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Archive for the ‘Creativity’ Category

Modular Urbanism: Coin-Operated System of Portable Street Furniture

26 Mar

[ By WebUrbanist in Design & Furniture & Decor. ]

share stack system

Much like coin-based cart systems found in supermarkets and airports, these stackable stools (which double as table surfaces) can be borrowed, moved around and returned with ease. Unlike fixed-position urban benches and tables, this design by Thomas Bernstrand lets users control their own experience, setting up a solo seat or group of seats and surfaces in the sun or shade as desired.

share stool stack

While not foolproof, of course (anyone intent on stealing them or leaving them out could do so), the furnishings do demand a small deposit to encourage people to to put them back when they are done. Also, the dangling chain and branded mark could help deter their disappearance into people’s homes.

share system

In the United States, where the maximum value of an everyday-use coin is fairly small, the incentive would be correspondingly diminished. But in Euro countries where denominations are typically higher, the price of failing to return the items would be significantly higher.

shair chairs

The metal stools are made to be heavy and durable, keeping them from being knocked over in the wind and making them suitable to frequent outdoor use. They also stack neatly into columns, taking up less space on the streets (or in shopping centers or parks or squares) when not in use.

share series chairs

The designs are an extension of the Share Series, a set of seats and other objects with similar coin-operated functionality intended for public use.

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Other pay-to-sit urban furniture projects include a chair series by Vincent Wittenberg, a bit more comfortable looking but they also take up more space on sidewalks.

Also: Fabian Brunsing, a Berlin-based artist and designer, took a different approach the problem (a bit more tongue-in-cheek). His bench uses coin deposits (but in this case non-refundable) that allow you to use a public bench. But when your time runs out: stand up fast to avoid the spikes.

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The Big Bend: U-Shaped ‘World’s Longest Skyscraper’ is Intentionally Absurd

24 Mar

[ By SA Rogers in Architecture & Cities & Urbanism. ]

the big bend

There’s lots of competition for the title of world’s tallest skyscraper, but does anyone care about the world’s longest – even when it extends vertically into an upside-down U shape? If you were to take ‘The Big Bend’ and straighten it out to stand on one end, it would extend impossibly high into the air, especially for how skinny it is. But architecture studio Oiio seems to be poking some fun at architectural norms and ‘luxury’ at the same time with this fictional structure.

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Designed to fit into New York City’s Billionaire’s Row, a controversial set of super tall, ultra-luxury residential skyscrapers that tend to block views and cast shadows into Central Park, The Big Bend wonders whether the prestige of an absurdly high structure still exists when it’s bent in half. It maintains roughly the same dimensions as a super tall structure, so does that mean the developers can charge as much for the apartments inside as they would if it extended all the way up into the clouds?

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The tongue-in-cheek design repeatedly references the Monopoly-style, top-hatted caricature of a billionaire in its renderings, and the firm’s statements about their proposal reveal a frustration with the way buildings in this echelon are designed, regulated and priced.

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“There is an undeniable obsession that resides in Manhattan,” says the firm. “It is undeniable because it is made to be seen. There are many different ways that can make a building stand out, but in order to do so the building has to literally stand out. We have become familiar with building height measurements. We usually learn about the tallest building and we are always impressed by its price per square foot. It seems that a property’s height operates as a license for it to be expensive. New York City’s zoning laws have created a peculiar set of tricks through which developers try to maximize their property’s height in order to infuse it with the prestige of a high rise structure.”

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“But what if we substituted height with length? What if our buildings were long instead of tall? If we manage to bend our structure instead of bending the zoning rules in New York, we would be able to create one of the most prestigious buildings in Manhattan. The longest building in the world. The Big Bend can become a modest architectural solution to the height limitations of Manhattan. We can now provide our structures with the measurements that will make them stand out without worrying about the limits of the sky.”

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Times Lapse: Minute-Long Video Shows Every NYT Cover Printed Since 1852

24 Mar

[ By WebUrbanist in Design & Graphics & Branding. ]

new york time lapse

The times are always changing, but few things bring it home quite so elegantly (and quickly) as an extended look at the front pages of a classic publication, compressing over 150 years of history (and 60,000 pages) into a single minute.

Data artist Josh Begley takes viewers on a whirlwind tour of New York Times cover images. His time(s)-lapse video spans from early days when they were entirely text to the advent of black-and-white then color images.

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While so much has changed, detailed maps and wood engravings appearing to liven up the pages as the years pass in seconds, much remains the same.

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time after time

The effects captured reflect both continuity and evolution, encapsulating not only a publication-specific shift but also the broader history of modern print publishing.

Meanwhile, for fans of history, typography and the Times (via Colossal): “Typesetter Carl Schlesinger and filmmaker David Loeb Weiss documented the last day of hot metal typesetting” in the film above. “This amazing behind-the-scenes view not only captures the laborious effort to create a single page of printed type, but also the the emotions and thoughts of several New York Times employees as they candidly discuss their feelings about transitioning to a new technology. One man decides he’s not ready for the digital age and plans to retire on the spot after 49 years, while others seem to transition smoothly into the new methods of production.”

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World’s Sexiest Parking Garage Has a New Competitor For the Crown

23 Mar

[ By SA Rogers in Architecture & Public & Institutional. ]

parking garage cliniques 1

It may not be as jaw-dropping and awe-inspiring as Detroit’s decaying Michigan Theater parking garage, nor quite as multifunctional as the stunning Herzog de Meuron structure at 1111 Lincoln Road in Miami – but this new structure in Belgium is definitely one for the books. The undulating wooden slate facade of this staff parking garage for the Cliniques Universities Saint-Luc hospital in Brussels is beautifully fluid, with a clever design that disguises most of its bulk underground while remaining architecturally interesting.

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Modulo Architects and De Jong Gortemaker Algra Architects were charged with creating a functional industrial structure capable of holding 985 cars that would also serve as a welcoming introduction to the hospital itself, incorporating daylight, natural materials and a striking look. Taking inspiration from natural canyons, they created a stepped design that brings sunlight down into the first two subterranean levels.

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The two above-ground parking decks “bridge the terrain gradient” between street level and the green roof, which is designed to be both a functional outdoor space and something pleasant to look at from the higher floors of the adjacent hospital. The parking garage effectively raises this green space above street level for a sense of privacy, avoids obscuring views of the surrounding architecture and manages to be pretty cool to look at, itself.

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“We challenged ourselves to also make the underground decks clear and pleasant,” the architects say. “By introducing a sinuous ‘canyon’ encompassing the garage that allows light and air to reach even the lowest deck. Natural light and this (eventually green) canyon-wall contribute to orientation and ensure a positive experience for the user. The facades, made of meandering hardwood slats (FSC), naturally relate to the character of the canyon. An appealing building, nicely embedded with added value for the user is the result.”

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Play On, LEGO Brick Layer: 14 Complex & Creative Toy-Brick-Inspired Projects

23 Mar

[ By SA Rogers in Art & Sculpture & Craft. ]

lego main

Play on, LEGO brick layer, ’cause the projects adults are coming up with using these little plastic toy bricks are totally incredible. Some amazing recent creations either made from or inspired by LEGO bricks include a functional camera that prints photos, a plastic helmet based on LEGO figures’ bowl-cut hair, stop-motion animation, a life-sized Batmobile and a robot that folds and flies paper airplanes.

Twin-Lens LEGO Camera Prints Photos

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Making use of two retrofitted camera components and a LEGO brick housing, this fun model by a Hong Kong photographer blogging as Instax Magic doesn’t just take real photos, it also prints them. Taking lenses from a vintage Japanese Yashica camera and an ejection mechanism modified from a Fuji Instax mini camera, the creation playfully incorporates LEGO elements like figurines, fences and turbines. After seeing a neighbor throw a box of toy bricks in the trash, the photographer says “I started to think about the possibility of modifying a camera with LEGO. My impression is that there is always some creative way to use LEGO.”

LEGO Claw Shopping Bag

lego claw shopping bag

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Walk down the street looking like you’ve got a yellow LEGO claw for a hand with this fun promotional shopping bag by New York-based advertising and designers Junho Lee and Hyun Chun Choi. The illusion only works when you’re wearing long sleeves, and you clutch a fabric ribbon hidden inside to hold the bag.

Intentional Helmet Hair, Courtesy of LEGO

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Helmet hair is actually desirable if you wanna bike around town looking like a LEGO figure that sprouted to real-life dimensions. Design firm MOEF created a functional bicycle helmet mimicking the proportions and characteristics of the original plastic toy thanks to 3D scanning. Right now, it’s just a prototype, but it could go into production with the aim of encouraging kids to wear helmets.

LEGO Stop-Motion Marriage Proposal

lego stop motion marriage proposal

It took Atlanta-based filmmaker Walt Thompson 22 hours, 2,600 photos and hundreds of LEGOs to create a stop-motion animation marriage proposal to his girlfriend of four years, Nealey Dozier, even going so far as to dress the LEGO couple in outfits that matched what the real-life couple wore when they met.

Enlarged LEGO Vehicles in Real-Life Environments

life size lego cars

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What would LEGO Lamborghinis, trucks, camper vans and helicopter models look like if they were kept exactly as they are, but enlarged to fit into the real world? Pretty ridiculous, as it turns out in this series of digital images by Italian photographer Domenico Franco, which sets them among Italian scenery. But at the same time, the models are so familiar, they don’t seem particularly out of place. “The aim is to transform ordinary contexts into extraordinary ones, thus compelling the toys to get out of the idyllic and politically correct landscapes belonging to their perfect and idealistic cities, with the result of instilling them in those vices, virtues and desires typical of human beings.” says Franco.

