Atelier marsala

Pet Architecture. Revealing interstitial Spaces



Tokyo, Japan

Milan, Italy


Project Team

Atelier Marsala (RV)


Pet Architecture is a term referring to buildings that have been squeezed into small spaces. This term was first used in 2001 by the architecture firm Atelier Bow-Wow. Most of the Pet Architecture buildings are constructed in a fast and cheap way and do not posses a spectacular appearance, yet they propose inventive solutions. What would happen if Pet Architecture started occupying the city of Milan?


 This project aims to explore the idea of introducing Pet Architecture to Italy. First, we contrast Milan with Tokyo, considering these two cities as two poles representing ‘order and disorder’ (J. Portugali). In order to emphasize the different urban environments of these two cities, we elaborated two visual models: the Rainforest and the Greenhouse. The comparison of Tokyo to a Rainforest, already introduced by the Atelier Bow-Wow, highlights similarities between unstructured forms of a natural environment and of an urban fabric of the growing capital. The Rainforest consists of four distinct layers of trees: the emergent, the upper canopy, the understory, and the forest floor. It is in this context that Pet Architecture can be considered as the smallest element of Tokyo’s urban fabric, reflecting the same conditions of the floor of the rainforest. While Tokyo represents a random, unplanned city structure, where every urban rule seems to be overturned or negated, Western European cities present urban forms that are based on a more or less rational order. This research suggests that if the city of Tokyo evokes the rainforest; the city of Milan could be compared to a greenhouse. A greenhouse provides clear conditions and even ‘strategies’ for the plants how to grow. This thesis explores what happens if a typical element from the Rainforest and is replanted it into a Greenhouse. How does the new element adapt itself to the new environment? In the course of this research 21 projects for a modern Pet Architecture have been elaborated.

© ateliermarsala 2017

Atelier marsala