The Skyvillage is a concept skyscraper designed to bridge over the 101-110 interchange near downtown L.A.

The idea is to build another layer of the city over the roads, reconnecting neighborhoods by making it easier to walk.

As the freeways stack up at the interchange, they also create a lot of wasted space--about 27 acres of land that can’t easily be used.

The skyscraper, inspired by the shape of trees, would build on that space with several towers connected by branching floors.

2014-04-02

Co.Exist

This Tree-Inspired Skyscraper Sits On Top Of Streets And Sucks Up Pollution

The Skyvillage is designed to bridge neighborhoods that are separated by highways—and make those highways a lot less dirty.

When the L.A. freeway system was built in the 1940s and 1950s, the city saw the massive new roads as a magical solution for bad traffic. That clearly didn’t end up being the case, and the freeways also had the unintended consequences of splitting up neighborhoods and creating more poverty. In some other cities, aging freeways are being torn up and turned into surface streets or even parks. But what happens when a place like L.A. isn’t quite ready to give up existing infrastructure?

One somewhat improbable idea: Build another layer of the city over the roads, reconnecting neighborhoods by making it easier to walk. The Skyvillage design concept, proposed by a student at USC School of Architecture, is a skyscraper that would bridge over the 101-110 interchange near downtown L.A.

"It’s a really common problem for freeways to segregate communities instead of bringing people together," says Ziwei Song, who developed the design as part of a studio class and recently won an honorable mention in the 2014 eVolo Skyscraper Competition. "Around the interchange, we found that there are four distinct cultures. If the freeway wasn’t there, it would be more united. That’s why we wanted to build something that could bring people from one side to the other."

As the freeways stack up at the interchange, they also create a lot of wasted space—about 27 acres of land that can’t easily be used. This skyscraper, inspired by the shape of trees, would build on that space with several towers connected by branching floors. People could enter at the base of one tower, go upstairs, and cross to another neighborhood—from downtown to Chinatown, for example, or Echo Park to Temple Beaudry.

It’s not intended only to act as a bridge; the building itself is designed as a walkable neighborhood, so people living inside or nearby wouldn’t have to get in a car for everyday errands. Along with housing, offices, and a school, Song envisions restaurants, gyms, music clubs, shopping, and a park inside the skyscraper. "It’s a place for people from different social groups to interact," she says.

The vertical towers supporting the building would be filled with air-filtering plants that are intended—at least in theory—to absorb some of the pollution from the nearby freeways.

While the giant skyscraper is just a concept, Song says it would be feasible to build. She plans to continue thinking about the design. "I think it's a really interesting task," she says. "Maybe it can develop into other forms."

Add New Comment

3 Comments

  • Ken Murphy

    For anything to get built it must make sense economically. Unfortunately the article does not address the economics of this concept. Also, the premise in the title (sucks up pollution) is only addressed by commenting that the idea may theoretically work. So, if the premise is unproven even in a pilot study and it is unknown whether developers would even consider the idea, what is it's real worth?

  • Tom Pattillo

    I lie the creative use of above ground structures to maximize the space and improve the look of urban communities. Having said that, one area I think deserves attention is "graveyards". In Canada they take up huge amounts of space, many being in what are now downtown areas (as opposed to outside the city 100 years ago). Why not consider structures that would be built over the graveyard (smaller graveyards first) that would be high enough to maintain the visual expanse and sanctity of the setting, while providing shelter for visitors, night time lighting (no more ghosts), and attractive information kiosks. As more and more people are choosing cremation rather than full coffin burial, additional space may be minimal. Of course, may graveyards in Canada are full. Just a thought for creative minds to explore.