Facebook is expanding its headquarters in grand fashion--in this case, to a second campus that connects to the main one in Menlo Park, California (Click Image To Enlarge)
The company is building a giant addition to their headquarters, and a giant park to go along with it. That park just happens to be on the roof.
Architect Frank Gehry is designing the building (Click Image To Enlarge)
On top of it is a giant green roof that spans most of the 433,555 square foot structure (Click Image To Enlarge)
It’s less a green roof than an entire park (Click Image To Enlarge)
Like so many tech companies flush with cash, Facebook is expanding its headquarters in grand fashion--in this case, to a second campus that connects to the main one in Menlo Park, California. Architect Frank Gehry is designing the building (Warning: That PDF takes a long time to load), which Facebook describes as "a large, one room building that somewhat resembles a warehouse." But we’re not so much interested in the interior of this particular building than what’s on top of it: a giant green roof that spans most of the 433,555 square foot structure.
It will include oak trees… (Click Image To Enlarge)
…a walking trail… (Click Image To Enlarge)
… furniture to lounge on… (Click Image To Enlarge)
It’s less a green roof than an entire park. It will include oak trees, a walking trail, furniture to lounge on--and like Google’s planned green roof, it will have kiosks and cafes, according to Greenbiz.
The roof will also be flush with flora and fauna. Facebook writes: "We’re planting a ton of trees on the grounds and more on the rooftop garden that spans the entire building." Beyond the oak trees, we can’t say exactly what Facebook is planting, but we do know this: Menlo Park ordinances require 80% of the plantings to be either native or xeriscape, meaning they need little or no water.
… and even kiosks and cafes (Click Image To Enlarge)
Beyond the oak trees, we can’t say exactly what Facebook is planting, but we do know this: Menlo Park ordinances require 80% of the plantings to be either native or xeriscape, meaning they need little or no water (Click Image To Enlarge)
See-through image of the new green office complex (Click Image To Enlarge)
For the sake of everyone working in the warehouse space below, let’s hope that the roof also has fast Wi-Fi and some decent workspaces. After all, ample sun is one of the more attractive features of Silicon Valley life.
COMMENTARY: If Facebook employees aren't spoiled enough already with the Epic Cafe and free food 24/7, 365, then the green rooftop garden in the Facebook expansion offices will spoil them rotten to a whole new level.
Steve Michaels, proprietor of the Hobbit House, asks a reporter when he calls about his pet project.
“DO you have hairy feet? Bilbo Baggins gets off on hairy feet. Hobbits have hairy feet. They also have hairy bellies. They eat about six times a day.”
If you are a J. R. R. Tolkien fan, this information is old news. But if its a new world your reaction is closer to,
“Hobbit? Short, some kind of elf, annoying. Bilbo? Bilious? Rocky Balboa?”
And thanks to Mr. Michaels, you can spend the night in it. No need to bring slippers: a big hairy pair await you. Also a wizard’s hat, belonging to someone named Gandalf. How to get there? It’s a long, long journey, because wherever you live, it is not close.
Glorious August, the time for road trips. While it may seem that roadside America has been taken over by motel chains, one as sterile and uninspired as the next, this is not true: there are lots of rich and varied places to stay out there.
The Hobbit House, in northwest Montana, about a three-hour drive from Spokane, Wash., is a guesthouse. Number of units: one. But it is a large unit. The Web site, which the reporter studies before arriving, shows a 1,000-square-foot structure built into a hill, on a 20-acre site dotted with structures that range from small to perfect for squashing with your foot: a four-foot stump-shaped troll house, a few round-door hobbit houses with chimney pipes and several shoe-box-size fairy houses.
Studying the pictures, the reporter has the sinking feeling that she will be spending the night at a miniature golfcourse. After arriving at the Hobbit House, this fear is quickly put to rest: there are no putting greens.
