The vertical network By Andres Pena, Jonas Gassmann, Chris Sokolowski, Ennis Randle & Zepa Tshendup​

The vertical network​

​By Andres Pena, Jonas Gassmann, Chris Sokolowski, Ennis Randle & Zepa Tshendup

The project is conceived as a vertical network in response to the growing urban population in New York. The building mediates between the existing urban fabric of the Meatpacking District and the addition of more diverse housing. The connecting lines between old and new become public spaces that connect the new apartments to the neighborhood. The placement of major public program elements based on their connection to the existing urban fabric becomes a generative design. While the city is typically conceived as a series of horizontal networks, the new building becomes a vertical network, drawing the public street upwards. Bridging through program relationships, views, duplication and public spaces become a strategy to generate new vertical networks that exist above and interact with the current urban fabric. 

Connection (Bridging)

The new relationships between the private apartments and the public urban spaces generated by drawing the city vertically into the building blur the line between public and private. The connections between the public and private spaces are expressed as voids that lend visual identity to the building and allow for flux as they mediate between the public and private activities that come together in them. Turning the street plan vertically creates connections in section as well as in plan, creating a dynamic urban environment inside the building. Because the connective spaces are generated based on relationships between the new program and the existing fabric, they can be repeated as modules throughout the city, while still connecting to the specific urban environments they are placed into.

Container for Complexity

The circulation path moves upward through the building and opens up connections between program spaces. The complex relationships created represent the chaos and density of New York City. Much as the grid creates an ordered reading of the competing and chaotic narratives inherent in New York City, the structural grid of the building and the rigid exterior form act as containers for complexity. The grid as controlling order creates the possibility for multiplicity of readings/experience. 


Due to the importance of the grid, the timber structural system becomes a key component of the buildings expression. While the project is Able to connect and join spaces at the urban scale, it’s also equally sensitive to weaving at the micro scale in the nature of the detailing of the structure. The structural logic of weaving subtly expresses the grace and flexibility of timber construction. The multiplicity of columns creates a dense vertical forest that draws one upward into the upper levels. The main floor connection detail functions without metal fasteners, adding an element of sustainability. 


The building alludes to the concept of sustainability on a literal level through the use of carbon sequestering timber and wood as the main structural and finish materials. The additions of public green spaces further reduce carbon and add natural elements into an area lacking in green spaces that are not on the high line. The concept of sustainability is applied to the social fabric of the neighborhood as well. An equitable response to densification requires that housing and access to relevant public space be provided for all, not just the wealthy. By mixing upper income and lower income units around shared public spaces a more equitable urban network is proposed that can be repeated throughout the city in areas of gentrification. Connections to the existing urban morphology smooth the rigid separation between the street level of the city and the economically divided vertical spaces of New York.​

City Above the City architecture competition

Plan B : City Above the City architecture competition 

Metsä Wood challenged architects and students around the world to push the boundaries of modern wood building design in the urban environment. Entrants from 40 countries created their Plan B to urbanisation using wood (Kerto® LVL – laminated veneer lumber) as the main material. The task was to design a wooden extension to an existing urban building. The entries were designed to 69 cities worldwide.

Explore the designs