Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat

ISOVER Multi-Comfort-House Student Contest

The UK winners have been named in the 2011 International Isover Multi-Comfort House Competition in which students of CTBUH’s Philip Oldfield participated and came away with top prizes in. The competition asked students to respond to the issues of ever increasing populations, and the vital issue in architecture today of how to accommodate a dense urban population while being environmentally and socially responsible. The competition was organized by Saint-Gobain Insulation with the participation of national Saint-Gobain ISOVER, CertainTeed and IZOCAM organizations.

First Place winners: Ankur Modi, Suruchi Modi and Chuyu Qiu

First Place - Green Canyons
Ankur Modi, Suruchi Modi, and Chuyu Qiu

This design is concerned with reconnecting the currently isolated site - cut off from its surroundings by the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel ramp – back into the neighborhood of Lower Manhattan. It consists of a series of green “tendrils,” spreading out from the site and creating physical connections with key nodes in the urban fabric such as Battery Park and the World Trade Center. Inspired by the High-Line, these links occur in the horizontal and vertical plane allowing the public to circulate up above the city and thus lifting the vibrancy and activities of the ground into the sky. Where they meet a “green wall” is created; this vertical space in the centre of the tower hosts its social and communal activities such as meeting spaces, shops, parks, gardens, sports  and more. Located either side of the green wall are compact, super-insulated blocks of accommodation, organized as per their ideal Passivhaus orientation with hotel and residential spaces on the south for maximum solar gain and the best views, and offices to the north for indirect day-lighting. The tower is also twisted off-grid to respond to the unique plot area, and to maintain the rights of sun and light to the existing 88 Greenwich Street tower to the north. 

Second Place - Social Tower Experiment
Jianhui Chen, Yeuk Hei Wong, and Xu Xu

This project aims to challenge the negative homogeneity of space and circulation experienced in many tall buildings, and instead examines how vibrant communities and social interaction can be fostered in high-rise. The design consists of a series of stacked vertical villages each with its own linear east-west orientated atria acting as the village “street.” Elevators stop only at each street level, from where occupants circulate to their floor of choice via no more than two flights of stairs, ramps or escalators. This alternative vertical circulation strategy provides the forum for occupants to meet and interact, much as in the streets of New York below. Each street also accommodates a series of community spaces such as basketball courts, gyms, sky gardens, cafés, shops and more, giving each village a distinct character and identity and promoting village-to-village circulation. At ground level the street takes on an additional function in creating a new east-west axis through the site, connecting Broadway and West Street and integrating the site within the surrounding urban fabric.

Located either side of the streets are compact, super-insulated accommodation spaces – office floors to the north, with residential and hotel functions to the south to benefit from passive solar gain. Excess heat created from internal gains in the office spaces are mechanically recovered and pumped across the street to be used in the residential and hotel areas. Photovoltaic panels and solar thermal collectors are integrated into the south-facing façade to provide summer shading whilst also capturing addition heat and energy.

Third Place - Green Ramp
Venu Madhav Chippa, Avinash Davidson, and Ranjit Shekhar

This project is informed by a desire to better integrate Lower Manhattan’s green spaces into the city fabric, and in particular to create a green link between the site and Battery Park. The design solution is a building which ramps from Battery Park all the way up to the site, culminating in a Passivhaus skyscraper. Above the ramp a stepped inhabitable green roof is proposed, acting as an extension to the park and allowing the public to circulate up into the city, to enjoy the sun and views to the south and to picnic on the series of green terraces. At the same time this new intervention acts to cover the existing urban scar the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel ramp cuts into city fabric.

The Green Ramp is envisaged as a “vertical eco-corridor,” with continuous vegetation linking ground and sky, reducing the heat island effect and allowing for the migration of plant species throughout the building, and the city beyond. Greenery is embraced throughout the tower, with planting integrated into its southern façade through deciduous vines which grow along cables to provide summer shading, but die away in the winter for increased solar heat gain. Residential apartments are organized such that 80% of the units are directly south-facing, with the remaining 20% orientated east and west. Office accommodation is located at the tower’s base, beneath the green ramp, allowing for large open floor-plates with increased shading.