Mr. Michaels, who turns 63 this month and can be found at his own house across the road, is white-haired and as jolly as Santa, but with a much darker back story and some ambivalence about children. He makes his living as a broker of telephone answering businesses, running a company called TAS Marketing with his 59-year-old wife, Christine, who tends to practical matters like contracts.
But Mr. Michaels has also been many other things: a hypnotist; the author of a self-published self-help book called “How to Die With a Smile on Your Face”; something called a futurist, which seems to involve getting out of the city and arming yourself; and a llama rancher. He keeps four alpacas as pets; pilots what he calls his flying machine, a Buckeye Dream Machine-powered parachute; and gets about his 100-acre property in a Kubota RTV that resembles a hybrid golf cart and dump truck.
A HOBBIT, according to the literature, likes to be comfortable at home, and the guesthouse, shaped on the inside like an inverted bowl, is first class. Mr. Michaels charges $245 a night, and paid about $410,000 to build and furnish it.
There are granite counters in the kitchen, elaborate lighting and a Harmony audiovisual system. A gold ring, which figures prominently in hobbit lore, hangs from a rafter. The rustic wooden furniture is custom-made, and the headboards are embedded with the Hobbit House logo, a hobbit door with a red light — and on the headboards, it’s a real red light.
But what is a visit to the Hobbit House without a tour of the shire? Into the RTV we go, accompanied by Mr. Michaels’s dog, Libby, a collie-shepherd mix. Here is a tiny sod-roof house belonging to Frodo, a Baggins relation; there, in the trunk of a tree, is a mother-son fairy abode (complete with two doors). Not everything is hobbitically accurate: there is a two-foot-tall hairy-back frog, because Mr. Michaels figured that if hobbits were hairy, their frogs should be, too.
Mr. Michaels says, steering the cart toward the sod-covered roof of the life-size guesthouse.
“And look. You can drive over the house, because it’s built into the ground. Right now, we’re 30 feet over your bedroom.”
Wahoo! Try that at the Best Western. The view of Mr. Michaels’s house across the road, beside the pond, is lovely, and there is an abundance of wildlife here, he says: they have seen coyote, elk, mountain lions, even a grizzly.
Does the wildlife ever damage those little structures?
Mr. Michaels says.
“This spring we hauled almost a truckload of elk turd from the top of the Hobbit House. On top of the house it’s nice and warm, and the grass comes in early, and they like to hang out there.”
Back at the guesthouse, we talk about the financial side of things. The Hobbit House was completed last fall, but the guest book shows only about 14 entries. How are they making a go of it?
Mr. Michaels says.
“We’re not. TAS Marketing is the way I make my money. This started out as a simple guesthouse, then my contractor’s son said, ‘Oh, it looks like a hobbit house.’ Then my imagination went wild. We read the book and watched the movies, and then we had to have a hobbit house, we had to have a troll house, we had to have the mushrooms. It’s all custom. I’ve got real rich taste.”
He later says.
“I have an addictive personality.”
What is the saga of this hobbit fan with the healing pyramid hanging from his neck, and from what exotic land did he emerge? Burlington, Vt., it turns out.
Mr. Michaels was the middle child of seven children, and his parents were strict and demanding. Also, they were poor. He got his brother’s hand-me-down socks, and in school, when the children took off their shoes to play a marching game, his too-long socks preceded him, flop, flop, flop.
At the urging of his father, a tool and die maker at General Electric, he attended Vermont Technical College after graduating from high school.
An instructor said one day.
“When you finish this, you will be able to fix a radio.”
Mr. Michaels thought.
“I don’t want to fix the radio. I want to be on the radio.”
So he went out to Eugene, Ore., and worked as a radio disc jockey while going to Lane Community College, living, he says, like a maniac: crashing cars, stealing food from grocery stores, racking up so many D.U.I.’s that a judge finally gave him the choice of going to jail or leaving the state. (He left the state.)
