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Megastructure: The Latest Architecture and News

Months Before Opening Day, the Promised - and Sold - High-Tech Utopia of Hudson Yards is Still Just a Dream

07:00 - 13 February, 2019
Months Before Opening Day, the Promised - and Sold - High-Tech Utopia of Hudson Yards is Still Just a Dream, The Hudson Yards Development. Image © Mark Wickens
The Hudson Yards Development. Image © Mark Wickens

This article was originally published on Metropolis Magazine as "Hudson Yards Promised a High-Tech Neighborhood — It was a Greater Challenge Than Expected."

There’s something striking about the command center of America’s largest private real estate development, Hudson Yards, in that it’s actually pretty boring. The room—technically known as the Energy Control Center, or ECC for short—contains two long desks crammed with desktop computers, a few TV monitors plastered to the wall, and a corkboard lined with employee badges. The ceiling is paneled; the lighting, fluorescent. However, New York’s Hudson Yards was once billed as the country’s first “quantified community”: A network of sensors would collect data on air quality, noise levels, temperature, and pedestrian traffic. This would create a feedback loop for the developers, helping them monitor and improve quality of life. So where is the NASA-like mission control? Data collection and advanced infrastructure will still drive parts of Hudson Yards’ operations, but not (yet) as first advertised.

Unpacking Paul Rudolph’s Overlooked Architectural Feats in Southeast Asia

09:30 - 20 December, 2017
Intiland Tower. Image © Darren Soh
Intiland Tower. Image © Darren Soh

To speak of Paul Rudolph’s illustrious career is to trace a grand arc stretching from the 1940s to the 1990s. More often than not, the popular narrative begins with his student days at Harvard under the tutelage of Walter Gropius, touches upon his earliest, much-loved Florida beach houses, circles around his eventual break from the rigidity of both the Sarasota School and the International Style, and finally races towards the apex: his chairmanship of the Yale School of Architecture, and the concurrent shift to a Brutalist architectural style characterized by monumental forms, rugged concrete, and interwoven, multilevelled spaces awash with a remarkable interplay of light. Then comes the fall from grace: the beloved Yale Art and Architecture Building went up in flames just as the architecture profession began to question modernist ideals, and eventually Postmodernism was ushered in. Flickering, sputtering, Rudolph's grand narrative arc lurched towards Southeast Asia, bearing away the “martyred saint.” Save for several scattered commissions in the United States, Rudolph spent the last two decades of his life building abroad, mostly across Hong Kong, Indonesia, and Singapore, until his death in 1997.

But of course, time and again, historians have sought to challenge the myth of the failed architect by rereading his understudied work from the late years. Adding to this growing corpus of fresh research and alternate perspectives is architectural photographer Darren Soh’s ongoing project documenting—so far—three of Rudolph’s major works in Southeast Asia: The Colonnade (1986) and The Concourse (1994) in Singapore, and the Intiland Tower (1997) in Surabaya, Indonesia.

The Concourse. Image © Darren Soh The Concourse. Image © Darren Soh The Colonnade. Image © Darren Soh Intiland Tower. Image © Darren Soh + 60

This Floating Desalination Megastructure is Designed to Combat California's Water Shortages

09:30 - 25 August, 2016
This Floating Desalination Megastructure is Designed to Combat California's Water Shortages, Day View of the Vessel. Image Courtesy of Bart//Bratke
Day View of the Vessel. Image Courtesy of Bart//Bratke

California is suffering through its 5th year of severe water shortage. Aquifers and rivers continue to dry out as the water provided by melting snowpacks is reduced, and even the heavy rain brought by El Niño this year could not relieve the drought. Authorities are wary of the long-term consequences for California and neighboring areas of the Colorado River, and Santa Monica is now seeing a growing number of initiatives to control the use of potable water and find sustainable solutions.

Most recently, a competition asked architects, artists and scientists to conceive sustainable infrastructure projects to improve Santa Monica’s water supply. Bart//Bratke and studioDE developed a raft structure named “Foram” that illustrates the future of floating platforms in sustainable development.

