This world is full of nooks and voids in the man-made cityscape. They are the blank canvases for a creative mind of parasitic architecture. These pockets of possibilities bring about ingenuity to design thinking and innovation to construction methods. Many of the projects represent a hope for humanity that these unused spaces in our urban environment can be used for the greater good, like to house the homeless or provide a sanctuary from the busyness of the city.
A blank canvas could be the underside of a bridge, against a wall on the side of a building, or an unused rooftop. The creative mind called Fernando Abellanas chose to create a space that hangs under a highway. His project is a presentation of one version on how to make clever use of existing infrastructure. “In this case we are not referring to an idyllic hut you would find in the middle of the woods but rather to tiny spaces recovered from the city itself, where you can hide from the city’s hectic pace,” Abellanas said.
Fernando Abellanas is a Spanish plumber who runs a product and furniture design project called Lebrel. He is a self-taught designer, who, starting from a very young age, has designed and built everything that surrounds him. His products are intended to be highly-functional with minimalist aesthetics as inspired by pioneer designers and architects from the 60s and 70s.
“My work as a designer consists [of] trying to implement the concerns relating to design, handicrafts and architecture which I come across on a daily basis,” said Abellanas. “I observe, research and develop projects, in a self-taught way, with the only purpose of satisfying my own personal motivation. With the experience I acquired during years of work I collaborate with artists, interior designers and architects offering them design and manufacturing solutions. All this I do under the name of Lebrel.”
Abellanas was intrigued by the concept of parasitic architecture, which is the new trend of (usually) small-scale architectonic “additions” being mounted onto existing buildings. Whether temporary or permanent, legal or illegal, these cling-ons are like parasites, depending on the structure and footings of their host. Sometimes they function independently but usually they also develop the functions of what they are attached to. Their construction areas are spaces that due to their architecture, location or size have become useless. People hardly notice them when walking by.
His interest in this concept brought about the manifestation of his tiny moveable workspace under a highway. This makeshift studio uses the concrete overpass as its walls and roof. It consists of two parts: a suspended floor made of plywood boards and metal tubes that move, and some furniture (shelf, chair, and desk) that has been bolted to the bridge’s concrete wall. He makes use of the existing beams under the bridge as rails. A hand crank moves the suspended floor along these rails from one side of the bridge to the other side where the office has been bolted to the wall.
When the sides of the base are up, the movable floor just looks like a box from beneath the bridge. (Credit: Jose Manuel Pedrajas)
When the sides of the base are down, the person in the room has a view of all their surrounding area. (Credit: Jose Manuel Pedrajas)
A bench, seat, and some shelving are installed under the bridge. The shelter is a clever example of parasitic architecture. (Credit: Jose Manuel Pedrajas)
Operating the hand crank to move the shelter into position. (Credit: Jose Manuel Pedrajas)
The shelter makes use of the existing beams under the bridge as rails. (Credit: Jose Manuel Pedrajas)
Though there are no amenities as such, it’s possible to make up a bed on the floor with the available bedding and spend the night (Credit: Jose Manuel Pedrajas)
The designer drew and built the whole project himself. It’s meant to be thought of, not so much a practical housing idea, but an art installation. “It is also about recovering those sensations of the huts we used to make as small ones. To stay isolated but at the same time close to our house, the city,” he told Dezeen.
The location of the “cabin” remains anonymous. “The project is an ephemeral intervention, [it will remain] until someone finds it and decides to steal the materials, or the authorities remove it,” he told The Spaces. “Hidden away from passing cars and trains, the studio provides me with a sense of peace and brings back childhood memories of hiding under a table.”