Eventually he went into sales, married and spent much time in metaphysical searching, exploring reincarnation and the power of the mind to heal physical ailments like cancer. (After the reporter tells him what she thinks of this — picture everyone in the Bronx doing the cheer that bears the borough’s name and you get the idea — he becomes guarded, but he does say that as a hypnotist, he regressed people to past lives.)
The Michaelses moved around, running a bed-and-breakfast in California, a llama ranch in Colorado. One day when they took a few of their llamas for a walk, a neighbor complained because they had walked across his property, and they knew it was time to move along.
They moved to Montana. Mr. Michaels’s communications business was thriving, but he had started drinking at night and smoking marijuana. Then, in the summer of 2004, some neighbors told him about a spiritual healer in Brazil named John of God, who could tell the state of your soul by looking at a photo.
Mr. Michaels sent the healer a picture, and it came back with a red X through it. His heart started pounding. He flushed all the pot he had just bought down the toilet, left his beer in front of a neighbor’s door, went up on the hill behind his house, where his first dog, One Eye, was buried, and wept. He reflected on his life, thought of all the hurtful things he had done as a young man and resolved to do better.
That was when he wrote his book about how to live a richer life and began giving “life assessment” workshops and playing Santa Claus in Trout Creek, intercepting the letters children sent to Santa at the post office and buying them gifts himself. He left waitresses $100 tips. He considered building a three-story lodge for his workshops, but the bank wanted to be too involved.
So the next thing you know, here comes the Hobbit project. Children were not admitted at first (Mr. Michaels did not want their sticky fingers on his expensive furnishings), but so many people wanted to bring them that they are now welcome if they are well behaved.
Mr. Michaels takes the reporter on a tour of the rest of his property: his three-bedroom home; the alpacas; the flying machine, which he has flown up to Cougar Peak (once a bald eagle with a fish in its talons flew alongside him). He seems to have bought all the toys he couldn’t afford as a boy, he is told.
Mr. Michaels agrees.
“There was a time my father wanted a pond on his property, and my brother and I spent two summers and a winter cutting down trees.”
“My brother and I worked for two summers, my father never even said ‘thank you.’ I decided to build my own pond, and I have a nice island out there and electricity on mine and a lighthouse where the lights go on.”
At the reporter’s request, they go up the hill where Mr. Michael did his vision quest, sitting beside the dog’s grave and thinking about what would become of his own spirit when he died. Four pets are now buried there, and when Mr. Michaels and his wife die, they will be buried there, too.
That evening, he and his wife invite the reporter to a supper any fat-bellied hobbit would appreciate: ribs made according to Mr. Michaels’s secret recipe, potato salad, huckleberry pie. Then it’s to bed.
The reporter tries on Gandalf’s felt wizard hat (too pointy) and the fuzzy deer-hide slippers (too clammy) and, unable to figure out how to turn off the red light on the headboard, throws a blanket over her head and tries to sleep. It occurs to her that she is 30 feet under a hill and the deceased pets are across the road under another hill. It seems as if there should be something profound in this, but the reporter cannot figure out what it is.
The next morning, when she goes to her car, she sees muddy paw prints on the door near the handle, about the height of a hobbit, a bear cub or a dog — a mystery that will remain unsolved. Then it’s back on the August road.
COMMENTARY: That's what I call vacation house that is quite literally out-of-this-world. Located in a remote section of Montana. Where the sky is blue and clear during the day. And you can really see the stars at night. Located where there are wild animals roaming closeby. Where the air is clean, and you can read and just kick back and release. If you like solitude of living out in the wild, away from humanity, and tourist crowds, then The Hobbit House is for you. At $245.00 per night, that's a real bargain compared to some of the high-priced hotels and resorts.
