Architecture

Gallery: Parasitic Architecture - building on, under or out of existing structures

Gallery: Parasitic Architectur...
From Malka Architecture comes a concept called Pont9 New Bridge. Referred to as a micro-city, the design is modular, mounted on scaffolding, and intended to sit on top of other urban spaces such as footbridges
From Malka Architecture comes a concept called Pont9 New Bridge. Referred to as a micro-city, the design is modular, mounted on scaffolding, and intended to sit on top of other urban spaces such as footbridges
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The Green Exhibition House appeared in Rotterdam in 2001, designed as an experiment in assembling a prefabricated structure onto an existing building. In true parasitic fashion, the water pipes, sewage and electricity were all tapped from existing connections in the base building
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The Green Exhibition House appeared in Rotterdam in 2001, designed as an experiment in assembling a prefabricated structure onto an existing building. In true parasitic fashion, the water pipes, sewage and electricity were all tapped from existing connections in the base building
The Green Exhibition House appeared in Rotterdam in 2001, designed as an experiment in assembling a prefabricated structure onto an existing building. In true parasitic fashion, the water pipes, sewage and electricity were all tapped from existing connections in the base building
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The Green Exhibition House appeared in Rotterdam in 2001, designed as an experiment in assembling a prefabricated structure onto an existing building. In true parasitic fashion, the water pipes, sewage and electricity were all tapped from existing connections in the base building
The Green Exhibition House appeared in Rotterdam in 2001, designed as an experiment in assembling a prefabricated structure onto an existing building. In true parasitic fashion, the water pipes, sewage and electricity were all tapped from existing connections in the base building
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The Green Exhibition House appeared in Rotterdam in 2001, designed as an experiment in assembling a prefabricated structure onto an existing building. In true parasitic fashion, the water pipes, sewage and electricity were all tapped from existing connections in the base building
Manifest Destiny, by artist Mark Reigelman, is a tiny cabin affixed to the side of a hotel in downtown San Francisco. Designed to envision the “romantic spirit of the Western myth”, this interesting structure positions itself as an compelling juxtaposition between the old and the new
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Manifest Destiny, by artist Mark Reigelman, is a tiny cabin affixed to the side of a hotel in downtown San Francisco. Designed to envision the “romantic spirit of the Western myth”, this interesting structure positions itself as an compelling juxtaposition between the old and the new
Manifest Destiny, by artist Mark Reigelman, is a tiny cabin affixed to the side of a hotel in downtown San Francisco. Designed to envision the “romantic spirit of the Western myth”, this interesting structure positions itself as an compelling juxtaposition between the old and the new
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Manifest Destiny, by artist Mark Reigelman, is a tiny cabin affixed to the side of a hotel in downtown San Francisco. Designed to envision the “romantic spirit of the Western myth”, this interesting structure positions itself as an compelling juxtaposition between the old and the new
Manifest Destiny, by artist Mark Reigelman, is a tiny cabin affixed to the side of a hotel in downtown San Francisco. Designed to envision the “romantic spirit of the Western myth”, this interesting structure positions itself as an compelling juxtaposition between the old and the new
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Manifest Destiny, by artist Mark Reigelman, is a tiny cabin affixed to the side of a hotel in downtown San Francisco. Designed to envision the “romantic spirit of the Western myth”, this interesting structure positions itself as an compelling juxtaposition between the old and the new
The Parasite office in Moscow from za bor architects utilizes the abandoned space between buildings to create a multistory office environment. The structure sits above the laneway between the buildings and resembles an organic growth seemingly joining up the two disparate buildings on either side
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The Parasite office in Moscow from za bor architects utilizes the abandoned space between buildings to create a multistory office environment. The structure sits above the laneway between the buildings and resembles an organic growth seemingly joining up the two disparate buildings on either side
The Parasite office in Moscow from za bor architects utilizes the abandoned space between buildings to create a multistory office environment. The structure sits above the laneway between the buildings and resembles an organic growth seemingly joining up the two disparate buildings on either side
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The Parasite office in Moscow from za bor architects utilizes the abandoned space between buildings to create a multistory office environment. The structure sits above the laneway between the buildings and resembles an organic growth seemingly joining up the two disparate buildings on either side
The Parasite office in Moscow from za bor architects utilizes the abandoned space between buildings to create a multistory office environment. The structure sits above the laneway between the buildings and resembles an organic growth seemingly joining up the two disparate buildings on either side
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The Parasite office in Moscow from za bor architects utilizes the abandoned space between buildings to create a multistory office environment. The structure sits above the laneway between the buildings and resembles an organic growth seemingly joining up the two disparate buildings on either side
