Ju-Hyun Kim, director at New York-based H Associates, has shared with us his vision of a Vertical Theme Park in the middle of Manhattan. The project tries to counteract suburb-located theme parks which, for decades, have been the by-product of automobile-centered society and a catalyst for suburban sprawl and traffic congestion.
As families make their way through traffic jams and endless parking lots in the direction of Six Flags this summer, it will come as no surprise that theme parks were built for an automobile-centric society. As a result, they're out in the middle of nowhere--you have to drive through miles of traffic to get there, leaving a huge carbon footprint along the way. Building suburban theme parks is not just happening in the US, but is a global phenomenon.
In the UK and Korea, Thorpe Park and Everland are about 1.5 hour drive away from London and Seoul, respectively. Theme parks are also massive: acres of land are covered in hot asphalt and mega-extensive grid of infrastructures (power, water, gas, sewage, etc.) has to be installed and maintained throughout the year.
Adding to this is the need to build a large number of accommodation for visitors, demonstrating the seriousness of the spatial invasion of building theme parks upon the suburbia, which otherwise would have remained peaceful habitats of the nature. Indeed, theme parks such as Disneyland and Disney World attracted all kinds of undesirable sprawl to Anaheim and Orlando. Peripheries of the theme parks are wildly packed with fast food joints, hotels, roads, highways, parking lots and so on. This has to change. It's inconvenient and environmentally insensitive.
Why not instead build theme parks in the middle of cities? Instead of sprawling parks with giant footprints, stack the park into a skyscraper. The altitude will only add to the speed and excitement of rides, and the view of the surrounding dense urban environment will be incredible. There'll be so much more to see from the top of the carousel and roller coaster on the perimeter. Best of all, it will be easily reached by public transportation, and the environmental impact will be minimal. Now is the time to build the joyful destination for families’ perfect day out at the center of cities.
Vertical Theme Park in Manhattan
Vertigo World (Observation Deck & Carousel)
From the Observation Deck at the very top of the building, visitors can stroll around a snaking path the circumference of the building (complete with necessary but unobtrusive guard rails). The view would include staples like the Statue of Liberty and the Empire State Building. Below the deck is a carousel which rotates 360° per hour to offer the very best view of Manhattan--just like a revolving restaurant, some visitors will enjoy the carousel with hors d’oeuvre and champagne, but only this time with a splendid view from 1000 ft above the ground.
Fast Land (Roller Coaster & Flume Ride)
Terrifying beauty of centrifugal force, coupled with the thrill of heights can be best experienced on the roller coaster which circles down the tower without a pause. As the coaster runs down along the periphery of the tower, succession of the views toward Central Park, East River which itself is framed by tall, vertical buildings will be presented almost like a film strip sequence. Intertwined with the roller coaster, there are also spirals of flume ride, where passengers sit in the capsules, which are propelled along the flume by the flow of water. Since the flume will be designed to be turbulent, splash of the water will cool down the summer’s heat from the passengers.
Abyss City (Urban Bungee Jumping)
Located at 550 feet from the ground, there is bungee jumping facilities with 3 cantilevered out springboard-like platforms. Looking out on density and congestion of the pedestrians and cars on the street and numerous rooftop watertanks, people dive into the liquid of humidity of the city in July. Immediate thrills and chills will surround them as soon as they start freefall. As the Vertical Theme Park will be open 24 hours, many businessmen can come join, after office hours, the Urban Bungee Jumping with their suits and ties to relieve the stressful workdays. Deep in the night, the scattered lights from the other tall buildings will shine like the stars.
360° World (Manhattan Wheel & Sky Promenade)
Large upright wheel with passenger cars will be located in the middle of the tower. As the wheel spins around, at its lower point, people can even experience the smell of hot dogs from street food carts. At its higher point, lots of pleasant breeze come in to cool them down. Sky promenade is a path for the speculation and observation. It is the sloped ramp along the perimeter from which people can walk alone or in group. Just like the Guggenheim Museum, people can reach the top floor with the elevator and walk down to the ground looking out the city. Only the difference from Guggenheim is the eyesight's vanishing point: it is not on the picture plane in the gallery, but is on in-between the tall buildings.
Elsewhere Universe (Space Exploratorium & Gate )
The gigantic sphere structure will be suspended from above and will look like it is from another planet or another universe. Just like the outlook, inside this geodesic dome is a ‘zero gravity zone’ where people can experience a space-like environment. In the gate area, passerbys will discover both kids with ice creams in their hands, and businessmen who drop by during the lunchtime. Likewise, in the middle of the blunt facades of the adjacent blocks, people come across the intriguing and welcoming enclave. Likewise, in the middle of Monday to Friday City, people suddenly come across Saturday & Sunday City.