Revitalizing the L.A. River: 7 Architects Envision Fresh Uses for Old Waterway

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[ By WebUrbanist in Architecture & Cities & Urbanism. ]

The Los Angeles river changes dramatically as it snakes into and through the city, and these different design proposals carry that legacy forward while envisioning new, user-friendly, flexible and sustainable nodes of activity. The L.A. River Downtown Design Dialogue celebrates ten years of working to revitalized areas and create connections along the river’s route.

Currently, this often-dry river, encased in concrete, feels about as much like a river as Silver Lake feels like a lake, or anything can feel natural when so artificially contained. Seven architecture firms were given one-mile strips to work with and created a wonderful array of designs featuring lush green parks, bike paths, kayaking zones, climbing walls and more.

Gruen Associates tackled a section near Chinatown, created a series of elevated paths and natural meadows all tied into an existing railroad yard.

WSP placed walkways and terraces along the sides of the river while also offering stepping stones for people wanting to walk across.

CH2M took its zone near the Arts District and added bicycle paths and other amenities around a winding and widened section of river made to look and feel more like a local creek.

AChee Salette took over old railway tracks to create a series of gardens spilling down from the road grade above to the level of the river below.

Curving and wrapping paths and walls create an organic wrapper for the section designed by Mia Lehrer + Associates, creating a space to canoe and kayak.

AECOM’s  playfully integrated climbing walls, basketball courts and other sporting amenities, while adding light and color through mosaics and murals spanning their area.

Tetra Tech designed a new bridge to cross the river as well as a river walk, all taking advantage of the existing sloped sides, reflecting the river’s historic form.

Together, these schemes reflect a rich diversity of design strategies as well as usage possibilities — given how prominent and central the path of the river is, it makes a lot of sense to make it a more accessible and vibrant resource for the city and its citizens.

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The Art of Tech Living: Amsterdam’s Urban Campsite Lets You Sleep in Sculptures

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

Every year, Amsterdam’s Centrumeiland of Ijburg hosts ‘Urban Campsite,’ a public exhibition of sculptural habitats allowing local residents and tourists can spend the night in mobile sculptures. Designers, artists and architects are invited to create cool structures that are way more interesting than the average tent and install them at Science Park, a new area in Amsterdam-East. This year’s theme is ‘The Art of Tech-Living,’ envisioning how art can give science and technology a little boost of imagination.

“Did you ever feel the urge to sleep in a piece of art? Well, then this is your chance! UrbanCampsite is the place where a camping and unique artistic objects meet. You can stay in beautiful, special, sometimes crazy works of art furnished as a hotel room. The UrbanCampsite offers its guests all the amenities of a normal campsite … and quite a lot more than that!”

Prospective guests book the individual habitats on AirBnB, and each sculpture is fully furnished inside. These ‘sleeping objects’ typically have room for two, though a couple will fit children as well, and they range from 85-120 Euros per night. They’re often made of reclaimed materials like trampolines, shrink wrap, pallets and metallic insulation.

For 2017, the selection of sleeping objects includes a mini monastery with an oak sapling at its center, a giant camera obscura, a Dutch electric car from the 70s once used as a mobile post office, a stargazing lab, a 360-degree rotating research ship and a “luxury bungalow made of a sewer tube,” among others.

“Waiting for Water” by Stefanie Rittler and Sascha Henken, for example, bills itself as a humorous view on climate change, saying “The sea water level is constantly rising. Should we wait or change something?” In any case, you can enjoy the views from the upper-level bedroom while the exhibition is still safe on dry land.

Peking Yuck: The 9 Worst Statues In China

These 9 Chinese statues are so awful, many were demolished within days of their unveiling after enduring scorn and ridicule by the People's Republic's people. The Brylcreem Buddha of ...

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No More Ugly Apartment Buildings: 13 Designs Refreshing the Paradigm

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

Apartment buildings are typically so hideous, it’s kind of exhausting. A structure with some measure of character gets knocked down in a prominent spot and before locals dare to dream that something cool might go up in its place, there’s another boring old block of apartments (or worse yet, condos) adding to the dull architectural noise of the city. Of course, it’s all subjective. You could argue, fairly enough, that pretty much all new apartment buildings are ugly, and that trying to make them ‘cool’ results in an even more irritating visual offense. What do you think – are these 13 designs switching up the same-old same-old in a positive way?