From Stefan Eberstadt the Rucksack House is a room that is suspended by steel cables designed to be attached to any existing facade
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From Stefan Eberstadt the Rucksack House is a room that is suspended by steel cables designed to be attached to any existing facade
From Stefan Eberstadt the Rucksack House is a room that is suspended by steel cables designed to be attached to any existing facade
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From Stefan Eberstadt the Rucksack House is a room that is suspended by steel cables designed to be attached to any existing facade
From Stefan Eberstadt the Rucksack House is a room that is suspended by steel cables designed to be attached to any existing facade
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From Stefan Eberstadt the Rucksack House is a room that is suspended by steel cables designed to be attached to any existing facade
This installation, called Stealth Shelters, sits between public and private property suggesting an in-between liminal space where those without a home to go to could find a safe place at night
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This installation, called Stealth Shelters, sits between public and private property suggesting an in-between liminal space where those without a home to go to could find a safe place at night
This installation, called Stealth Shelters, sits between public and private property suggesting an in-between liminal space where those without a home to go to could find a safe place at night
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This installation, called Stealth Shelters, sits between public and private property suggesting an in-between liminal space where those without a home to go to could find a safe place at night
This installation, called Stealth Shelters, sits between public and private property suggesting an in-between liminal space where those without a home to go to could find a safe place at night
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This installation, called Stealth Shelters, sits between public and private property suggesting an in-between liminal space where those without a home to go to could find a safe place at night
This installation, called Stealth Shelters, sits between public and private property suggesting an in-between liminal space where those without a home to go to could find a safe place at night
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This installation, called Stealth Shelters, sits between public and private property suggesting an in-between liminal space where those without a home to go to could find a safe place at night
From architects Project Orange comes this fascinating extension on top of an old Victorian industrial brick building. The new black roof literally cuts through the original shell with the parasite completely overwhelming its host
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From architects Project Orange comes this fascinating extension on top of an old Victorian industrial brick building. The new black roof literally cuts through the original shell with the parasite completely overwhelming its host
From architects Project Orange comes this fascinating extension on top of an old Victorian industrial brick building. The new black roof literally cuts through the original shell with the parasite completely overwhelming its host
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From architects Project Orange comes this fascinating extension on top of an old Victorian industrial brick building. The new black roof literally cuts through the original shell with the parasite completely overwhelming its host
From architects Project Orange comes this fascinating extension on top of an old Victorian industrial brick building. The new black roof literally cuts through the original shell with the parasite completely overwhelming its host
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From architects Project Orange comes this fascinating extension on top of an old Victorian industrial brick building. The new black roof literally cuts through the original shell with the parasite completely overwhelming its host
An elegant example of parasitic architecture this addition to a city building in Spain from Bailorull Architects is a clever way to stylishly expand the footprint of the structure in a thoroughly modern way
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An elegant example of parasitic architecture this addition to a city building in Spain from Bailorull Architects is a clever way to stylishly expand the footprint of the structure in a thoroughly modern way
An elegant example of parasitic architecture this addition to a city building in Spain from Bailorull Architects is a clever way to stylishly expand the footprint of the structure in a thoroughly modern way
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An elegant example of parasitic architecture this addition to a city building in Spain from Bailorull Architects is a clever way to stylishly expand the footprint of the structure in a thoroughly modern way
An elegant example of parasitic architecture this addition to a city building in Spain from Bailorull Architects is a clever way to stylishly expand the footprint of the structure in a thoroughly modern way
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An elegant example of parasitic architecture this addition to a city building in Spain from Bailorull Architects is a clever way to stylishly expand the footprint of the structure in a thoroughly modern way
Homes for the Homeless is a concept by James Furzer designed to supply pods that attach to the side of buildings in London and offer refuge to those that sleep on the streets
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Homes for the Homeless is a concept by James Furzer designed to supply pods that attach to the side of buildings in London and offer refuge to those that sleep on the streets
Homes for the Homeless is a concept by James Furzer designed to supply pods that attach to the side of buildings in London and offer refuge to those that sleep on the streets
