“High-Living” Earns High Praise

High-living rendering

Dharavi Slum is one of the largest in the world, built on a mangrove swamp in the 1880s during British colonial occupation. Estimates of the population today range from 300,000 to 1 million.

By Lisa Gagnon

Published September 2, 2015

Jin Young Song

Jin Young Song received a Master in Architecture degree from Harvard University's Graduate School of Design, and a Bachelor of Science in Housing & Interior design, Human Environment and Design from Yonsei University, Korea.

Jin Young Song, assistant professor of architecture at the School of Architecture and Planning, recently received 2nd place in an international competition to design housing for the Dharavi Slum in Mumbai, India, using repurposed shipping containers.

Today, 54 percent of the world’s population currently live in urban areas, and that number is expected to rise to 66 percent by 2050, with India alone contributing 404 million urban dwellers. As population rises, so do concerns about energy usage, food supply, and adequate housing, and architects and urban planners must study and implement creative solutions to complicated problems.

That’s what SuperSkyScrapers aims to encourage with its architectural competitions, including this year’s 2015 Steel City: Container Skyscrapers in Mumbai. “Our mission is to bring together the talent and creativity of various architects, engineers and designers to stimulate ideas about high-rise architectural environments.”

In his proposal, entitled “High-Living,” Jin Young Song acknowledges the challenges presented by Dharavi. Though unique and dynamic, the slum is a “disaster” in terms of public health, safety and well-being. In response, Song calls High-Living a “radical but realistic cure.”

aerial view of the high living complex

Unlike traditional skyscrapers, which rely on a central core for support and safety routes, Song’s design employs several vertical structures connected by a bridge system, which allows multiple means of egress, new green open public space, and structural innovation using exo-skeleton and pre-fabricated units. Also, the phasing strategy, beginning from a minimal construction area, is to gradually gain open spaces on the ground while maintaining the density of living/working space in the tower. With greater capacity for occupancy, High-Living creates additional open space for the system to grow.

In the words of the jury, “this proposal presents an interesting juxtaposition of towers and functional elements including play with spatial distribution and circulation. Its form allows for growth which signals a gradual arrival of new possibilities for the residence as the development continues to negotiate change in the area.”

Jin Young Song is a registered architect in New York State and a founder of DIOINNO Architecture PLLC, a Buffalo- and Seoul-based design firm. His research interest is in viewing the contemporary façade as a mechanism that integrates manifold technical and non-technical elements, thereby generating a specific relationship between people and the culture. 

Structure, life safety and sustainability diagrams