Detroit Ice House Highlights Housing Crisis

New York-based photographer Gregory Holm returned to his hometown of Detroit to draw attention to the nation’s housing crisis by coating an abandoned house with a sheet of ice.  Called the Detroit Ice House, the project was designed to inspire residents of a city with thousands of vacant homes and a foreclosure rate that is among the nation’s highest.

Working with Brooklyn-based architect Matthew Radune, Holm covered the two-story house – its windows broken and boarded-up — with ice that reflects the sunlight and icicles that reach from the roof almost to the ground.  At first, the men used rooftop sprinklers, but those froze in the cold mid-teen temperatures.  Eventually, they sprayed the house from fire hydrants via hoses.

Holm and Radune picked the house, which was about to be torn down, from Michigan’s land bank.  Additionally, they agreed to pay back taxes on another foreclosed house so a Detroit woman can move into it.  The Detroit Ice House will be torn down in spring and the building materials recycled.

“This gives them an opportunity to see something different in their neighborhood,” Holm said.  “It’s not saying it’s going to change afterward.  But it’s a gift.  This has been a real test of will.”