Underused rooftop spaces have been transformed into all manner of different things, from productive farms to fish farms. But there's also the personal rooftop café experience, as seen here from Lithuanian graduate student Ainė Bunikytė. Inspired by tender childhood memories of scaling up and down old ridged rooftops, this "para-functional" set of table and chairs hints at the possibility of a different kind of public space, above the city.
Consisting of a table and chairs made with engineered wood and transparent perspex which hang onto a special ladder, Bunikytė's project comes from a primal urge to define a personal space, above conventional boundaries:
One of the most important element in the project is human’s inherent wish to find one’s own space, to have a secret, to differ, to find such place from which one could watch others but could stay unseen at the same time. The other aspect is a will to be higher, to be raised over the ground – this is the instinct of safety.
Bunikytė's design uses "paradox as a principle" from the outset, transmuting the apparently unusable into something else:
The roof also becomes para-functional since it gains a new function – it becomes a floor. It’s a paradox that the table and the chairs would be almost functional if they weren’t unreachable. By defying conventional practice the furniture is balancing between the imaginary and the real. In our minds it creates a scenario of using it, but is still unusable. The invitation is even more stimulating since the transparent surfaces don’t hide but show what would wait for us.
Instead of being relegated to residual spatial remnants, thoughtful interventions such as these could perhaps re-frame rooftops as part of a larger outdoor space. Patents are already pending for Bunikytė's design, and if it gains popularity, it could be used as part of an emerging "roof culture" that revolves around the leisurely enjoyment and green cultivation of an urban higher ground. More over at Vilnius' Užupis art incubator and Ainė Bunikytė's website.