Night View from the Coast. Image Courtesy of Bart//Bratke Aerial Coast Assembly. Image Courtesy of Bart//Bratke Pavilion Alignment. Image Courtesy of Bart//Bratke Interior of the Pavilion. Image Courtesy of Bart//Bratke + 15

Imagining Megastructures: How Utopia Can Shape Our Understanding of Technology

10:45 - 11 August, 2016
Imagining Megastructures: How Utopia Can Shape Our Understanding of Technology

“Utopia”: the word was coined by Sir Thomas More in 1516 when he started questioning the possibility of a perfect world where society would suffer no wars or insecurities, a place where everyone would prosper and fulfill both individual and collective ambitions. Yet such a perfect society can only exist with the creation of perfect built infrastructure, which possibly explains why architects have often fantasized on megastructures and how to “order” this dreamed society.

Megastructures, as imagined after World War 2 by the CIAM international congress and Team 10, are now regularly revived with the intent to solve social issues on a mass scale. Notably, architecture students have shown a renewed interest for walking cities as first conceived by Ron Herron of Archigram in the 1960s, assuming that megastructures could solve major crises in remote areas. Just as ETSA Madrid student Manuel Dominguez developed a nomadic city to encourage reforestation in Spain for his 2013 thesis project, Woodbury University graduate Rana Ahmadi has recently designed a walking city that would destroy land mines on its way. But these utopian projects also involve a considerable amount of technology, raising the question of how megastructures and technology can work together to give societies a new beginning.

Metabolic Machine/ Rana Ahmadi. Image © Rana Ahmadi Metabolic Machine/ Rana Ahmadi. Image © Rana Ahmadi Very Large Structure/ Manuel Dominguez. Image © Manuel Dominguez / Zuloark Very Large Structure/ Manuel Dominguez. Image © Manuel Dominguez / Zuloark + 25

A Country Of Converted Oil Rigs: Is This How To Save The Maldives?

08:30 - 23 May, 2015
A Country Of Converted Oil Rigs: Is This How To Save The Maldives?, A cutaway section of the proposed oil rig structure. Image © Mayank Thammalla
A cutaway section of the proposed oil rig structure. Image © Mayank Thammalla

If you want to see the future of urban adaptation, head to the Maldives. That’s the message and warning behind Mayank Thammalla’s master's thesis from the Unitec School of Architecture in Auckland, New Zealand. Under even the most conservative IPCC forecasts, the low-lying Republic of Maldives will become almost uninhabitable as sea levels rise, while any further rise could leave many of the 200 inhabited islands underwater. It’s an existential threat like no other - in as little as ten year's time, the Maldivian government could be faced with the impossible situation of deciding how to deal with over 400,000 refugees leaving the area where their country used to be. Instead of attempting to rebuild the Maldives elsewhere or mount a series of defences against the oncoming sea, Thammalla’s research project has the difficult goal of realistically preserving Maldivian life in the same geographical location as it is now. His solution? Semi-submersible oil rigs.

A proposed system of transportation between public levels. Image © Mayank Thammalla An exploded view of the structure. Image © Mayank Thammalla A rendering of the proposed structure during a storm. Image © Mayank Thammalla A rendered view from a mosque. Image © Mayank Thammalla + 12

Mateusz Pospiech Proposes a Megastructure to Replace Iran's Dried Up Zayanderud River

09:30 - 5 April, 2015
Mateusz Pospiech Proposes a Megastructure to Replace Iran's Dried Up Zayanderud River, Courtesy of Mateusz Pospiech
Courtesy of Mateusz Pospiech

For generations, nature has been held up as something to respect, to take inspiration from, to place at the center of architecture. Few new designs today are complete without some visualized parkland or tree placed implausibly high up on the latest visionary high rise development. But what do you do when nature ups and leaves? How can architecture respond? That’s the question that Mateusz Pospiech’s master’s thesis, completed at the Silesian University of Technology, attempts to answer by taking the severe example of the disappearance of Iran’s Zayanderud River and proposing the equally incredible solution: an enormous, six-kilometer-long ecologically sustainable megastructure along the dried riverbed, healing the scar both in the landscape and in the minds of Iranians.

Courtesy of Mateusz Pospiech Courtesy of Mateusz Pospiech Courtesy of Mateusz Pospiech Courtesy of Mateusz Pospiech + 16