City of the Future

What skyscrapers were to New York City in the twentieth century, vanes are in the twenty-second. Through the use of this new type of mixed-use building, the city has begun its recovery from flooding caused by the loss of the Earth’s polar ice caps. When sea levels climbed, millions of gallons of water poured into Manhattan’s low-lying neighborhoods. With the city starved for square-footage, architects built directly upon the flooded public streets. Vanes feather upwards and outwards through the streets of the Inundation Zones, creating homes, offices and shopping arcades but also parks and gardens. Their thinness promotes daylight and affords natural ventilation. Pier-like in form, vanes grant the city a dynamic relationship both with the riverfront and the luminous evaporation towers nearby. From airships overhead, vanes look as if New York’s grid of streets has taken on a life of its own, making the city, in 2106, more like itself than ever before.

In order to clarify our vision for New York in the year 2106, we narrowed our assumptions very closely. We assumed sea levels would rise due to the loss of polar ice caps and that the net effect to Manhattan would be a watermark increase between six and thirty-six inches. Elevated waters, we think, would interact with the island’s low lying neighborhoods in way that mirrors Egbert Viele’s Water Map of 1865. So, climate change might restore one of New York City’s natural features.

Energy, Water, Transport
We assumed that much of our current technology will be used to fabricate and construct the New York of 2106. However, we also assumed the Law of Accelerating Returns to be true, meaning that technological advances will grow exponentially over the next century, with each advance coming more quickly than the last did. This variable in our equation allows us the evaporation towers located around the city’s periphery to “refine” enough water to meet all of the city’s needs, both for drinking water and for infrastructure. We assumed that the skin of our new building type, the vanes, collects solar energy to supply power. These membranes can be opened to the wind to ventilate individual units or whole corridors. 
A variety of conventional water transportation exists throughout the Inundation Zones and around the city’s coastline. Those vehicles active in the flooded streets, however, are not privately owned. So, mass transit platforms likely exist at the base of some vanes. Walkway bridges that run between the vanes are prominent. They vary in width, length, and style of construction. Intermediary points along these bridges occasionally allow New Yorkers to pause and look about and admire their city. 
Our model depicts a hybrid airship over Manhattan in 2106. These airships are part jet, part dirigible, very much like the Dynalifter now in prototype. Relying on helium lift to support wing lift, these aircraft are highly versatile and significantly more fuel efficient than twentieth century jets. 

Additional Information
Some additional points about our design are worth mention. First, each vane is different, as they are designed to engage a particular street or avenue at the point where they meet the water. This means each vane has a principle façade and entry, though much access to a vane may come through a horizontal walkway or water transport. 
Development of a vane is phased. Like today’s development, vanes grow to meet market demands. The city’s need for square footage in a neighborhood influences a vane’s length, height, scale and programming. Major corridors and service levels can be expanded or contracted. Considerable flexibility is characteristic throughout the vanes. 
Vanes are built atop flooded streets. Some are elevated structures, standing on columns, while others are built directly into the earth, partially submerged.


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Building Activity

  • Katerina Vaseva
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