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How to Shrink Your Footprint: 10 Little Examples of Tiny Houses

Sat, 26 Feb 2011 17:39:00 +0000

By Delana in Architecture & Design, History & Factoids, Urban Images Tiny houses have never truly gone out of style. From the very early days of home building, when the construction was done by hand and usually by the people who would be occupying the home, small homes have been built out of necessity. But today many people continue the trend for the sake of simplicity or the environment. Living in a minuscule home definitely encourages you to rid your life of all types of clutter and get back to what is really important. These truly tiny homes – some modern, some classic – exemplify the best of space-saving architecture.(images via: Little Digs)Dorm rooms are how most of us are introduced to small-space living. This French design is jump-starting that experience for one lucky kid. The cottage-like structure, built in a back yard, was intended for a teenager who is getting older and growing closer to the day when he will live away from his family. The tiny home features four levels with smart space-saving features at every turn. With a lounge, a washroom, a work area and a bedroom, no space is wasted and the teenage occupant can have his own personal, private living area.(images via: Tiny Texas Houses)Is everything really bigger in Texas? Not according to the people behind Tiny Texas Houses. They believe that there are enough building materials in landfills currently to provide for most, if not all, of the next generation of housing needs. They build tiny homes from salvaged materials and ship them to customers complete with salvaged fixtures, low-voltage wiring and waste water reclamation systems. The small houses only go up to 12′ X 28′, so moving into one will require some de-cluttering for the average person.(image via: Ballard News-Tribune)Some U.S. cities have taken to the small housing lifestyle in a big way. Seattle, a city known for its sky-high rental prices, recently changed zoning laws to allow small cottages to be built on the same properties as larger, conventional houses. Denver has a similar plan. Building a cottage can give homeowners a way to keep family nearby, provide affordable housing in a crowded urban area, and add some regular rental income to their bank accounts – it’s a win all around.(images via: front architects)There are many creative ways for dealing with overcrowded areas, and the Single Hauz concept incorporates two of them: build in otherwise inaccessible places, and build up rather than out. The design, from Polish firm Front Architects, is rather like a billboard that you can live in. The tiny home is held aloft by a central pole, allowing it to rise high above the surrounding landscape. The home is clearly meant for a single person, not a family, and due to its unique orientation it would allow a higher degree of privacy than just about any other home design.(images via: Arvesund)For some people, small-space living is about simplifying all parts of life, including personal relationships. The Hermit’s Cabin from Swedish company Arvesund embraces that concept. The cabin is only big enough for one person and a small handful of furnishings. It can be placed just about anywhere – from a backyard to a secluded woodlands retreat – and offers the ultimate in simplicity and shutting the rest of the world out.(images via: Dornob)Adding a guest room to your house can be a lengthy and expensive proposition. This egg-shaped dwelling from DMVA is a simple (albeit slightly eccentric) way to add additional space to an existing house. It can also be a stand-alone mini-home with the addition of a bathroom and kitchen, though it would almost certainly make the neighbors scratch their heads in confusion to see you lock yourself inside a giant plastic egg every evening.(images via: Carre D’Etoiles)This marvelous cube is a French design meant to be used as a vacation getaway accommodation. Believe it or not, the tiny box sleeps a grand total of four people and includes everything yo[...]

House on the Rock: Manic Mishmash of Mechanical Mayhem

Sat, 26 Feb 2011 17:38:00 +0000

By Angie in Architecture & Design, Furniture & Interiors, Travel & Places Get ready for sensory overload. Check your sanity at the door. House on the Rock is a manic mishmash of mechanical mayhem. Much like stepping into Oz, only in Wisconsin, a tour through House on the Rock is like something from a drug-induced haze. Some visitors love the bizarreness and some hate it, but here are 48 images of the schizophrenic blend in this freaky destination.House on the Rockimage credits: (Dave Lyons,tripadvisor)House on the Rock opened in 1959 in Spring Green, Wisconsin. It is a “complex of architecturally unique rooms, streets, gardens and shops designed by Alex Jordan, Jr.” The House sits atop Deer Shelter Rock with a forest nearby. The above Infinity Room was added in 1985, hanging out 218 feet from the House without supports underneath. The end section has a glass floor and the room has over 3,000 windows. This is neither an endorsement to visit, nor a slam, but instead it is a weird trip in complex design that screams, “Bizarro land!”Odd but not too far out . . . yet:(image credits: Dave Lyons)At first glance, it may not seem as if you are about to step off into Oz in Wisconsin. Both of Alex Jordon’s biographers relate a story by a man who was officially proclaimed as the 1976 World Champion Liar. Furthermore, according to Wikipedia, reporter Marv Balousek published a book about House on the Rock and reported: ‘Jordan Sr. hired “drunks and bums” from the Madison street to help blast the rock. Balousek says that according to Sid Boyum these workers were sometimes paid with whiskey and sometimes by check, but that Alex Jordan Jr. destroyed the cancelled checks later to further a myth that he had personally built the house himself.’Seems normal enough at firstThe Gate House is an entryway to the main house. Paying visitors take self-guided tours. The “ultimate 1970s bachelor pad” switches to a Victorian Steampunkish flavor after descending the library steps. Alex Jordan believed that sights and sounds were the most effective means of stimulating the senses. Well get ready for sensory overload and a real life version of a Tim Burton movie.(image credits: Dave Lyons)The eclectic maze of rooms include the Mill House, Streets of Yesterday, The Heritage of the Sea, Tribute to Nostalgia, Atrium Restaurant, Music of Yesterday, Spirit of Aviation, and the Carousel. Of course that’s not all. More seriously strange structures include the Organ Room, Inspiration Point, the Doll House Room, the Circus Room, the Galleries, and the Doll Carousel Room.Let the bizarre tour begin:(image credits: Dave Lyons)Is there LSD in those bottles? No, but there seems to be about everything else you might imagine. A tour through House on the Rock is like something from a drug-induced haze.Sheriff keeps a head in a jar?The Sheriff’s Office features a head in a jar. There are also hundreds of guns in all shapes and sizes. This is not even close to as wacky or wonderful as this place gets. Depending upon your perspective, it might seem like a manic mishmash of musty mechanical mayhem. “It’s creepy, beautiful, dreary, overwhelming, and inspiring.” You can check your sanity at the door.(image credits: Dave Lyons)Some tourists seem to love it. Others post trip comments such as, “I came away wondering what was that? It is so totally weird I can not even express it.” Yet other  visitors seem to hate it. Could the controversial opinions be due to that overwhelming WTF feeling it produced?Puppet Master to Heritage of the Sea Building:(image credits: Dave Lyons)There is a puppet master and his many peculiar marionettes. The Heritage of the Sea building is one of the most popular destinations. A giant sea-monster type whale is centered in the building. It stands 200 feet high, as tall as the Statue of Liberty, in the nautical themed room. [...]

