Vertical Central Park by Jeffrey Lee + Rui Liu + Tina Qiu

Manhattan is filled with some of the world’s tallest skyscrapers. Central Park, situated in the heart of the city, serves as the only source of natural green environment in New York.

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Vertical Central Park by Jeffrey Lee + Rui Liu + Tina Qiu | London, UK

With 843 acres, stretching from 59th St. to 110th St., the quaint insertion of rolling green meadows throughout the highly urbanised city is, in fact, a focal point upon which population surrounds its lifestyle around.

Devised by the architects Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux, the park functions as an attempt to preserve a terrain of natural features so to provide a pastoral park for city dwellers living in garden-less apartments. For many New Yorkers, Central Park is a shared backyard. The highly varied terrain and vegetation flowing from flat grassy swards, gentle slopes to shady glens and rocky ravines mean that the park affords interesting vistas and walks at every point. A composition of cultural attributes such as The Metropolitan Museum of Art in the centre of the park, there is also a zoo, an ice-skating rink, three small lakes, an open-theatre, a band shell, many athletic playing fields and children’s playgrounds, several fountains, and hundreds of small monuments and plaques scattered through the area. It undoubtedly poses as a supermodel comprising of all typologies that a garden could be, presenting itself to be an ideal paradigm of which communities require.

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The example of Central Park plays an integral part in the city planning of Manhattan in the attempt to conserve outdoor greenery. Its insertion within the city grid provides a clean parameter for a large stretch of greenery within a parasitic city. Its distinctive long rectangular form in plan provides an opportunity for exploring the park elevated to a vertical plane. By elevating the park, complete with its grid, road penetrations, programmes and features, 90 degrees so that the plan of Central Park becomes a section for the intervention for a skyscraper. Typically where skyscrapers require an airy atrium which very often only acts as an ventilation and light cone. We propose the central atrium void to be replaced by a green atrium. Mimicking the insertion of Central Park within its rectangular city grid, the central atrium of the skyscraper becomes the park area, whilst its adjacent access routes become the slab set for the high-rise.

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By elevating the plan of Central Park, along with all its features, illustrations are translated into volumetric form, whilst the programmes running through the park are translated into new elements within the hotel typology, creating a vertical Central Park. The incorporation of the park’s existing programme literally into the programme of the hotel not only attempts to create a new hotel typology so that the large voids can become airy green spaces but more importantly to reinsert the element of ‘backyards’ and gardens within the present trend of vertical living. The insertion of a ‘Central Park’ into the core of the high-rise means just this. They remain internal and semi-private to that of the residents, akin to the gem encrypted within the grid of New York, whilst at the same time, creating vertical sky gardens. — Jeffrey Lee + Rui Liu + Tina Qiu

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