This man cre­ated a mys­te­ri­ous of­fice sus­pended be­neath a bridge

Toronto Star - - WORD WEEKLY - PETER HOL­LEY

In cities across the globe, hous­ing prices are sky­rock­et­ing and space has be­come an in­creas­ingly unattain­able lux­ury good. To cope, some have em­braced the tiny house move­ment or even aban­doned the sta­tion­ary life en­tirely.

Fer­nando Abel­lanas — a plumber-turned-de­signer in Va­len­cia, Spain, de­cided to try some­thing else: He qui­etly built a min­i­mal­ist of­fice be­tween the gird­ers of a large, con­crete bridge.

There are few spa­ces that feel as aban­doned and un­de­sir­able as the space be­neath an over­pass, but Abel­lanas told Le Cool Va­len­cia that he wanted to re­claim ur­ban space by turn­ing that ig­nored lo­ca­tion into "a wel­com­ing space."

“All of this is an en­vi­ron­ment where veg­e­ta­tion, con­crete, sound is far away from the hus­tle and bus­tle of the city, and there is plea­sure in feel­ing so close and so alien at the same time,” he told the mag­a­zine.

The de­signer did not im­me­di­ately re­spond to a re­quest for com­ment from The Wash­ing­ton Post.

Cities around the world have at­tempted to turn the shad­owy areas un­der­neath tow­er­ing con­crete over­passes into at­trac­tive, us­able spa­ces. In Hous­ton, an artist put an in­stal­la­tion us­ing video, au­dio and sculp­ture un­der an over­pass, ac­cord­ing to Next City. Lon­don has in­stalled a skate park un­der a bridge, while Shang­hai has built a jun­gle gym.

Abel­lanas’s of­fice is what’s known as a “par­a­sitic struc­ture,” which uses ex­ist­ing ar­chi­tec­ture to re­claim wasted space or siphon off re­sources from a host struc­ture. The of­fice has a metal base that is at­tached to rails, al­low­ing the struc­ture to be moved from one part of the bridge to an­other us­ing a hand crank.

At one end of the rails, items that adorn a typ­i­cal of­fice — shelves, cac­tuses, framed pic­tures, a desk and a chair — are bolted to the bridge’s con­crete wall. Doors fold out­ward, giv­ing the in­hab­i­tant the op­tion of open­ing up the of­fice to the out­side world. At night, the doors can be closed and bed­ding stored on the shelves above al­lows the user to spend the night.

Dezeen, an ar­chi­tec­ture and de­sign pub­li­ca­tion, char­ac­ter­ized the of­fice as an “ur­ban cabin” that of­fers “re­treat from the bus­tle of the city,” de­spite the mas­sive road­way above.

The artist told The Spa­ces that his in­ter­est in cre­at­ing a hide­away from which to ob­serve the out­side world orig­i­nated in child­hood. He com­pared the of­fice to a child’s ex­pe­ri­ence of hid­ing un­der the ta­ble.

“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 told the pub­li­ca­tion. “These are lo­ca­tions that, due to their ar­chi­tec­ture, lo­ca­tion or size, have be­come use­less. Peo­ple hardly no­tice when walk­ing by.”

Abel­lanas said the of­fice’s lo­ca­tion is a se­cret and that the struc­ture will re­main in place un­til its parts are stolen or au­thor­i­ties dis­cover it.

PHOTO COURTESY OF JOSE MANUEL PE

Fer­nando Abel­lanas de­cided to cre­ate a workspace be­neath a bridge in an ef­fort to re­claim un­used ur­ban spa­ces.

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