Narrower Towers: 20 Of Japan’s Thinnest Buildings

Sat, 26 Feb 2011 17:37:00 +0000

By Steve in Architecture & Design, Travel & Places, Urban Images When land is expensive or in short supply – or both, as is the case in Japan’s major metropolises – smart real estate developers don’t get down, they look up. These 20 tall thin Japanese buildings show what happens when builders shoot stories upwards to get the most bang for their yen.(images via: Mike’s Blender)Even after two decades of economic stagnation and the collapse of a formidable stock market and real estate bubble, Tokyo remains one of the most expensive places on Earth for developers to build in. The apartment building above is typical of those constructed in the “good old days”, when building thin was an ideal way to fatten one’s bank account.(images via: Totonko)When Tokyo’s bubble burst at the end of the 1980s, building thin remained in fashion but for very different reasons, notably the need for developers to get the highest possible ROI in a buyer’s market. The design for a modern apartment building conceived by Mitsutomo Matsunami is a marvel of simplicity and minimalism: though seven stories tall and offering 10 apartments of varying sizes, the building’s ground footprint is just 1,200 square feet.(images via: Yukichika World)When is thin TOO thin? That depends on your point of view. Take this building in Nagasaki. Viewed face-on, it looks rather normal; wider than it is tall and with an architecturally interesting pyramidal peak on its roof.(image via: Sergio In Nagasaki)Step around to the side, however, and… whoa! Unless the building operates using the same space-expanding engine as Doctor Who’s Tardis, it’s hard to imagine how anyone could function normally once they entered. And yet, the author of the blog that describes this splendid splinter states that there’s a Chinese restaurant inside, on the ground floor!(image via: Joseph Tame)If you live in a modern American suburban home, more than likely your front lawn is divided into a larger main expanse plus, after the sidewalk cuts through, a small area that continues on to meet the street. The post-sidewalk slice isn’t useful for much, maybe the City will plant a tree there but that’s about it. Not so in the Ushigome district of Kisarazu City in Japan’s Chiba prefecture, where they use that small space to build apartments on.(image via: Google Maps – Japan)The semicircular balconies are a cool feature, as they offer a 180-degree view for claustrophobics… who likely wouldn’t set foot in this building even if they were being chased by flaming wolves.(images via: M.Terada, Jimgris and N@O)Here are a few more apartment blocks and individual houses in built-up, urban areas of Japan. In many cases, the size of the footprints chosen by developers aren’t dictated wholly by the presence of existing buildings – in those shown above, there appears to be sufficient space to construct what most would consider to be a normal building. For reasons yet undisclosed, the developers of the structures above preferred to stay anorexically slim.(images via: Izismile and Brad Templeton)Downtown districts of Japan’s larger cities are where you’ll find a host of slim towers, all appearing to compete for the same small section of real estate. It’s been commented that if Godzilla really does exist and decides to go on a rampage, he’ll have a grand old time playing dominoes with Japanese skylines.(images via: Whooba and Chipple)The two thin Tokyo buildings above show that it’s possible to look thin AND look good… at least, look different. The structure on the left saves interior space by mounting its staircase – a 10-story spiral staircase – on the exterior. I’m guess the penthouse isn’t the most expensive unit here. On the right we have a building that aims to look like it belongs in Paris but actually fits in better on a street in Rock Ridge… not the real Blazing Saddles town, the fake one [...]

Abandoned: School’s Out For Summer. School’s Out Forever!

Sat, 26 Feb 2011 17:36:00 +0000

By Angie in Abandoned Places, Architecture & Design, Urban Images One of the sweetest sounds to students is when that last bell in the last class rings to signal school is out for summer. In the words of Alice Cooper, “Out for summer. Out till fall. We might not go back at all.” No one will return for classes to these schools; they are out permanently. The once busy halls and classrooms are lifeless and lonely. Not all schools are filled with laughter; some have a very dark past. These abandoned and decaying schools are out forever.Bus(image payers may want to cuss at this overturned and graffiti-covered bus. However, there is something satisfying to the rebel soul to see the urbex image. Like these schools, this bus will never experience high school drama, laughing, or arguing kids again.Abandoned School(image credit:Atelier Teee)Once upon a time, in Bradford, Illinois, this school was new and filled with hopeful teachers and laughing kids. Now it is a lonely and sad dilapidated building.Detroit(image credit:the chive,doobybrain)Detroit is a rustbelt city with population loss, rising crime rates, high loss of jobs, and a declining urban environment. Nearly 30 schools have permanently closed their doors due to budget cuts. Most were left unsecured and scrappers have plundered the computer monitors and the buildings for any precious metals. The school buildings are full of discarded textbooks and office paperwork, peeling paint, and overall destruction.Holley High School(image credit: Holley High School auditorium with stuffed animals as the audience is located in New York. The school was closed in 1976. 10-15 years ago, asbestos clean-up costs were estimated at $1 million. This abandoned school and auditorium will never again be filled with applause or cheers. No high school student will be struck with stage-fright or give the performance of their life. The guests in the moldy seats are gifts from superstitious urban explorers.Class Dismissed(image credit:opacity, lecture hall in an abandoned Belgium university is cast in an eerie light. Forlorn and deserted now, the college was built in 1930 on the site of an old abbey.  In the abandoned school library, on the right, a librarian will never again shush someone. The floor is littered with dead presidents.Art School(image, abandoned art school in Buffalo, New York, has bright splashes of color mixed into the beautiful decay. No aspiring artist will ever again paint their heart out to create a masterpiece here.Piano(image credit:Micheal Peterson)The dejected and overturned piano in a rural Nebraska school is hauntingly beautiful. The forgotten keys are forever silenced.Abandoned Girls’ SchoolThe scenery on the decaying stage is from the last play before the UK school for girls was abandoned.Beautiful architectural bones will slowly disintegrate.Below the dome, the pentagram on the floor seems to gives this room a sinister atmosphere.A lone chair sits amid rotting floorboards of a classroom. With no more catty or chatty girls, the halls, corridors, and stairways are silent.(image credit:howzey)Sections of this abandoned school for girls now resembles a school from a war-torn country.Pennhurst State SchoolPennhurst State School opened in Spring City, PA, in 1908. The facility was dedicated to treat people with mental and physical disabilities, but in 1946 there were only seven physicians serving over 2,000 patients.Reports of beatings by staff and other patients, assault, and extended periods of isolation were uncovered. Residents regressed into mentally disturbed states of mind. In 1977, the institution was found guilty of violating patient’s constitutional rights in a class-action lawsuit.Among the debris and destruction are reminders of the students who attended [...]

Ghost in the Machine: Uniquely Musical Cassette Art

Sat, 26 Feb 2011 17:35:00 +0000

By Delana in Architecture & Design, Gadgets & Geek Art, Urban & Street Art (image)
The relationship between art and the medium in which it is created isn’t often as perfectly
matched as it is with these cassette tape art pieces. Atlanta-based artist Erika Iris Simmons (better known by her artist’s pseudonym iri5) uses cassette tapes to create soulful portraits of musicians and bands. The series, entitled ”Ghost in the Machine,” is a physical representation of the ephemeral nature of thoughts and creativity.

Several generations of musical legends are represented in iri5′s work: Dylan to Kravitz, the Beatles to Nirvana. But every artist is given an exceptional amount of care, and every portrait is richly detailed. The unusual medium lends itself surprisingly well to recreating the famous faces, bending and curling and creating lovely textures in all the right places.
The title “Ghost in the Machine” comes from Gilbert Ryle, the British philosopher who coined the phrase. Ryle believed that all of nature is a machine; humankind is another, smaller machine containing a “ghost.” That ghost, according to Ryle, is what gives us our creativity.
The artist clearly shares the philosopher’s ideas about human thoughts and emotions being contained within our individual “machines.” De-constructed cassette tapes are the perfect medium for expressing this idea: their hard plastic shell hides the light, floaty, difficult-to-control tape that can easily double for the impossible-to-define human spirit.
The artist imagines that we are all thoughts wrapped up in awkward packaging, much like the fragile tape inside cassettes. Her entire portfolio is full of art created in unusual materials: trash, donated materials and found objects populate her impressive body of work.

Righteous Wrappings: 33 Incredible Packaging Designs

Sat, 26 Feb 2011 17:34:00 +0000

By Delana in Architecture & Design, Guerilla Marketing & Ads, Subvertising & Counter-AdsThey say you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but there are times when the packaging matters just as much as what’s inside. When you’re shopping for anything from a bottle of juice to a new pair of shoes, the package is what catches your eye long before you consider the merits of the actual product. That’s why designers spend so much time and energy designing the perfect container for every product imaginable. Some are perfectly sensible and some are so far out that you can’t help but wonder what they were thinking. These packaging designs are some of the most eye-catching and wonderfully inventive from recent years.Fast Food Fun(images via: TheDieline)Eating at a fast food restaurant is always fun for kids, but what about grown-ups? This Burger King concept from designer Bernadette Coughlin would let adults have fun creating their own Burger King from their various food packages, and switching his appearance by changing out the pieces.(images via: TheDieline)Just as fun is this suite of interactive, modular takeout packages for the Food City chain. The boxes are totally waterproof and free of glue, and the customer transforms them from box to eating tray. Add-on containers hold sides and sauces, making for a customizable experience without any excess waste.Healthy Foods Can Be Fun, Too(images via: TheDieline)On the other end of the spectrum is this brilliant brand of healthy snacks called VitaMeal. They’re aimed at reducing childhood obesity by putting appropriate serving sizes of healthy foods into places where kids congregate, like schools and recreation centers. Each product has a “personality,” making them easy for kids to get excited about. The vending machines themselves are modular in nature so they fit into the available space, and they’re designed to work with special “credit” cards that bear the likeness of one of the snack characters. Parents put credits onto the card and decide which snacks their little ones can and can’t buy.(images via: Toxel & Gajitz)Making healthy foods more appealing is often just a matter of the way they’re presented. Above, fruit juice is packaged in boxes that look and feel like real fruit skin, making them interesting to the touch as well as delicious to the taste buds. Just below that, a new concept for packaging healthy foods puts carrots, celery and blueberries into packages usually reserved for very unhealthy products. Carrots are packed like cigarettes, celery comes in a French fry container, and blueberries are in a blister pack like chocolates…all in the hopes that consumers will want more fresh, healthy foods if they come in unusual packages.The Packaging Is the Product(images via: Treehugger 1, 2)As beautiful as some packaging is, sometimes it’s simply excessive. With some products coming wrapped in two or three layers of plastic, paper and cardboard, it’s enough to drive any environmentally-minded person crazy. So when a company integrates their packaging into their product design, it’s a win on every level. At the top, Hangerpak is a box to ship tee shirts that transforms into a hanger once in the customer’s hands. Below that, Lite 2 Go is a modular hanging light kit that’s packaged inside its own shade, greatly cutting down on the amount of waste generated by each individual product.(images via: Treehugger)One of the worst parts of bringing any new product home from the store is having to deal with all of the wasted packaging – this is especially true of carefully-packed items like televisions. They usually come with layers upon layers of styrofoam, cardboard, plastic and plenty of little paper leaflets. But this packaging design from Tom Ballhatchet is different: it’s actually functional. The box formerly used to hold a television tran[...]

