Horizontal is the New Vertical

Session: D: Sideways: Rethinking the Vertical City

Nicolas PomränkeProject image

Nicolas Pomränke
Partner, gmp · Architekten von Gerkan, Marg und Partner

Working environments are subject to constant change. It is common sense that the spaces we work in have a big impact on productivity, health, and well-being. A highly communicative corporation needs more than just new furniture: working spaces differing in scale and character are needed and should be adjustable according to new projects, structures and ways of communication.

Classical high-rise buildings do not allow this, due to their restrictive brief, which is based on reaching a maximum height and area feasible on a given lot. The result is a circular usable area, wrapped around a central core. The footprint of a high-rise is limited and only allows linear working spaces defined by the distance to a single-sided façade, while the central core hinders a broad horizontal communication and flexible layout. These inflexible spaces have a high environmental impact, as an above-average use of resources and energy in construction and operation is necessary.

This presentation shows several high-rise projects that offer very flexible and user-orientated workspaces by applying a simple geometrical operation: Large horizontal typologies like a courtyard building or a meander are staggered, while rotating the basic figure each time. This simple operation defines very complex spaces, in which outdoor and indoor spaces are strongly interlocked. The large horizontal dimensions allow placing the service cores in the corners, instead of in the center of the plan. Large usable areas, which receive daylight and natural ventilation from both sides, allow a very flexible use in a large horizontal expansion. The construction investment in these mid-rises is less extensive than tall high-rises, while providing more flexible and modern working environments.