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Urban Agency is delighted to take part, alongside 30 other international Architects, in the very thought proactive exhibition ‘Sharing Models: Manhattanisms’. Exploring how new-age technologies and ever-changing social typology may “affect the way we inhabit and build the cities of tomorrow”; each Architect was given an area of Manhattan with the task of envisaging the city’s future. The Models are on display till the 2nd of September at Storefront’s Gallery; showcasing a “composite figure; a territory that is simultaneously fictional and real, and one that opens a window to new perceptions of the city’s shared assets.”

We were assigned a section of the Financial District of Manhattan in the to rethink, reinterpret and reimagine for the future.

A recent study showed that New York’s population pays up to 65% of their gross salary on housing. A city which once had reasonable land values has become a centre for global investment, where the average individual is priced out by an institutional investor looking for capital protection. Manhattan has one of the highest land values in the world which are driving up rental and property price levels to unsustainable levels. This is leading to people who lived in Manhattan, normal New Yorkers fleeing to the boroughs. What is interesting to us is the evolution of Manhattan, as a series of concentric rings growing into the bay. This will continue with the Big U expansion and resilience plan which will create a much needed social and green edge to Manhattan.

We propose a project which links Manhattan better to the boroughs, through a series of habitable bridges. The water, owned by the City of New York could be considered a land value of 0, a gift from the city to its people. The resultant housing that is built could have a much lower cost of rent, only accessible to those who need it most. For our project site in Manhattans financial centre, with some of the highest land values and costs in the world; it allows average workers on normal salaries, from young interns to the hotdog seller to live near their work; the benefit in most cities and now lost in New York. Rather than long commutes we propose that this affordable belt of bridges would bring people closer to what was traditionally the New York living experience, living within a walking or cycling distance from your office. The bridges would then become collective centres for recreation, play, living or working dependant on the tangential need in Manhattan. Doing the maths, a housing building together with developers profit with an assumed payback of 20 years and profit of 15% would mean a rent of 1550 dollars for an 85m2 apartment.

This is a real possibility – other cities like Copenhagen have done this where the city has stepped in to rethink how they could make it more affordable for the average citizen. What looks like a Metabolist vision plan could be a reality. The question is New York brave enough to do it?

For more information on the exhibition see here;

The exhibition has been featured on Archdaily.

Urban Agency


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