10 Scariest Airports in the World

Sat, 26 Feb 2011 17:20:00 +0000

By Steve in Architecture & Design, Travel & Places, Urbanism Flying may be one of the safest methods of transportation but it doesn’t always look that way, especially when flying in and out of certain airports. These 10 air travel destinations challenge the skill of pilots, the structure of aircraft, and the underwear of passengers.Tioman Island Airport, Tioman Island, Malaysia(images via: Skyscraper City and Birdseye)You may not have heard of Tioman Island (known locally as Gunung Daik Bercabang Tiga) but likely you’ve seen it on TV or at a movie theater: “Bali Hai” in the 1956 film South Pacific was actually Tioman Island. This beautiful tropic isle lies off the east coast of peninsular Malaysia, due east of Kuala Lumpur and roughly north-northeast of Singapore.(images via: and Malaysiasite)Berjaya Air operates 2- and 4-engine turboprop planes capable – barely – of negotiating the single 3,254ft (992m) runway at Tioman Island Airport. Pilots must first set their planes on a heading directly into a mountain range, with the pilot then performing a 90 degree turn to line up the runway. Late touchdowns are ill-advised as overshooting the runway means plunging off a sheer cliff.(image via: AOL Travel)Tioman Landing, via LoXoBaByTakeoffs are relatively uneventful at Tioman Airport, it’s the landings that give passengers the willies – the crew as well: in the video above, check out everyone wearing life jackets as the plane makes its (hopefully not) final approach!Princess Juliana International Airport, St. Maarten(images via: Behind Blondie Park, Robert Accettura and Aeroclipper Video)Originally constructed as a military airport during World War II, Princess Juliana International Airport today serves as the main hub for the smaller island destinations of the Caribbean. Takeoffs from the airport require quick reflexes as a sharp turn must be made immediately after becoming airborne, so as not to slam into the mountains.(image via: Repeating Islands)Landings are much more peaceful… for the passengers. Huge airliners including 747 jumbo jets fly so low over Maho Beach on their approach it seems a wonder bikini-clad vacationers don’t get sucked into the engines.(image via: Popular Mechanics)KLM landt op SXM, via Kindofblue01Oh to be in the video above: you’ve saved up your money, arrived on St. Maarten, and now at last you’re relaxing on the sands of Maho Beach. Could anything interrupt the peace and quiet of this dreamy tropical paradise? Did you really have to ask?JFK International Airport (Runway 13L), New York, USA(images via: SWIP Online and NYC Aviation)The busiest international airport in the United States, on a list of the world’s most dangerous airports?? Believe it, though JFK Airport‘s Runway 13L is the one in the spotlight here. Approach to the runway leaves little room for error, as Jamaica Bay looms on the right and the surrounding wetlands offer no safe harbor. As well, pilots have only 5 miles of visibility owing to a circular approach pattern required to avoid any aircraft arriving/departing from La Guardia or Newark.(image via: Vsetky Videa)Landing at New York JFK from Cockpit B747, via SuredTCheck out a video of a jumbo jet landing on JFK’s Runway 13L, above. Currently Runway 13R-13L is undergoing a series of upgrades and improvements designed to better accommodate Group VI aircraft including the Airbus A380 and Boeing 747-8. One of these upgrades involves widening the runway from 150 feet to 200 feet – approach procedures will remain the same, however, and may prove to be even more challenging for the pilots and crews of these larger jets.Toncontin Airport, Tegucigalpa, Honduras(images via: East Lake Honduras, Jaunted and Adi’s Reiseblog)Runway 13L at JFK is 14,572 feet (4,442 m) long… compare that with the runw[...]

Is it Real or is it Roman? Fascinating CGI Architecture

Sat, 26 Feb 2011 17:17:00 +0000

By Delana in Architecture & Design, Gadgets & Geek Art (image)
Regardless of our amazingly advanced CGI technology, it’s rare to see a piece of CGI
artistry that’s so masterful it makes one stop and question whether it’s actually real footage. The short film The Third & The Seventh by Alex Roman is a gorgeous CGI journey through the art of architecture that inspires one to ask “is that really animation?”

The Third & The Seventh from Alex Roman on Vimeo.
The video explores constructed spaces as main characters, taking the technical aspect out of architecture and looking at it as straightforward, uncomplicated art. The stark interplay of light and shadow, the complex nature of surfaces, the infinite grace of open spaces: these are the compelling ideas that make this short film so mind-blowing.
Set to a truly beautiful score, this enchanting photographic exploration delves into the sometimes-tense balance between man-made and natural spaces. Here they intertwine peacefully in the skilled hands of Alex Roman.
Roman animated the entire short film using 3dsmax, Vray, AfterEffects and Premiere. Not one bit of the film was photographed or filmed – it is all computer graphics. Knowing that every single element was created by the filmmaker makes the incredible artistic achievement all the more impressive.

15 Creative Custom Company & Business Logo Designs

Sat, 26 Feb 2011 17:16:00 +0000

By Steph in Architecture & Design, Graffiti & Drawing Clean, graphic, simple and powerful. In a sea of logos, the ones that stand out say the most with the least amount of fuss. Clever designers pack memorable corporate branding into professional custom designs by finding symbols in letters and identifying graphics with multiple relevant meanings – all in a clear and concise package. These 15 stellar examples show just how creative logo makers can be with barely more than a sans-serif font and some basic shapes.Killed(image via: creattica)Sometimes, super-effective logos can be so simple. This one, designed by Sean Heisler for an entertainment company, simply shoots down the suggestively head-and-body-shaped letter “i” in “Killed” for a refreshingly unfussy visual representation of the company name.Mister Cutts(image via: creattica)What do you think of when you hear the words “Mister Cutts”? A pair of scissors made to look like eyeglasses and a mustache may not be the first thing, but maybe that’s because you’re not as clever as Tabitha Ayers, the designer who came up with this logo.Horror Films(image via: logofaves)How can a single white circle with a few holes in it say so much? It’s a film reel. It’s a face with its mouth rounded into an ‘o’ in terror. It’s ‘Horror Films’ all the way, without any unnecessary bulk or fluff.CFO Cycling Team(image via: logo faves)When the letters of a company or organization’s name just happen to form an associated image, it’s like magic in the hands of the right logo designer. For the CFO cycling team, a person riding a bicycle serendipitously emerged to form this super-simple and memorable graphic.Play(image via: logo faves)If you didn’t know that these hearts were supposed to say ‘PLAY’, would you see it anyway? Perhaps it depends on whether you’re visually inclined. To some, the word jumps out, yet others don’t see it right away, but it’s certainly a clever use of heart shapes.Families(image via: logo faves)Once again, the letter ‘i’ stands in as a graphical representation of the human body, and it works effortlessly here in the word families (albeit with a dot added over the ‘L’).Fish(image via: brand stack)Leave it to a graphic designer to see images in words. There’s no denying that the letters F-I-S-H flawlessly form the head, eye, gills and tail of a fish without a need for reaching on the part of the viewer.Doghouse Brewing Company(image via: creattica)A little house and a beer mug: what else does that say but ‘Doghouse Brewing’? And all it took was the addition of a handle in the cutout of the door.The Thirsty Peacock(image via: logo pond)Arrange an enticing array of rainbow-colored wine bottles into a fan shape with a wine glass front and center, and what do you have? A peacock made out of wine bottles? Well, yes, but also a ‘thirsty peacock’, the name of a wine store business.Infinity Crime(image via: logo faves)It didn’t take much tweaking to turn the infinity symbol into the mask of an evil villain, but it did take some creative vision. Alex Chmura came up with this idea for ‘Infinity Crime Studio’, a fictitious company that some unnamed businessperson out there should snap up right away.Burnett Electrical(image via: logo pond)You don’t need an artistic masterpiece on your letterhead when the solution is as brilliantly clear and memorable as this. The ‘B’ and ‘E’ of ‘Burnett Electrical’, combined just the right way, reveal an image of an electrical plug.Wine Searcher(image via: logo gala)Asked how he got the inspiration for this ingenious logo, designer Gareth hardy told Logo Gala, “Whilst in a bar, bored, staring at two empty bottles. I am always looking at contours of obje[...]

