosted annually by one of the participating universities, each workshop focuses on architecture and urbanism as influenced by current technological, economic, or environmental shifts.

The Borderlands workshop included not only the students and faculty of the aforementioned universities but also representatives from four Detroit-area nonprofit organizations to develop proposals for a site in southwest Detroit. These proposals were the subject of a public exhibit and symposium at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Detroit (MOCAD) and the UM Detroit Center in December 2007.

Entropia, published in both English and in French, is the culmination of the proposals for Detroit, but it is also the result of having so many people speaking different languages working together for a common goal. As Gretchen Wilkins discusses in her forward to the publciation, “the Borderlands workshop…was an exercise in translations. French, English, Spanish, Japanese, and Swedish were the first languages for the students making the common language not one of words but of drawings…Most significantly, perhaps, and unforeseen, were the many translations of the term ‘urbanism.’…In the end, what became evident during this workshop was that if the word urbanism ‘was taken through the languages of the world, translating from one to another in turn until in the end you returned back to English,’ it would not return to the same point. But perhaps potential is revealed by defining what something is not.”

Entropia is available for viewing as an on-line flip book.