Deploy the Devoider!

Our entry to the "Urban Voids" competition introduced cheap, modular components that offered residents a quick, efficient, and attractive way to repurpose vacant lots.


Van Alen Institute

Project Team:

Tobias Armborst, Daniel D’Oca, Georgeen Theodore

Deploy the Devoider! is our entry to the Van Alen Institute Urban Voids Grounds for Change International Ideas Competition. The entry received honorable mention.

Our response to the competition, which asked entrants to come up with new visions for vacant land in Philadelphia, was to stress that there are already a lot of visions for vacant land in Philadelphia, and that instead of envisioning a vision, maybe we do better to ease-out and advocate for a vision that already exists, but that has fewer resources available to it than some of the others (i.e., less money, fewer advocates, less legitimacy).

The vision we chose to advocate for is that of the self-interested tactician, the sole purpose of which is to improve an individual lot. These are visions that don't add up to a strategy so much as result in an arsenal of tactics (for example, the wheelchair ramp on the vacant lot next to 2702 W. Susquehanna, the numerous ad-hoc residential additions, and the Vending Mall at Ridge Ave and 23rd Street).

Our strategy is: let's advocate for them by building them a line of cheap, modular components (the Devoider) that offer them a quick, efficient, and attractive way to colonize and repurpose vacant lots. Let's give these self-interested tacticians a place at the table. Let's deploy the devoider!