Life’s A Gas: Vienna’s Recycled, Repurposed Gasometers

Sat, 26 Feb 2011 17:14:00 +0000

By Steve in Architecture & Design, History & Factoids, Urbanism Vienna’s Gaswerk Simmering is a mixed-use community comprised of four upcycled gasometers built in the 1890s. Originally built to store Town Gas for the city’s stoves, street lights and furnaces, these repurposed gasometers satisfy the needs of modern urban life while preserving the antique architecture of old Austro-Hungary.(images via: Skyscraper City and Twisted Sifter)The ancient empire of the Habsburgs had a mere 20 years left in its long and lustrous lifetime but in 1896 the future looked bright – thanks, in part, to Town Gas made from coal. As the curtain began to close on the 19th century, four huge gasometers were rising in the Simmering district of Vienna, Austria-Hungary.(images via: Ioffer, Vienna Metblogs and Ellerg)Typically 50% hydrogen, 35% methane, 10% carbon monoxide and 5% ethylene, Town Gas enabled a great leap forward in urban and domestic life epitomized by the ubiquitous “gaslights” lining broad boulevards and illuminating each streetcorner. The gas which powered this societal revolution had to be stored somewhere, and that somewhere was the local gasometer.(image via: Virtual Globetrotting)Now you might think storing large quantities of gas in the midst of residential neighborhoods isn’t really a great idea, and you’d be right – especially considering the state of 19th century technology. The image above shows an old gasometer in urban Dublin, Ireland, which has been converted into an apartment building.(image via: Spiegel Online)In fact, gasometers occasionally did explode for one reason or another, and it’s likely that the high hydrogen content of Town Gas caused the explosions to diffuse upwards and prevent large-scale fatalities. Damage could be massive, however, as the phot above illustrates: this is the aftermath of a gasometer explosion in Neunkirchen, Germany, that occurred on February 10th, 1933.(images via: Deleted Cranium and Greenland Design)The most famous gasometer explosion in American history is probably The Pittsburg Gasometer Explosion, which took place on November 14th, 1927. The gasometer in question – thought to be the world’s largest – was located in the heart of the city’s industrial district. The gasometer developed a leak; not an uncommon occurrence. The repairman sent to fix the leak apparently thought the quickest way to find the source was to use an open-flame blowlamp. Doh! He found the leak but the gasometer unfortunately exploded as a result, leaving a square mile of devastation, 28 people dead and several hundred injured.(images via: Univie and T.U.B.E.)The four gasometers at Simmering, a suburb of Vienna, luckily did not explode as we have their charming fin-de-siecle architecture to admire and appreciate today. Not to mention their imposing physical specs: the quartet feature brick exteriors, are 230 feet (70 meters) tall and are 197 feet (60 meters) wide.(image via: Skyscraper City)When fitted out with the proper internal structures they each could hold a staggering 3,178,300 cubic feet (90,000 cubic meters) of gas. Good thing indeed they never sprung any leaks… or had Homer Simpson’s grand-dad come to fix them.(images via: Istockphoto)Austria-Hungary may not have been known for precision engineering but the four gasometers at Simmering ran like Swiss watches for the better part of a century: from 1896 to 1984. After they were decommissioned and their internal workings dismantled, Vienna’s authorities bickered over what to do with them. What they could NOT do was demolish them – in 1978 the gasometers had been officially listed as historic structures. The buildings were not completely unused, however – in 1987 they were pro[...]

Towards a New Antarchitecture: Tiny Worlds in Ice

Sat, 26 Feb 2011 17:13:00 +0000

By Steph in Architecture & Design, Environment & Nature (image)
As the last continent on Earth to be explored – and still the least developed
– Antarctica may yet fall prey to the onward march of human civilization, but its lack of resources beyond ice make it an inhospitable place to build. Architecture student Taylor Medlin of the University of California at Berkeley has developed a thesis project packed with ideas, and while some may be fantastically tongue-in-cheek, the project itself is a work of art, revealing tiny worlds cut into the ice.
Medlin’s architectural proposals use various forms of ice as the primary building material rather than unsustainably transported materials from other continents, often reinforced with a variety of additives that could make the ice stronger and easier to work with.
A refrigerated display cabinet holds blocks of ice and wax carved into little rooms, illuminated from within, complete with human figurines that illustrate Medlin’s ideas with stunning detail.
Reminiscent of the miniature models of Thomas Doyle, these rooms are visible through both fisheye lenses that peer inside and magnifying glasses fixed to the outside of the case. Entranced viewers find complex compounds with steel frames, huts on stilts and simple ice caves with secret subterranean basements, all bathed in an eerie golden light.
Medlin, a John K. Branner fellow, has many more photos of the project and scans of his sketchbook available on Flickr.

Hiding in Plain Sight: Secrets of Everyday Objects

Sat, 26 Feb 2011 17:12:00 +0000

By Delana in Architecture & Design, Furniture & Interiors (image)
No matter who we are, we all have something to hide. It could be something as
benign as preparations for a surprise party or something as earth-shattering as a secret life. But regardless of what your specific secrets are, finding the perfect place to hide them can make a huge difference in the way you live your life. Yi-Ting Cheng has designed a whole suite of impressive solutions for hiding things in everyday objects.

Secret Stash” is a collection of amazing hiding spots from the design student that illustrate how simple it is to conceal your secrets in unassuming objects. Some of the hiding spaces require considerable preparation before they can hide anything, but some are everyday items that need no special modification.
Secret Stash from yiting cheng on Vimeo.
Cheng hides a set of keys in the hollow beneath a glass, filling the glass with liquid to conceal their presence. Credit cards, cash and documents are hidden in a stack of ordinary-looking papers. Passwords are written on a mirror in clear wax, only to be revealed with the application of steam. A roll of cash is hidden – rather dangerously, one would think – inside the shade of a lamp.
But one of the most impressive hiding places is the simple desk that hides a thin pull-out segment. The part that pulls out bears no handle or other discernible way of opening it, making it nearly invisible. It’s only when a magnetic London souvenir, normally kept on top of the desk, is applied to the front edge that the hiding space is revealed.
Part of the message behind this project is that we rely far too much on our vision to provide the whole picture. By simply looking at our surroundings we encourage blind spots that may cause us to miss important information. Cheng takes our usual notions of “true and false” and turns them on their heads, making it simple to see that there are many layers to everything

Just Your Type: Amazing Kooky Typography and Fonts

Sat, 26 Feb 2011 17:10:00 +0000

By Delana in Architecture & Design, Gadgets & Geek Art The art of typography goes far beyond Arial and Helvetica. There is a certain elegance in the way that typographers can take a standard set of letters and turn them into unique and lovely works of art with little more than a few flourishes. These fonts are shining examples of what can be done with the alphabet we all know and love when some creativity and ingenuity are applied.Vladimir Koncar’s Wonderful World of LettersVladimir Koncar, a Croatian artist, seems fascinated with turning everyday objects into letters. He’s taken everything from pills to cigarette butts to even dirt and hair and turned them into some of the most unique fonts ever. Paper clips, cacti, beer bottle caps – he collects items and uses them to create detailed alphabets, which he then uses to spell out his thoughts at the time.For Koncar, this unusual exercise in typography is an escape from tedious commercial assignments. As any artist or designer knows, creating solely for others is the quickest way to kill the joy in one’s art – so a release like this one is entirely necessary. Luckily for us, Koncar’s personal project is fantastically entertaining.The little phrases written out as examples for each font provide Koncar a link between the letters and the materials used to create them. It’s the same for many of us: we choose a specific font to get across a certain message when it’s called for. These wonderful and strange typography sets allow an unprecedented degree of visual connection between the message and the medium.Google Maps Typography(images via: Dornob)The world is full of fascinating things, and Rhett Dashwood proved that when he found the entire alphabet in various locations with Google Maps. To make the challenge more interesting, the search was limited to just Victoria, Australia – which Rhett searched mile by mile for months on Google Maps. If you’d like to see each location for yourself, Rhett’s website includes all of the locations so that you can see the letters in context on their respective maps.Alphabet CityThose of us who are in love with letters, words and typography can relate to projecting a kind of personality on each letter of the alphabet. Scott Teplin puts an interesting spin on that practice with his Alphabet City prints: each letter of the alphabet is turned into a 3D home, complete with furnishings and appliances.(images via: x-ing books)The idea is definitely unique and borders on bizarre, but somehow it works wonderfully. Each letter is like its own little dollhouse, and peering into every picture is like sharing a moment of life with the occupants. The retro-but-modern prints are all available individually from the artist or all together as a book.Andrew Byrom’s Adventures in TypographyAndrew Byrom creates a fascinating variety of fonts – from those that could conceivably be used on a computer to those that have to be experienced in real life, physical form. “Grab Me,” above, is a character set made of metal grab bars installed on a wall. Some of Byrom’s other creations include letters made from box kites and Venetian blinds.(images via: Andrew Byrom)Byrom is a master of bridging the design gap between 3D rendered images and 3D physical objects in his typography designs. This set, called “Interiors,” is actually constructed of welded tubular steel, just like furniture.Ideographic Alphabet(images via: Amandine Alessandra)Graphic designer Amandine Alessandra makes a powerful statement about how we perceive objects with her ideographic (symbol-based) alphabet. The characters are all formed from a chair whic[...]

Hidden Logos: 12 Creative Designs with Secret Symbols

Sat, 26 Feb 2011 17:09:00 +0000

By Steph in Architecture & Design, Graffiti & Drawing A logo is a company’s most visible piece of visual branding, stamped on everything from billboards to promotional pens. But sometimes, you can stare at a familiar design again and again before noticing small but delightful hidden symbols, meaning and even messages. From binary code to the clever combination of interlocking shapes, these 12 logos pack in a little something extra.London Symphony Orchestra(image via: crossed cow)The London Symphony Orchestra escaped its staid reputation a bit with this redesigned logo, featuring the letters ‘LSO’ in a modern script that forms a single wavy line. But what you may not see immediately is the abstract image of a conductor waving with one arm and conducting with the other.Toblerone(image via: noquedanblogs)You’ve probably seen the Toblerone logo dozens of times – it’s just a mountain, right? Look closer. There’s a bear shape hidden in the negative space within that mountain, symbolizing the city of Bern, Switzerland where the Matterhorn mountain that inspired the logo is located.Eighty20(image via: 38one)Do you ever see a logo and think to yourself, what was the designer thinking? How does this random image contribute to or identify this brand’s identity? In this case, at least, you’re simply not in on the joke – unless you’re a math nerd. If you view the dark squares as ’1′ and the light squares as ’0′, the two rows read 1010000 and 0010100, which read 80 and 20 in binary.Cluenatic(image via: 38one)Perhaps it’s not the most readable logo ever, but it works flawlessly as a visual representation of the puzzle game ‘Cluenatic’, which involves unraveling four clues. Each of the four letters in the world ‘Clue’ are nested inside each other like a puzzle or a maze.Sony Vaio(image via: vector logo)VAIO was originally just an acronym for Video Audio Integrated Operation – since changed to Visual Audio Intelligence Organizer. But the strange, seemingly abstract logo derives from another lucky coincidence: ‘VA’ represents an analog wave and ‘IO’ represents digital binary code, perfectly illustrating the integration of analog and digital technology.Northwest Airlines(image via: seek logo)Before they changed it to something far less interesting – and then faded into oblivion by merging with Delta – Northwest Airlines had one of those logos that contain a bit of symbolism entirely  unnoticed by the vast majority of the public. Sure, it’s got the ‘N’ and ‘W’, seemingly placed inside a circle for no good reason – but check out the location of that little triangle making up the upper corner of the ‘W’. It’s the arrow of a compass, pointing northwest.Milwaukee Brewers(image via:, it was just a bit of luck that gave the Milwaukee Brewers baseball team a name with the initials ‘M’ and ‘B’, but it took a great logo designer to see how those letters – combined with the negative space in a lowercase ‘b’ – could form a mitt with a baseball in it.Bison(image via: logo pond)Designed for a rock band from Vancouver, this logo is like one of those left brain/right brain quiz images: what do you see first, the picture or the word?Museum of London(image via: lyndsey cole)Well now, isn’t that a pretty… blob. But there’s more to the Museum of London logo than an artsy splash of watercolor; the various colored circles actually represent the changing shape of London throughout history.Hope for African Children Initiative(image via: this trick of the eye, you’re act[...]

Livable Packing Tape Web Installation is Spideriffic

Sat, 26 Feb 2011 14:47:00 +0000

By Steph in Architecture & Design, Urban & Street Art (image)
It’s a spider web so large, a human family could set up furniture and make a home inside of it.
But this stunningly sticky creation is no work of nightmarish monster spiders – it’s an art installation made of packing tape by design collective For Use/Numen.

With its long, hollow tubes suspended five feet in the air from surrounding walls and pillars, the packing tape cocoon is like a giant artistic bounce house/jungle gym for adults, who can crawl inside and lounge around, comfortably supported by 117,000 feet and 100 pounds of tape.
“The installation is based on an idea for a dance performance in which the form evolves from the movement of the dancers between the pillars,” For Use’s Christoph Katzler told Fast Company, who produced this video. “The dancers are stretching the tape while they move, so the resulting shape is a recording of the choreography.”
The project – which has grown progressively larger, starting in a small Croatian gallery and then inside an abandoned attic before moving on to the former Viennese stock exchange building pictured – will get a bigger stage than ever in September when it travels to a public space in the center of Frankfurt, Germany.

Futuretecture: From Sea Cities to Space Colonies

Sat, 26 Feb 2011 14:46:00 +0000

By Delana in Architecture & Design, Environment & Nature, Technology & Futurism Are we on the brink of a new era in construction? With commercial space travel finally within our reach, will we see space colonies within our lifetime? And with Earth’s resources running low, will we soon be forced to move into previously uninhabitable areas of the planet? Japanese construction group Shimizu Corporation seems to think so on all counts, and they’ve come up with a whole series of architectural plans for the world of tomorrow. Their bold ideas, which they collectively call Shimizu’s Dream, illustrate what life on Earth and in space will be like in the not-too-distant future.Space HotelSpace tourism will be big business in the future, so it only makes sense to start planning the grand space hotels of tomorrow. This low Earth orbit hotel will be connected to its docking station by a 240-meter (790-foot) elevator shaft. The hotel consists of four elements: solar energy supply (and battery for storing power), loading and unloading platform, a public area, and a sleeping quarters section with 64 guest rooms and 40 staff rooms. The sleeping rooms are arranged in a ring that rotates at a comfortable 3rpm, providing artificial gravity of 0.7G. Guests will be free to observe Earth and other space bodies while enjoying recreation and meals in microgravity.Urban Geo-Grid PlanBack on Earth, urban space is running short and it’s time we figure out how to maximize our city areas. The Urban Geo-Grid Plan would move many of our essential urban functions underground to ease congestion on the surface. A vast underground network would be built that would consist of transportation, communications and energy delivery systems – all moved beneath the surface and away from the crowded city streets. There are two different sizes of underground structures: grid points and grid stations. Grid points are small and will contain community amenities like convenience stores and exhibition halls. Grid stations – including some underwater – are larger and will include office buildings, shopping centers and hotels. The ultimate vision is to create an integrated city with both above-ground and below-ground elements.Luna RingFossil fuel stores are quickly becoming depleted and it’s obvious that future cities will need a cleaner, renewable energy source. What better source is there than unlimited solar power? The Luna Ring concept would put permanent solar collectors around the moon’s equator like a belt. The majority of the solar cells would always face the sun and collect massive amounts of solar energy, which would then be beamed to Earth via microwave power transmission antennae. The construction of the Luna Ring would be handled mostly by robots controlled remotely by people on Earth, though there would be a team of astronauts on hand to supervise the robot fleet.Lunar BasesPerhaps in conjunction with the lunar solar plant we will one day finally build the lunar bases that have been predicted for decades. Shimizu Corporation has developed plans for what they feel would be the most expandable and easily operable lunar bases. The base will be constructed of hexagonal modules that will allow for horizontal and vertical expansion. To greatly reduce the costs associated with transporting building materials from Earth to the moon, the modules will be constructed mainly of lunar rocks and soil. Remotely-controlled robots will do most of the work to minimize the risks that would be daunting with a human crew.Green Float: The Environmental Isla[...]