Lots of Light: 9 Units at the Apartment in Kamitakada

Developers looking to squeeze big bucks out of a project by creating high-end luxury housing are a lot more motivated to build structures that are more interesting than usual, but every now and then, there’s the rare project that gives some aesthetic consideration to a building that’s actually affordable to the average city resident. Takeshi Yamagata Architects designed this 9-unit building in Tokyo as a cluster of four buildings connected by open-air pathways, integrating gardens, curving walls and lots of windows for the feel of an urban refuge minus the multi-million-dollar price tag.

325 Kent by SHoP Architects

Currently under construction on the site of an old Domino sugar factory in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, the 325 Kent project by SHoP Architects is part of a redevelopment masterplan transforming the refinery into a 380,000-square-foot complex with a waterfront park and four residential buildings containing 2,800 rental units. SHoP’s building will house 522 of those apartments in a 16-story structure, arranged around a dramatic elevated courtyard. The units at the top will be stepped to create a series of spacious outdoor terraces. Nope – this one isn’t going to be cheap.

Pixelated Concrete: 222 Jackson by ODA

Over in Queens, the 11-story 2222 Jackson building by ODA features a pixelated concrete facade creating voids and projections for shade, privacy and outdoor spaces. Located just steps away from MoMA PS1, the building is conceived as a modular grid, giving it about 30% more outdoor space than the same-sized building with the same number of units arranged in a more typical shape.

Parasitic Growth: Plug-In City 75 by Stephane Malka

Commissioned to update and expand a 1970s-era building in Paris, architect Stéphane Malka proposes a system of parasitic wooden cubes that would attach to the facade, extending the living space and reducing the structure’s energy consumption by 75 percent. The unusual design would help mitigate problems with poor insulation and permeable windows while adhering to the city’s restrictive building laws, which don’t allow architects to build vertically.

Contemporary and Complimentary: p17 Housing in Milan

How do you sensitively design a new apartment complex that will blend in with a historic neighborhood while reflecting the era in which it’s being built? For P17, a residential housing complex in Milan, Italian architectural firm Modourbano harmonizes with surrounding buildings while retaining a contemporary feel, thanks to the beautiful natural hues in its sandstone facade.

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Tooth Or Consequences: 15 Dodgy Dental Labs

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[ By Steve in Architecture & Offices & Commercial. ]

Come up to the dental lab, and see what’s on the dental slab: these dental labs will definitely leave you shivering, tho’ NOT with antici… pation.

Looking for tomorrow’s dentures today? Then get your bleeding gums down to 2919 Mack Avenue in Detroit’s once-beautiful Poletown East neighborhood, where you’ll find Denture Work Of The Future!

Situated in an almost-windowless whitewashed concrete block building that would make an awesome anti-zombie fortress, this oddly-named “customized” dental lab featured equally odd exterior artwork highlighted by a truly frightening set of choppers – one would hope they didn’t represent examples of their work. Sometime before 2010 the building was repainted, possibly by the same “artist” though their illustrative skills show some improvement.

Motormouth City

While “Denture Work Of The Future” seems to be a going concern, the ink’s a whole lot redder over at the Detroit Dental Lab.

Kudos to City-Data.com and Andy from Hot Fudge Detroit for the photos above, the second of which is slightly more recent (judging from the blown-out second story windows), dating from February of 2008.

N-ter At Own Risk

Dental Laboratories – where crowns, bridges and other such dental prosthetics are crafted by dental technicians – enjoy a sort of regulatory limbo where certification is voluntary. Even the lowest level of certification (CDL, or Certified Dental Laboratory) is achieved merely by submitting photos of the facility for third-party review! Yeah, so, next time your dentist recommends you get a crown, ask him if the lab they use is certified and to what degree. Otherwise, your shiny new faux-molar might just hail from the dyslexic (if not dysfunctional) dental lab above, snapped by Flickr member Duncan in July of 2012.

Abbey Normal

The British have been knocked over the state of their teeth and we may have found the reason: the state of their dental laboratories. Take the slightly ominous establishment above, Abbey Dental, captured by Flickr member Johnny Wilson (johnnytakespictures) in August of 2013. Located in the  Warwickshire town of Nuneaton (perfect location for a dentist, amiright?), Abbey Dental boasts of having “over 40 years experience” though if one judges by appearances it’s more like 400 years.

Meat Me In Medellin

A dental lab occupying space above a butcher shop? Seems legit… and that’s just how they roll in Medellin, Colombia. Bonus points awarded for the nifty folk-art illustrations of toothy mouths above and tasty beasts below. It’s the South American version of “business up front, party in the back.”