The Hobbit House lies in the colorful forested foothills of the Cabinet Mountains up in the Shire of Whitepine Valley approximately 8 Miles S.E. of Trout Creek, the huckleberry capital of Montana and 16 miles N.W. of Thompson Falls. This lushly appointed Tourist Home is tastefully furnished with a crafted King Size Bedroom, HD-Blu-Ray Color TV, 3 Phones and Wi-Fi, XM Radio and a designer’s kitchen furnished with customized granite counters, and all the appliances and tools a chef needs for gourmet creations, including a deck with gas barbeque. This “Hobbit Experience” is a must see if you are into the imaginative and mystical. Another reason to visit Montana!
call us at (406) 827-7200 fax: (406) 827-4554 Hobbit House of Montana 9 Hobbit Lane, Trout Creek, Montana 59874
Here's directions to get to the Hobbit House. Notice ~ Your GPS will not work in getting you to the Shire
9 Hobbit Lane, Trout Creek, Montana 59874 (406) 827-7200
From Spokane, WA via Sandpoint, ID on Highway 200: * From Spokane / Coeur d' Alene * Go EAST on I-90 to Highway 95 North (Coeur d’Alene). LEFT at exit * North on Hwy 95 to Sandpoint, ID * Go through Sandpoint following 95 through a traffic light that states Hwy 200 straight ahead (heading East) * East on Hwy 200 toward Montana. * Stay on Highway 200 thru Clark Fork, Idaho; Heron, and Noxon to Trout Creek. * Go past Trout Creek about 8 miles and turn right just past mile market 37 on Whitepine Creek Road. Look for our Hobbit House Door Logo in Blue on the right. * Go approximately 2 ½ miles to Hobbit Lane on right * Park under trees in front of our Hobbit House sign * Check-in at the house across the road
** Remember there is a time change from Pacific to Mountain Time if you’re coming from Idaho **
From Spokane, WA over Thompson Pass Road: NOTE: This way of travel is closed in the winter months.
• From Spokane / Coeur d' Alene • Go EAST on I-90 to Exit 43 (Kingston). Turn Left * Continue over free way and along the river to Prichard, ID (approx. 20 miles) * Cross Prichard Creek * Turn Right * Go past Murray, ID * You'll drive over Thompson Pass to Highway 200 (approx. 40 miles from Prichard) * Turn LEFT at Highway 200 * Travel approximately 12 miles almost to mile marker 37 * Just before mile marker 37 - Turn LEFT on Whitepine Creek Road. Look for our Hobbit House Door Logo in Blue on the right. * Go approximately 2 ½ miles to Hobbit Lane on right * Park under trees in front of our Hobbit House sign * Check-in at the house across the road
From Missoula, MT: (This route is 20 miles shorter) * From Missoula * Go WEST on I-90 to Exit 96 heading toward Kalispell (Highway 93) * Stay on Highway 93/200 until you get to Ravalli * Turn left on Highway 200 heading to Thompson Falls. See directions from Thompson Falls.
From Missoula, MT via I-90: * From Missoula * Go WEST on I-90 until you reach St. Regis, MT. * Take Exit 33 (turn Right) on Hwy 135 heading toward Paradise, MT. * Go approximately 35 miles to Hwy 200 * Go left on Hwy 200 to Thompson Falls, MT. See directions from Thompson Falls.
From Thompson Falls, MT: * Travel approximately 16 miles almost to mile marker 37 * Just before mile marker 37 - Turn LEFT on Whitepine Creek Road. Look for our Hobbit House Door Logo in Blue on the right. * Go approximately 2 ½ miles to Hobbit Lane on right * Park under trees in front of our Hobbit House sign * Check-in at the house across the road
From Canada: * Go SOUTH till you hear the laughter of Hobbits...
At the very top of the American Tract Society Building sits the penthouse apartment with the half-Moon windows and 90-foot stainless steel slide (Click Image To Enlarge)
AN INVENTIVE TAKE ON AN OLD SPACE GOES WELL BEYOND THE TYPICAL LANDMARK RESTORATION.
The American Tract Society Building is one of the oldest surviving skyscrapers in NYC. Tucked away inside is a four-story, 6,500-foot expanse with full panoramic views of the city. It had never been inhabited, until now.
This is an 80-foot slide hiding in a historic, NYC skyscraper (Click Image To Enlarge)
It’s part of a residential makeover of an amazingly luxurious, four-story penthouse (Click Image To Enlarge)
The slide brings you right into the living room (Click Image To Enlarge)
It's whimsical and austere. The original arched windows and many of the original steel beams stayed intact, but the verticality has been transformed with bold, playful features. Hotson has said that he wanted to “constantly exploit the fact that we’re sitting on top of a skyscraper in Manhattan.”
It’s a celebration of the apartment’s vast, vertical space of the old steel-frame building (Click Image To Enlarge)
Here’s where the ride ends (Click Image To Enlarge)
Don’t worry, everyone watching TV is used to the giggles by now (Click Image To Enlarge)
And while a glance at the dizzying array of beams hanging overhead demonstrates that idea, it’s a concept taken to new heights with an 80-foot slide that snakes straight into the living room, a clear bridge that appears to float in midair, and handholds that allow you to climb a central support beam like a rock wall. If you make it part way up, you can lounge in the “nest,” an intimate nook squeezed within the structure’s girders. From there you can keep climbing to an almost attic-style space.
But the slide is just one way to have fun. Handholds accent one of the main beams, coaxing you to climb up. If you’re bold enough, you’ll reach the "nest," a space tucked in between girders (Click Image To Enlarge)
You can descend from each level of the penthouse using the slide, but you have to climb the center support beam to go back up. Don’t worry, they have safety equipment (Click Image To Enlarge)
Aside from these whimsical touches, the space is a celebration of geometry. Here’s the skylight in the foyer (Click Image To Enlarge)
Of course, what you miss in these still photos are the incredible facets and “voids”--the geometric frames within frames that connect rooms like fractals. There’s some stunning camera work in the embedded video that illustrates these moments better than words can, and they reveal a level of design thinking that transcends what one might otherwise pigeonhole as an 80-foot-long gimmick.
View of the third level looking down to the living room area below (Click Image To Enlarge)
The very top level houses a sort of perch for transcendental meditation and thought (Click Image To Enlarge)
The ground floor houses the an expansive all-white living room with panoramic view of the New York City skyline (Click Image To Enlarge)
But I mean, what a gimmick!
The apartment has 360-degree views of the city (Click Image To Enlarge)
COMMENTARY: I just love this penthouse apartment. It is so different, so radical in its design, conjures feelings of heaven, living in the clouds. That 80-foot slide looks like a lot of fun. I don't know if I could master the art of rock climbing in order to go up from one level to the next. That's probably the biggest negative, but it also says, that for every pleasure, there must be some pain. I love New York City. There is no city anywhere like it in the world. And to be able to cherish the grandeur, majestry, culture and skyline of the city from an old turn-of-the-century skyscraper is simply magical. I can visualize myself sitting in the "nest" surfing the net for my next blog post, while sipping a glass of cab with toast and jam.
The architect that redesigned this magnificent New York City penthouse apartment is David Hotson. David Hotson was born in Pennsylvania and raised in rural Colorado and southern Ontario Canada. After completing a Bachelor of Environmental Design degree from the University of Waterloo, where he was awarded an Ontario Association of Architects Prize, David applied to the Yale University School of Architecture –where he was admitted the following fall.
David Hotson, the New York City-based architect who designed the NYC penthouse apartment (Click Image To Enlarge)
Early Work and Collaborations: In the first years of independent practice David Hotson began a long period of collaborations with Yale classmate Maya Lin, acting as the executive architect on a series of projects that she attracted as her Vietnam Veterans Memorial –designed while she was an undergraduate at Yale- was completed to wide acclaim. Early projects included the Museum for African Art in SoHo, a suite of offices and galleries for the Asia/Pacific-American Institute at New York University, and an apartment for software entrepreneur and art-world philanthropist Peter Norton.