Art On The Fly: 10 Examples Of Zany Zipper Art

Sat, 26 Feb 2011 14:39:00 +0000

By Steve in Architecture & Design, Gadgets & Geek Art, Urban & Street Art All praise the zipper: the ubiquitous, maintenance-free, no muss, no fuss fastener that trumpsboth buttons and Velcro! Zippers operate smoothly, silently and safely day in and day out, often in close proximity to our most sensitive bodily parts yet they rarely – “There’s Something About Mary” excepted – cause us anxiety or grief. These 10 toothy examples of zany zipper art illustrate the mix of appreciation, admiration and YKK-stamped tabs by which society holds these fascinating fasteners.Zippered Walnut(images via: Ellen Rixford Studio and WebMD)Artist Ellen Rixford knows how to grab one’s attention, as this zippered walnut shells, er, shows so well. The walnut is actually crafted from clay, is 6 inches long and is highlighted by an industrial zipper. Rixford created this striking image for a drug company advertisement… perhaps regarding a non-surgical treatment to replace testicular surgery.Juming Museum’s Zipper Lotus Pond(image via: BIG art)Fly fishing anyone? Get your rod (and reel) to Taiwan, where the lushly landscaped grounds of the Juming Museum are graced with a most unusual pond. Designed by respected Taiwanese artist and sculptor Ju Chun, the Zipper Lotus Pond was completed in 2009.(images via: My Confined Space and Broccoli City)Sharp eyes may notice that the zipper slider carries the logo “JU-JUN”. It’s not clear exactly what the artist’s intent was in using this logo though the similarity to his name may offer a clue.Zipper Tongue(images via: Stylelist and Snopes)When zipping your lips isn’t enough… yes, this is a photoshop. Not completely though, the zipper hardware was added to an actual “lingua bifida” body modification for a Worth1000 photoshop contest. Considering the increasing number of bodymods that have crossed the Net of late, we may yet see an actual zippered tongue some day. You just won’t see it in my bathroom mirror.Life In The Fastener Lane(images via: Pixyard, TACO and Telovation)This group of images highlights zippers that have been painted or otherwise integrated into streets, avenues, boulevards and other paved pathways. One might ask (in a Seinfeld-esque voice), “What’s the deal with zippers and roads?” Perhaps artists note some correlation between the role of roadways in society and the functionality of zippers on an individual’s clothing. Or, maybe they just need sufficient space.(image via: Impact Lab)While paint and chalk make sense for roadway artwork, more obtrusive installations such as the Big Zip above are best suited to sidewalks and soft shoulders. Pedestrians and bicyclists may disagree, however.Sebastian Errazuriz’s Zipper Dress(images via: Britannica and Newslite)Guys who already have trouble “unwrapping” their dates aren’t going to be thrilled by the Zipper N3 dress. Designed and created by 31-year-old Chilean artist Sebastian Errazuriz, the intention wasn’t to facilitate hanky panky but instead provide women with a so-called “credit crunch dress” that can be adapted to form over 100 different styles. Errazuriz used 120 zippers to make the dress, which he hopes to have mass-produced by a major clothing firm.Amalia Versaci’s Upcycled Zippers(images via: AmaliaVersaci and Amalia Versaci – ETSY Shop)Amalia Versaci has got a name made for fashion and indeed, the Rhode Island School of Design grad focuses her creative energies on clothing and accessories. Her special emphasis is on the zipper, however, and her designs of[...]

Logo Fail: 10 Ways to Avoid Making a Creative Logo

Sat, 26 Feb 2011 14:36:00 +0000

By Steph in Architecture & Design, Urbanism A well-designed logo is timeless, simple, memorable, versatile and appropriate. But then there are the hideous, the bizarre, the unreadable and the offensive (whether due to unintended double entendres or Comic Sans). The things that make a logo truly awful aren’t easy to define, but you know a bad one when you see it – clip art, raster graphics, unrelated imagery and poor choices in typeface. Except in the hands of a truly exceptional designer, these 10 mistakes will cripple any corporate branding strategy.Uninspired Fonts(images via: good people bad fonts)For the love of good design, please don’t ever use Papyrus, Curlz MT or – heaven forbid – Comic Sans in a logo. Ever. These fonts have earned the vitriol of designers around the world with good reason; while they may have their place in personal communication between schoolteachers, they don’t belong in graphic design of any kind, let alone the most visible piece of branding your company has. Overused and cutesy fonts, especially of the widely available ‘free’ variety, do absolutely nothing to add to a brand’s identity. They scream ‘amateur designer’ and make companies look unprofessional.Stock Art(image via: thetreedoctor)On a similar note, stock clip art that can be acquired for free on the internet or on very cheap CD-ROMs can’t possibly set your company apart. It’s not just that the designs themselves aren’t usually great quality; if potential customers note the same little sketch of a house on your company letterhead that they saw earlier on an informational poster in their dentist’s office, they’re not going to take you seriously.Photoshop Filters & Effects(image via: the club doctor, fierce photography)Outer glow, inner glow, drop shadow, highlights, gradients, bevels – all of these effects have their place. Used sparingly by a good designer – as in the latest Apple logo – they add a bit of visual interest. Piled on, they make logos messy and harder to read. Technically, Photoshop and other image editing programs shouldn’t really be involved in logo design at all (more on that later), but things like ‘lens flare’ just don’t translate well in what is supposed to be bold, graphic imagery.Inappropriate Imagery(images via: checkpoint, von brandis)Graphics that are vague or totally disconnected from what a company is all about can kill a logo’s memorability.  What, for example, does a dolphin have to do with a security firm? How is an abstract art piece that sort of almost barely resembles a computer going to remind people of your software company? The graphics, color and mood associated with a logo should have some association what the company does – i.e., don’t use primary colors and a goofy typeface for a legal firm. But don’t take that too literally – a car company doesn’t need to have a car shape in its logo, for instance.Really, Really Inappropriate Imagery(images via: bad logo project)Not everyone looks at images like those above and immediately sees phallic symbols, sexual innuendo or four-letter words. But in the interest of not becoming a tired Beavis and Butthead joke, it might be best to take a good look at the graphics in your logo to ensure that they don’t resemble anything offensive or inappropriate.Fuzzy Graphics(images via: vector-conversions)Being good at fine art does not make one good at logo design; an image from, say, a watercolor painting or pencil sketch will more than likely look[...]

