Sharing Tower_Minimum Living Meets Maximum Possibility
As a proposal for micro-unit housing in New York City, this project exploits the possibility of sharing economy, and how it could be realized architecturally. It aims to redefine housing in our age, when demographic shift, technology, and new economy are transforming our city. In New York City, the migration of young professionals and retired aged population bring challenges but also opportunities for housing. Sharing Tower responds to this challenge by exploiting the potential of module, material and sharing spaces.
This project starts with three modules, which are based on a 15’ by 15’ grid. They are made of reinforced resin winding around steel structure, so that a translucent space is enclosed inside. Modules are further aggregated into different unit types that accommodate different needs. In this project, 3 unit types, which are 450 sqft, 675 sqft and 1,000 sqft are designed to satisfy the needs from single to family. Each unit are designed as duplexes thus to separate living space and bedroom. In between the translucent resin walls, house-shape voids are open and shared. They are where collective spaces such as communal kitchen, shared balcony and study are located. Shared by 2 or 3 units, these house-shape voids connect and invigorate private units.
Sharing Tower is not merely more affordable because of the shared facilities and spaces, it is also more interactive and communal, which is crucial for both young people and aged people, whom require more communication and exchange. On the ground level, cafe and small business incubator are serving all the inhabitants and the city, along with other facilities such as laundromat, lobby and mailbox room. This project operates on the edge of minimum living and maximum possibility. By examining this limit, housing regains its power as an agency to enable individuals and thus to redefine our living environment.
Who influences you graphically?
There are many sources of influence on my graphics. I was attracted by the representational skills of contemporary Japanese architects. Sejima gave us a lecture when I was still studying in Tongji, Shanghai and afterwards I was really obsessed with Toyo Ito, SANAA, and Junya Ishigami. The childish, sometimes naïve quality in their drawings suggests an alternative approach to drawings. Their narrative, especially in Junya Ishigami’s drawings, is also very attractive.
I am also very attracted by cartoon since a young age, but I didn’t have the capability to produce them. I was fascinated by the Dragon Ball Z as a kid, and then I learned Chris Ware. I am not sure if all these are connected, but there is a very young Beijing-based Chinese artist group called Drawing Architecture Studio, and their work is really interesting.
How and to what extent has Pier Vittorio’s both approaches to architecture and to its graphic representation influenced you?
I had our Dean Sarah Whiting’s Cullinan seminar course at Rice University in 2014, which coincided the time I was working on Sharing Tower with Professor Troy Schaum. It was in Cullinan seminar we read Pier Vittorio Aureli, both his writings and his projects. We even had a great opportunity of having him lectured at the school and then had a long table discussion with him. For me, Pier Vittorio Aureli’s reading of contemporary city is of great help. It helps me understand the contemporary city we are living in. What’s more important is that through the reading of his article Less is Enough, I developed this understanding of the relationship between capitalism and architectural form. Graphically, his idiosyncratic obsession with dense line drawings also set a tone for this project.
You explore your proposal through line drawings, what is the reason for this?
I tried to challenge myself by developing a representation language that is both consistent and effective, line drawings turned out to be nice. But I’d like to explore other techniques in the future.
How could the implementation of texture have amplified the atmospheric qualities of these spaces especially in the perspective views?
One of the challenges of not using rendering in this project is that it’s hard to suggest the nature of different materials. Fortunately, my project uses reinforced resin. The way modules are constructed is winding fibers around the steel structure. This method produces a reading of stacked lines. Then this construction method is transformed into the linear pattern I generally applied in all the drawings. What interests me is the fact that pattern is not only graphically nice, but it also suggests something more than graphics, in this case, it’s the construction method.
What determined your colour palette?
This project coincided with my first attempt of producing Christmas card…
What is the purpose of compressing views in an image rather than having them as separate drawings? Is there some sort of connection between the spaces?
As I mentioned above, I am interested in the narratives graphics produces. My first thought of having all the views into one single page was simply inspired by Chris Ware and his graphic series. As I started producing them, it turned out they have the ability of speaking for themselves. They simply suggest the life inside the Sharing Tower is both highly individual and highly collective at the same time. This building could be a mini-city, but at the same time it’s connected to a larger context.
How could a visual image of the project within the hyper packed density of New York impact the proposal and really emphasize this density issue within the urban context of the island city?
This housing problem in New York could not be experienced more until you start to live in here. In reality, living condition is not optimistic in New York, even it’s better compared to places like San Francisco. I’d consider my project as naïve and imaginative, however, there are many people living in this great city in a very unimaginable ways. It is a problem, but also an opportunity. I think we need to think about how to live together, and architecture is a great tool to think this issue.
You mainly explore the proposal through plan, why so?
Plans are essential to understand this project. They suggest this project’s capability of producing diversity. I was also reading Rem’s Typical Plan at the beginning of the studio and his discovery is really interesting. I simply took it, not only because of the nature of this project: it’s a housing project built with modules, but also because it’s in New York: where Rem was inspired for the article. It seems in the end the effectiveness of plan has not been exhausted yet.
Jun Deng is an architect working in New York. He receives his degree of Master of Architecture from Rice School of Architecture, Houston. While at Rice, he has developed his interest in the relationship between architectural form and collective subject.
Jun was born and grew up in China. Prior to New York, he has lived in Shanghai, Hong Kong, Tokyo and Houston. He has worked and collaborated with firms including WORKac, Junya+Ishigami Associates, Gensler and Present Future.