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.
Abellanas documented some of the construction process on Instagram.
At one end of the rails, items that adorn a typical office — shelves, a 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.