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Homes for the Homeless is a concept by James Furzer designed to supply pods that attach to the side of buildings in London and offer refuge to those that sleep on the streets
This concept, from Panos Dragonas Christopoulou Architects, was designed to sit on top of an apartment block in Athens and act like a rustic tiny cabin akin to a rural retreat in an urban jungle
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This concept, from Panos Dragonas Christopoulou Architects, was designed to sit on top of an apartment block in Athens and act like a rustic tiny cabin akin to a rural retreat in an urban jungle
This concept, from Panos Dragonas Christopoulou Architects, was designed to sit on top of an apartment block in Athens and act like a rustic tiny cabin akin to a rural retreat in an urban jungle
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This concept, from Panos Dragonas Christopoulou Architects, was designed to sit on top of an apartment block in Athens and act like a rustic tiny cabin akin to a rural retreat in an urban jungle
This concept, from Panos Dragonas Christopoulou Architects, was designed to sit on top of an apartment block in Athens and act like a rustic tiny cabin akin to a rural retreat in an urban jungle
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This concept, from Panos Dragonas Christopoulou Architects, was designed to sit on top of an apartment block in Athens and act like a rustic tiny cabin akin to a rural retreat in an urban jungle
paraSITE by Michael Rakowitz is a perfect example of parasitic design, leeching off external ventilation systems to create warm inflatable structures for the homeless
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paraSITE by Michael Rakowitz is a perfect example of parasitic design, leeching off external ventilation systems to create warm inflatable structures for the homeless
paraSITE by Michael Rakowitz is a perfect example of parasitic design, leeching off external ventilation systems to create warm inflatable structures for the homeless
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paraSITE by Michael Rakowitz is a perfect example of parasitic design, leeching off external ventilation systems to create warm inflatable structures for the homeless
paraSITE by Michael Rakowitz is a perfect example of parasitic design, leeching off external ventilation systems to create warm inflatable structures for the homeless
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paraSITE by Michael Rakowitz is a perfect example of parasitic design, leeching off external ventilation systems to create warm inflatable structures for the homeless
Under a bridge in Spain, designer Fernando Abellanas built this whimsical shelter, called Hidden Studio, cleverly using the existing beams of the bridge to parasitically hang his new office space off
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Under a bridge in Spain, designer Fernando Abellanas built this whimsical shelter, called Hidden Studio, cleverly using the existing beams of the bridge to parasitically hang his new office space off
Under a bridge in Spain, designer Fernando Abellanas built this whimsical shelter, called Hidden Studio, cleverly using the existing beams of the bridge to parasitically hang his new office space off
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Under a bridge in Spain, designer Fernando Abellanas built this whimsical shelter, called Hidden Studio, cleverly using the existing beams of the bridge to parasitically hang his new office space off
Under a bridge in Spain, designer Fernando Abellanas built this whimsical shelter, called Hidden Studio, cleverly using the existing beams of the bridge to parasitically hang his new office space off
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Under a bridge in Spain, designer Fernando Abellanas built this whimsical shelter, called Hidden Studio, cleverly using the existing beams of the bridge to parasitically hang his new office space off
These 3D printed, honeycomb shaped pods from Framlab are a novel solution to what the studio suggests is idle space that can be hijacked and used to house the homeless
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These 3D printed, honeycomb shaped pods from Framlab are a novel solution to what the studio suggests is idle space that can be hijacked and used to house the homeless
These 3D printed, honeycomb shaped pods from Framlab are a novel solution to what the studio suggests is idle space that can be hijacked and used to house the homeless
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These 3D printed, honeycomb shaped pods from Framlab are a novel solution to what the studio suggests is idle space that can be hijacked and used to house the homeless
These 3D printed, honeycomb shaped pods from Framlab are a novel solution to what the studio suggests is idle space that can be hijacked and used to house the homeless
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These 3D printed, honeycomb shaped pods from Framlab are a novel solution to what the studio suggests is idle space that can be hijacked and used to house the homeless
From Malka Architecture comes a concept called Pont9 New Bridge. Referred to as a micro-city, the design is modular, mounted on scaffolding, and intended to sit on top of other urban spaces such as footbridges
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From Malka Architecture comes a concept called Pont9 New Bridge. Referred to as a micro-city, the design is modular, mounted on scaffolding, and intended to sit on top of other urban spaces such as footbridges
From Malka Architecture comes a concept called Pont9 New Bridge. Referred to as a micro-city, the design is modular, mounted on scaffolding, and intended to sit on top of other urban spaces such as footbridges
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From Malka Architecture comes a concept called Pont9 New Bridge. Referred to as a micro-city, the design is modular, mounted on scaffolding, and intended to sit on top of other urban spaces such as footbridges
From Malka Architecture comes a concept called Pont9 New Bridge. Referred to as a micro-city, the design is modular, mounted on scaffolding, and intended to sit on top of other urban spaces such as footbridges
