Inventing Sites

Inventing Sites

Occupying the left-over fabric of cities in their most central areas is challenging. The linear logic of the slab and the terrace has proven useful in terms of morphological adaptability. Especially in the slab, by maximizing the use of the vertical cores with elongated corridors, this adaptability becomes also economical. The infilling of pre-existing urban fabric demands an economic reassessment of the opportunities of a site. The constraints of the plot challenges the design.

The need to access more or invent new urban sites disputes current normative ownership models based on planimetric distribution only. Parasite buildings that latch onto existing infrastructures as new ground, or symbiotic models such as cooperatives and crowdfunding platforms present new opportunities for housing developments. Could design explorations help rethink land ownership legislation? Strategies that exploit their underground levels by connecting to the city infrastructure, others that trade air rights to grow taller, or laws that allow adjoining or fragmenting properties re-envision the possibilities of densification.

Design Operations


Infilling urban fabric requires a deeper understanding of the normative constraints of the urban context and the dimensional variables at hand. Each of these projects find new sites in the gaps left between existing types. All strategies would demand reassessing the ownership models of the plots at stake.

Project Descriptions

12-Backyard/“Yes in my Backyard”- London

 Infilling the back end of deep plots utilises the often unused portion of the backyards. By adjoining neighbouring plots, the project develops a continuous bar of units.

This mode of densification re-introduces the back-alley in the form of a public path, which also provides vertical access to the units above and below. 

Original Project: Typical Terraced Area, North London 

13-Landstrip/  “Co-operative Land Strip Reform “- Santiago

The co-operative infill development subdivides large, deep plots under a shared ownership model without demolishing the existing villa. 

As a result of this restructuring, various forms of self-built developments become possible, resulting in a low rise, high density area, with new forms of collective parking provided in each urban block.

Original Project: Typical Detached Villa Block, La Reina, Santiago.

14-Rooftop/ “Inner City Parasite” – Santiago

This inner city infill makes use of the existing roofscapes for multi storey development. 

Roofscapes of mid to high-rise blocks or detached towers offer sites for parasitic extensions. Their connection develops a new public datum, with opportunities for functional and spatial diversification of the area.

Original Project: High Density Area, DownSantiago.

15-Underground/ “Courtyard Drill”- Suzhou

Expanding existing compounds below ground allows to densify an area while complying with height restrictions.

By resolving light and ventilation issues, new forms and scales of open spaces emerge at all levels. Connecting to underground infrastructure such as transportation expands the compound towards the public realm.

Original Project: Typical Villa Compound, Historical City Centre, Suzhou