From a historical point of view, in the mid 1800s, hundreds of Manhattan blocks were overbuilt as tenement housing, with no standards for minimum space, light or ventilation being a result of many housing developments having 90% or more site coverage. A century later, in the 1950s, the ‘tower in the park’ developments such as Stuyvesant Town on the Lower East Side of Manhattan and with site coverage of merely 10%, proved to be equally dysfunctional with the open spaces at the base of the towers generating a series of social problems. As a response to the identification of green space as a significant part of any housing development in New York and Manhattan both historically as well as socially and economically, the proposal reinvents the idea of public space and internalizes parts of what could potentially be an oversized open green space at ground level, into the centre of the building as well as in the horizontal connections between the buildings, transforming these spaces into catalysts for communal urban living as a series of public attractors nested within the three dimensional housing network.
Furthermore, on a housing level, 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.
Relationships within this parametric, quasi-natural system are interlinked, phasing dependent and distributed non-linearly across the various scales of the urban project. A change in the ground network set-out can have a knock-on effect on the degree of curvature of parts of the buildings, which can subsequently affect the housing areas on a bulk scale, influencing in its turn the housing unit size and differentiation. Alternatively, dependencies of parts of the project can be cut off from the rest of the system allowing for more autonomous control or reversely allow for the housing values to dictate the network set-out at ground level and effectively the housing building distribution.