Advancing the Science of Domicology

By: Rex LaMore Ph.D., MSU CCED, Director,

Domicology - Study of Structural Life Cycle

Imagine a future where abandoned buildings do not litter our communities. Imagine a future where limited public resources are no longer spent cleaning up contaminated industrial sites or tearing down substandard buildings. Imagine a future where we recognize that most man made structures—residential, commercial, industrial and others—have a "life cycle" where at the end of the useful life of a structure it is systematically deconstructed to maximize the reuse of its materials. Imagine a future where we reduce the ever increasing demand for raw materials because we reuse salvaged materials in good condition. Imagine a future where we reduce the negative social, environmental, and economic impacts of blight on our communities. If you can imagine this, and the tools, models, policies and practices that can create such a future, you are an emerging "Domicologist."

This spring, 20 undergraduate and graduate students at Michigan State University participated in a unique special topics course, examining the field of "Domicology." This multidisciplinary collection of students from urban planning, construction management, environmental sciences and interior design learned about the environmental, social, and economic effects of property abandonment. Rex LaMore, Director of the MSU Center for Community and Economic Development (CCED) and faculty member of the MSU Urban and Regional Planning Program in the School of Planning, Design and Construction led the course with support from a team of talented CCED Research Associates—Ms. Hafsa Kahn, Ms. Lauren Ross and Ms. Madison Sorsen—who assisted in conducting a thorough review of the causes of blight and abandonment, and the social, environmental and economic impacts associated with property abandonment.

Students in the class had the opportunity to contribute to a primer on "Domicology." As a new field of study, student research papers contributed substantially to understanding the multidimensional policy and practice implications of a new built environment paradigm. Selected papers are being compiled into a primer and will be made available via internet and other methods to those who may wish to learn more about this field of study. Together these groups proposed innovative strategies to end our current structural paradigm that is not only unsustainable, but unjust in its effect on our most vulnerable communities.

To learn more about Domicology, visit our web page.

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