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RotterZwam: Abandoned Water Park Turned Indoor Mushroom Farm

29 Apr

[ By SA Rogers in Abandoned Places & Architecture. ]

Bags of old coffee grounds hang in the dank dressing rooms of an abandoned Rotterdam water park, growing oyster mushrooms. Two men turned the former Tropicana space, an old teen hangout, into the perfect damp, dim environment for their business, making use of the structure while the city council decides what to do with it. ‘RotterZwam’ rents the building on an anti-squat lease and have transformed it into a fascinating example of adaptive reuse and urban farming.

Tropicana is fairly infamous among Rotterdam locals, but closed after the former owner went bankrupt in 2010. The space had been plagued with problems, from hygiene to sexual assault. It sat empty until Siemen Cox and mark Slegers, RotteZwam’s owners, realized it looked like a giant greenhouse.

Though they hope that central glassed-in space – formerly the pool – will eventually become a greenhouse, for now, they’re making use of the dressing rooms and basement, which offer ideal conditions for fungal growth. The crew hangs bags of coffee grinds from the old Tropicana clothes hangers, and before long, they sprout oyster mushrooms.

They collect the coffee from local cafes, transport it in their carrier bicycle, and give the compost to worms to create an extremely low-waste operation. The produce about 20-50kg of mushrooms every week, and sell it to local restaurants, bakeries and food trucks. They also offer DIY mushroom-growing kits.

“Cities like Rotterdam produce nothing but waste and commuters,” they say in an interview with Vice’s Munchies. “This entertainment park represents that perfectly – we build things and, when we don’t want them anymore, we need others to clean it up, to sweep up our garbage. That’s not how nature works, though – in nature wast doesn’t exist. In this building we hardly ever buy a thing, because eery material or nail is already here.”

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End of Elevated Parks? UK Garden Bridge & US Pier 55 Projects in Doubt

28 Apr

[ By WebUrbanist in Architecture & Cities & Urbanism. ]

It has been a challenging few weeks for architect Thomas Heatherwick, whose proposals for elevated green urban spaces in both London and New York City face uncertain futures. While the specifics vary, there may be lessons for elevated parks that spans both cases — and if these fail to move forward, it could spell the end of a decade-long trend for lofted public parks.

The Garden Bridge project in London has long been criticized based on its cost and officials are getting serious about making sure the investment (especially tax dollars) will pay off. The design has been touted as a kind of High Line Park for England’s capital, but unlike the High Line it is a brand new construction project (not adaptive reuse) and not positioned to revitalize areas of its city.

At the heart of the issue, unsurprisingly, is money: an initial projection of £60,000,000 has blossomed into an estimated cost of around £200,000,000. Shockingly, even cancelling the project now would result in a bill of over £40,000,000, despite the fact that construction has not even started. While £70,000,000 in private funding was secured at the outset, the rest would have to be covered by taxpayer money, which is less than popular with the public. As of now, the mayor’s financial inquiry has resulted in a recommendation to scrap the project.

According to a governmental report on the project, “Decisions on the Garden Bridge were driven by electoral cycles rather than value for money,. From its inception when there was confusion as to its purpose, through a weak business case that was constructed after contracts had been let and money had been spent, little regard has been had to value for money.” It is unclear whether the project is stalled or slated for abandonment, but it looks unlikely to proceed at this point.

Meanwhile, across the pond, Heatherwick’s proposed Pier 55 project (images by Luxigon), an elevated park stretching out over the water next to Manhattan, is also stalled out, at least for now. Its permit was recently revoked in part based on environmental studies that concluded it would disrupt local marine habitats. There are also concerns that it will block views along the waterfront.

The 10,000-square-foot, $ 200,000,000 park was designed to replace a disused pier in the heart of New York City, but once again it lacks some of the conditions that made the High Line a viable solution, particularly its lack of reuse. Perhaps the elevated parks trend is coming to an end, or (more likely): it is too often pitched as a solution, even in cases where there is no obvious problem to be solved.

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Rage Rooms: Hourly Russian Service Lets You Vent Aggression

27 Apr

[ By SA Rogers in Destinations & Sights & Travel. ]

Has life in the modern world given you a simmering sense of resentment, anxiety and anger you wish you could unleash upon some highly breakable objects? Maybe you’re fuming over your job and fantasize about smashing a copy machine, Office Space-style, or maybe you’d like to give a certain public institution a piece of your mind. In Russia, you can pay by the hour to take out these aggressions on the environment of your choice – safely, legally and as violently as you like.

For a fee ranging from $ 150 to $ 450 depending on the complexity, ’Rage Rooms’ by Debosh can be customized to your liking. They’ll design your personalized smashable room to resemble your workplace, apartment or any other space you prefer, or you can bring your own breakables and clean up after yourself for a mere $ 50. Prices also vary by ‘difficulty level,’ depending on whether you want to smash some dishes and televisions or rent out a larger space with a group of friends, with more to destroy.

