Oiio Studio

OiioStudio picA New York-based architectural firm wants to build the world’s longest building.

By Kat Zeman

When it comes to architecture, Oiio Studio likes to bend the rules. Perhaps more astonishingly, the New York City-based architectural firm wants to bend the Manhattan skyline.

The firm is seeking out investors about building a 4,000-foot-long U-shaped skyscraper on Manhattan’s so-called “Billionaire’s Row.” If all goes according to plan, the building would potentially be the longest building in the world.

Called the Big Bend, the concept calls for a skyline-altering building that would literally bend over at its top and return to the ground via another leg.

“We’re looking for ways to use new technology,” says Gregory Gegliris, an associate architect at Oiio Studio. “Why should we design buildings that can only move vertically? We can now move in another direction.”

On its website, Oiio Studio says that New York city’s zoning laws have "created a peculiar set of tricks trough which developers try to maximize their property’s height in order to infuse it with the prestige of a high rise structure.” Gegliris says that his firm is trying to be creative, by substituting height with length, and wants to encourage discussion about such concepts.

“It’s just a concept. To our knowledge, there’s nothing like it yet,” he says, referring to the Big Bend concept. “Our investors are asking questions about feasibility. But I think it’s time to start talking about implementing vertical technology … even if we don’t build the Big Bend.”

Vertically Horizontal Solution

As land becomes scarce in big cities due to a growing world population, the architectural community has started discussing ways to utilize tight spaces. One way to do this is by what Gegliris refers to as “vertical technology.”

Architects in highly populated cities can no longer build out, they must build up. But instead of solely building up, the new concept calls to build using both height and length. OIIO Studio box

“What if our buildings were long instead of tall?” states the Big Bend proposal on Oiio Studio’s website. Since Manhattan has an obvious space issue, the Big Bend – or something like it – would be a great solution for the city, Gegliris says.

“If we manage to bend our structure instead of bending the zoning rules of New York, we would be able to create one of the most prestigious buildings in Manhattan," the company states. The Big Bend is being pitched as a solution to restrictive zoning laws that regulate the shape and height of skyscrapers.

The firm believes that the Big Bend can become a modest architectural solution to the height limitations of Manhattan. “We can now provide our structures with the measurements that will make them stand out without worrying about the limits of the sky,” the company says.

The main designer of the project, Ioannis Oikonomou, owner of Oiio Studio, was inspired to create the U-shaped structure after learning that a company created an elevator that not only moves vertically, but also horizontally. The concept building would need an elevator that could go around curves and move horizontally.

Vertical Cities

Though not exactly like the Big Bend proposal, a nonprofit organization called Vertical City has been encouraging discussion about non-traditional skyscraper structures since 2012. It aims to spark worldwide conversation about “vertical cities as a solution to a more sustainable future.”

Looking at the organization’s online artist renderings, these vertical cities would be Tetris-like arrangements of interconnected towers. The proposed structures, designed to support thousands of residents, reach hundreds of floors upward.

Each structure is intended to include city components like housing, retail space, hotels, hospitals, universities and municipal centers. The organization claims that it is seeing a trend and growing interest in developing these large multifunctional buildings (MFBs).

MFBs have a number of different benefits. It’s believed that the diversity of space use will appeal to many people. It will allow them to live, work, eat and shop in the same building. As a result, this will reduce the need for transportation.

Advocates of vertical cities claim that these structures will help conserve energy, support a growing population and preserve land for food production. But first, somebody has to figure out a feasible way to build them.

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