Heidelberg 3.0 begins with renovation of iconic Numbers House


Heidelberg Project to Create Detroit’s First Arts and Culture Village

DETROIT —Heidelberg 3.0, the groundbreaking new vision for the Heidelberg Project is underway. Construction has begun on the iconic Numbers House, one of only two original Heidelberg Project structures standing within the internationally-acclaimed outdoor art installation.

“The reinvention of the Numbers House marks the beginning of a new era for the Heidelberg Project and for the neighborhood we’ve called home for the last thirty years,” said Jenenne Whitfield, president and CEO of the Heidelberg Project. “Rebuilding this structure is the first step toward realizing our vision. We’re not just making a bricks and mortar investment by rebuilding the structure, we are creating a community center for people that will inspire a new generation of creative leaders.”

The renovated Numbers House will feature a premiere artist in residence program, a new studio and gallery for emerging artists, and an education and event space for neighborhood events and youth programming. The current funky, visually-stimulating appearance of the building will also undergo a transformation. Tyree Guyton, the artist and founder of the Heidelberg Project, will select an artist to design a new installation on the exterior of the building, the first of many new artists to be engaged in the collaborative Heidelberg 3.0.

The Numbers House is a few doors from the Dotty Wotty House where Tyree Guyton grew up. The home belonged to Thelma Woods and her family who asked Guyton to paint numbers on the house to help teach her young children to count in the 1990’s. Upon her passing, she shared with Guyton that she wanted her house to remain a part of the Heidelberg Project forever. 

“I can’t believe the house is still standing and that my mother will have a legacy,” said Jeremiah Woods, Thelma’s son and one of the boys that inspired the original Numbers House installation.

Construction of the Numbers House begins almost exactly one year from the date when Whitfield kicked off a $100,000 capital campaign to raise funds for a new roof, windows, and basic plumbing and electrical work. The six-month effort brought in nearly $110,000 to kick-start construction. 

The new roof is expected to be completed this fall and demolition of interior walls has already begun. Construction is expected to start in the spring. Laavu, a Detroit-Based Architectural Design Practice rooted in city-building will serve as the design partner.

“This is only the beginning of Heidlelberg 3.0,” said Whitfield. “This can be a blueprint for how Detroit neighborhoods can be rebuilt with long-term residents and new residents working together to be part of something bigger. Together we are going to reimagine this community, lift it up economically and preserve the legacy of what Tyree built over the last 31 years.”


Founded in 1986 by artist Tyree Guyton, The Heidelberg Project is a Detroit-based community organization that uses art as a catalyst to breathe new life into the community, transforming what others saw as trash into public, outdoor art installations. The nonprofit also offers free art programs to thousands of children in the neighborhood and at Detroit and suburban schools. In August 2016, Guyton announced Heidelberg 3.0, a new vision to transform his childhood neighborhood from an arts installation driven by one man into a self-sustaining arts and culture village.