Fake Estates Are Everywhere

location: New York, NY
project status: Completed, 2012

Inspired by Gordon Matta-Clark’s anarchitectural projections for fifteen small slivers of New York City land,  this project is one in a series of polemic speculations exploring the latent potential of residual spaces and the accidental by-products of technocratic planning. 

Like prominent birthmarks, water tanks are the defining trait of New York ’s skyline. Yet how odd is it that a city driven by real-estate value would reserve its prime locations for plumbing infrastructure? New York, like other global cities, is witnessing a growing eagerness to remove homeless people (amongst others) from the public realm. Meanwhile the number of homeless people in New York City has tripled in the past two decades, reaching 54,386 around the time of this Pamphlet submission.

Considering both tendencies, this project proposes to convert derelict water tanks into inhabitable shelters. What if each of the 20,000 water tanks in New York, instead of being replaced after 20 years, would turn into a commons—a shared resource giving the poor the right to use these land resources in order to subsist. The decentralized water tank shelter distributed across New York’s roofscape would only render the city’s skyline more glorious.  

The design of each water tank hotel room is site-specific, combining century-long craftsmanship with digital fabrication. From an initial panoramic photo to the milling of timber the design and fabrication process is fully parametric and will allow for cost-effective mass-customization.