Friday, February 21, 2014

Is Parasite good or bad ! ! !

photo credit- Neela Design
During my site visits on one of these cold winter morning, I saw a bunch of round green bushes hanging or rather stuck into the leafless branches of deciduous oak tree. My question to my colleague, who is expert on trees was what happened to this tree and her answer was it is a parasite mistletoe. She asked me to read about it as that information might help us for our environmental work.

So I leaned about it and stretched my thinking further.  Here it goes-
The word parasites do evoke negative connotation because the parasite, in medical field, refers to organisms including microorganisms such as virus and bacteria, They live and benefit at the expense of the other, the host. They can be deadly in certain cases, But we are going to see how beneficial they are in environmental field. The oxford dictionary defines it as an organism that lives in or on another organism (its host) and benefits by deriving nutrients at the host’s expense. That definition works for Mistletoe.
Mistletoe   photo credit- Neela Shukla
Mistletoe is a species of plants grow  on the mature tree trunk and occurs by bird's droppings, beaks and feet. Birds help it to cross pollinate them and being ever green, birds use that for their nest in the winter. They are interdependent and beneficial.
On the contrary, mistletoe takes nutrients if tree and in some cases stunts tree growth and eventually kills trees, which work out amazingly nicely in the forest. Few trees are cleared up and in turn making open spaces for sun to penetrate at the ground, helping grasses and other plants to germinate and add diversity. Again that helps environment too.
Oh yes, and interestingly, there are mythical stories attached to it. Because,  It stays green in  the winter and giving shelter to birds, word "fertility" is associated with this plant. The exchange of kiss under mistletoe seems to  bring a true friendship and love. 
And the last one is interesting to me as it creates an unusual form in the normal tree structure. It inspired me to create some artwork which makes you look into parasite from a different angle.
Check out my experiments.
Parasite1  photo credit- Neela Shukla
Parasite 2  Credit- Neela Shukla

Parasites in Architecture
1-The concept of parasites exist also in the field of architecture and  that means any structure or building stealing or taking away the heat, air and protection from the main building, in turn creating its own existence and identity. Chaeck this structure from San Francisco.
I am sure there is a story behind it, and it is not a typical building form.
Photo Credit- Neela Shukla
2-An eccentric Chinese man created his very own mountain paradise – on top of a Beijing high-rise – illegally. It has everything you’d expect from a luxury residence including boulders, trees, gardens, winding paths, viewing platforms and pools, hauled up through the building to adorn his private penthouse retreat.

3-I wrote about another parasitic structure the "Bubble" in 2011, check out the link below.
But It seems like that bubble got busted because it would operate at about a $2.8 million loss and would need 15.5 million to realize.
4- My favorite one is really functional parasitic architecture, which was envisioned and designed by an architect Shigeru Ban( I also have written about his Paper Bridge in the earlier post ).  
His use of paper for making parasitic temporary structures in the High school to give families some privacy after earthquake in japan is remarkable. Check the photo below

Paper Partition System 4 / Otsuchi High School (April 20th 2011)
All over, in developing countries, poor people create, build or transform many spaces into their shelter, a type of parasitic architecture. That will be in another post. Yes, people from medical fields may not like parasites in the body but out in the world and nature, they can co-exist together in harmony or rather architects and planners should take this aspect into consideration.

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