Objecthood

In Collaboration with Lu Zhang
2016 Harvard GSD Clifford Wong Prize in Housing Design

“The contrast between particular and universal, between individual and collective, emerges from the city and form its construction, its architecture. This contrast is one of the principal viewpoints from which the city will be studied in this. It manifests itself in different ways: in the relationship between the public and private sphere, between public and private buildings, between the rational design of urban architecture and the values of locus or place.”    - Aldo Rossi

This project explores a new urban model that hybridizes the collective urban grid and the individual urban objects, from which the domesticity and life styles emerge here to inform new urban ramifications at different scales.  The urban objects here could be deciphered at two scales: one as urban fragments that mediate spatial and programmatic relationships with the city, one being the aggregation as a whole constructed at a large scale, in which way we call it objecthood.

The project starts with the observation of contemporary NY housing fabrics, where exists a clear division between typical Manhattan grid and the “Towers in Park” typology. These two dominant types form up the urbanism across Manhattan and beyond, each presenting unique spatial organization and the life style embedded within. Based on the observation, the design proposal exams a hypothesis of combining two urbanism: the normal grid and abnormal objects, as the basic urban model to construct the city. Under this theory, instead of using the existing Manhattan grid structure, a new grid module extracted from basic Manhattan plot 25ft is introduced to reconfigure the new structure--- the courtyard system with generic dimension of 50ft by 50ft. It is the generic urban container of housing and infrastructure, which at the same time respond to the constraints of FDR and urban edge. The second system of series of objects introduced into the site holds public amenities and various housing types. The place where grid reconciles with the objects give the public amenities shape and generates another layer of public space, being the recreational programs connected by a loop and landscape that ties the project to the city at a larger scale.

As a vision of conceiving the project both at the scale of a super block and the single bock, the strength of the project resides in the duality to accommodate a variety of the scales and life styles from superblock to the block and from city to the buildings.
It is not just an experiment, it is also an urbanistic strategy and a spatial prototype. It could be multiplied in different urban conditions with various scales accordingly, thus to responses to the dynamics of our urbanism today.

  • Architect, Urban Designer
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