THE SHED, DESIGN TAKES OVER THE LAST EMPTY AREA OF MANHATTAN

di Secondome

The only question not to ask, among the many possible is: did we really need it? In theory, no, there was absolutely no need for The Vessel and The Shed, the two architecture and design giants recently opened in a humongous residential project, to rise in the last piece of Manhattan free form the concrete, between Chelsea and Hell’s Kitchen, a step from the High Line, the overpass turned green walk, which all the world envies New York for. The expansion area where the two building are, has been renamed Hudson Yards and is a huge speculation shaped as an enclave for riches, with a total of fourteen skyscrapers between the ones already built and the ones that are in planning for the next few years, for a grand total of 4,2 millions of square meters destined to become offices, houses, a mall, a cultural center and a school.

The Vessel and The Shed are the two construction project “for the people” in this piece of land destined to billionaires, the sign of architecture and design in a project that set the New York Times and many observer of the US metropolis on the warpath.

But what do this new, huge landmark of the Big Apple look like? The Vessel is the sculpture-building by Thomas Heatherwick, a sort of scenographic box with no function, an Escher-like vortex of 154 steps stair to climb up and down to go nowhere (or, if you rather, anywhere). A piece of architecture that has already split the city in two, earning a few ironic nicknames that go from The Big Kebab to The Basket (as in the sport). On the other hand, The Shed is a hug telescopic cultural center, with a “scrolling” section that, at needs, gets longer and shorter by sliding the structure along its internal structure.

The project is by the Diller Scofidio + Renfro studio, according to which this building tends to a need of the town: “New York has many centers for arts, cinema, architecture, dance, none of which has ever been designed to host all of these disciplines together”, explained Elizabeth Diller. In fact, the building will host plays, concerts, visual arts’ exhibitions, multidisciplinary installations and a free experimental laboratory open to emerging artists and conceived so that many different events can take place at the same time.

Between shape and function, show and resources’ profusion, architecture and design reinvent space. And if this space actually has a purpose, in the end, probably, doesn’t really matter.