Group 4 Malleable Manhattan

2011-05-03 18:38:17 -
The brief: Malleable Manhattan

Architecture is in a state of crisis. We operate in a society that is rapidly changing;however, we are burdened with our inheritance. This inheritance was designed for a society we no longer recognize. Just as Paris opened their narrow streets upon the discovery of germs. Just as New York built skyward upon the innovation of steel structures. We too will redefine our habitat.
Our approach to re-imagining New York City will operate through the lens of a Manifesto. This Manifesto will be comprised of two basic elements in no specific order. First being a projection of future social and cultural requirements. Second being an alteration in the materials, means and methods of making.
What does our culture require? How are we different from past cultures? Do we see a trend upon which we can project to our future culture? Questions such as these will beanswered with strong claims. Each claim for cultural requirements will merge with aparallel brainstorming session on materials and methods of making. If we previouslyassumed concrete, steel, wood, stone, and glass – would we now propose carbon fiber,EPS foam, and plastics? Or perhaps we would alter the methods of making to adjust theinherited materials?
Each claim will address the following three criteria.
• Establish convention
• This is an architectural problem
• State the proposed alteration

This collective manifesto will be the foundation for a series of experiments andinvestigations that will test and rarify the claims made in the case study of New YorkCity. While the foundation of this research (the Manifesto) is in the form of text, theexperiments will address the two parallel paths with their own required medium.
Experiments surrounding questions of materials, means and methods will manifest themselves in the form of making exercises, models, drawings, charts, etc. In addition to these somewhat conventional operations, we will leave our bubble regularly to take ourclaims to the streets (in the form of a derive). These derives will be programmed (andnot programmed) as a group (and sometimes not). We will investigate, test, and happen upon claims made in our brainstorming session. These experiences will manifest in the forms of interviews, found objects, anecdotes (true and false), frustrations, receipts, etc.
The apparent chaos in this process will manifest into a radical claim that will address our inherited history as well as detach us from the shackles of assumption.

Antonio Sant’Elia “Manifesto of Futurist Architecture” 1914.
Theo VanDoesburg “Towards a Plastic Architecture” DeStijl, 1924.
“Situationist International Manifesto, May 17 1960” Internationale Situationiste
William Massie, “Remaking in a Postprocessed Culture” Fabricating Architecture, Princeton Architectural Press, 100-111.
Bruno Latour and Albena Yaneva, “Give me a Gun and I will Make All Buildings Move:An ANT’s View of Architecture,” in Geiser, Reto (ed.), Explorations in Architecture: Teaching, Design, Research (Basel: Birkhäuser, 2008), 80-89.

2 – Malleable Manhattan Syllabus
Peter Sloterdijk, “Pnumatic Parlaiment” Making Things Public, MIT Press, 2005: 952-957.
Fabio Gramazio and Matthias Kohler, “Digital Materiality in Architecture” DigitalMateriality in Architecture, Lars Muller Publishers, 7-11.
Brandon Clifford “Malleable Manifesto,” Plat Journal, Issue 1.5, 2011.
Brandon Clifford + Wes McGee, “Foam Advocates: From Surface to Volume,” Pidgin Magazine, no. 9, 2010: 149-159.
Brandon Clifford + Wes McGee. “Periscope: Foam Tower” FABRICATE: Making DigitalArchitecture, Riverside Architectural Press, 2011.

May 31
Morning – Introduction to the methodology and setting up work-spaces Day – Brainstorming of cultural and material claims Night -First Derive. In the spirit of the Situationists, we will embark on our culture.
June 01
Morning – Analysis of previous derive and a re-centering of the claims.
Day – Experiments – material studies, plans, sections, diagrams. These methods of making will by now be addressing a cultural claim. These experiments should be testingthis claim with out tools of architectural representation in reciprocity with fundamentalunderstandings of the means and methods of making.
Night –Debate and lively discussion surrounding the claim and progress.
June 02
Morning – Task and experiment brainstorming session. Day – Working session. Night – Second Derive. This will be informed and determined by the previous nights
June 03
Morning – Analysis of previous derive and re-centering of the claims. Day – Working session. Night – Open
June 04
Re-statement of the Manifesto.
June 05
Finalize Drawings and Presentation
June 06
Final review during visit of Hunter Douglas
June 07
Finishing Printouts
June 08
Travel to NYC
June 09
Prize Ceremony in Guggenheim
June 10
Discussion at Center for Architecture, NYC