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Windows Zero: 9 Telecom Infrastructure Buildings

They may not have windows, workers or office space yet telecom infrastructure buildings are an essential part of the urban megalopolis. Their lack of an obvious human presence, though, has made ...

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Swim on the Subway: Taipei Train Cars Transformed into Sports Venues

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

Subway cars in Taipei have become swimming pools, basketball courts, baseball fields and track lanes to get residents amped for the upcoming 2017 Summer Universiade, an international multi-sport event for university athletes. While the installations mostly consist of photorealistic photographic murals stuck onto the floors, the illusion comes together pretty nicely, especially in the case of the swimming pool, which matches the existing subway car chairs and poles.

These ‘moving sporting venues’ will transport lots of tourists attending the events, and the city hopes to add to their excitement. The Universiade is the second-largest international sporting event after the Olympics, set to begin on August 19th and end on August 30th, and will include competitions in 22 different sports across 70 venues.

Images by: Taipei City Government Department of Information and Tourism, @skywu0326, @chi._.851229, @nikoleko1007

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Call of Nature: Waterfront Step Organ in Croatia Turn Waves into Tunes

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[ By WebUrbanist in Art & Installation & Sound. ]

oceanfront wave organ

This 230-foot-long musical instrument contains 35 organ pipes and is powered by the Adriatic Sea, producing sounds for visitors that seem eerily composed rather than random.

Whistle holes cut into the stone steps are ‘powered’ by air pushed in by waves of water, creating chords that are strikingly harmonious in nature. The sounds are constantly shifting, but you can listen to a clip above (a .wav file of the waves, if you will).

seafront playable instrument music

The Sea Organ, or the Morske Orgulje, is part of plan to revive Zadar, a city over 3,000 years old that was nearly obliterated in the Second World War. Architect Nikola Baši? wanted to give the place something with character, differentiated from the stark and boring concrete buildings that were created during initial years of rebuilding.

sea organ white steps

The design was inspired by the Hydraulis, an ancient Greek instrument that used water to push air through tuned pipes, but also borrows from the Wave Organ in San Francisco, a likewise seaside device amplifying the sounds of the Pacific Ocean. (images by linssimatoLisa and J We).

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Disney’s Star Wars Hotel Will Make Each Guest a Character with a Storyline

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

Fans visiting Disney World’s upcoming Star Wars Land expansion, set to open in 2019, will have the opportunity to immerse themselves even more deeply into the fictional universe in an almost Westworld-style experience. At its D23 Expo in Los Angeles this week, Disney announced a new Star Wars-themed hotel where every window will offer views of ‘outer space,’ every employee will be in character, and every guest will be the protagonist of their very own Star Wars storyline.

Premiering as part of the new Disney 360 vacation concept, the hotel will be a ‘living adventure.’

“It’s unlike anything that exists today,” says Bob Chapek, Chairman of Walt Disney Parks & Resorts. “From the second you arrive, you will become a part of a Star Wars story! You’ll immediately become a citizen of the galaxy and experience all that entails, including dressing up in the proper attire. Once you leave Earth, you will discover a starship alive with characters, stories, and adventures that unfold all around you. It is 100% immersive, and the story will touch every single minute of your day, and it will culminate in a unique journey for every person who visits.”

Disney also unveiled models of the new park along with its name, Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. The park will also be an interactive experience with each guest as a character – so you don’t have to stay in the resort to enjoy that aspect of the action, but it certainly seems like it would add to the overall effect.

“One attraction will make you feel like you’re on a Star Destroyer inside a hangar bay. It’s an attraction built on a scale we’ve never done before.

The second attraction will give guests the opportunity to fly the Millenium Falcon, piloting the ship, shooting blasters or preparing for hyperspace – all while completing a critical mission. But how you perform on the mission holds even bigger stakes: perform with skill and you may earn extra galactic credits, while bringing the ship back banged up could put you on the list of a bounty hunter. End up on Harkos’s list and you may face a problem if you show up at the local cantina!”

Abandoned Land of Oz Theme Park Opens for Two Days

At the top of a mountain, a crumbling Yellow Brick Road winds around forests filled with creepy anthropomorphic trees, Dorothy's dilapidated house and an Emerald Castle made of stone. The Land of ...

