Concept City: Responsive Infrastructure for a Sinking Manhattan


How will Manhattan adapt as the lower part of the city begins to sink back into the swamp it was built upon? This concept called ‘Responsive Infrastructure‘ by Natalie Chelliah looks to support the city’s constantly multiplying situation even as its usable land disappears. The concept elevates sidewalks above street level into a 3D matrix of interconnected bridges.


Rather than looking at a city as a collection of buildings, streets and other infrastructure on a flat surface, this concept takes the space above ground level into account, as well. Why not stretch the city upwards, using all of that available space?


Chelliah’s design has a look that is both alien and organic, as if steel came alive and stretched itself into a network of bridges and tunnels like living vines and tendrils. As water levels rise to fill the streets below, all of the elements that one would expect to find in the city are elevated, including parks and churches.



‘Responsive Architecture,’ which is London-based architecture student Chelliah’s thesis project, was nominated for the Silver RIBA Presidents Medal. This concept is one of many ideas that have been put forth for cities that will be challenged by rising sea levels, including Amsterdam and Venice. See more architecture concepts for flooded cities.