2011-06-02 23:15:53 -
work in progress

Group 4 discusses the role of the architect in our contemporary society. To communicate their beliefs and position and to stimulate the debate, they will draw up a manifesto. Starting point is the assumption that architecture is still slow while on the other hand society has become more speedy. To illustrate this, Group 4 uses the example of Facebook. When loged in on Facebook you are confronted with a stream of information. The easiest way to express your opinion on something, is with the ‘like’ button. Also the discussion on architecture and the role of the architect is shrunk to a like or dislike button.

The manifesto wants to take into account the slowness of architecture and the speediness of society. Group 4 wants to propose an architecture that adapts to this speediness without denying its slowness. Therefore, they state that 15% of all build environment should consist of speedy architecture, architecture that is as extreme and momentary as fashion. The other 85% of the build environment should be more generic, it should be sustainable – as in not fashionable – beautiful, and simple.
For the manifesto they are making a timeline of materials and forms that have a certain kind of speediness in them. They will also write down a set of rules for the speedy architecture. As plots for speedy architecture are being cleared every few years of maybe even month, the owner of the build structure has to pay for the removal of all the material from the site. So it will be cheaper to make a construction out of cardboard, then out of bricks.

2011-06-03 23:43:53 -
Pecha Kucha work in progress

2011-06-03 23:44:19 - group 4
Fast Culture

I like Obama
I like Lady Gaga
I like Phillip Glass
I like Amnestie International
I like Starbucks
I like Jamie Oliver
I like Hans Kohlhoff
and I like Rem Koolhaas.

The manifesto is dead
long live the manifesto.
I push the like button
and consider it done.

I like without effort
I click therefore I am.
A painless execution of discourse
a feedback that really is none.


We are dedicated to scales of time
The timeliness of a city, of architecture and of the materials we use are currently in a state of friction.
What was formally Small, Medium, Large or Extra Large,
We redefine in minutes, hours, days months, seasons, years and centuries.
The idea of a changing city is not new. New York, like any city, changes at all times.

These were 100 seconds out of a film scaled down to 20.
The irony in this experiment is that though changing conditions are evident,
these buildings seem unable to respond, to the point of embarrassment.

The problem of architecture today, as clear from this caricature,
is the futile attempt to make the generic specific.
We define this tendency as a clash of scales in time:
The scale of building architecture is a century,
whereas the scale of architectural style spans no more than a couple of years.

An architecture that responds to various scales of time requires a new capacity for the architect -- to be fast.
These images are an experiment in speed: we posed ourselves the challenge of doing five minute projects.
Instead of functions like residential, office, commercial, leisure, entertainment, infrastructure and industry, we think of a fast architecture almost like a tailor made suit.
We are proposing spaces that give expression to fast culture in answer to more precise and time bound functions.

We think of for instance:

2011-06-05 14:49:56 -
24h to go

2011-06-10 14:09:45 - Group 4
final presentation

Malleable Manhattan

[slide 1 facebook like]
Fast Culture
I like Obama
I like Lady Gaga
I like Phillip Glass
I like Amnestie International
I like Starbucks
I like Jamie Oliver
I like Michael Graves
and I like Rem Koolhaas.

The manifesto is dead
long live the manifesto.
I push the like button
and consider it done.

I like without effort
I click therefore I am.
A painless execution of discourse
a feedback that really is none.
I like the manifesto
I take a position and therefore I am
an act of bravery
in a culture that is fast

[slide 2 koyaanisqatsi 29:54-30:25, Manhattan]
[slide 3 - black]

I like Manhattan
"Ich bin ein New Yorker"
We are all New Yorkers.
Our goal is not to redesign Manhattan,
but to redesign architecture.

