By Donghyun Kim, Hwani Lee, Sarah Watts & Youngsoo Yang
The design proposal responds to a problem of rapidly growing urban population in a limited confines of a city. The design solution not only addresses the urban density by building additional structure on top of existing buildings, but the proposal examines the quality of modern lifestyle in major mega-cities such as New York City.
The dense urban environment allows the city dwellers to live in a closer physical proximity to others – neighbors, business owners, locals and outsiders alike. However, despite the role of technology and social media advocating for a more connected world, it is becoming increasingly commonplace for us to build literal and mental walls around us to prevent real and meaningful interaction with others. The project examines this social phenomenon and challenges the notion of the walls and proposes a re-thinking of the approach to urban lifestyle.
The proposal introduces a village typology in an urban environment, where each inhabitant experiences a heightened sense of community and interdependence with his neighbors. Villages are a human-scale form of built environment, speaking the language of intimacy and harmony. The role of the village-like living structure plays a key role in the design of creating opportunities for human connection.
The wooden structure located on top of the entire city block consists of a 25’ x 25’ grid system inspired by the city’s man-made urban fabric. Each grid cell contains one single accommodation unit of 20’ x 20’ with 12 feet of height. The smaller unit within the bigger grid cell allows multiple locations, activating the spaces around it, according to its use. Therefore, one unit affects its neighboring units, thus creating opportunities for human interaction through the medium of building elements. The circulation of the spaces acts as a street, interweaving through the grid and providing public spaces throughout.
The neighborhood of Lower East Side on Manhattan has historically been one of the densest areas in the city since its early history as the immigrant neighborhood. The entire neighborhood has been designated as one of the most endangered places in America in 2008, due to the prevalent practice of demolishing historical buildings. Today, the Lower East Side neighborhood has transformed into a destination of nightlife and art scene, attracting the young population of the city. However, the area lacks public and green spaces that act as a social hub in the urban setting. The project addresses this problem by providing efficient living space for the urban population while creating opportunities for communication and interaction between the private and public realms of the city life.