Heliomorphic Manhattan

“For decades the optimal milieu for a variety of human activities has been achieved mainly through energy input… now a building can be transformed into a quasibiological system that sensitively responds to environmental variations, opening itself like a blossom, harnessing and absorbing ambient energies.” – Vladimir Matus, 1988


Heliomorphic Manhattan revisited changes, conceptual and projective, that contemporary models of computational geometry have brought to this design model. The topics of solar orientation and social order, public health, and political economy were fundamental questions for many protagonists and projects of modern planning. In the wake of the collapse of modern planning, singular models of social urban order based on latitude and solar equity have given way to neoliberal models of market-driven urbanization.

The speculative modeling of Heliomorphism was disseminated through a range of disciplinary audiences, including academic conferences and international exhibitions. The GSD conference Heliomorphism (2016) convened an international group of GSD faculty, doctoral candidates, and a select group of GSD alumni to examine its present potentials through three discursive frames — plug-ins, commons, and zero-sum — and showcased the work of Heliomorphic Manhattan.

Project Team: Charles Waldheim, Pedro Aparicio, Aziz Barbar, Mariano Gomez-Luque, Helen Kongsgaard, and Soo Ran Shin.