[slide 4: speed down slow speech]
[slide 5: scales of time/architecture]
We are dedicated to scales of time.
The timelines of the city, of architecture and of the materials we use are currently in a state of friction.
What was formerly Small, Medium, Large or extra large,
is redefined in minutes, hours, days, months, seasons, years and centuries.
We reject the false notion that architecture is only obligated to permanence

[slide 8: Koolhaas collage generic specific]
The problem of architecture today,
is the futile attempt to make the generic specific.
We define this tendency as a clash of scales in time:
The houses we design are meant for a century
Whereas the styles by which we design them change every week.
We split the generic from the fast
and assign to every building its proper scale of time.

[slide 9: scales of time/architecture - timeline materials or functions??]
An architecture responding to scales of time
requires a new capacity for the architect -- to be fast.
We are proposing an architecture almost like a tailor made suit
responding to precise and time bound functions.
What was formerly broken down to residential, commercial, leisure or infrastructure,
Is now rethought into functions as:


[slide 10: scheme 4 dimensions!!!]
We are dedicated to a malleable Manhattan,
a city that reconciles time and space through architecture.
If change and crises were formerly the city's enemies,
they are now its driving forces.

[Slide 11: facebook fotoshop of the projects in activity stream view]
We are proposing four projects for a malleable Manhattan:
I like steam
I like streets
I like garbage
I like windows

[slide 12: I like steam photoshop]
[slide 13: koyaanisqatsi Moon and Building]
[Slide 14: graph dollar]
I like steam is working on the timeline of the economy. The scale of time on which the economy changes it's trends can be a matter of days, weeks, or months. The effects of economic change have always a great spatial impact. In prosperous times the demand for space goes up, in financially bad times the demand will go down.

[Slide 15: skyline]
We propose a new office architecture for new York's skyline that can adapt to these changes in time, making the city malleable to economic change, and preventing the city to enter into states of spatial crises.

[Slide 16: skyline 2]
The skyline of New York will reflect its economic situation. A skyline of spheres and towers, the two most efficient ways of spatial reproduction, combined in one go. These giant spheres can host up till 20 floors and can be inflated floor by floor depending on economy.

[Slide 17: [steam grid]
The spheres are using steam, the byproduct of the cities energy system, to inflate. Manhattan's underground hubs are transferring electricity from 300000 volts to 220, of which the byproduct is heat. This heat is cooled down by water, which then is transported through a grid of underground pipes throughout the city. There is a constant pressure of between 500 and 1500 punds per inch on this system. Currently this energy is ventilated onto the sky, we propose to use it for the cities second malleable skyline.

[Slide 18: Pump Switch detail]
The invention we propose is a really simple one: to hook the existing steam outlets on to two pipes: one for prosperous times and one for financially bad times. The former runs onto the balloons on top of the building, the second is hooked onto a housing a system for the street level. A switch allows for adjustment to the economy.

[Slide 19: Sections and axos]
This is how the system works. From left to right: the status quo where steam is not used, then in case of economic prosperity, then a mediocre economy, then a bad economy.

[Slide 20: image rooftops]
Idea: the city shows its economic state and the availability of work is directly visible. Day workers will enter the city and follow the balloons for a job of a month, a day, or maybe even longer. We propose a new horizont for New York City.

[slide 21: image street]
In case of bad times, the air is injected to a system of temporary housing, providing shelter for the homeless and the poor, making the downsides of economic crises bearable to the city.

[slide 22: I like Streets]
[slide 23: koyaanisqatsi]
[slide 24: timesceme street]
Since the NY street is for all, it is claimed by none. We prepose a malleable street. Every day, for the period of an hour, a street may be radically transformed into a real public space. The malleable street responds to changing needs of public space, depending on the needs of the city.

Slide 25 [scheme transformation]
Four huge movable facades close of the ends of the street to create a 'room'. When opened, these facades reveal four buildings that for this short period of time become part of the new public space. Therefore, whoever rents one of these four spaces also pays for a daily piece of public space. We can think here of a school that needs a playground for only an hour per day, a gym that has an outdoor yoga class, a restaurant that needs extra space during lunch time, etc.