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Not Just For Kids 14 Complex Creative Lego Inspired Projects

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Urban Legend: Why Are European Cities so Much Denser than American Ones?

22 Mar

[ By WebUrbanist in Architecture & Cities & Urbanism. ]

densities

At a glance, it seems obvious New York City would be more densely populated than Paris, but in fact the reverse is true: New York has only half the population density of its French competitor. In Europe, too, rich people tend to live in the hearts of cities, not in their suburbs as they often do in the United States. This fantastic short video will take you through the reasons for these differentials in just ten minutes:

Most people attribute this to the age differential — young American cities are much younger. Europeans walking to work preferred and paid a premium for proximity (and to live on lower floors before the advent of elevators). A similar effect can be found in small towns: villagers would walk to work in fields. And this is part of the story, but per the video above (and text below) there are other forces at work in the modern age.

Meanwhile, in the U.S., railroads took time to get up to speed, making it easy to build suburbs further out and not just adjacent to cities. Streetcars in turn created upper-middle-class suburbs closer into town. Finally, the automobile filled in the gaps between railroad and streetcar lines.

But why didn’t European cities experience a similar trend? In part, ones that were damaged during in world wars generally rebuilt the way they had been, and the rest kept their legacies of density throughout.

There is also the history of crime: violent urban crime drove those who could afford it out of the hearts of cities. Rural land is also cheaper in the U.S. thanks for fewer farm subsidies, making it easier for developers to buy and build remotely.

Cheaper energy costs also drive car ownership state-side, reducing motivation to locate homes close to work. Energy prices also mean that heating huge suburban homes in America is much more affordable. But these commutes are linked to higher anxiety and the trend is reversing, bringing the rich back into cities.

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Abandoned Tobacco Factory Gets an Acid-Toned Makeover & a New Purpose

21 Mar

[ By SA Rogers in Art & Installation & Sound. ]

kalana

An abandoned, dark and dilapidated tobacco factory is ‘activated’ as a public meeting place to talk about revitalizing unused spaces through a cheerfully haphazard application of vivid, acid-toned paint. Puerto Rican artist Sofia Maldonado created ‘Kalaña’ as part of the series ‘Cromática: Caguas a Color,’ a collaboration with six other artists exploring the intersection of art, community and abandoned architecture.

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You can take in the cavernous space while it’s empty and appreciate it for all its wild neon drips, sprays and strokes, taking in how much this simple application of paint has transformed the feel of the space, making it exponentially more welcoming. But Maldonado doesn’t consider the work complete until it’s buzzing with people, serving its ultimate purpose.

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“My work is mainly inspired by colors and also by the Caribbean way of living; just experiencing light and color,” she says. “The project itself is not just painting an abandoned building. It’s also the idea of having an agenda. It’s a different format of how a public art piece can also become a creative and educational hub.”

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Now, a circular bike ramp encourages playful interaction with the space, and there’s a small stage for speeches and performances. The space will host workshops, lectures, music, presentations and other events.

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“This project was very challenging, but I think it’s exactly what I needed in order to create a new sort of dialogue that could place my work in a different context…” says Maldonado. “It allows me to bring my work into a bigger dimension and also to start a dialogue with the community and open a door for people to have a different perspective and intends to bring new meaning to what painting is, what public art could be, and also how can you integrate a community that surrounds it.”

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Just Pull Some Strings: 8 Easy Transforming Furniture Designs for Lazy People

21 Mar

[ By SA Rogers in Design & Furniture & Decor. ]

gesture controlled transforming furniture

When you’re lazy, even the most intuitive transforming furniture isn’t easy enough to operate unless it’s on the same level as clapping your lights on and off. Luckily for those of us who fall into this category, some furniture makers are creating multifunctional designs for small spaces that work their magic at the push of a button, the pull of a string, a flick of the wrist or even a mere gesture.

Retractible Ollie Chair by RockPaperRobot

ollie chair gif

ollie chair flat pack

ollie chair

ollie chair

You really have to watch the video of how this chair works to fully appreciate its brilliant simplicity. It starts as an entirely flat panel of slatted teak wood with a slight curve at the top. Pick it up, pull a string and the whole thing unfurls into a seat in a single fluid motion that’s very satisfying to watch, and it works the same way in reverse. The slats are affixed to a textile canvas to make the seating flexible, and the rest takes folding inspiration from origami.