14 Artistic Examples of Watercolor in Web Design

Sat, 26 Feb 2011 14:35:00 +0000

By Steph in Architecture & Design, Technology & Futurism Nothing softens the harshness of the world wide web like a little watercolor. Whether used as a sheer splash of color on an otherwise minimalist website or as the basis of an entire web design, watercolor can be understated or bold, ethereal or grungy. These 14 websites are a showcase of artistic flair, with watercolor effects created both digitally and the old-fashioned way.Electric PulpThis web design firm advertises its services well with an eye-catching, visually dynamic and organic wood background and just a hint of watercolor effect at the very top and in a few details further down the page. A great example of beautiful balance in watercolor web design.Agami CreativeAppropriately enough for a firm with ‘creative’ in its very name, this website is bold and colorful, using watercolor as one of the main visual elements on the page. But even as loose and messy as watercolor can be, the overall design remains readable and cohesive with sans-serif typeface and a tight color scheme.Fabien BarralHow else to set off a vibrant splash of watercolor but with plenty of white space? This is the older website of designer Fabien Barral, whose new website also features stunning watercolor effects. In both cases, the strokes of a watercolor brush reveal celestial imagery and text that is hidden in the white background.WebericaWatercolor is often used on the web in two forms: organic, and grungy. The web design firm ‘Weberica’ combines both with a messy army-green background and illustrations of flowers and birds.Viget InspireWeb consulting firm Viget Labs uses watercolor in its most natural iteration – as part of a landscape. The mountainous, forested header image combined with sketches here and there – and plenty of white space to ease eye strain and provide room to breathe – is soft, yet fresh and modern.Ali FelskiGraphic designer Ali Felski’s website is not watercolor, per se. However, a gradient within the same color family, from deepest midnight blue down into bright white, provides a similar look to great effect.Five Points InteractiveThe overarching theme of designer Jeralyn Merideth’s website? Paper. Notebook paper, memo paper, paper tags and yes, watercolor paper. There is no actual watercolor paint in the design, just a suggestion of texture and pleasing pastel colors.BoompaNow here’s a website that really allows watercolor art to shine. The entire background is made up of watercolor images of trees, clouds, rain, birds… nature, essentially. Just the right vibe for this independent Canadian record label.Le BloeAlmost certainly, the ‘watercolor’ at was created using a computer, but it’s no less effective, and the choice of watery blues and purples just intensifies the beauty of the effect.Corvus ArtThe Corvus website is no stranger to design accolades, included in all sorts of web design lists, and with good reason. Designer Jessica Miller “gets a lot of her inspiration from wildlife, and wanted to incorporate her love of nature into her business life. This often shows in her design style, which has been described as ‘organic’ and ‘ethereal’.”ToucouleurLovers of minimalist design may turn their heads in utter shock at the “busy-ness” of the Toucouleur website, but many others will fall in love with the carefree jumble of imagery which includes bits of watercolor here and there beyond all the photos, drawings, texture and decorative ele[...]

Remodeling Suburbia: Rerouting Classic, Car-Centric Design

Sat, 26 Feb 2011 14:34:00 +0000

By Delana in Architecture & Design, Environment & Nature, Urbanism The modern city is, for the most part, built around cars. We build enormous elevated roads and huge parking structures to accommodate our vehicles, but at what cost to the urban landscape and to our own well-being? These 10 visionary designs seek to re-imagine what the city of the future might look like if we stop catering our living spaces to cars…and start designing them for people.By most measures, living in the city is much greener than living in a suburb: less driving is generally required, and a city dweller’s overall environmental footprint is usually far smaller than that of someone living far from the center of a city. But many contemporary cities are unsafe for pedestrians, full of automobile-related pollution, and centered much more around cars than around its inhabitants. Urban occupancy rates are growing by leaps and bounds, and it’s expected that within the next two decades some 60 percent of the Earth’s population will live in cities. What kind of city do we want to live in: one centered around cars with no room for pedestrians, or one with green spaces, plenty of public transportation, and with features that are welcoming to pedestrians and cyclists?Our Cities Ourselves is a theoretical exploration of what our cities might look like in the year 2030. The project, developed by the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy, pairs some of the world’s leading architects with ten cities around the world and asks what kind of urban spaces we want to create for our future. Going forward, can we find the motivation to undo the car-centric urban designs that have dominated the world’s urban landscapes for the past century? These ten designs outline some of the best and brightest ideas for making the city a healthier, happier, less-car-centric place. They all focus on a specific site in each city and how to make that site better for future generations of city dwellers.Ahmedabad, IndiaAhmedabad, the seventh largest city in India, was once a lovely city filled with pedestrians. Today, though, it’s much more common to see streets clogged with cars and motorcycles. The proposal from HCP Design and Project Management would add in more effective public transport to cut down on the number of personal vehicles in the streets. The plan also includes a mid-city mixed-use development in a large lot that is currently vacant, and plenty of space for pedestrians and cyclists to safely get around.Budapest, HungaryBudapest, unlike the other cities in this project, isn’t experiencing a growth in population. But the transportation infrastructure in the historic city is aging and in desperate need of an update. On top of that, the public spaces in the city could use revamping to make them more inviting to pedestrians. The plan from Varos-Teampannon and Kozlekedes would incorporate smaller roads, an underground road at the waterfront, and a people-friendly public space at the bank of the Danube. Trams would function as Earth-friendly public transportation in the heart of the city.Buenos Aires, ArgentinaBuenos Aires is a vibrant, fascinating city. But like many cities around the world, it has fallen victim to unsightly roads and uncontrolled traffic congestion. The plan proposed for the city by PALO Arquitectura Urbana would transform the city’s old freight train line into a new pedestrian and bike boulevard, add a colorful people[...]

Building a Better Burb: How to Fix Failing Suburban Towns

Sat, 26 Feb 2011 14:32:00 +0000

By Delana in Architecture & Design, Green Technologies, Urbanism It’s a reality that sneaked up on some of us, but others saw it coming for decades. Either way, it’s now undeniable: the old suburbs just aren’t what they used to be. We once longed to get away from the city and live in little pockets of civilization surrounded by freeways, outlet malls, and miles upon miles of tract housing. But decades of living in poorly-planned suburbs with baffling amounts of empty space have made us wonder: isn’t there a better way to build a burb? That’s the question the Long Island Index asked of architects, designers, and anyone with big ideas in the Build a Better Burb competition. They asked for suburb designs that would make good use of the thousands of acres of vacant land in Nassau and Suffolk counties, although the ideas presented in this competition could be applied almost anywhere in need of a suburban revitalization.Long Island has well over 100 places classified as “downtowns.” Nearly half of those downtown areas feature a train station within a half mile of the center. A surprising amount of land near these downtown areas is going either unused or underused, but Long Island Index sees the potential in that land. Why let the land go to waste as expansive parking areas, empty lots or vacant buildings when it could be used as suburban farms, beautiful parks or bicycle stations? Their “Build a Better Burb” contest invited entries from anyone who thought they might have a great idea for revamping, revitalizing or restructuring any of the downtown areas scattered throughout Long Island. These are just a small selection of the entries that were chosen by the judges of the competition to move on to the next phase: the People’s Choice Award voting.How the Strip Mall Can Save SuburbiaIt might seem like a lofty goal for such a humble structure, but strip mall sensibility might be just what suburbia needs to survive in the new millennium. The oft-maligned mixed use buildings could be built in the spaces now going to waste in suburbia – such as those vast parking lots – to infill the suburbs with purposeful developments. Using suburban spaces for such densely-utilized developments could, in the words of this project’s creators, “be the generative agents of suburbia’s re-formation.”LIRR: Long Island Radically RezonedThe title of this project is certainly no exaggeration: it is indeed a radical change from the current state of Long Island. The plan centers on four strategies for rezoning and reshaping the area, from adding additional housing units into residential areas to increase density, to “wrapping” surface parking structures with additional retail space and public programs. In the end, Long Island would end up with a network of dense carbon-neutral mixed-use pockets with wide open agricultural spaces in between.Upcycling 2.0One of the consistently remarked-upon inefficiencies of the suburb is the proliferation of single-purpose buildings. While in the city you might find a building that houses offices, retail space and residences, in the suburbs there is typically a separate building for every function. Even more frustrating is that suburban zoning often means retail, residential and office spaces are far removed from one another. This concept aims to make more efficient use of suburban land by transforming awkwardly zoned land into mixed-use neighborhood cente[...]

Textures of Time: A Vanishing America Told in Pictures

Sat, 26 Feb 2011 14:31:00 +0000

By Delana in Abandoned Places, Architecture & Design, History & Factoids All across America, a familiar type of landscape can be found: empty buildings, decaying storefronts and deserted streets. They’re not ghost towns, but rather the remnants of a different time. Main streets which were once booming centers of commerce are now often populated with the imagined ghosts of a time when super-stores and corporate chains were still on the far horizon.Michael Eastman documented these landscapes in his series “Vanishing America,” flawlessly capturing the faded colors and rough surfaces of these obsolete buildings and ignored spaces. His travels throughout America consumed more than three years and took the photographer through 40 states as he looked for more and more examples of compelling age-worn textures. WebUrbanist recently had the pleasure of talking with Michael about his richly layered project.WebUrbanist: Your series “Vanishing America” features images of abandoned and/or decaying buildings and towns. How do you happen upon these subjects? Do you travel especially to capture them or are they surprises that you encounter upon unrelated travels?Michael Eastman: I have always been drawn to urban surfaces since I began in 1972. I am mostly a colorist and I believe that abstractions with some narrative content are the most interest to me. The patina, color and surfaces are what I have always found fascinating.  I travel in search of things of interest for me to photograph. I try to have no expectations, no agenda and let the landscape unfold as I explore.WebUrbanist: Is your goal with “Vanishing America” to perform a commentary on the state of the country, or do you see your role more as a documentarian?Michael Eastman: I believe that photographs, regardless of their intent, eventually become of more interest as a record of history. What photographers record becomes more interesting to future viewers for what it says about the past than whatever the reason the photographer had intended when making a photograph from an artistic viewpoint.WebUrbanist: What was the inspiration for this series?Michael Eastman: Over the last several decades, I am continually struck by the discovering that buildings that I had once photographed now no longer exist. It became clear to me that the America that I grew up with was rapidly disappearing. I felt it was important to continue to photograph these places and I began to feel a sense of urgency that I did not feel before. Things were changing much faster than I had imagined. And the surfaces and facades that told stories were vanishing.WebUrbanist: Will “Vanishing America” be a continuing series?Michael Eastman: No, I am finished. I think I have said what I had to say with this series. There are other places that I feel are also disappearing and should be recorded. I have made several trips to Cuba over the last decade and I feel that someday soon things will change there dramatically. It needed to be recorded and the architecture, color and surfaces are so beautiful. And I am also planning a trip to the far east with the same intent.WebUrbanist: Why do you feel it is important to share images decaying America?Michael Eastman: It is our history. These everyday monuments are our ruins; they are our past. They represent who we are and where we came from and this past needs to be part of our future.(all i[...]

