Thomas Heatherwick who owns Heatherwick Studios in London is not an architect but a designer with many iconic designs around the world to his credit. For some, his designs are just waste of public money and for others his structures just unbelievable. He is the one who has created designs like Learning Hub in Singapore; a complex for Bombay Sapphire in Hampshire, England; and the Zeitz MOCAA in Cape Town – all are unique in themselves. So, whenever and wherever Heatherwick is involved you will get to see something new and unique. This time too he doesn’t disappoint us. His latest design at Hudson Yards in USA, Vessel, doesn’t float in water but helps you to fly in the air for a moment! Do you know what is the India connection of this Vessel?
Designer Thomas Heatherwick won this project after overcoming stiff competition from the likes of Anish Kapoor. Having won the project, even bigger problem was to keep the entire design and the project in secret. Entire steelworks were fabricated in Italy and that a 20-foot fence was constructed around the steelworks in northwest Italy where the bones of the Vessel was being constructed so that no one could see what the design was going to be. And structure was transported from Italy to USA part by part without putting them into public glare. Finally, when the Vessel was unveiled last week it was structure with 2,500 steps, 80 landings and 150 feet height with a base that is 50 feet in diameter. The structure is expected to attract two million visitors every year. But for an ordinary Indian its nothing but a replica of stepwell. Heatherwick Studios has also said that the design was inspired by Indian stepwells. Stepwells (Baori) are wells or ponds in which the water is reached by descending a set of steps to the water level.
The 75 interlocking pieces of the steel structure, fabricated by Cimolai in Italy, took over two years to assemble onsite and together offers a one-mile vertical climbing experience. It is the central feature of the main public square in the Hudson Yards development, one of the largest real estate projects in American history, which has transformed a former rail yard in Manhattan’s Upper West Side into a new neighbourhood, with more than five acres of new public spaces and gardens.
Apart from its unique design, Vessel will also rank among the most expensive pieces of public sculpture in the world. Unconfirmed reports say, the structure cost $ 200million.