30" x 30" x 3"
Lasercut chipboard, wood, paint
Hidden below every building in New York is a subterranean cavity dug into the earth. These negative spaces contain basements and foundations that make the structures above them possible. Yet these spaces are mostly invisible to us, and many are inaccessible even to a building’s inhabitants. Some contain great columns that hold up floors above, some have garages, some have illegal apartments, some are filled with decades of junk, some sit empty and dark. We walk by them every day and yet are unaware of these critical spaces concealed below the surface.
UnBuilding shows an alternate reality where all of the man made structures have vanished, as if yanked out like teeth. Left behind are the ghost traces of the missing buildings: some are only one story deep, some reach surprisingly low belying the height of the structure above, some go all the way down to bedrock. These holes were dug over hundreds of years, by thousands of workers, and form a negative inverse city as impressive as the above-ground version we see every day. It is these negative numbers, the space beneath, that make the entire city possible.
The three dimensional model was derived from open datasets, with sublevel depth extrapolated from building year, height, material, distance to bedrock, and use factors such as historic properties, hospitals, and bank vaults.
Derived from NYC Open Data and other open datasets: