Hedonistic sustainability, Danish-style

March 26th, 2011

Copenhagen will soon be home to the world's least boring power station:

Planned for completion in 2016, the former factory-shaped eyesore will ferry visitors up a vertical elevator to a series of slopes at the top of the smokestack.

Meanwhile — as a gentle nod to the pyramids of garbage churning beneath it — the chimney is designed to puff a 30-meter-wide smoke ring every time a ton of C02 is produced.

"You'll be able to stand in the middle of Copenhagen and tally-up exactly how much carbon has been emitted into the atmosphere," said [architect Bjarke Ingels]. "It's this kind of visual connection that should encourage people to consider their own energy consumption."

[Ingels] said that heat-tracking lights will also be used at night to position lasers on the smoke rings and turn them into glowing artworks, or even pie charts.

[Via The Morning News]

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January 15th, 2011

Dan Hill has posted an epic tale of life in Brisbane as the floodwater started to rise:

We spot a large advert for chocolate milk adorning a building. "Dive into chocolately fun" it says. It seems newly relevant as we see the river, looking exactly like a vast, smooth soup of milk chocolate. The Brisbane River is famously brown at the best of times, being an extremely silty bit of river, but is now browner than ever.

The landscape round here is distinctly suburban. Not quite the manicured suburban of rich Los Angeles suburbs, or even 'Erinsborough', but the slightly more raggedy Australian version, with cars parked on lawns, rampant foliage growing in and around the low, angled roofs, set against straggly gum trees and paperbarks, a most unruly genus. But it's distinctly suburban nonetheless, which adds to the surreal aspect of views like Witton Road, where that chocolately fun engulfs a training shoe, some wheelie bins, and a box of breakfast cereal, and most of the street.

The most striking observation, for me, came as he recounted a trip to stock up on sandbags:

We've run out of sandbags […] so we have to drive out to Kedron to pick up as many as we can load in the boot of the car. Plotting routes in and around the city is relatively complex, as you're listening for road closures on the radio, looking for the blue wriggle of creeks and rivers on the map, and trying to remember the topography of the city, all those swoops of valleys.

When was the last time you had to stop and think about whether your route took you uphill or downhill as you drove around a city?

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November 27th, 2010

Is this the most inhospitable smokers' lounge ever built?

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October 26th, 2010

I get vertigo just looking at this photo of a climbing wall at Bjoeks, Groningen.

[Via jwz]

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Raising Chicago

August 16th, 2010

155 years ago, the city of Chicago had a major problem: streets awash with sewerage, but with no room to lay underground plumbing as the streets themselves had been built barely above sea level.

The solution was both direct and surprisingly simple (in principle, at any rate): raising Chicago.

[Via The Browser]

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The Fortress of Knowledge

August 11th, 2010

Number 23 in the ever-growing list of things I didn't notice on my first viewing1 of Inception: Inception's Snow Fortress = Geisel Library.

[Via Wikipedia, via MetaFilter]

  1. Note to self: must go for a second look this week. But first, read this and this.

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July 10th, 2010

Geoff Manaugh talked to sonic historian Sabine von Fischer about clairadient buildings, The Rumbler, nightingale floors and the tapping machine:

What was the tapping machine?

SVF: The tapping machine, as it was first published in 1930 and as it was standardized in the 1960s, has five steel rods that hammer against the floor. The speed has changed a bit over time – and its speed is now standardized – but it just tramples on the floor. It's a very basic machine.

The principle of the machine can be found in older apparatuses, such as those used in grinding food items, but this particular application was to simulate the sound of footsteps, furniture, and machines on the floors of multistorey buildings. In this form – with five hammers, which are electrically operated – it was first published in 1930, in the Journal of the Acoustical Society of America.

Everyone who has been working on building acoustics claims that, since 1923 or 1926, they've been doing similar tests on structure-borne sound, but almost all of those earlier tests were done with women in high-heeled shoes. High-heeled shoes make a very distinct sound. For impact-sound measurements, these women – and I have never seen a photo with a man or a documentation of a test done with a man – would wear high-heeled shoes, making a very standard noise.


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Roden Crater

June 1st, 2010

The world's first volcano renovation: it'll be pretty damn spectacular when it's done.

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At play in Belleville Park

April 26th, 2010

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.

[Via Pruned]

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German (weather) engineering

March 13th, 2010

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?

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Google imitates Karl Stromberg

January 23rd, 2010

Who Stole My Volcano? Or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Dematerialisation of Supervillain Architecture.1

  1. Best. Blogpost. Title. Ever?

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Top 9 Ninja Characteristics of Awesome Architecture Blogs

January 6th, 2010

Top 9 Ninja Characteristics of Awesome Architecture Blogs. Never Leave A Trace is especially nicely done.1


  1. Though I do wish the cartoonist/letterer hadn't inserted an unnecessary apostrophe in six out of the nine frames when pluralising the word 'ninja': once noticed, that aberrant apostrophe is just about impossible to ignore.

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Burj Dubai

December 24th, 2009

Geoff Manaugh proposes an alternative use for the Burj Dubai, just in case that whole hotels/offices/apartments business plan fails to work out.

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Going underground

December 20th, 2009

This Swiss Mountain House, half-submerged into a hillside, looks lovely and cosy. A house worthy of a Hobbit.

[Via Swissmiss]

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A Week at the Airport

November 18th, 2009

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."

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Viaduc de Millau

September 27th, 2009

I thought this was my favourite photo of the Millau viaduct, until I saw this.

[Via Flickr Blog]

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300m x 180m x 18m

September 13th, 2009

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.

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Live Forever

August 14th, 2009

The Michael Jackson Monument Design Competition:

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…

[Via cityofsound]

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Livraria da Vila

August 11th, 2009

All high street bookstores should look as good as the Libraria da Vila in Sao Paulo.

It's like a TARDIS for books.

[Via Subtraction]

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Napoleonic Bollards

July 26th, 2009

The secret origin of the bollard:

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.

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