NYC: An Urban Rooftop Renaissance


Innovation in housing and resource development has become a primary focus for cities as populations increase.

One way that New York city has started to deal with population surges is by utilising its rooftop airspace; building new residential units, gardens and maintenance buildings on top of the city’s existing architecture.

In her first series for #FutureofCities, our US Ambassador and resident New Yorker Vivienne Gucwa explores these new additions to the rooftops of her city.

Despite their endearingly quaint ‘miniature city’ appearance; these evolving urban structures represent an ad-hoc solution to the needs of New York’s growing urban population.

  • #FutureofCities: NYC, An Urban Rooftop Renaissance

    Vivienne Gucwa

    #FutureofCities: NYC, An Urban Rooftop Renaissance

    Sony α7S (F Stop: 8, Shutter: 1/160 seconds, ISO: 200)

    Looking at a rooftop addition from across Houston Street.

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  • #FutureofCities: NYC, An Urban Rooftop Renaissance

    Vivienne Gucwa

    #FutureofCities: NYC, An Urban Rooftop Renaissance

    Sony α7S (F Stop: 9, Shutter: 1/160 seconds, ISO: 200)

    Looking at an interesting rooftop housing extension towards 13th Street on 3rd Avenue.

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  • #FutureofCities: NYC, An Urban Rooftop Renaissance

    Vivienne Gucwa

    #FutureofCities: NYC, An Urban Rooftop Renaissance

    Sony α7S (F Stop: 9, Shutter: 1/160 seconds, ISO: 200)

    Closer inspection of a rooftop on 13th Street and 3rd Avenue reveals rooftop housing with a chimney.

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  • #FutureofCities: NYC, An Urban Rooftop Renaissance

    Vivienne Gucwa

    #FutureofCities: NYC, An Urban Rooftop Renaissance

    Sony α7S (F Stop: 7.1, Shutter: 1/80 seconds, ISO: 200)

    Looking out over the tops of rooftops in midtown Manhattan reveals another world of rooftop extensions and spaces for people to enjoy summer evenings.

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  • #FutureofCities: NYC, An Urban Rooftop Renaissance

    Vivienne Gucwa

    #FutureofCities: NYC, An Urban Rooftop Renaissance

    Sony α7S (F Stop: 9, Shutter: 1/80 seconds, ISO: 200)

    Adjacent to the soaring skyscrapers in midtown Manhattan rooftop extensions become a part of the skyline.

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  • #FutureofCities: NYC, An Urban Rooftop Renaissance

    Vivienne Gucwa

    #FutureofCities: NYC, An Urban Rooftop Renaissance

    Sony α7S (F Stop: 9, Shutter: 1/160 seconds, ISO: 200)

    Rooftop housing extensions protrude from the tops of buildings in midtown Manhattan.

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  • #FutureofCities: NYC, An Urban Rooftop Renaissance

    Vivienne Gucwa

    #FutureofCities: NYC, An Urban Rooftop Renaissance

    Sony α7S (F Stop: 9, Shutter: 1/160 seconds, ISO: 200)

    A selection of rooftop structures on a skyscraper in midtown Manhattan

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  • #FutureofCities: NYC, An Urban Rooftop Renaissance

    Vivienne Gucwa

    #FutureofCities: NYC, An Urban Rooftop Renaissance

    Sony α7S (F Stop: 9, Shutter: 1/160 seconds, ISO: 200)

    Even the maintenance structures on the tops of buildings in midtown Manhattan are taking on a distinctly residential appearance. Here, a set of rooftop extensions mimics the look of a tiny village.

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About Vivienne 

Vivienne Gucwa started out completely broke and taking photos with a point & shoot camera 6 years ago.

She is now a full-time fine art travel photographer, making a living working on commissions that take her all over the world. When not travelling, Vivienne holds a passion for taking photos of the city she grew up in and loves dearly, New York City.

As one of nine Sony Artisans of Imagery, she enjoys connecting on a regular basis with her online audience of 2.5 million via her photography blog nythroughthelens.com

Her work has been published in a variety of publications online, in print, in ad campaigns, on album and book covers and on television.

Her best-selling New York photography book titled NY Through the Lens was released in stores worldwide and online in the autumn of 2014. The book is a visual nostalgic journey through the city that never sleeps.

Interview

What was your personal motivation to shoot this story for #FutureofCities?

As a fine art travel photographer who takes many photos of cityscapes and skylines, it's been interesting to note how New York City's skyline has been evolving over the years when it comes to rooftop extensions and structures.

Space is at a premium in New York City and structural solutions are varied. The structures that have sprung up on top of the city’s existing architecture are endlessly fascinating.

Does it unsettle you that we are now buying 'airspace' to live in?

Having grown up in New York, I’m used to the ephemeral nature of the city.

The topic of purchasing airspace is a controversial one, for sure. In a city where affordable housing is in high demand, I can only hope that eventually the usage of New York’s airspace will accommodate more than just those investing in the luxury real estate market.

What do you think about the #FutureofCities campaign and Sony's involvement in such an important global project?

I think the project has a far-reaching impact globally since it is drawing attention to urban issues that will only potentially become more prescient in the coming years.

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