A parasite is an organism that attaches itself to a host, often leeching food and nutrients at the expense of its unfortunate benefactor. Parasitic architecture emulates that relationship with new structures sitting on top of, underneath, or alongside existing structures, constantly relying on its host for support and resources.

Parasitic architecture is a growing trend around the world. As our cities grow increasingly dense, designers are finding new ways to enhance a building's footprint by adding new structures on top of older ones. Many examples of the aesthetic have a determined focus on reclaiming unused city spaces to help the homeless by adding pods or cubes to the sides of buildings.

While lots of parasitic designs sit harmoniously on their hosts, some are more violent about asserting their presence. Studio Libeskind's addition to the Royal Ontario Museum utilizes explosive new materials to blow up the traditional facade of the building, while the Green Exhibition House in Rotterdam makes no attempt to camouflage its presence, standing out in radioactive green from its surroundings.

Parasitic architecture is indeed defined by its jarring presence – extensions to existing buildings that are designed to stand prominently apart both in material and form. More elegant examples such as the Parasite office in Moscow appear as almost organic outgrowths from their host buildings.

Take a look through our gallery highlighting some of the best parasitic architectural designs from around the world.

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