An Experimental Study of Extreme Urban Density

Near the end of the last decade, almost all branches of the statistically inclined international acronym organizations, like the United Nation’s (UN) World Health Organization (WHO) or UN Population Fund (UNFPA) announced that there were more people living in urban areas than rural areas for the first time in history. Many cities around the world are growing at an unprecedented rate. Sprawling out of control, choking on the carbon clouds of their own construction, constipated commutes, tragically trapped in traffic, spectacular real estate speculation, diminishing domestic areas, and yet the pace increases!


What will the future hold for cities that are already jam packed with people?  How can these cities grow beyond their current capacity to accommodate more – more people, more jobs, more food, more leisure, more air, more water, the inevitable more of more with less?


If sprawl is not an option, destruction nor dystopia an answer, then what are the possible futures for a DenCity?  What might be the ultimate highest capacity architecture that can serve residential, commercial, and other civic programs?  What are the smallest imaginable sizes of these programmatic units?  How does one address the issues of open space or public space, when everything seems to be nearing closure and maximum capacity?  In this context, what were once banal issues are experienced directly and daily.


Would building codes and urban planning regulations become front page news?  One wonders what would the words daylight and daylighting even imply?  Or, how am I going to breathe, get to work, or go to the bathroom?  How can a network of roads, pathways, and corridors negotiate into and through an ultra dense three dimensional urban fabric?  What would the matrix of programmatic adjacencies look like?  Interpenetrations, encapsulations, embodiments, nestings, recursions…
What about other types of infrastructure – energy supply, plumbing?  Can we make a taxonomy of DenCity’s components?  What is the relationship between architecture and infrastructure in DenCity – is there even space for a distinction?
 We will use Hong Kong as a case study and our test subject.

INDA Fourth Year Option Studio, 2013
Co-instructor: Will Patera