Parasitic Architecture: Stephane Malka

By Peggy Roalf   Thursday September 7, 2017

Parasitic architecture—structures that depend on a host for their very existence—is a concept that has been around since British architect Peter Cook of Archigram fame drew his monumental Plug-in City during the 1960s.

As many nomadic Millennials have embraced Tiny Houses and Micro-dwellings here in the US, a number of architects have proposed new takes on the idea of compact, low-cost, energy-efficient dwellings, which themselves reside in and on larger structures.

Chief among them is Stephane Malka, a French architect whose theoretical urbanism springs from the large-scale graffiti frescoes he created during the 1980s, in the Paris section of Belleville. Working on the crumbling walls of vacated buildings-turned-squats led him to discover the untapped potential of the city’s more run-down neighborhoods. Since graduating with a degree in architecture in 2003, and opening his eponymous studio, he has developed theories of urban regeneration based on architectural interventions within the city’s voids, such as empty lots, blind walls, leftover spaces under bridges, or on rooftops.


Malka recently completed the 3BOX project, which consists of three prefab dwellings joined to the rooftops of existing buildings adjacent to Canal Saint-Martin, a formerly crumbling, now hipster area in the 11th arrondissement of Paris. The parasitic apartments are possible due to Alur, an innovative building code that allows developers to build additional units as part of residential renovations designed to bring new life to old neighborhoods. 

The greenery-topped prefabs were built using patented lightweight panels developed by the architects and the developer, Les Toits du Monde’s, team of engineers and specialists. The modular structures can be expanded as needed and outfitted with renewable energy systems to achieve high-efficiency energy status. According to Les Toits du Monde, the 3BOX project has already achieved High Environmental Quality (HQE) and Low Consumption Building (BBC) certifications.

Malka Architecture is currently developing the renovation of a 1970s residential building that had fallen into disrepair by grafting prefab boxes onto the structure that will add bow windows, balconies and hanging gardens. Malka writes in his website, “Utopia of yesterday, today’s architectures, the mutation of cities, must be built on existing heritage. ‘Para-Site’ the city, literally, lean back against it, healing the wounds of the city and its heritage in a logic of transformation.” Also developed under the Alur building code, Malka’s Plug-in City 75 is scheduled for completion later this year. More

Images via Malka Architecture



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