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 organizational 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, a gesture that would provide programmatic incentives (green spaces and retail areas at ground level) for people to walk through the site, connecting thus the heart of Manhattan to its otherwise ‘natural’ outlet, the riverside pedestrian paths.