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World's longest skyscraper promises the 'big bend' in the sky

A conceptual design by Oiio Studio proposes "the Big Bend" as Manhattan's longest (not tallest) residential building.

Building up seems to be the go-to solution for urban housing. Tall, thin buildings are transforming skylines from Manhattan to Dubai.

Greek-born architect Ioannis Oikonomou, the founder of Oiio Studio, has another idea. Rather than building massive towers that rely solely on height to impress, Oikonomou argues that it is the job of architects to "bring out the inherent emotions of the city". 

He proposes building the world's longest building. Not the tallest.

As seen from across the street, the architect's renderings show the ends of The Big Bend straddling either side of the Calvary Baptist Church building, which was erected in 1931.

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Oiio has designed a conceptual skyscraper that challenges the urban obsession with super-tall residential towers by substituting extreme height with length – stretching 1219 metres from end to end. "The Big Bend" would follow the same style of skyscrapers in New York by remaining thin, but instead of going up and up, it would bend and return to the ground.

Oiio Studio's conceptual drawings position The Big Bend on West 57th Street, just south of Manhattan's Central Park. The daytime view looks north, over the park; and at night, looks south, with the Empire State Building in the distance.

Oikonomou says he came up with the design to highlight the race for height between Manhattan's luxury condo developers, who are capitalising on a planning law that permits them to purchase air rights from neighbouring buildings, allowing for ever-taller towers on relatively small plots. 


"The story of The Big Bend follows a recent trend that has appeared in New York City: the emergence of myriad tall and slender residential skyscrapers. New York City's zoning laws have created a peculiar set of tricks, through which developers try to maximise their property's height in order to infuse it with the prestige of a high-rise structure," he said.

"But what if we substituted height with length? What if our buildings were long instead of tall?"

The NYC- and Athens-based studio created a series of renderings to show what the building would look like. These drawings place The Big Bend among the luxury apartment towers of West 57th Street, locally known as Billionaires' Row. This neighbourhood already has residential super-structures such as the 306-metre-tall One57; the Central Park Tower - on track to be the city's tallest residential tower at 472 metres when it's finished in 2019; and 432 Park which tops out at 425.5 metres.

In the renderings, The Big Bend sits in the middle of Billionaires' Row, with the ends of its inverted U-shape falling on either side of the Calvary Baptist Church. 

Despite claiming to be long rather than tall, The Big Bend would still loom over most of the towers on that block – Oiio's renderings show the building having a total length of 1219 metres, meaning that even with its bend it would join the ranks of the world's "mega-tall buildings"– those over 600 metres, according to the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat. 

Some of New York's prominent architects have spoken out against the increasing number of luxury residential skyscrapers classed as super-tall – measuring between 300 and 600 metres in height – rising in the city.

Steven Holl said such buildings "symbolise inequality in architectural form", while Liz Diller of Diller Scofidio + Renfro said that the city is at risk of being "consumed by the dollar". Locals have also voiced concerns about the towers, complaining that they will overshadow Central Park.



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