Super Sketchy: 15 Beautiful Hand-Drawn Websites

Sat, 26 Feb 2011 14:30:00 +0000

By Steph in Architecture & Design, Urbanism How do you make a website visually dynamic, without using any special effects? There’s nothing quite like the artsy and adventurous look of hand-drawn graphics. The juxtaposition of these spontaneous, free-flowing, real-world elements against the sometimes cold and impersonal nature of the internet infuses some much-needed character and warmth into a wide range of websites, from health insurance blogs to record companies.PSYOPNo doubt, handwriting fonts can be tedious and hard to read. But this is the real deal – hand-written text scanned and integrated into what ends up being a fresh and surprisingly crisp overall design. The design stands in sharp contrast to design collective PSYOP’s very technologically advanced CGI television commercials.BootBBootB has positioned itself as something different from the usual crowdsourcing site: a “marketplace for building unlimited creativity”. Its website, which combines simple sans-serif text with sketchy graphics and a hand-drawn logo, certainly sets it apart from similar sites.Bio-BakA hand-drawn font and plenty of interactive illustrated graphics are just the beginning of the creativity… and the weirdness… that can be found at the website. There’s a T-rex with a human face drinking Heineken, for starters. What the hell is this site all about? It’s hard to tell, but you could definitely spend hours playing around on it, exploring all of the hidden nooks and crannies.Elan SnowboardsHere’s something you don’t see everyday: a website that’s appropriately edgy for its purpose, but not entirely Flash-based. Elan Snowboards has a fun hand-illustrated background but it’s still easy to read and navigate, without any unnecessary bells and whistles.Kitty Attack BlogHow do you make a blog about health insurance (visually) interesting? Make it look absolutely nothing like a blog about health insurance. We can’t vouch for the content, but the design – with its colorful cartoons and hand-drawn logo – is fun and eye-catching.Biola UndergradHow many Christian university websites to do you see that employ vaguely tattoo-inspired imagery? Biola University, a private religious college in Southern California, captures a young and carefree vibe with classic sailor tattoo-type hand-drawn graphics that are fitting for the atmosphere of the school’s location.El RellanoSure, there’s the funny little illustrated pig in the logo, the embossed tape headings and the navigational buttons seemingly scrawled with a blue ballpoint pen on notebook paper. But perhaps the greatest thing about this somewhat kooky website is the borders drawn in crayon.Hello Sour SallyFrozen yogurt – it’s just not as fun as ice cream. Except at the ‘Hello Sour Sally‘ website, where adorable little hand-drawn cartoons romp and play through an interactive adventure.Jason GrayVisual artists use hand-drawn websites all the time to show off their work, but this look is also effective when used for other types of art. Musician Jason Gray’s website, with its giant illustrated head (and moving eyes), has a fun and independent feel.CamellieArtists tread on dangerous ground when their website designs distract from their work – unless they’re using their own illustrations to provide visual interest. is a great example of making this work.CharmingwallInfus[...]

Another Wave in the Wall: Vertical Lake Building Facade

Sat, 26 Feb 2011 14:29:00 +0000

By Delana in Architecture & Design, Environment & Nature, Urban & Street Art (image)
Undulating water is an immensely soothing and calming sight. That’s why many urban
planners incorporate water features into city centers, whether in the form of fountains, lakes or ponds. But international design studio Urban Art Projects wants to put the soothing effects of water into an unlikely place: the side of Brisbane, Australia’s airport car park.

The amazing large-scale project is being developed with artist Ned Kahn. The project is called a “kinetic wall,” and it will essentially be an eight-story-tall public art installation. Seen from the outside, the installation will look like a vertical body of water, complete with gentle waves and natural movement. From the inside of the building, the movement of the facade will create beautiful patterns in sunlight on the interior surfaces.
The effect is created with 250,000 aluminum panels which are loosely suspended so as to move gently with the wind. The huge kinetic artwork captures the ever-changing movement of the wind in a graceful way that also happens to be naturally calming. Maybe the road rage that results from trying to fight your way out of a crowded parking garage will be lessened by the smoothly rippling panels that look eerily like a displaced lake.
But this wonderful art project isn’t just about making a boring building more interesting. It will also help provide passive cooling and ventilation for the car park, cutting down on energy costs and keeping the building more comfortable all year long. The new parking garage, complete with the unique facade, will be completed in late 2011.

Nuclear Family Housing: Life In A Missile Silo Home

Sat, 26 Feb 2011 14:28:00 +0000

By Steve in Abandoned Places, Architecture & Design, History & Factoids Formerly spark plugs of the cold war, dozens of decades-old, decommissioned underground nuclear missile silos are slowly slipping into disrepair and decay. Not all of these relics are destined for the ash heap of history, however, a precious few are taking on new life as post-apocalyptic family homes – without the apocalypse. The best thing about living in a refurbished missile silo? Telling your kids, “You can’t fight in here, this is the war room!”Home, Home On The Firing Range(images via: UP-HAA, Arms Control Wonk and Pyjamas Media)Why would anyone want to live in an old missile silo? Let’s look at the positives, starting with the best construction work government money can buy. Then there’s the feeling of security that comes with living in a structure built to withstand tornadoes, hailstorms, wildfires and the odd Soviet pre-emptive nuclear strike. Home handyman types will find little to do besides changing light bulbs.A Real Fixer-Upper?(images via: Think Or Thwim and Artificial Owl)There are negatives, of course, that go beyond the lack of skylights, picture windows and kidney-shaped swimming pools. Though they were built to last, missile silos and their associated infrastructure did require maintenance of the preventive variety. The oddly beautiful installation above is the Stanley R. Mickelsen Safeguard complex in Nekoma, North Dakota: the only operational anti-ballistic missile (ABM) base ever completed and dating from the late 1960s. ABMs were designed to protect ICBM sites from attack by enemy missiles, in other words protecting our protectors.(images via: English Russia, Getty Images and Telstar Logistics)A missile base that was completely neglected for years may have a number of daunting issues any new owner must deal with before moving in such as flooding, mold and structural settling. Got a sticky set of blast doors? That’ll require more than just a few shots of WD40.Blasts From The Past(images via: Gypsy Journal and Wikimedia)Most nuclear missile sites comprise much more than the actual missile silo. Underground control complexes attached to the silo by tunnels provided personnel with long-term living facilities (kitchens, bathrooms etc.) and these are the portions most often chosen for home conversion. Even so, life at an updated missile base isn’t a bowl of cherries – and there are usually few stores or supermarkets nearby from which to procure said cherries.(image via: Expedition Portal)For obvious reasons, nuclear missile bases were located in places with sparse population and negligible infrastructure. The image above shows an old Titan -1 Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) launching base located east of Denver, Colorado. Electrical power, gas & water, waste disposal and the lack of friendly (or often ANY) neighbors are serious considerations for anyone contemplating living in a renovated silo.My Home Is My Subterra Castle(images via: Jiaju and Trip Advisor)When luck is on their side, homeowners can acquire a decommissioned missile silo in good repair at a decent price. Take the Subterra Castle in Dover, Kansas. Edward and Dianna Peden originally purchased the former Atlas E ICBM site for around $40,000 back in the 1980s – presumably at the bottom of the market.(i[...]