Founder Alexei Barinskiy says he originally owned a flea market, and was often left with too much merchandise that wasn’t selling. He wondered if he could find a way to get rid of it while still making a profit. Shortly thereafter, Debosh was born. They provide the space, breakables, hard hats, protective eyewear and highly satisfying sledgehammers, clubs and baseball bats to do the job.

“Destroyery is a kid of entertainment where people can do things they are restricted to do in everyday life, or maybe such things are just hard to do or they may have really bad consequences,” notes the website (translated from Russian.) “For example, at Destroyery you can smash a TV with a sledgehammer, take off safety goggles, dust down and go home pleased and relieved.”

“However, Destroyery is not just about crushing things with a hammer. You can come on your own or with your friends and experience a new feeling of freedom and permissiveness like when you were a kid, causing mischief and your mom went off on you for broken things at home or your dad smacked your ass for smashing a window.”

It’s kind of nuts, but it’s also hard to deny the draw. Maybe the idea will catch on in the United States, too.

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[ By SA Rogers in Destinations & Sights & Travel. ]

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High Design: 10 Blazing Hot Marijuana Dispensary Interiors

27 Apr

[ By SA Rogers in Design & Fixtures & Interiors. ]

Moving way beyond grungy illegal sources and the psychedelic hippie aesthetics of head shops, modern marijuana dispensaries often look more like luxury hotel lobbies, high-end speakeasies and Apple Stores. As more states within the U.S. legalize medical and recreational marijuana, a whole new world of cannabis-adjacent architecture and design lights up. Here are 10 standout dispensaries, including a couple proposals for rooftop pop-ups and even a Cannabis Cruise.

Barbary Coast Dispensary, San Francisco, California

Called “the most decadent pot smoking lounge in the West” by the San Francisco Chronicle, the Barbary Coast Dispensary is modeled on luxury speakeasies in the city’s old red light district, and features a hash bar, smoking lounge and dab bar among stained glass, dark leather and red flocked velvet wallpaper. The owners wanted the space to have a San Francisco flavor, as opposed to the clinical ‘Apple Store’ look favored by a lot of other dispensaries.

New England Treatment Access (NETA), Brookline, Massachusetts

Set into the historic Brookline Bank building, the NETA dispensary features original design by Swiss-American architect Franz Joseph Untersee, who’s best-known for his Roman Catholic Churches. The traditional interiors are definitely a stark contrast to the places people often procured marijuana before it was legal.

Serra Dispensary – Downtown Location, Portland, Oregon

The third location of the Serra dispensary chain to open in Portland, this Old Town gem is set into an 1889 historic-landmarked building with a black-painted facade. Recalling the aesthetics and feel of neighborhood apothecaries, the space features 16-foot ceilings, elegant display cases, high-end smoking accessories and a lush green wall.

Ajoya Dispensary – Louisville, Colorado

You’d almost think the Louisville, Colorado location of Ajoya was a nightclub walking in, with its dimly-lit interiors designed by award-winning firm Roth Sheppard. Customers sit on single-leg stools to consult with bud tenders over a glossy white counter. If some aspects remind you of an Apple store, that’s intentional; in this age of marijuana emerging from illegality in many states, the owners wanted to project an image of safety and health.

Level Up Dispensary – Scottsdale, Arizona

Scottsdale’s Level Up essentially looks like a high-end jewelry boutique, fitted with chandeliers, backlit display cases and a lounge full of leather seating. The dark grey and green color scheme directs the eye right to the product on the shelves.

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High Design 10 Super Stylish Marijuana Dispensary Interiors

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Shaolin Flying Monks Temple: Wind Tunnel Facilitates Midair Kung Fu Fighting

26 Apr

[ By WebUrbanist in Architecture & Public & Institutional. ]

Mixing modern architecture and traditional arena theater design, the Shaolin Flying Monks Temple features a massive wind tunnel that lets combatants in rural Henan, China, fly and fight in front of hundreds of fascinated observers.

The mountainous setting is home to the historical Shaolin Monastery (UNESCO World Heritage Site) and is considered the birthplace of Zen Buddhism and the Kung Fu martial arts practice (as well as the cradle of Chinese civilization more broadly).

Designed by Latvian architect Austris Mailitis, the pavilion is designed to be both contemporary while also deferential to the region and its traditions. The designer was commissioned based on a chance meeting at the Shanghai Expo in 2010.

The mounded shape of the complex and branching, trunk-like protrusion of the tunnel take their inspiration from a translation of Shaolin, meaning: mountain in the wood.

