Heidelberg Project – When Trash Speaks Its Mind Through Art

It’s been proven anywhere—that trash can be recycled. It’s been known—that there’s money (and for some–food) in trash. There’s beauty in there, too. Then, there’s art.

Even before Detroit is known as the city on the verge of bankruptcy, Heidelberg Project has been around for many years. Its existence has been challenged, questioned, mired with negative views and tried to be demolished, the community and its surroundings were defiant to just give up and move on.


Today, The Heidelberg Project grows into something more than just a tourist attraction. It is now a haven for budding artists who want to improve and show their craft. It goes to schools and community and gives comprehensive lectures about art and how it can be used as a purveyor of truth and how it can be used as a tool to change and challenge communities. It gives group tours, too, for those who want to learn more about the project and to bridge understanding between man and the things around him.

Heidelberg Project Detroit

The Heidelberg Project in Detroit doesn’t just have beauty but uses art to convey its message about art itself.

Heidelberg Project Detroit

About politics.

Heidelberg Project Detroit

About religions. 

heidelberg Project detroit

About society. 

Heidelberg Project Detroit

About the environment. 

Heidelberg Project Detroit

About the city and the neighbourhood. 

Heidelberg Project Detroit

And about the issues that matter in the society and about ourselves.

Heidelberg Project Detroit

Ok, these are all useless, filthy junk for a regular eye.

Heidelberg Project Detroit Tyree Guyton

This house was burned—and instead of totally demolishing it, they make it into a canvas of artistic expression.

But, really, if you walk around ALONE with your thoughts, you’ll find something out of the pile of rubbish before you.

The Human Sundial Detroit

The Human Sundial

Even if you don’t have an artsy bone, you’ll realize that those outdoor installations speak to you.

Heidelberg Project Detroit

This is the OJ House. No, not The OJ Simpson we know. OJ stands for OBSTRUCTION of JUSTICE!

You just have to take it bit by bit, detail by detail or junk by junk–if you prefer it that way.

Heidelberg Project Detroit

 You want an example? Let’s see…

Heidelberg Project Detroit Tyree Guyton

This installation tells us about the broken health care system in America.

Project Heidelberg Detroit

This house adorned with RPM records is about Detroit being known as the Motown City.

Motown House project Heidelberg Detroit

The Motown House / The House of Soul / Heidelberg Project

These shoes may mean someone’s journey, including the homeless and the unfortunate. If they could talk, they’d tell you stories from their heels and soles!

Project Heidelberg Detroit

While covered in stuff toys, this Party Animal House spoke of my previous life abroad.

Project Heidelberg Detroit

Party Animal House / Heidelberg Project

This Dotty Wotty House as it is called, with its various colors and sizes of dots from the bottom to the roof—speaks of harmony in diversity.

Dotty Wotty House aka The People's House / Project Heidelberg

Dotty Wotty House aka The People’s House / Project Heidelberg

This could be about our sinking world or simply about Noah and his Arc.

Heidelberg Project in Detroit.

Noah’s Arc at Heidelberg Project in Detroit.

This yard of vacuum cleaners reminds people to clean up their city–but the politicians don’t want to get their hands in filth, thus, the gloves on the handle.

Project Heidelberg detroit

The outdoor installations at Heidelberg Project are there to provoke thought and at the same time to save neighbourhoods on the verge of decay.

Tim Burke's Detroit Industrial Gallery

Tim Burke’s Detroit Industrial Gallery 

And ultimately heal a broken and divided communities.

Tim Burke Detroit Industrial Gallery

Tim Burke’s Detroit Industrial Gallery

Going around Heidelberg Project

Before I googled some info about the project, it seemed like most articles said about the blighted neighborhood as kind of “dangerous”. In fact I’ve read articles that it’s better to just drive through around and admire it from your car window. Really? And that’s how you call traveling or “I’ve been there” statement to your friends and warn them about it based on your experience from your car window? Pfffft….

The area isn’t that big, actually. If you are there to just see what’s the agog about this project, you’ll be done in less than an hour.

While I was there in mid-morning, the street was almost empty but I was still very cautious—blame it to those articles I’ve read. Ok, I admit, I was kind of nervous the moment I got off the bus and started walking to Heidelberg Street. It really was quiet. The houses look abandoned and uninviting.

But as soon as I saw the first samples of the outdoor art installation, those fears vanished, little by little. Excitement came over me and it didn’t take me long to forget about my safety worries.

Heidelberg Project in Detroit.

Heidelberg Project in Detroit.

In my entire two-hour stay there, I saw 15 or more cars, probably tourists too, traversing down slowly (but most had a quick stop in installations that caught their attention) on Heidelberg Street. For my first hour there, I noticed I was the only tourist around. And the next hour, I met two.

I saw a woman smiling and waving at me from her porch. She must have been amused at me posing in front of my tripod. LOL…. There was a young man who came out of a back door in a house, nodded his head when he saw me while puffing a cigarette. Then, two teenage girls appeared on their patio and one greeted, “Hi.”

Was it dangerous? Apparently, it wasn’t for me.

Number House Project Heidelberg Project in Detroit

The Number ONE House at Heidelberg Project in Detroit.

Meet the artist and visit the Number House

If you are lucky, you can meet the artist, Tyree Guyton at Number House (a house full of number art, obviously). You can also buy stuff there and get to know more information about the project. They also organize tours. However, they open at around noon. I was there in mid-morning, so I wasn’t able to visit the Number House and didn’t meet anyone from Heidelberg Project.

But I did hop from one dot to another. Here’s the proof. 😀

Heidelberg Project in Detroit.

Heidelberg Project in Detroit.

Heidelberg website.


A wanderer. A frustrated photographer. Hiker. Lover. Half extrovert, half introvert. Solo traveler.


  • I went there alone, too. I’m not into art, let alone appreciate trash. But, I think I learn something out of it—that our trash is another person’s art.I’d say I like the Motown House.

  • The Heidelberg Project inspired me to “green the beige” in China. The HP folks have been making the most out of a messy situation for decades now 😉

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