A-Board Flat-Pack Shelf

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This bookshelf starts as a flat piece of laser-cut plywood. Yang the orange ribbon on the back, and it will pull the shelves down perpendicular to the face so you can rest the whole thing against a wall and use it as a bookshelf. Designer Tomas Schön used a laser-cutting technique to bend the wood instead of hinges, and there’s no other hardware or even glue involved.

MIT Media Lab CityHome

MIT cityhome

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Still not easy enough for you? How about commanding your bed to slide out with a gesture of your hands? MIT’s robotic ‘home in a box’ can pack a full, spacious-feeling apartment into 200 square feet of space, including a bed, workspace, dining table for dix, storage and a mini kitchen. The box uses built-in sensors, motors, LED lights and low-friction rollers to respond to your voice commands or gestures.

Ori Robotic Home Controlled via Smartphone App

ori robotic home

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There are all sorts of complex transforming furniture systems designed to fit maximum function into small spaces, but how many of them are operated through a smartphone app? The Ori system (taking its name from the prefix of ‘origami’) runs on robotic technology, featuring an on-device user interface as well as an app for your handheld device so you can press a button to initiate various configurations, like the bed sliding out, the table folding down or the entire unit moving to tuck itself against a wall to open up the floor area.

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Just Pull Some Strings 8 Easy Transforming Furniture Designs For Lazy People

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Fruitless: 10 Closed & Abandoned Apple Stores

20 Mar

[ By Steve in Abandoned Places & Architecture. ]

abandoned-apple-store-1a

Apple Stores and Apple authorized resellers are about as sure a thing as can be in business but even these b&m goldmines close shop and are left abandoned.

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There weren’t any official Apple Stores before May 19th of 2001, only authorized Apple resellers ranging from Mom & Pop computer shops to big box retailers like Best Buy and Circuit City. The sign above hales from the 1980s (the “rainbow” Apple logo was used from 1977 to 1998) and towers over the Roberts Court strip mall on Barrett Parkway in Kennesaw, Georgia. According to Rebrn.com, the sign advertised Rick’s Educational Products and although that store moved many years ago, the sign lingered on for decades. The images above date from April 8th of 2011 and April 10th of 2011 respectively.

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Later that month, something – most likely a weather-related event – twisted the top of the sign 180-degrees and shattered the plastic on both sides. A Reddit user who lives nearby fortuitously picked up some of the pieces as seen above. Not sure what his plans for them are but we hear pretty much anything sells on eBay these days.

Dublin Down

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The number of Mac authorized resellers dropped by almost half between 1997 and 2000. Around that time Tim Cook, Apple’s Senior Vice President for Worldwide Operations since 1998, announced the company would “cut some channel partners that may not be providing the buying experience (Apple expects). We’re not happy with everybody.” Perhaps the late and lamented Apple Centre on Kildare Street in Dublin, Ireland was one such partner that aroused Cook’s ire – no pun intended. Flickr user Fintan Palmer (fintanp) snapped the shuttered shop in October of 2008; fellow Flickrer twrbl noted no change in its abandoned status five months later.

Simply Closed

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Simply Mac may have referred to itself as “the greatest Apple partner in North America” but according to a January 2017 announcement by the West Acres mall in Fargo, North Dakota, “Apple Corporation (is) ending its national agreement with Simply Mac to sell them Apple product, making it impossible for them to continue.” The Fargo store and the other depicted store in Billings, Montana are not the only Simply Mac stores closing and no doubt the signage pictured above will be coming down sooner than later.

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Fruitless 10 Closed Abandoned Apple Stores

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Fearless Girl: Powerful Statue Faces Down Famous Charging Bull of Wall Street

19 Mar

[ By WebUrbanist in Art & Sculpture & Craft. ]

fearless womens day statue

Located in the heart of the financial district in New York City, the Charging Bull statue has long been an icon of the industry, but now faces its first opponent: a young girl cast in bronze.

wall street bull

Sponsored by city officials and a local firm and crafted by sculptor Kristen Visbal, The Fearless Girl was erected in recognition of International Women’s Day. Its intended message is to encourage companies to put women on their boards, but of course it carries a series of meanings in the face of Wall Street and the political climate.

fearless girl statue

“One of the most iconic images on Wall Street is the charging bull,” explains a representative of State Street. “So the idea of having a female sort of stand against the bull or stand up to the bull just struck us as a very clever but also creative and engaging way to make that statement. Even though it’s a little girl, her stance is one of determination, forwardness, and being willing to challenge and take on the status quo.”

Whether the statue will stand the test of time remains to be seen, but its persistence would certainly not be without precedent. Per Colossal, the “Charging Bull was originally an act of guerrilla art by Arturo Di Modica, and only became permanent after its soaring popularity, leaving some to wonder if Visbal’s statue could follow the same story.”

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