A Downsized Manhattan Between Analogy and Abstraction

“Roosevelt Island Housing, competition” by O.M. Ungers (1975)

In 1975, German architect Oswald Mathias Ungers took part in the “Roosevelt Island Housing”, a competition sponsored by the State’s Urban Development Corporation for the planning of a neighborhood on the East River in front of Manhattan. Ungers’ entry is a downsized and simplified Manhattan, adapted to the proportions of Roosevelt Island and with a direct morphological reference to the original. A system of urban villas and towers are distributed on a regular grid. While Manhattan’s streets and avenues are transformed into pedestrian pathways, Manhattan’s original Central Park is directly quoted at the center of the urban scheme for a system of public spaces and a swimming pool. Each housing block (60 by 120 feet) hosts from 25 to 35 apartments for different incomes.

 

 

The Manhattan grid serves as a formal generator for the building types and as a system of organization for a typological chart showing possible variations for the single blocks inside a common volumetric framework. Three main types, called “the loft type”, “the standard type” and the “palazzo type”, are considered as the references for the buildings variations.

 

 

Following is a detail from the same board but colored:

 

 

 

 

Further reading:

“Roosevelt Island Housing Competition”, in Controspazio, Anno VII, n.4, dec.1975.

Grace HS Mills, “The 1974 Roosevelt Island Housing Competition as a Pivotal Point [of Departure]“.

Lara Schrijver, “OMA as tribute to OMU: exploring resonances in the work of Koolhaas and Ungers” in: The Journal of Architecture Volume 13, 2008 – Issue 3

 

Link to the original article here.

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