Skyscraper proposal adds affordable housing in a new vertical system between Manhattan buildings

Posted On Tue, April 17, 2018 By

Posted On Tue, April 17, 2018 By In Architecture, Urban Design

eVolo Magazine just announced the winners of its 2018 Skyscraper Competition. One of this year’s honorable mentions is “Manhattan Ridge: Affordable Housing for Commuters” by Zhenjia Wang and Xiayi Li, a proposal based on the premise that “people who work in Manhattan deserve a home in Manhattan.” Therefore, they’ve created a new, tripartite vertical system in which residents would consume and recreate “downstairs” and work right next to where they live. The existing buildings would remain and this new vertical space would rise up their facades.


Based on a survey, the two designers found most people who work in Manhattan cannot afford to live there and spend about an average of 6 hours and 18 minutes per week commuting, “which is almost like another 8 hour work day.” Their solution is to create more land which would be more affordable and house more people. They say, “Manhattan has been overexploited and one can hardly find usable land to build new residential buildings. By introducing a new type of land resource… people will be given a new type of space to reside and live.”

The name of the project is based on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge (MAR) which is where a boundary plate between two tectonic plates where lava erupts producing a crust-like material that is the only thing holding the two plates together. The Manhattan Ridge proposal “mimics the process of mid-ocean ridge’s production of new seafloor results from mantle upwelling, where new usable space be created out of none by being elevated over city traffic corridors (avenues, streets, roads, lanes) in between buildings.”

In their proposed new vertical system, there are three levels of space: street level, which remains unchanged; the middle mix-use level, which is a new elevated level sitting on giant columns; and the rooftop level, for farming, entertainment and relaxing.

No one would argue that commuting is a real drag. But increasing the capacity of Manhattan by creating new land raises a lot of other issues. This may be a fun thought project but just as hardening lava takes a while to become usable land, Zhenjia Wang and Xiayi Li’s design would definitely need to figure out a lot of bumps in their new roads.

The annual eVolo award was established in 2006 to recognize visionary projects that use technology, materials, programs, aesthetics, and spatial organizations in novel ways. This year, the jury selected 3 winners and 27 honorable mentions from 526 projects received. You can view the winning projects here >>


Images via Zhenjia Wang and Xiayi Li

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