Par­a­sitic hous­ing could be­come in­fec­tious

Tiny homes built on other build­ings an ar­chi­tec­tural op­tion for crowded ur­ban cen­tres

The Province - - HOMES - JES­SICA GOD­DARD

Pic­ture Toronto’s CN Tower cov­ered in clus­ters of bar­na­cle-like pods, ex­tend­ing up­ward on one of Canada’s most cel­e­brated tourist at­trac­tions.

A 2017 con­cep­tual pro­posal by Toronto ar­chi­tec­tural firm Quad­ran­gle would see pre­fab­ri­cated wooden cubes cling­ing to the tower’s con­crete, cre­at­ing res­i­den­tial units of vary­ing sizes and lay­outs, of­fer­ing un­par­al­leled views of the city and Lake On­tario.

As af­ford­abil­ity grows as a con­cern in dense ur­ban cen­tres all over the world, so-called par­a­sitic homes — those that latch onto, in be­tween or inside ex­ist­ing struc­tures — could be­come the way of the fu­ture.

Ear­lier this year, Ecuadorean firm El Sindi­cato built a lit­tle house of glass and steel on the rooftop of an­other build­ing in the Quito neigh­bour­hood of San Juan. It in­cludes a bed, bath­room, kitchen, storage space and liv­ing space in 12 square me­tres.

Marc Richard, a free­lance graphic de­signer, lives in a sim­i­larly sized shed within a de­com­mis­sioned fac­tory in the Bat­tersea dis­trict of Lon­don. For Richard, the ex­pe­ri­ence has made him re­think the fu­ture of city liv­ing and the idea of home.

“Things could be on wheels, like the shed, or you could have flex­i­ble spa­ces, adapt­able spa­ces, per­haps build­ings which are mod­u­lar and you could shrink them down when you need to,” Richard told the BBC.

While ex­pand­ing on avail­able ex­ter­nal or in­ter­nal space of build­ings is not new, par­a­sitic ad­di­tions con­trast de­lib­er­ately from their host struc­tures by pur­pose­fully in­tro­duc­ing dif­fer­ent colours, ma­te­ri­als and styles to stand out.

“This is what the idea of par­a­sit­ing the city is about,” said Teresa Bardzin­ska-Bo­nen­berg, an ar­chi­tec­tural his­to­rian at Poland’s Uni­ver­sity of Arts in Poz­nan.

“Peo­ple have now much more in­spi­ra­tion, ma­te­ri­als, tools and courage to ex­press them­selves.”

She said as more and more city struc­tures earn her­itage des­ig­na­tions and be­come ex­empt from al­ter­ations, less space is avail­able for af­ford­able hous­ing, which means ar­chi­tects have to get cre­ative.

While the CN Tower isn’t in dan­ger of be­com­ing a makeshift condo any time soon, one can only imag­ine what the fu­ture of mod­u­lar hous­ing will look like for Canada’s grow­ing ur­ban cen­tres.

And what a small wooden box at­tached to the side of a build­ing in Toronto would cost.

— EL SINDI­CATO

Par­a­sitic hous­ing, like this tiny home erected on a rooftop in Ecuador, could help solve ur­ban short­ages.

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