[Slide 26 patent drawing}
This is the patent drawing for the sliding elements. The fassades are conceived of as doors for the urban rooms we create. A mechanically driven system can create a public space out of a street within less than five minutes. A total transformation with minumum effort.

[Slide 27 closed image]
This is a rendering of the normal situation, where the urban door is projected. The door is an integral part of the fassade.

[Slide 28 Closed situation]
Here, the fassade is closed, the urban room is created. The doors maintain a contnuity to the street. The interior of the room is open to any use by the community: from a children's playground to a street rave.

[Slide 29 Interior 1]
The effect of the urban doors is also on the level of the interior: here you see the closed situation.

[Slide 30 Interior 2]
As the doors close traffic is removed from the street, and a public space is introduced, the buildings so to say open up to this public space, which is an intimate space, and one that has no sound pollution of traffic. The social aspects of the street are amplified to their maximum.

[i like garbage]
[film koyaanisqatsi garbage]
This is a timeline of Manhattan's garbage accumulation. We are proposing to use the local momentary abundance of recyclable materials for a fast architecture, conceived for a number of days.
This is a mapping of the perimeter that is still in walking distance of a hypothetical site. It determines the volume of recyclable materials that can be used for a fast architecture.

[building block]
We propose to use vacant sites for the storage of recyclable garbage. We desing a grid in which this garbage can generate space: what was formerly garbage laying around on the streets is now actively used to generate playgrounds, vertical gardens, or other specific additions to the cities timeline.

The form of the grid can very per vacant site.

The invention we propose is a robotic arm that can be used to place compressed units of recyclable materials into the grid of a vacant space. The system is a one-time investment, leading to ever changing spaces in direct respond to the communitie's needs. At the end of the week the garbage is picked up and a new structure starts to develop.

Image 1
This is an impression of a more rigid variant of the grid where for instance pallets are used to define the void. Here, the garbage generates a playground for kids.

Iamge 2
Here, a felxible steel net is used to define the usable void. Here a vertical community garden is projected.
[Slide 41 wheather]
This project works on the premises
I like energy
I like personal
I like the environment

The city is a consumer. Using endless kinds of natural resources for its inhabitants. We propose to use natural resources for the cities inhabitants: wind, sun, water... etc by activating windows as a malleable unit. The scale of time on which the project operates is that of the weather forecast. If it rains, we intend to gather rain water, if the sun shines we gather solar energy.

[Slide 42 window 1]
[this is the status quo of the window - a homogenuous long-lasting fabric to be found on any architecture. Regulated by urban planning laws. We propose to redefine these laws and to open possibilities for the window as an energy harvester and an expression of the individuals that live behind them.

[Slide 43 Window 2]
This is how we propose the window to work.
[Slide 44 the concept]
People plug into the window grid and update their preferences. From Iphone, laptop or PC apps tell me what my energy return is and what to expect for the next days. Window status is updatable at all times and so also becomes a mode of expression.

[Slide 44 the patent]
With new technology we create a supermaterial, the solar canvas, strong, flexible and malleable. The focus of the project is the window. We invent a system to make the window at once harvest various kinds of natural energy, as well as a medium to transport identity.

[slide 45 variants]
These are possiilites we have been thinking of: from left to right, top down: the status quo (aircodinitioning, ????, solar canvas, windturbine, rainwater reservoir, ?????????????]

[Slide 46 Lecorbu]
This is how we imagine the like window.

I like the manifesto
and I like Manhattan
I take a position therefore I am
We are dedicated to scales of time
we redesign architecture as a means to reconcile space and time
in a culture that is fast.
Every building has a scale in time
an infrastructure lasts longer than a flashmob taking over times square,
and yet we believe they are both a part of architecture.
We reject the notion that architecture is only permanent.
An architecture responding to scales of time requires a new capacity for the architect: to be fast.

Download the presentation (pdf)