Some have said that it looks like the first drop of a rollercoaster, while Time Out aptly describes it as “a mix of the Gateway Arch in St Louis and something out of Blade Runner”.
Whatever the description, one thing’s for certain: this hypothetical U-shaped skyscraper, called Big Bend, will push the boundaries of architecture as well as New York’s restrictive property zoning laws and spatial constraints. Instead of a tower that goes up, this one bends and returns to the ground.
The practice behind it all is Oiio Studio. “New York city’s zoning laws have created a peculiar set of tricks through which developers try to maximise their property’s height to infuse it with the prestige of a high-rise structure. But what if we substituted height with length? What if our buildings were long instead of tall?
“If we manage to bend our structure instead of bending the zoning rules of New York, we would be able to create one of the most prestigious buildings in Manhattan – the longest building in the world.”
The building is an imposing slim tower, based on the renderings Oiio Studio released, and is expected to be about 1200 metres long from one end to the other, making it twice if the world’s current tallest building, Dubai’s Burj Khalifa (822 metres).
From the footpath to the peak of Big Bend, it would stretch about 60 metres taller than One World Trade Centre, the largest tower in the city and the western hemisphere. It even features an elevator system that can travel in curves, horizontally and in loops along the glass-lined tower, although that technology has not been revealed in full detail.
The New York- and Athens-based studio plans to have the building on West 57th Street, overlooking Central Park, in an area saturated with ultra-luxury skyscrapers called ‘Billionaire’s Row’.
Oiio Studio’s founder Ioannis Oikonomou says the design highlights Manhattan’s intrinsic obsession with towering skyscrapers and the race for height between the city’s luxury condo developers.
Also, if a tower is added to a city’s skyline, it not only has to stand out, but also tell a story and “bring out the inherent emotions of the city,” Oikonomou told Business Insider.
“Cities have become a reservoir of emotions and symbolism, deposited daily by their inhabitants. Architects are now free from the old constraints and are ready to wrestle with a city fabric covered by layers on top of layers, made of meaning and memory,” he added.
For now, Big Bend remains merely a proposal, but critics are already questioning the feasibility of this mammoth project. Oikonomou’s optimism has not wavered, however. He is currently seeking investment and believes that developers will approve the plan because the building doesn't take up much land space and will cater to the growing demands of homeowners.