Highline: Branching Urbanism: From Line to Field
New York, NY 2003

Our proposal for the reuse of the Highline imagines a form of urbanism uniquely suited to complement the existing structure of the elevated track. Branching urbanism involves material organizations that grow laterally over time through simple, ramiform mechanics. Branching systems are distinct from more general networks because they possess a single, hierarchically dominant spine and clear directionality. Secondary and tertiary branches move out of the primary line, loosening its braids into a filed. Smaller tendrils are increasingly sensitive to surrounding local conditions as they move outward, and their redundancy produces flexibility in numbers. Their excess also allows them to act as larger groups rather than single elements producing the emergence of larger zones. These qualities bring with them a higher degree of organizational control, allowing designers, policymakers, and citizens to predict and steer the system toward a desirable configuration.


Gnuform principals:
Jason Payne
Heather Roberge