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Out of This World Architecture: 16 Real Buildings Inspired by Science Fiction

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

From a Star Wars-inspired house in South Korea to a blob-shaped ‘friendly alien’ museum in Austria, these structures make no attempts to hide the sci-fi sources of their inspiration. All 16 of these futuristic buildings are completed or in progress – not just concept art – including flying saucers, pavilions that quiver in the wind, spaceship houses and even murals of Neo from the Matrix in a Buddhist temple.

Faraday Future Campus by MAD Architects

MAD Architects has designed a science-fiction inspired campus for Faraday Future, a company in the midst of producing “the world’s fastest-accelerating electric car.” Set on a former Navy base in Northern California, the campus features a reflective ‘user experience center’ tower that rises above the low complex of buildings. A bridge shoots the customers’ cars right out of the warehouse and into the showroom to meet them.

Star Wars House in Korea by Moon Hoon

The Star Wars House in suburban South Korea by Moon Hoon pays tribute to the film series with its blocky concrete proportions and horizontally banded windows. Inside, there’s a secret room hidden within the shelving water on a wall, and the top floor is conceived as “a control room for the future Darth Vader or Jedi.”

2010 UK Pavilion for the World Shanghai Expo by Thomas Heatherwick

When the renders were released for this incredible pavilion by Heatherwick Studio, many people thought it could never be built as it was illustrated. Its strange blurred form seemed difficult to translate into a 3D structure. But the architects managed to pull off the ‘Seed Cathedral,’ which is made of 60,000 slender transparent fiber optic rods that move in the wind. Each one contains embedded seeds as well as built-in lighting

The United States Air Force Academy Cadet Chapel

Designed by architecture firm Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM) and built in 1962, the United States Air Force Academy Cadet Chapel in El Paso, Colorado mimics the speaks of the Rocky Mountains in which it’s set, featuring seventeen rows of 150-foot-high spires. A steel frame of 100 identical tetrahedrons makes up the base of the structure, enclosed with aluminum panels, the gaps between them filled with colored glass.

The Atomium by Andre Waterkeyn & Andre and Jean Polak

Originally built for the 1958 Brussels World’s Fair, the Atomium stands 335 feet tall, with nine 60-foot-diameter stainless steel spheres connected into the shape of a unit cell of an iron crystal. Five of the spheres are habitable, containing exhibition halls and other public spaces, and the top sphere holds a restaurant with panoramic views of the city.

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Cheap Seats: Sculptural Furniture Showroom Facade Made of 900 Black Chairs

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[ By WebUrbanist in Architecture & Offices & Commercial. ]

Using cheap and repetitive materials sounds like a recipe for kitsch, but this furniture-oriented facade clad in generic black chairs (at around $5.00 USD a piece) manages to pull off an elegant and refined look.

The clients, MY DVA (a furniture company), were looking for something additive, layered onto the existing bland building, but also reflecting their function (to showcase office and school furniture). The ideal solution would promote their wares while also entertaining visitors. It also had to be inexpensive.

Versed in product and urban design, Ondrej Chybik and Michal Kristof of studio CHYBIK+KRISTOF, took these concerns into account when designing the facade. Tapping into their respective backgrounds, they came up with cladding literally composed of product designs that also fits a neighborhood theme of repetition (filled with identical blocks of flats).

In total, the team used 900 Vicenza seats, a regular offering of the company, to form an undulating black box around the showroom, which functions well with the reduced light provided by these exterior shading elements.

Inside, the space was pared down to expose a raw concrete ceiling, from which suspended curtains hang to create little galleries — adjustable lights in these zones simulate different lighting conditions for furniture client spaces.

Staff offices are located along the edges, off to the sides and out of the way behind translucent partitions, leaving a large, open, blank-slate showroom for furniture buyers.

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Faux Photoshop in 3D: Artists ‘Erase’ Graffitied Car with Transparency Pattern

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

A crew of artists found a new way to ‘clean up’ graffiti in a public place by simply erasing a car and dumpster from a street in Russia using the old familiar Photoshop transparency pattern. Called CTRL+X, the piece was created as part of the Stenograffia street art festival, and carrying it out was simple – if a little bit time consuming. Before they got started, the surfaces were covered in tags in all shades of the rainbow, and they had to paint everything a matte light gray as a base.

After dark, they set up a projector so they could trace the Photoshop checkerboard pattern from the perspective point from which the scene would be viewed by the public, so it’s angled just right. They used pencil to mark the lines, and then taped off the squares that needed to be painted a darker gray.

The end result is a pretty fun optical illusion that’s probably only effective for people who are used to working in Photoshop. Check out lots of behind-the-scenes photos on the Stenograffia Facebook page.

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