Hidden in Plain Sight

John Hill
22. August 2017
Fernando Abellanas's workspace in Valencia, Spain (Photo: Jose Manuel Pedrajas, via The Spaces)

Two recent architectural interventions making the rounds on architecture blogs – one on a rooftop and one underneath a bridge – call attention to the potential of leftover spaces in cities.

First is the secret design studio of Fernando Abellanas, who is described as a self-taught designer in the article at The Spaces that first featured the project. Tucked carefully beneath a bridge in Valencia, Spain, the metal and wood studio rolls into place via some wheels and a hand crank (watch the video below to see this in action). Equal parts clever, unexpected and crazy, the studio is meant to be ephemeral; Abellanas says it will remain "until someone finds it and decides to steal the materials, or the authorities remove it."

Fernando Abellanas's workspace in Valencia, Spain (Photo: Jose Manuel Pedrajas)

Second is PUP Architects' H-VAC, the winning proposal in the inaugural Antepavilion international competition, which asked entrants to develop ideas around "innovative and alternative ways of living within the city, proposing new ways for urban dwelling; an idea that could resonate with existing concepts around micro dwelling." PUP describes their winning scheme as "a shelter in disguise," with its snaking form recalling the ubiquitous ductwork of flat rooftops in cities around the world. Nevertheless, the intervention's size and shingled cladding tip off onlookers that this wood-lined cabin in the sky is something different.

PUP Architects' H-VAC in London (Photos: Jim Stephenson)

At a time when pop-up shops have been co-opted by just about every brand under the sun, and pop-up parklets are an expected seasonal occurence in big cities, it's refreshing to see these "pop-up" interventions appearing in unexpected places. Abellanas and PUP certainly aren't the first to tackle these "forgotten" places, but their equally small scales and coincidental timing make me wonder if we'll see similarly hidden interventions in the near future.

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