Tatiana Estrina

California Duct Crab


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The Ornata Cancer Ardentem, or the Duct Crab for short, is a preyed upon duct-dwelling crab species in the Post-Anthropocene. Emerging from the ductwork of the overgrown city of San Francisco, this crab species is a delicious treat for many. As a terrestrial creature, the crab inhabits confined and dark spaces within the overgrown built environment of which, duct systems and pipes are its ideal choice. The Duct crab species evolved from the blue crab, as they began to develop unique characteristics, such as more agile pincers and rust coloring to aid with camouflage. Due to the abundance of fungus, the cause of the human’s mass exodus centuries before, the crab begins to develop a symbiotic relation with one particular species – the Glowing Duct Fungus. This fungus has a lack of chitin, which is very abundant in the crabs’ shell, so it begins to inhabit the backs of the crabs. Upon molting, a fungal build-up emerges in the crab’s nest, which then is able to serve as the crab’s food. The more the crab molts and grows, the more fungus they generate for consumption. Where previously, ducts served as a means to transport air and wasted real estate, the Duct Crabs are able to capitalize on the opportunities and protection these spaces offer. They collect various pieces or garbage and tree bark to compose their nest, which serve as their home base where they are hiding, mating, and molting. The crab’s survival is perilous. Out of the thousands of eggs laid, only a handful of the crabs survive into adulthood. However, their numbers still grow, and they are able to continue to thrive in their dark, damp and safe duct nests.



Ryerson Department of  Architectural Science Toronto, CA.