June 1st, 2010
The world's first volcano renovation: it'll be pretty damn spectacular when it's done.
The world's first volcano renovation: it'll be pretty damn spectacular when it's done.
Is this playground in Belleville Park, Paris the best playground in the western world?
Be sure to click on the images to view them at a decent size, the better to appreciate the sheer scale of the thing.
Apparently, the Mercedes-Benz Museum in Stuttgart has a ventilation system capable of creating an artificial tornado inside the building.
What could possibly go wrong?
Top 9 Ninja Characteristics of Awesome Architecture Blogs. Never Leave A Trace is especially nicely done.1
This Swiss Mountain House, half-submerged into a hillside, looks lovely and cosy. A house worthy of a Hobbit.
With his review Alain de Botton's A Week at the Airport: A Heathrow Diary, Dan Hill adds another book to my to-read pile:
He is particularly good on the peculiar sense of pervasive yet largely internalised tension created by the emotional and psychological pressures of airports. He makes a series of acute observations predicated on this interplay between banal environment and heightened emotional intensity. Perhaps it's that the situations are indeed essentially emotionally intense, often being a series of greetings and goodbyes, set to the backdrop of persistent minor failures of complex systems amidst the possibility of major disasters. It's quite a brew. De Botton wryly skewers this extraordinary emotional confection, describing the long goodbyes of couples or the simmering cauldrons that are families on holiday.
"We may spend the better part of our professional lives projecting strength and toughness, but we are all in the end creatures of appalling fragility and vulnerability. Out of the millions of people we live among, most of whom we habitually ignore and are ignored by in turn, there are always a few who hold hostage our capacity for happiness, whom we could recognise by their smell alone and whom we would rather die than be without. There were men pacing impatiently and blankly who had looked forward to this moment for half a year and could not restrain themselves any further at the sight of a small boy endowed with their own grey-green eyes and their mother's cheeks, emerging from behind the stainless-steel gate, holding the hand of an airport operative."
After World War II, St Nazaire on France's Atlantic coast was left with a huge concrete eyesore: a U-boat base big enough to house 19 subs and built to survive Allied bombs. The question is, what can you do with 480,000m3 of concrete?:
In the former U-boat pens you can find the Base Bar, the tourist information center for St. Nazaire, a theatre, exhibition space, a museum of Trans-Atlantic ship travel, a night club/performance space, and just some kick-ass concrete caverns. It makes under-the-freeway spaces look pretty tame.
The photos at the linked article are impressive, not least the shot taken directly in front of the U-boat pens that turned out to be so big it had to be posted sideways.
What is the appropriate scale to remember a man who operated on everything possible – from the studied renovation of his own human form to the creation of an architectural-scale wunderkamer at Neverland Ranch? What design proposal can top his own unrealized plans to construct a 50-foot robotic replica of himself that roams the Las Vegas desert shooting laser beams out of its eyes?
An excellent question, that…
All high street bookstores should look as good as the Libraria da Vila in Sao Paulo.
It's like a TARDIS for books.
It seems that the armaments manufacturers were worried that the government would reuse the captured cannons for its own military forces, and hence the firms wouldn't be able to sell more cannons to the government. After representations to the government, it was agreed that the loss of business would close several companies and as a healthy arms industry was (and still is) considered to be vital to national security, Parliament agreed to scrap the French cannons.
It sounds like an urban legend, but I haven't found a better explanation so far.
Ceiling porn. (SFW, honest…)
I've never heard the term 'nail house' before, though as it turns out I have seen photographs of a couple of them.
The house in Changsha, China1 looks especially surreal, not least because in one of the pictures it looks as if there's another remnant of the original street a couple of hundred yards down the road.
The influx of 'forty-niners' who descended upon the port of San Francisco in the wake of the gold rush left their mark on the city:
In 1847, the small settlement of Yerba Buena, which had just recently been claimed as United States territory, changed its name to San Francisco. At that time, the town consisted of just 79 buildings and a population of less than 800. But the following year, in 1848, gold was discovered nearby, and as the area's major port, San Francisco rapidly ballooned in size. By the end of 1849, the population had skyrocketed to 100,000, making it the largest city in California. [...] San Francisco soon averaged 30 new houses built – and two murders committed – each day. And a plot of San Francisco real estate that cost $16 in 1847 sold for $45,000 just 18 months later.
Meanwhile, many of the new arrivals in the port of San Francisco headed directly to the hills to search for gold. In fact, more than 200 ships were completely abandoned and left to rot in the Bay as their crews and passengers went off to seek their fortunes. This both caused and solved a problem. The empty ships were clogging up the harbor, while the rapidly growing downtown business area needed room to expand. So the townsfolk took matters into their own hands and decided to put the ships to good use. Some of the ships were salvaged for their wood, which came in handy as the city had to rebuild itself from no fewer than six major fires that nearly wiped it out between 1849 and 1851. Other ships were towed onto the beach and turned into buildings – a hotel, a jail, a store, or a warehouse. But quite a few of them were sunk intentionally in order to fill in the cove.
The Wikipedia article on New York planner Robert Moses quotes an evocative vignette, taken from Robert Caro's biography of Moses, featuring former presidential candidate Al Smith:
Robert Moses had the Central Park Zoo built for Al Smith – the former governor, and president of the Empire State Building – who lived near the park on the Upper East Side. Moses gave Smith a night key, and the elderly former king of Irish New York would go down to the Central Park Zoo by himself to talk to the animals. Smith loved to spend hours in the zoo after hours, "and he would switch on the lights as he entered each one, to the surprise of its occupants, and talk softly to them…And if one of the zoo's less dangerous animals was sick or injured, Smith would enter its cage and stand for a while stroking its head and commiserating with it." [Caro, 382]
I wonder if Tony Blair has a night key to the
Millennium Dome The O2…
Matt Jones has put up a terrific slideshow he presented, entitled The Demon-Haunted World, or the past and future of practical city magic.
Take Grant Morrison's The Invisibles, Dave Hill's The street as platform, Tower Bridge twittering and the equation media = rhino poop and you have a piece that's well worth a read.
Coming soon to Dubai: the Michael Schumacher World Champion Tower…
LAVA (Laboratory for Visionary Architecture) unveiled the design of the Michael Schumacher World Champion Tower in Dubai, the first project of a series of branded towers, a new concept by PNYG:COMPANY, a company focused on branding. [...]
According to the architects, the design of the 59 storey luxury tower is abstracted from the geometric laws of snowflakes and Formula 1 aerodynamics, in order to obtain an effficient/minimal structure, maximum views and optimal light and air distribution. [...]
Abstracted from the geometric laws of snowflakes and Formula 1 aerodynamics,eh? I just hope they're taking the Pepsi Gravitational Field into account.
The Pedreres de s'Hostal on Minorca is a disused stone quarry that is gradually being turned into a heritage park:
In actuality, not only has the quarry been turned into an outdoor history museum decorated with artifacts, it's been landscaped as an arboretum showcasing native Minorcan flora. In keeping with the stonecutters' tradition of cultivating orchards and vegetable gardens in disused quarries, each excavated spaces plays host to a different plant community. For instance, there is a quarry for fruit trees, another for bushes and shrubs and another containing cultivated olive trees and aromatic plants. In one quarry, there is a pond containing freshwater Minorcan plants.
Go and see the photographs; it's a remarkable