Excrescent Utopia
by Milo Ayden De Luca


Parasitic dwellings for homeless people would cling to the sides of lamp posts in this concept by British architecture graduate Milo Ayden De Luca (+ slideshow + movie).

Excrescent Utopia by Milo Ayden De Luca

Milo Ayden De Luca began working on Excrescent Utopia as a personal project after completing his architecture degree at the University of Greenwich.

Excrescent Utopia by Milo Ayden De Luca

"Every weekend for nearly a decade now, I've been travelling into the centre of London during the earliest hours of the day," De Luca told Dezeen. "During these hours, the usually dense, lively, tourist-populated London is absent and is instead populated only by the many homeless people who sleep on our city's streets. I've always thought about how the life of those living on the city's streets can be improved."

Excrescent Utopia by Milo Ayden De Luca

The project imagines street lights as temporary dwellings for homeless people by creating tensile structures around them using cheap, basic materials.

Excrescent Utopia by Milo Ayden De Luca

The structures are designed to be as lightweight as possible so that they can be modified and moved easily, and are inspired by the construction of sailing ships.

Excrescent Utopia by Milo Ayden De Luca

"The practical and technological constituents of sail ships – the pulleys, the sails and rope lines – also exude a sense of transparency, weightlessness, and movement," he said. "I think this is a nice contrast to the surrounding structures in London, which are usually opaque, grounded and static."

Excrescent Utopia by Milo Ayden De Luca

Street lights aren't very structurally secure because they aren't deeply embedded in the ground, said De Luca. This is in order to limit damage to vehicles and drivers in case of a collision.

Excrescent Utopia by Milo Ayden De Luca

To get around this, he proposes using guy ropes, cables and clamps to tie the structure to other street furniture and surrounding buildings. "This method creates only a little surface damage, but more importantly causes no structural damage to the building," he said.

Excrescent Utopia by Milo Ayden De Luca

The ropes would thread through the structure's nylon or Gore-Tex 'skin' and effectively divide the space into smaller areas with varying levels of privacy.

Excrescent Utopia by Milo Ayden De Luca

Horizontal boxes would provide areas for lying down and sleeping, while vertical spaces would provide a space for busking, he suggested.

Excrescent Utopia by Milo Ayden De Luca

The materials, fixtures and fittings necessary could mostly be obtained through the re-use and recycling of existing objects, or bought cheaply from DIY shops.

De Luca is currently hoping to raise funds to build a 1:1 scale prototype of the design.

Other conceptual architecture we've featured on Dezeen includes an algae-covered skyscraper that would produce its own energy and clean water and a high-rise building constructed from the rubbish of São Paulo's streets – see all our stories about conceptual architecture.

We've also published other parasitic architecture, including a wooden hut clinging to the side of a San Francisco hotel and a fabric-covered tensile structure on the roof of a Buenos Aires apartment.

See all our stories about parasite buildings »
See all our stories about conceptual architecture »

  • Ali

    1. Who would construct it and how are they paid?
    2. What is the impact on vehicular movement and has your strategy been thought about in relation to the LPA’s transport plan and national planning policy?
    3. What is the affect on cyclists with any cables at ground level?
    4. Party wall agreements will most likely be needed when affixing structure to a neighbouring building. Who will own these structures for the purposes of this agreement? (They will also most likely carry the costs of obtaining the agreement)
    5. Who pays for and carries out repairs and maintainance?
    6. What is the maintainence strategy? – how are fluids cleaned from the inside?
    7. What is the cost and who pays for the associated fees?
    8. What is the timespan if the structure is temporary?

    Perhaps an inflatable tent is better? – Occupants can deflate and carry it with them?

    • curious

      9. What do you do about the fact that it completely obscures the light coming from the lamp posts?

    • Alex

      Just another one of these “thesaurus” projects. Next time try to spend a little more time on the design and a little less on looking up words to describe a box on a post.

  • homeless dude

    Right, yes, he totally convinced me he had the welfare of homeless people on his mind while designing this thing… Not.

  • pjg

    Interesting idea. Nice sketch elevations.
    Practically though, not sure what happens to those guide wires when the no. 30 bus drives by!

  • marco

    Meanwhile in Paris they just gave the homeless tents.

    What is this strange English tradition of elaborate nonsense? Apart from a portfolio of visualisation techniques it fails to be either relevant or interesting.

