Parasite Prefab / Lara Calder Architects


Lara Calder Architects’ prefab parasite project is meant populate the unused spaces found in urban landscapes.  Fittingly, the parasite will cling to old facades, rock faces and even bridges as a way to “achieve sustainable densification.”   Designed using a parametric 3d modelling software, the form is a flexible entity as all components, such as the structural system, facade, cladding, floor levels and stairs are integrated into a sole parametric model.  The integration of the design system increases efficiency and accuracy of the construction process.

More about the parasite after the break. lara03

A mounting plate is attached to the back wall where the parasite will attach.  Floors are added and lastly, the structural façade is put in place to provide lateral bracing to the form. One the first level, the building contains the main entrance and the study.  The bedroom and bathroom are on the second level and the main room has access to a balcony which is protected by a privacy screen. The upper floors contain the living space, kitchen, and small roof terrace, which provides the opportunity for natural cross ventilation.


The project is accessed by a retractable staircase so as not to disturb pedestrians or light vehicular traffic.  In addition to not disturbing the street, raising the building 3 to 4 meters above the ground level makes a footprint that “technically only consists of the stair landing and the services duct.”







As seen on designboom.  All images courtesy of .

Cite: Cilento, Karen. "Parasite Prefab / Lara Calder Architects" 22 Sep 2009. ArchDaily. Accessed 19 Sep 2014. <>


  1. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    Would love to know how the proposed ‘mounting plate’ will work. Something tells me its not going to be a simple as hanging a picture frame…

  2. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    I can’t understand about structural system ;;
    Imposible! Do you use bonding for parasite?
    I think that the most important thing is structural collaboration. there is no parasite just as useing bonding.

    • Thumb up Thumb down +1

      Not impossible. However, it looks as though there’s a lot of structural integrity left out of the design process. For such a proposal, the generative point of departure (basis for design) should begin with the structural problem presented here. Amazing concept; just incomplete.

  3. Thumb up Thumb down +1

    It certainly is an idea worth pursuing albeit changing a few things in the thought process of the people who eventually will live there… maybe as temporary shelters these would work great, who knows. I would like it if they built one and tested living conditions and such, a “real world test”, very cool idea, just have to see it work.

  4. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    I love love love this idea. Driving around the super-suburban environment I work in I’m always fantasizing about things that can occupy the inefficient voids of our infrastructure.

    I am questioning the decision to go with a traditional single-family dwelling for the program. Would have a hard time seeing the people who have the means to afford such a complex house wanting to live in something hovering precariously over a public waterway/dense street traffic.

    As an architectural object it looks a little phoned-in.

  5. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    parasite…yeah. lets move on from this premise as a proposal – i’d like to see someone actually do it for once.

  6. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    Are u loco, ja
    I like the forms and the originality of the idea. There is a houge camp of aplication, the hosts.
    when the idea is finished they will be a plage ja

  7. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    what about the activity does that vary…yes and i agree you gotta give in complete definition of how the structure attaches itself with the existing structure

  8. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    There’s no reason for it to be a convoluted blob. You could build 3x as many with rational forms, which is much more of a statement than sculpture.

  9. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    well its a very old concept. And actually, for me, the best answer would be to marry a nice form such as the one presented here with extremely efficient planning. I think the second point is where this project^s weakness is….still
    Increased density through more single dwelling is prehaps a contradiction in itself, but such is life…

  10. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    Its quite clear that the project employs ‘suction cups’ I mean how else could it ‘cling’ onto the side of some random ‘host’ building. The application is quite easy, once the ‘parasite’ is built, you fasten suction cups to the surfaces meant to ‘cling’ onto the host building. Then with a big sling shot, you fire the ‘parasite’ structure onto the host building at a rapid speed, upon impact the suction cups should do their job. Due to gravity, slippige is about 10 cm a month, after about 2 years, you just have to push the structure back up to the desired height…

  11. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    Lebbeus Woods – I think he coined or popularized the term ‘Parasite’ building. Its so 80′s.

    • Thumb up Thumb down 0

      I was going to say that feels very LW to me. of course the renderings are nothing like a LW illustration.

  12. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    Its fantastic place for a couple of architecture student to live! That gives them a lot of structural inspirations (like space truss structures…)
    Thinks to all for every thing… :)

Share your thoughts