Red Bull Creation Detroit: Recreating The Wheel

Craft & Design
Red Bull Creation Detroit: Recreating The Wheel


If you’re reading Make:, there’s a pretty good chance you build stuff. It may be little stuff, it may be big stuff, but you are probably a maker of things. The Red Bull Creation event is, for many of us, like an insane and wonderful vacation mixed with torture, for the contestants anyway.

The core concept is simple. You’re given a topic, a pile of material, and possibly a small budget, and told to build something awesome in 72 hours. By the time that timer hits 00:00:01, you’re exhausted, your brain is numb, and you’re not even really sure what day it is. Hopefully though, you’ve pulled off something wonderful.

As a judge, well, we just get to watch, eat, and sleep all we want. It really is a sweet gig.

This year the event was held in an incredible location. This video below will give you the backstory and a bit of info.

YouTube player

Here’s a slideshow of some of the amazing artwork I found while wandering around the recycling center. It really was impressive.

The theme for this year’s 72 hour build-off was “Reinventing the Wheel.” The teams were told to revisit an older idea with the focus being ways to improve their community. After a short huddle to get their ideas in order, assembly was begun and sparks started to fly!

Here are the final results from each of the teams.

Maker Twins: Judges Choice Winner

Farmers markets are wonderful places, but Maker Twins noticed a bit of an area for improvement. In order to take your goods to market, you have to pull it from the soil or cut it from its stalk. If it isn’t purchased, it is wasted. Their concept is a station that carries crate planters so that you can take your still-growing goods to market, then back home if they don’t sell.

i3 detroit: Team Choice and People’s Choice winners

The scarecrow is a concept that many of us have seen since we were children. I3 took the idea to a bit more modern end with motion sensors, live cam feeds, motors, and water jets. What really seemed to capture people’s enthusiasm though was their creative reuse of old windshields. The idea is that these windshields are perfect for greenhouse material and they are otherwise going to be used for nothing but landfill contributions.


Local news means different things depending on where you live and what scale you’re thinking. Omnicorp built what they consider to be the ultimate neighborhood hub. This station has a grill for food, a PA system, and a nice countertop. You can see all that pretty clearly in the photos. What you can’t really see is the entire neighborhood based news system they built so that you can post news that is local to your neighborhood for others to see!


Public service mixed with a dash of mischief. This double-barreled air cannon could be used to spray the roads with salt. It could be used to plant seeds in unused fields which are surprisingly common in Detroit. We saw it launching candy and stuffed animals over crowds of onlookers.


1.21 Jigawatts

Reinventing the typewriter was the goal of this project. The construction was incredible looking. All of us on the location kept coming over to see how this radial typewriter head on steroids was going to perform. Unfortunately, there was some kind of technical difficulty so we never really got to type on the walls.


MB Labs

The park bench may be a tried and true piece of community furniture but this bench has a few bells and whistles that just might be handy. Not only was it incredibly rugged (concrete and steel!), it had a hands-free computer interface for posting information and getting directions. You simply hold your hand above it and it detects what you’re doing using a leap-motion controller.

Tactical Urbanists

Recreating the Detroit aesthetic through communal art. This giant wall of steel is lit from behind. In order to turn the lights on, you have to pedal one of the stations to generate the electricity.


After following the Red Bull Creation contest for 4 years now, I have to say that this location was an incredible choice. The environment was just simply perfect for this contest. I can’t wait for next year.

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I get ridiculously excited seeing people make things. I just want to revel in the creativity I see in makers. My favorite thing in the world is sharing a maker's story. email me at hello (at)

View more articles by Caleb Kraft


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