  • Post

    Even though it’s beautifully presented, it’s extremely cynical to see this as a solution (or even improvement) for the homeless.

  • Bob

    My inability to come up with ridiculous sh*t like this is a large part of the reason I changed course after a year of Planning and Design.

  • joe

    Slightly edifying people’s homelessness isn’t it? I think more substantial things, rather than just an elaborate tent that puts homeless people in plain and strangely conspicuous sight, are probably required.

    Not having a home is a result of many other factors, which this really doesn’t seek to address or even acknowledge, so it seems rather like gilding the lily by making these things. Though perhaps they might be more suitable for people who got too drunk to make it home after a night out and wouldn’t be too bothered or ashamed to be seen taking up residence in one of these things by choice, rather than necessity.

  • Carl

    I would suggest that this is merely an ill-conceived (though well presented) student project – why is Dezeen giving this air time?

    Above all the legitimate technical questions raised by Ali, one has to ask whether it is socially acceptable to “parade” homeless persons like this – clearly something offering more dignity is required?

    Not a patch on the highlighted “black dot” initiative, the tent route or the identifying of “empties” to local authorities currently underway within the UK.

    • joachim

      For all the precedent comments: it’s quite amazing the way people are not capable to see arising talent! Maybe it is a bit clumsy, maybe not socially acceptable, maybe a bit too theoretical, I agree, but there is something in this project that few people are capable of – other angles for approaching a problem. I am pretty sure that none of them had ever designed such interesting idea.

      Do not let people damage your work and ideas. Keep on going!

      • Alex

        Yeah, nobody ever thought of putting homeless people into giant letterboxes they Photoshoped on to a lamp post.


  • iag

    And the student in question is
    (a) friend of Dezeen
    (b) sibling of Dezeen
    (c) other of Dezeen


    Baffled why Dezeen is promoting this otherwise.

  • rohtmuz

    Did you 1. ask homeless people what they want and 2. present this option to them to see if they would use it?

  • vincent

    I think it´s a great idea because it solves the homeless problem by killing countless bums. It´s just not finished, it needs the booze-elevator to achieve it’s full potential.

  • Michelle

    Good idea, although practically the access to these “living spaces” may become difficult for the homeless. As you find from research into homeless shelters, the homeless health and welfare is quite poor, which may restrict them climbing up a lamp post.

    It needs more than providing a sheltered space to integrate homelessness back into society. If this integration was made, suggestion for more research into homelessness and how shelters and hostels work may influence and refine the design… but good idea.

  • baxter

    Does the movie Blade Runner come to mind?

  • oingo

    I don’t think it works. In the first image you can clearly see the little homeless fella still poking his his hand out to beg, despite being given this lovely new box.

  • aardman

    Give the homeless their dignity by giving them housing and the help they need. This is horrendous.

  • aleks

    But then they won’t be homeless, so it doesn’t make any sense! :)

  • paperblg

    "How do we integrate homeless people back into society…"

    Yes… by perching them on a podium in the city centre.

  • johnny

    I don’t know if I’m missing something, but I can’t see how you get inside the higher boxes – is there a ladder or do you climb up the lamppost?

  • johnny

    If it’s such a simple solution, why have you not built a 1:1 prototype? It’s a tensile structure and I don’t think it would be too expensive- probably about the same price as printing costs at university. This is a project that really needs to be physically worked on to convince, but most schools today will be happy with nice renders which has lead them to become far too detached from the real world of architecture.

  • benschmideg

    I think the keyword here is 'UTOPIA'. Beautiful visualisation, (seriously I'm taking notes!) but as the previous comments suggest, the social implications of this proposition are quite dystopian.

  • me_ae

    I'm not convinced that helping the homeless hack in to the electricity grid will make them any more than thieves and parasites to the rest of society. The project seems more focused on "architecture" than on its effect in the society at large.

  • Tyler

    The idea is rubbish, but the line drawings are stunning!

  • morgs96

    This is just absolute nonsense. Nice graphics but a fail.

  • mike

    Ridiculous waste of time.

  • Billy

    All these haters, see you later! Ayden do your thing :)

  • Nyx

    Why not? It’s a nice bird cage ;)

  • greenwich

    Ridic! Great graphic skills. That’s it. I don’t understand how these kids get an architecture degree and their design ideas are so rubbish. It’s not only about visuals!