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From Malka Architecture comes a concept called Pont9 New Bridge. Referred to as a micro-city, the design is modular, mounted on scaffolding, and intended to sit on top of other urban spaces such as footbridges
Zalewski Architecture Group devised this concept as a way to add inspiration to buildings that have uninteresting, often concrete filled, enclosed courtyards. Called ‘Balcony’ the design suggests a green walkway growing out of a higher floor
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Zalewski Architecture Group devised this concept as a way to add inspiration to buildings that have uninteresting, often concrete filled, enclosed courtyards. Called ‘Balcony’ the design suggests a green walkway growing out of a higher floor
Zalewski Architecture Group devised this concept as a way to add inspiration to buildings that have uninteresting, often concrete filled, enclosed courtyards. Called ‘Balcony’ the design suggests a green walkway growing out of a higher floor
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Zalewski Architecture Group devised this concept as a way to add inspiration to buildings that have uninteresting, often concrete filled, enclosed courtyards. Called ‘Balcony’ the design suggests a green walkway growing out of a higher floor
Zalewski Architecture Group devised this concept as a way to add inspiration to buildings that have uninteresting, often concrete filled, enclosed courtyards. Called ‘Balcony’ the design suggests a green walkway growing out of a higher floor
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Zalewski Architecture Group devised this concept as a way to add inspiration to buildings that have uninteresting, often concrete filled, enclosed courtyards. Called ‘Balcony’ the design suggests a green walkway growing out of a higher floor
Haus-Rucker-Co, a design collective active in the 1960s and 1970s were known for a series of pneumatic structures that often popped out of pre-existing buildings. These parasitic outgrowths are often considered perfect early examples of the parasitic architecture movement. (Credit: MKG / Dennis Conrad - CC BY SA 3.0)
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Haus-Rucker-Co, a design collective active in the 1960s and 1970s were known for a series of pneumatic structures that often popped out of pre-existing buildings. These parasitic outgrowths are often considered perfect early examples of the parasitic architecture movement. (Credit: MKG / Dennis Conrad - CC BY SA 3.0)
A fascinating example of a figuratively explosive parasite from Studio Libeskind expanding out of the existing building. (Credit: Tony Hisgett CC BY 2.0) 
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A fascinating example of a figuratively explosive parasite from Studio Libeskind expanding out of the existing building. (Credit: Tony Hisgett CC BY 2.0
The gloriously wonky design of architect Eric Owen Moss often bulges out of or sits on top of pre-existing structures suggesting a dynamic relationship with its host building
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The gloriously wonky design of architect Eric Owen Moss often bulges out of or sits on top of pre-existing structures suggesting a dynamic relationship with its host building
The gloriously wonky design of architect Eric Owen Moss often bulges out of or sits on top of pre-existing structures suggesting a dynamic relationship with its host building
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The gloriously wonky design of architect Eric Owen Moss often bulges out of or sits on top of pre-existing structures suggesting a dynamic relationship with its host building
The gloriously wonky design of architect Eric Owen Moss often bulges out of or sits on top of pre-existing structures suggesting a dynamic relationship with its host building
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The gloriously wonky design of architect Eric Owen Moss often bulges out of or sits on top of pre-existing structures suggesting a dynamic relationship with its host building
The gloriously wonky design of architect Eric Owen Moss often bulges out of or sits on top of pre-existing structures suggesting a dynamic relationship with its host building
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The gloriously wonky design of architect Eric Owen Moss often bulges out of or sits on top of pre-existing structures suggesting a dynamic relationship with its host building

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.

A fascinating example of a figuratively explosive parasite from Studio Libeskind expanding out of the existing building. (Credit: Tony Hisgett CC BY 2.0) 
A fascinating example of a figuratively explosive parasite from Studio Libeskind expanding out of the existing building. (Credit: Tony Hisgett CC BY 2.0

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.

6 comments
Paulinator
The Royal Ontario Museum was a beautiful and classic stone structure that has been assaulted by a visually impaired committee of art critics and political cling-ons. Disgusting. It'll be restored to it's former glory when the wart is removed.
CharlieSeattle
Ugly beyond comment!
Mark Salamon
Most of this architecture resembles parasites in another way as well: repulsive ugliness. You can almost hear the original structure crying out in horror, "Get this nasty thing OFF me!"
Eric Blenheim
'A parasite is an organism that lives in another organism, called the host, and often harms it. It is dependent on its host for survival - it has to be in the host to live, grow and multiply. A parasite cannot live independently.' The term parasite is a complete misnomer when used here.
ljaques
[We are Ahole of Borg, and you will be assimilated.] If I lived on that river in the cover shot, I'd sue the living spit out of the city for doing that. It would take money right out of the pockets of every apartment, home, or building owner's pockets by changing it from "river view" to "swimming pool view". Ptui! Let's get together folks, and ban "architects" while there's still time.
kellory
A parasite takes from it's host, and returns nothing of value. Sounds about right for this style of architecture.