Spiraling Vertical Cities


As I believe I may have informed you with an earlier post, a lo-o-o-ong spiraling access balcony, as per that found in BIG’s marvelous 8-House, would be inconceivable were it not for our good friend Mr. Bicycle. Few residents would walk hundreds of meters sideways, just to go up by a few . They would take the lift or the stairs, why of course darling. May we not forget though, that BIG’s marvelous 8-House, is in shiny happy Copenhagen, where almost everyone cycles. Equipped with his or her two wheeled prosthesis, the gentleman cyclist would look at that ramp, then the cramped lift, and surely think: "Fook cramming into that lift!" (Thinking swear words there with my best Danish accent). In effect, 8-house completes Le Corbusier’s concept of streets in the sky, that failed in Corb’s slab blocks because his streets were disconnected from streets on the ground. If he were here now I would slap that sucker’s bald forehead!
 
As cities in the sky, apartment buildings have been functioning about as well as Manhattan would, without any avenues. Imagine: to get from one street to the next, you would have to enter the subway. The very notion is maddening, yet precisely what Le Corbusier was promoting when he said access corridors would be like streets in the sky. The experiment—repeated with every new lift-access condo—only proves how well we humans can get along, even when pushed to the brink. If we weren’t so go’darn civilized, my floor would be warring against your floor, the way J.G Ballard imagined in High Rise.

Now, to my wonderful graphics (you might guess, I only ever use Word). Left: This image at once represents Manhattan with subway lines running North/South but the avenues all taken away, AND, it can be read as a sectional image of a regular high rise apartment building; if we are to think of those access corridors as being streets in the sky, we’re dreamin’ mate, we are dream-ing. I mean, would you open a shop there? Middle: A rough diagram imagining Le Corbusier’s streets in the sky being one long street, like a switch-back road to the roof. Right: If we see this as a schematic section of a building like 8-House, and simultaneously as a plan of Manhattan, we would be forced to concede that no bicycle enabled vertical city could ever be quite so socially cohesive as a city drawn on the ground. However, it does offer more interaction than a standard apartment block—assuming interaction is something our species still yearns for.   

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