Pamphlet Architecture 07, published in 1987, titled “Bridge of Houses”.
One of the briefer pamphlets, contains details of two projects: one for Melbourne and one for Manhattan. The Manhattan one is what I would call “the Highline before the Highline”.
The site and structural foundation of the Manhattan Bridge of Houses is the existing superstructure of an abandoned elevated rail link in the Chelsea area of New York City. This steel structure is utilised in its straight leg form West 19th Street to West 29th Street parallel to the Hudson River (see Manhattan site plan).
West Chelsea is changing from a warehouse district to a residential area. With the decline of shipping activity on the west pier front, the many vacant warehouse buildings are now being converted to residential lofts. The bridge of houses reflects the new character of the area as a place of habitation. Re-use rather than demolition of the existing bridge, would be a permanent contribution to the character of this city.
This project offers a variety of housing types for the Chelsea are as well as an elevated public promenade connecting with the new Convention Center on its north end. Height and width of the houses is determined by the structural capacity and width of the existing bridge. The houses have different uses including housing for old people, economy studios, luxury flats, and student housing. The new houses would be built in an alternating pattern with a series of 2000 sq ft courtyards - 50% open space. All new houses would be built to align with the existing block front at the street walls, reinforcing the street pattern. The ornamental portions of the rail bridge which pass over the streets remain open.