“The architectural and conceptual image pays respect to the beauty of surrounding nature and the historical heritage of the site. Developed in the shape of two symbols – mountain and tree – it serves as a platform for any kind of scenic arts focusing especially on flying performances.”

“The building method combines modern and ancient technologies,” explained the architect” — a laser-cut steel superstructure supports stone steps handcrafted using local quarry resources.”

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THE HAUS Berlin: Abandoned Building Taken Over By 165 Street Artists

25 Apr

[ By SA Rogers in Art & Street Art & Graffiti. ]

Set to be demolished in June to make way for an apartment building,THE HAUS in Berlin is a formerly abandoned 5-story building filled with site-specific works by 165 street artists. Dreamed up by artists Kimo, Bolle and Jörni of Die Dixons collective, THE HAUS was once a bank on avenue Kurfürstendamm, but fell into disuse over the years. The artists activated their network of creative contacts to temporarily turn it into a street art free-for-all that’s so popular with visitors, there’s often a two-hour wait outside.

The artists, who range from Berlin locals to international activists, worked almost nonstop from mid-January through March 9th to complete the project, and installations include geometric patterns made of tape, video projections, interactive exhibits and sculpture.

The exhibit opened April 1st, and guided tours run almost all day long on Tuesdays through Sundays with a donation-based, pay-what-you-can system and a ‘no phones’ rule. “Look through your eyes and not through the screen of your phone,” the website urges. You can see each individual installation on THE HAUS website, and learn more about the artists who created them.

Even beyond the art itself, the project is definitely a community effort. Nearly all of the supplies were donated by supportive businesses, and a four-star hotel even put up all the artists free of charge. Berliner Pilsner donated beer. In an interview with Vice’s The Creators Project, Kimo stresses that THE HAUS is “not a marketing joke,” noting that nothing was for sale.

“Feel the freshest urban art gallery ever with a guided tour!” says the site. “108 dope artworks are waiting to be seen, to be experienced and to be memorized by you. Every single piece is created by one of the 165 artists from Berlin and all over the world. But be aware that THE HAUS is created to be destroyed – in the end of May the gallery is going to close and the wrecking ball will follow.”

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Transparent Intentions: 13 Glass Additions to Historic Architecture

24 Apr

[ By SA Rogers in Architecture & Houses & Residential. ]

Transparent additions to historic architecture physically expand the space while making the subtlest possible changes to the building exteriors, allowing you to see the original structures right through the glazed walls. Augmenting 500-year-old farmhouses,  Victorian row houses in London and some of Paris’ most iconic-looking apartment buildings, these modern glass extensions aim to blend in with the sky, offering transitions to gardens and bringing natural light into formerly dark interiors.

17th Century Manor Update by Jonathan Tuckey Design

Invisible from the street, this ‘ghostly’ addition to the 17th century Yew Street House in London by Jonathon Tuckey Design lets you see right through its walls to the original stone structure, disrupting its beautiful form as little as possible while adding a gorgeous light-filled dining space.

Farmer’s Cottage in Croatia by Proarh

Zagreb-based architecture firm Proarh renovated a dilapidated traditional Zagorje cottage in Croatia into a modern family home, retaining the external frame while replacing the existing porch with a transparent glass view facing a view of the mountains.

19th Century Parisian Photography Studio to Rooftop Apartments

This glass addition to a 19th century photography studio in Paris by Vincent Parreira Atelier is conceived as an ‘inhabited observatory’ perched atop a Haussmannian building in the city’s Opéra-Madeleine district.

Straatweg Extension by BBVH Architecten

An original masonry structure in Rotterdam, built in the 1930s, gets some much-needed natural light thanks to a two-story, all-glass wing added by BBVH Architecten, which features a transparent roof, facade and upper-level floor with an operable garage-style door leading out to the garden.

‘Salle Labrouste’ Former French National Library

A major overhaul to the French National Library by Bruno Gaudin and Virginie Bregal updated it for the 21st century while retaining its dazzling beauty, adding a glass gallery that serves as a rooftop promenade to link two sides of the structure’s quadrangle.

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Transparent Intentions 13 Glass Additions To Historic Architecture

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Sleeves Are For Nerds: Geeky iPad, Tablet & eReader Covers

23 Apr

[ By Steve in Gadgets & Geekery & Technology. ]

Tablets, iPads and eReaders are so ubiquitous, nerdy owners are employing extreme acts of graphic personalization to imbue their devices with unique geek chic.

Faaaalkooorr!! Almost every child of the Eighties holds a special place in their heart for The NeverEnding Story. The 1984 film spawned a pair of sequels and a TV show, cementing its hold on once-youthful imaginations and imbuing all who watched with the urge to ride a giant flying dog – OK, “luckdragon”, whatever.

