From the ground up, the sky is the limit…

Turned upside down land-scape becomes sky-scape. So what happens when the city meets the sky? 56 Leonard Street by Swiss architects Herzog & de Meuron disrupts the orderly rhythm of both the street-scape and of the skyline of New York with its jagged form from base to crown.

The base of 56 Leonard Street is firmly part of the city, while the crown of the building challenges the city limits: the blue space. Another blue space on the edge of cities is the coastal edge. The NSW government have included guidelines for protecting coastal edges near settlements.

At the limits of the green space of southern Californian cities according to biologist Paul Beier is cougar territory. While in Lincoln County efforts have been made to have developers include tree plans in their development applications (with fines for non-compliance).

In Germany there has been a conversation since the end of last millennium about ‘quality growth’ and ‘optimal growth’ at the edge of cities. In this paradigm according to Bruns and Schmidt in their paper ‘City Edges in Germany: Quality Growth and Urban Design’ “Land is valued for its own right, as landscape, as having character, contours, and limits. ‘Green walls’ instead of built walls are to be designed to border the city.”

12 thoughts on “From the ground up, the sky is the limit…

  1. Tom Turner

    I remember an American telling, years ago, that he worked in a school. ‘What do you teach?’ I asked. ‘Oh no’, he replied, ‘my job is to shoot the dogs’ (which hunted in packs around the school gates). I think this was in LA.
    56 Leonard Street looks to me as though it has had a lucky escape from a big quake. See the website, if you have good nerves:
    I think good balcony space must make high-rise living much more enjoyable and if the ‘rough’ shape of the building creates opportunities then so much the better. But I noticed in China that many appartment blocks are built with balconies which the occupants then glaze (with solar control glass) to get more indoor space. I guess this is partly to do with climate. If the balcony/terrace is too hot/too humid/too cold/too dusty, then it is better to have indoor space. NYC also has many days which are inclement for the enjoyment of outdoor space.

  2. Christine

    It is interesting to consider outlook and view as an aspect of landscape – the visual rather than the physical connection. Perhaps only the very adventurous would feel comfortable on very high elevation balconies with glass balustrading. More would probably feel comfortable living with floor to ceiling glass at such elevations.

    However, what you get used to and are comfortable with as an experience is everything. Perhaps some at altitude pool training is required? [ ] and [ ] also
    [ ]

    Perhaps differing climatic conditions could be accommodated with flexible skin or layer inside or outside of the apartments?

    Is a big quake possible in NYC? It seems so. [ ] Yes. You would need extremely good nerves to live in 56 Leonard Street during a quake.

  3. Tom Turner

    The glass-bottomed roof swimming pool is wonderful.
    Re cities, I think we need to get used to the idea that they are impermanent. If global warming proceeds and the pattern of earthquakes changes (as happens – Central Scotland had masses of quakes and volcanoes in geological time, but none today) then maybe we will have to say goodbye to some cities (no names mentioned) and build new cities elsewhere. I think NYC would make a great marine habitat!

  4. Christine

    With rising sea levels soil the possibility of soil liquefication is likely to increase.
    [ ] To really have an understanding of what might occur a greater understanding of Orogeny [ ] and the behavior of glaciers [ ] seems to be essential.

    These maps suggest the possibility of a 7m sea level rise in New York.[ ] However, the broader hydrological and climate cycle needs to be understood. [ ]

    The foundation material of New York city is in the stage of mountain decline:
    “It is estimated from mineral studies that the metamorphic rocks of New York City and Connecticut were once buried under about 7 miles of overlying rock.”
    [ ]

    I am not sure if we should consider cities as impermanent, so much a in a more dynamic and long range perspective?

  5. Tom Turner

    In the long term all species become extinct and all stars die – so it is a question of when, not if! The oldest cities are perhaps 10,000 years old. How many of today’s cities will last another 10,000 years? It is a silly question to the extent that it cannot be answered. But if the natural climate change of the past ten millennia happens again then a great many cities will become unoccupied, in hot deserts, dry deserts, cold deserts or on the sea floor. Mark my words!

  6. Tom Turner

    The list of ancient cities is very interesting but debatable. For example, the oldest Chinese city on the list (Luoyang) was, I think, centered on a different to the modern city (ie the old centre is now a suburb).

  7. Christine

    The exact sequence of the age of cities is perhaps not as important as accummulating some long range data on the changes undergone to the landscape and climate contexts of cities over time.

  8. Tom Turner

    I rather like the idea of the human species resuming its nomadic habits, at the city scale as well as the individual scale, so that cities become temporary encampments on a long time scale. Otherwise, I get too depressed about seeing rich habitats replaced by ‘concrete jungles’ (the person who invented this phrase deserves a memorial – maybe a vacated city should have his/her name).

  9. Christine

    They say that Tokyo is now like a ghost town. [ ]

    Perhaps now is the time to start installing hybrid solar wind street lighting and gradually retrofitting Tokyo with alternative energy sources where possible? [ ] and [ ]. Japan has some existing domestic solar energy installation policy targets that could be accelerated.

    Clean green light would hopefully return some optimism to the city.

    With good will the international community could in the interim step up and provide portable solutions to the disaster stricken areas in northern japan. [ ] and [ ].

  10. Tom Turner

    The hardest question is: what area(s) of human knowledge should the decisions be rooted in?
    Health and safety?
    Might it help if participants in the debate made a ‘personal statement’ about where they are coming from before making a comment?
    Is it worth installing solar cells if the amout of energy used in their manufacture is greater than the energy they generate?


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