Manhattan Oneirocritica | Fredrik Hellberg


We were surfin’ through the net and found out this student project in boiteaoutils. Looking for some more info, we found out that Fredrik Hellberg had worked some interesting research and documentation projects about the Imagined Architecture for Manhattan, as he quotes:

To build my NYC Dreamscape I chose these architectural proposals to be put within the world. Few other urban places in the world are as dense with architectural fantasies, some of these being meant for realization while others for imagination and dreams only.


It is interesting how Manhattan had catched up architects dreams since its early years. The speculative proposals that many architects had worked all along the 20th century are diverse and also intense in the most architectural sense of the word. Intense because the proper history of Manhattan has been intense too: it is the most densely populated county in the United States and one of the major commercial, cultural and financial center of the world. The construction boom that started with the rate of immigration from Europe in the 19th century grew out with the construction of the New York City Subway in 1904. The city became the home of the skycrapers and its distinctive skyline can be recognized worldwide. It is the mix of all of these aspects that made the city the perfect landscape for architectural dreams and utopias in te middle 1900s.

Lower Manhattan in 1660

The newly completed Singer Building towering above the city, 1909

Hellberg made a deep research that included demography, history, skyline (both built and unbuilt) and all the imagined architecture that had been designed to be part of the city and then he made 3D renders of all those buildings created by a state of mind where the mind its self creates the space while perceiving it without connecting it with occupation, while imagination, thought, meditation, fantasy, spitituality, phsycadelic experience and the dream played the most important roles. Some of the projects that Fredrik revisited in the Manhattan Oneirocritica research are:

The Continuous Monument by Superstudio, designed in 1969 as an architectural model for Total Urbanization. It is a gridded superstructure that would wrap around the world and eventually would cover the entire surface of the planet:
Superstudio, The Continuos Monument: Rockefeller Center, 1969


The Grand Hotel by Antoni Gaudí in 1908. Gaudi’s vision for a 360-metre hotel would have been the world’s tallest structure until the Empire State Building was built in 1930.



The Lower Manhattan Express Way by Paul Rudolph in 1967. A project that was part of Rudolph’s researchs on the megastructure idea and part of a series of large-scale unbuilt projects using various systems of structural frames with plug-in modular units:



The Walking City by Archigram [Ron Herron] in 1963. A project that is constituted by intelligent buildings or robots that are in the form of giant, self contained living pods that could roam the cities. The form derived from a combination of insect and machine and was a literal interpretation of Corbusier’s aphorism of a house as a machine for living in.



Is common to hear that in crisis times, imagination works deeper and better. We can see in the previous projects that most of them were designed [or dreamed] in the years around the Oil Crisis, when architects wanted to reinvent the world and the way that we inhabitat our cities. But what is happening now? We are realizing that there is an intense discussion about the architect’s role and how new utopian ideas are currently absent. Most architecture blogs are just re-discovering old Utopias here and there and, as the amazing Phantom City Museum [completelly related with Hellberg work and research], there are some projects that make us travel through an old dreamland. But what about NOW?

As Fredrick says in the Manhattan Oneirocritica text: “To explore the world of dreams is to debate the logic of your own mind and universe.”


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