DESIGNING THE HIGHLINE, NEW YORK 2003
Wearing clothing means putting a barrier between our body and the outside world. We protect ourselves from the weather but also from others' sight. At the same time wearing particular kind of clothing shows the exterior world who we are or, to be precise, what kind of person we want other people to think we are. It expresses in what kind of mood we are or to what kind of “group” we belong.
Once, in the NYC subway, I saw an unusual-looking guy. He was wearing black leather pants, a black T-shirt, black lipstick and white foundation; he was pierced all over his ears, on his lips and nose. Suddenly another guy, who looked exactly the same, entered the train and scanned the car. Without saying a word he went up to the first man and gave him an invitation to a party and then went immediately to the next car. They didn't have to speak: their clothes were speaking for them.
Entering a designed space is similar to the experience of wearing clothing. The architecture is able to change our mood; it's able to make us feel melancholic or ebullient, energetic or relaxed. Architecture is a strong sensorial experience, one where colors, smell, temperature drive our mind to particular places. Ideally, we would use architecture as our wardrobe, going to a particular place or another depending on our mood - looking for a specific sensorial relation to the environment depending on our individual needs.
The High Line is a unique place because it is a long, narrow street, isolated from the city and from its noisy life. It is an ideal place for an architectural experiment. We have chosen to divide it into 50 segments, each one designed as a single architectural experience, as a room isolated from the world and from the rest of the spaces in the project. People will be able to choose the room in which they want to spend time depending on how they feel. They would “wear” the garden of buxus or the black room, the room of the sculptures or the graffitied one. They could withdraw themselves into the solitude of the room with the single tree or experience a crowd in the one with bars.
Walking the whole high line would be an experience similar to traveling.
Moving through all of the rooms would be like wearing each of the different situations, one after the other. It is like those two girls at the mall running between the dressing room and the mirror trying on anything they could find, not because they were not sure about what to buy but because they had been captured in a long journey inside themselves, a long journey through the unlimited possibilities of being.
The Highline design proposal was developed together with Lucia Gori