Fans of the endearingly clunky, West German-produced fantasy film have grown into jaded adults but as Falcor famously advised, “Never give up and good luck will find you.” Yeah, tell that to Artax. Anyway, you can look up that and more on your tablet, ideally if its encased by a NeverEnding Story iPad / Tablet / EReader / Kindle Cover. Note the faux Auryn medallion affixed to the cover. Hey, it’s better than Nothing.

Hit The Button, Frank

Designed ideally for an Apple product like a Macbook or iPad and size-customizable by the seller, this MST3K adhesive vinyl decal features the familiar – to those in the know – silhouettes of Tom Servo, Mike Nelson and Crow T Robot in full-on movie-riffing mode. Now that Mystery Science Theater 3000 has been revived for a new run on Netflix, your robot roll call is as timely as ever.

Ultimate Zelda

The Legend of Zelda is one of Nintendo’s most successful gaming franchises though considering it debuted way back in 1986, it’s had plenty of time to accrue legions of devoted fans. This “Ultimate Zelda Fan Package” from Etsy seller SkinzNhydez includes a Zelda book cover, Zelda wallet, Zelda iPad case, even a Zelda belt buckle. All you need now is a girlfriend named Zelda… oh, wait.

Time McFly’s

Channel your inner Biff Tannen with this Back To The Future 2 iPad case, featuring the cover of Gray’s Sports Almanac 1950-2000: the book that brought our heroes from BTTF2 so much Griff, er, grief.

Seller Firebox kindly advises potential purchasers that while “this book tells the future,” it’s “not to be used to create a series of paradoxes that destroy time.” Besides, since November 8th of 2016 we’ve already been living in the darkest timeline, amiright?

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Cover Ups Geeky Ipad Tablet Ereader Case Covers

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Digital Knitting Machine: Kniterate is a 3D Printer for Custom Apparel

23 Apr

[ By WebUrbanist in Gaming & Computing & Technology. ]

Borrowing logic from the 3D printing industry, Kniterate lets users turn ideas and designs from digital files to one-off wearable garments in hours. Able to “print” shirts, scarves, sweaters, dresses and more, the machine is aimed at enabling customized creations as well as rapid prototyping.

Compact, portable and affordable, the gadget itself links into computer and mobile apps – creatives can build out ideas in Photoshop, build them in Kniterate’s device-specific application, then send them to straight to production with the touch of a button.

The application comes with a number of preset patterns that can be used but the intuitive interface is also designed to allow for easy from-scratch creations, even by people with limited digital design experience. Even in cases there the final product will be made via other methods or materials, this machine allows for iterative design experiments to test size, fit and styles.

The system is also designed to reduce waste from off-cut materials, printing with the exact amount of material needed to make a particular piece. The device can carry up to six yarns at a time to span an array of colors and materials – it is also made to be compatible with off-the-shelf yarns, making it more flexible and affordable than printers (often designed to make money from material sales rather than the machines themselves).

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Selective Hearing: These Earplugs Let You Turn Down Sounds of the World

22 Apr

[ By SA Rogers in Gadgets & Geekery & Technology. ]

We’ve all had moments where we wished we could tune out a particular person or muffle loud music without losing the ability to hear a friend’s voice, but standard earplugs don’t exactly allow for a lot of fine-tuning. But with a new product called ‘Knops,’ you can literally turn the volume of the world up or down in an instant. Founded by musicians, the Dutch startup aims to help you hear what you want to hear and ignore what you don’t with the twist of a tiny knob.

Each pair of knots has four modes you can switch between: the first is clear sound, the second reduces ambient ‘city noise’ by 10 decibels, the third muffles live music by 20 decibels, and the fourth is ‘isolation,’ blocking out 30 decibels. You can easily switch between the four levels whenever you want, eliminating the need to constantly pull out and reinsert your earplugs.

Noting that most earbuds are “downright ugly as hell,” the designers gave Knops a minimalist look available in four different colors and trims. You might imagine that they’d be unnecessarily high-tech, turning a simple product like earplugs into an expensive, high-maintenance gadget that requires syncing to electronic devices or battery charging. Surprisingly, that’s not the case. The creators wanted control over external sounds without the distortion that can come with electronic solutions.

How does it work? According to the creators, “Knops uses no electronics, no apps and no batteries. Instead our earbuds are acoustically engineered. The real sound is filtered using gold old physics. With the help of computer simulations and real-world prototypes tested in acoustic labs, we tuned Knops. We spend a lot of time fine-tuning the sound, so we can provide the best quality sound at every volume level. Working with the natural response of the ear canal.”

You can pre-order a pair by backing the project on Kickstarter for 58 Euros (about $ 62 USD) or more.

 

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