Detroit Caterpillar Residence Marries Landscape and Steel


Detroit’s Caterpillar Residence is located in the Core City district and was designed by developer Prince Concepts and architect Ishtiaq Rafiuddin. Courtesy of Prince Concept / Photo courtesy Jason Keane


Vast roads, vast lands and low-rise buildings are what distinguish Motor City from other metropolitan areas. Located in the Core City district, Caterpillar emphasizes Detroit’s unique urban texture. Surrounded by tranquil greenery, the eight-unit home is striking yet humble and avoids invasiveness. Delicacy is key to developer Prince Concepts and architect Ish Rafiuddin, especially when introducing new construction in rapidly developing areas.

“Openland is synonymous with Detroit and we needed to enhance that aspect,” says Rafiudin, founder of a local business. Undecorated.. “Density creates social involvement in other cities, but here there are pauses between concentrated destinations, and Core City is one of them.” His company’s name is more than architectural decoration. He states that it reflects a focus on functionality. “I’m interested in the present, not the wrapping paper around it.”

The elongated 9,000-square-foot quartz hut structure sits on top of a lush landscape designed by Virginia-based Julie Bargmann. DIRT studio.. “Groundcover is a” cheap and cheerful “strategy that just plants white and crimson clovers. This is an ordinary plant that is ubiquitous, but here it is planted as a single plant. In other words, it’s like a farmer’s cover crop, “Bergman explains.

Courtesy of Prince Concept / Photo by Chris Mille


Caterpillar gives the impression of an alien spacecraft landing quietly in a grove, but the importance of Caterpillar’s industrial corrugated steel is not foreign to the neighborhood. Traditionally used to build military bases and barns, Prince Concepts first took advantage of True North’s steel structure, a core city project jointly developed with designer Edwin Chan in 2017.

Cost-effectiveness and durability were the main attractions of Rafiudin. Rafiudin’s unique, pre-designed shape differs from the structure of the nine huts due north. “Circular foam is an ideal way to increase distance efficiently,” he says. It was a vast land with a maximum allowed height of 35 feet, and the final shape was 46 feet wide and 23 feet high. The highest zone permit for residential building units is 8, but Prince Kafka, the founder of Prince Concepts, was indifferent to creating “neighborhood energy-hungry monsters.”

The interior, what architects call a “wooden box,” has a bathroom, shower, and laundry room that separates the living room from the private room. Each unit faces a wooden patio, an important feature of the city’s residential architecture and an important place for the social life of its inhabitants. “If you erase that vast space, you’ll lose Detroit,” says Kafka. He plans to consolidate the development by adding another 40 units to the current 22 units within the next five years.

Prince Concept Caterpillar Building 13

Courtesy of Prince Concept / Photo courtesy Jason Keane


Kafka began acquiring land in Core City after the 2012 bankruptcy of Detroit and has accumulated 17 acres ever since. After converting one-third of the 62,000-square-foot industrial property into a home, the developers dedicated 18,000-square-foot to public spaces, including Core City Park, within walking distance of Caterpillar. The site has more than 400 trees that adjust the metallic luster and poetic contrast of the quartz hut.

Rafiuddin and Kafka cite Lafayette Park in Mies van der Rohe, one of the architectural landmarks of their home and Detroit, as the inspiration behind the collaboration. A residential project that blends plenty of green space with modernist design and light includes two 22-story buildings and a series of townhouses surrounded by lush parks. The presence of an oasis of complex within the city’s overall industrial landscape served as evidence that 90% of the site could be booked for green space.

“Light, volume, and landscape,” says Kafka. “Three important factors for building a house.”

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