Shampoo is a four people team which during the 16 month period of the Architectural Association’s DRL v.11 has developed the master thesis project under the title “Urban Reef”.
The project is a housing proposal for the Hudson Yards area of New York. Occupied by a train depot, the site forms a recess in the continuity of the ground plane, while acting both as a physical division that prohibits any connections of the Midtown part of Manhattan to the Hudson River as well as a programmatic boundary with transportation and industrial uses bordering the adjacent residential and commercial areas.
Urban Reef addresses these problems of localized ground discontinuity and programmatic and physical isolation within a larger urban area, by proposing a highly connected three dimensional network of housing integrated with commercial as well as recreational uses. Working to a brief of 3,000 housing units, the normative isolated high-rise building type found in New York, is replaced by a series of mid rise buildings that incline to minimize structural spans and interconnect in order to maximize the area available for housing and communal space development, effectively enhancing social integration.
On an urban scale, a plan of infrastructural nodes located around Hudson Yards is superimposed on a map of hourly pedestrian counts (AM, PM and total counts) at street junctions around the site, with each node acquiring a connectivity value assigned by its nearest pedestrian count location. The organisational logic inherent in Maya hair dynamics is used to optimize the path network of connections between these nodes and subsequently to generate a series of ground plane apertures that would define the positioning and height of the buildings’ vertical circulation cores. Of a number of possible scenarios for the allocation of the buildings between the circulation paths, the one selected is with a continuous mass of housing buildings from midtown Manhattan to the Hudson River, in order to connect the heart of Manhattan to its otherwise ‘natural’ outlet, the riverside pedestrian paths.
Furthermore, research on natural systems and more specifically the coral reef model as an example of an adaptive ecology that is defined by local relationships, the coral growth principle of increased growth rate at areas of high curvature is used to inform the distribution and positioning of the housing units within the proposed network, while the fusion principle is investigated to differentiate the housing typology according to the parameters of height, orientation and position in the site.
Alexander Robles Palacio
The Design Research Laboratory at the Architectural Association is a 16-month post-professional design programme leading to a Masters in Architecture and Urbanism (MArch in Architecture & Urbanism) degree. For over a decade the DRL has been organised as an open-source design studio dedicated to a systematic exploration of new design tools, systems and discourses, targeted towards design innovations in architecture and urbanism. Learning in the studio is project-based and includes the development of comprehensive, year-long design projects supported by design workshops and seminars applying new forms of associative logic. Collective design teams, organised within five parallel design studios, address an overall design research agenda through shared information-based diagrams, data, models and scripts.