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As Cities Densify, New Building Design Strategies Keep Them Livable

Cities need to increase density, but the design of buildings can drastically affect people’s quality of life. Architects are using new tactics and tools to create innovative structures where light, air, and space are not compromised.
August 19, 2019, 6am PDT | Camille Fink
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Vitaliy Krasovskiy

"Viewed straight-on from the Hudson River, 40 Tenth [in New York City] looks like a simple rectangle. Shift to the right or left, though, and the building cuts inward, creating a dramatic faceted facade. The new development is part of [Studio] Gang’s exploration into 'solar carving,' a marketable term the firm uses to describe its process of shaping buildings based on the sun’s location and its desired effect," writes Liz Stinson.

Much more sunlight is beaming down on the High Line below — over three times the number of hours that would have resulted from a building that used convention design principles. The desire to limit shadows and bolster open space in dense urban areas is not new, says Stinson. But technology is giving architects and designers new tools to creatively tackle the challenges.

Underground roads, sunken and street-level plazas, and accessible public spaces are all strategies to help counter the negative effects of densification. "It’s getting easier for architects to ensure that discreet buildings are designed with an eye toward the long-term livability of cities," notes Stinson. 

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Published on Friday, August 9, 2019 in Fast Company
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