hanged sector / metal, blinds rivets, oil 100 x 130 x 80 cm (photos Niewenhuys)

The metal structure may be considered as the basis for an arrangement of interchangeable, dismountable element-type and furniture, favoring the permanent variation of the environnement. Ground level devoid of buildings, with the exception of various pilotis which support the construction (6 stores). These supports, around which one has foreseen areas for the parking of the means of transport, contain the lifts which go up to the upper levels of the city or to the basement floors. Terraces on which planes and helicopter can land. Car only on ground-floor. 

the distance between sectors and groups of sectors increases the demand for rapid means of locomotion. crossing residential areas from one sector to another must be as brief as possible

Given the scale of social space in the sectorial network, and its continuity, the space of rapid movement no longer coincides with the New Babylonian way of life. The latter is traversed by a slow and continuous flux, displacement being but one of the forms of activity within the sectors. But undoubtedly one would still seek to move rapidly from time to time, by land for shorter distances, or by air. For air transport one can imagine, on the terrace roofs, airplane runways and helicopters. As to rapid circulation on the ground, we have to imagine a road network as independent as possible from the sector network. A multi-level-lay-out would guarantee the autonomy of networks and thorough-fares. The best solution for decongesting the ground consists in raising the sectors on pilotis, spaced as widely apart as possible. One advantage of this construction is that it permits the arrangement of an unbroken sequence of terrace roofs. In this way, a second open-air level is created, a second artificial landscape above the natural landscape. Given their huge size, the sector interiors depend on the system of distribution of energy needed for lighting, ventilation and air conditioning. (…) Taken as a whole, New Babylon presents itself as a network of huge links, the greater part of which are raised above the ground. On the ground, a second network, traffic. The « links » are generally devoid of building, though with the exception of centers of production and the installation that have no place in the sector’s social space; like, for instance, transmitter antennae, and perhaps drilling rigs, historic monuments, observatories and other facilities for scientific research. Part of these vacant areas is given over to different working of the ground itself and to rearing livestock; another part to nature reserves, wooded parks. The network structure facilitate access to these, the intervening distances being each time relatively small.

Alison and Peter Smithson, Sigmond Wonke. Axonometry of the proposal for Berlin Hauptstadt. 1957. The Charged Void. Urbanism. Monacelli Press, London 2004

The competition proposed by West Berlin in 1957 for the new unified capital (hauptstadt) would allow implementing the vision of new urbanism in a real context.

Given the doubt of how a new urban form that represents the city of the future must relate to the existing city, A&P Smithson decide to accommodate the multilayer structure of mat-building. Based on a new geometry, ostensibly abstract and detached from the pre-existing fabric, the new city will try to combine old and new in terms of place and landscape, not in urban form terms. By creating an artificial carpet in addition to the existing landscape, they understand the new city as a public space in itself, clear and open, in which the sum of the Tiegarten Park constitutes a unitary whole.

Two overlapped networks are defined: a high pedestrian network in continuity with the existing public space (pleasure city), open, almost empty and with dominating views over the city that runs at 120km/h in the lower network.

 The new structure will be associated with unbuilt territory (landscape), instead of being sewed to the built fabric, creating a new urban landscape both natural and artificial, where streets, squares and buildings are reinterpreted in a new urban form, simultaneously place and building. There lies the radical proposal: the modern city as a hybrid form with artificial landscape conditions.

The role of architecture is almost hidden. Streets and squares are no longer a void around buildings, they become a built thickness that absorbs buildings under their limits, releasing large voids around them which have their own meaning of existence (rather than waiting to be filled). Where the value of the void is emphasized and public space creates architecture, not the other way around.

The proposal invites one to understand urban landscape planning as a tool, not only suitable for the creation and management of green areas (from landscape to hardscape). Therefore, are we in front of a horizontal city pattern, radical and disruptive to the existing city, or a strategy that seeks to assimilate the new city towards a natural environment trying to preserve it? (Estel Ortega)

“To do this we proposed three levels of ‘streets-in-the-air’; each level we called a ‘deck;”. Each “Deck” was to be occupied by a sufficient number of people -90 families- in such a way that it would constitute a social entity. The “streets-in-the-air” would thus become places with their own identity. “Two women with prams can stop and talk without blocking the flow, and [these streets] are safe for small children, as the only wheeled vehicles allowed are the trades-men’s hand- and electrically-propelled trolleys”. Social activity was to be concentrated in the intervals between the decks.

“These crossing are triple-height, contrasting with the single-height decks, inviting one to linger and pass the time of day.” “All dwellings have their front doors on deck elvel and their main accommodation above or below deck”. “The majority, but not all, dwelling have back yard/gardens. These yard/gardens, which can be seen from the deck, bring the out-of-doors life of a normal house—gardening, bicycle cleaning, joinery, pigeons, children’s play, etc., on to the deck, identifying the families with thei “house” on their deck”. “The total penetration of the yard-gardens dissolves the dead-wall effect of the conventional slab block, and produces ever-changing vignettes of life and sky; the individual dwelling clearly being the measure and reason of the whole. People are its predestined ornament’”. The structure, with beams and walls of in situ reinforced concrete, manifests the economy and simplicity of the construction scheme. The project, developed as an urban residential model, was presented at CIAM IX in Aix-en-Province in 1953, together with the theoretical text “Urban Re-identification”.

 The definition of the means of transportation-train and canal routes, main streets, elevated and underground trains-is of primary importance. These are the arteries of the entire organism. 

The width of streets and courtyards must correspond to the height of adjacent buildings. Traffic must be regulated and separated according to type so that each sort of transportation mode is allocated its own respective level. 

the traffic problem cannot be solved by improvements that are always only relative. The traffic problem will not be solved by increasing the means of transportation but by radically eliminating the need of traffic. 

Two cities stacked vertically, as it were. The commercial city and vehicular traffic lie below; the residential city and pedestrian traffic lie above. Subways and long-distance train lines lie underground. 

By setting the residential section back from the commercial section of the block, a pedestrian path is created, which, although it is ten meters wide, only projects beyond the commercial portion of the building two meters. The elevation of the pedestrian paths requires bridges over the streets at intersections. Through this elevation today’s most dangerous traffic calamity can be eliminated, that is, the crossing of pedestrians and vehicles on the same level.  (…) Most traffic must be served by a commuter rail system, however. It can only be located below ground. A system of superimposed rings that run in both directions along the main street will accommodate a system of continuously running shuttle trains. City blocks are determinated in their length by the distance from subway stations, enabling the construction of a superior urban rail system, whose stations are organized in such a way that they can be quickly reached even from the most distant point. Long-distance trains also run through the center of the city in two directions. They are located underground as well, beneath the subway. A main train station in the center of the city, at the intersection of the two long-distance lines, enables the connection with the subway in both directions.

general schema of floating organization
how to float, floating organisation sketch


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