From these early collaborative experiences the office has developed an extensive track record of working in association with artists, designers, and other architects to execute projects with demanding detailing and progressive design values. The body of collaborative work undertaken by the office has included projects with noted architects such as David Adjaye of London, Santiago Calatrava of Valencia and Zurich, Hayaki Kita of Osaka, and Ricardo Legorretta of Mexico City, and other architects, artists, and designers based in the US, the UK, the Netherlands, Germany, France, Spain, Switzerland, Hungary, Armenia, and Japan.
Born in the Netherlands and raised in South Africa, Ghislaine brings a special blend of international sensibility, intuitive style, humor, irony and refreshing enthusiasm to her work. She is driven daily by her passion for interior design and especially by color. Ghislaine and her team thrive on collaboration and although the backbone of their work is a strong clean refreshing look, they dare to go "off roading" by experimenting with and exploring many areas of design.
Ghislaine Vinas is the Dutch interior designer that designed the interior of the NYC penthouse apartment (Click Image To Enlarge)
Ghislaine Viñas established her interior design studio in 1999, when commissioned to do the complete build-out of a 9,000-sq-ft office/art gallery in the Starrett Lehigh Building in New York's Chelsea art district. Since then she has successfully completed many projects, both commercial and residential, ranging from New York City, including apartments, townhouses, lofts and an art gallery in Chelsea, to offices and homes in Los Angeles, New Jersey, Holland, Pennsylvania and Connecticut. Ghislaine has chosen to keep her office small so her clients can expect a very “hands -on” personal approach as she works through the project. Ghislaine Viñas Interior Design embarked on their first hospitality project in 2012 and they are currently developing a product line on top of many other exciting design projects.
Ghislaine Viñas Interior Design was awarded the Interior Design Merit Award for "Best of Year" in the residential category in 2007, 2008 and 2011 and won Interior Design Best of Year award in 2010. In 2007 she won the Pantone "Color Outside the Lines" competition for color use in residential interiors , as well receiving third place in the Electrolux, "The lived-in Kitchen", design competition and honorable mention in the same competition in 2012. The firm was awarded the prestigious Benjamin Moore Hue award in 2010 for their use of color in residential interiors. Ghislaine has been featured on various TV programs including HGTV, Open House New York and IDTV “Designing New York”.
Ghislaine's work has graced the covers of countless magazines and she has been published in magazines and newspapers worldwide including Interior Design, New York Times, New York Magazine, Departures, Frame, O At Home, Dwell, Elle Decor Japan, England and Mexico as well as Architectural Digest in Russia just to name a few.
Ghislaine studied interior design at Philadelphia University and moved to New York right after receiving her degree. Ghislaine now lives in New York City with her husband and their two young girls.
Isolée closes for approaching storms (Click Image To Enlarge)
ISOLÉE, A CONCEPT FOR A SELF-SUFFICIENT RETREAT, AIMS TO APPLY "PRODUCT DESIGN ETHOS" TO ARCHITECTURE.
Dutch architect Frank Tjepkema is annoyed with the crudeness of the average house. He tells FRAME magazine.
“The cars we drive, the computers and tablets we use, the smartphones--all sophisticated, aesthetically sound objects. And then we go home, where we’re surrounded by a stack of bricks."
His gripe is legitimate: Why is commercial architecture so far behind, say, the automotive industry in terms of adopting technological innovations?
Or opens according to the user’s wishes (Click Image To Enlarge)
This home designed to have as little impact as possible on the environment, literally, touches down in four small points (Click Image To Enlarge)
Designed by Dutch architecture firm Tjep, the house has two walls of wooden louvres that fold out (Click Image To Enlarge)
There are plenty of answers to that question, but Tjepkema isn’t having any of them. Instead, he and his design team at Tjep went ahead and got to work on a retreat home calledIsolée that leverages a number of intelligent systems, which they hope to develop into a working prototype. Writes the architect, who describes the three-story building as a cabinet, which touches the ground at four small points of contact.
“The approach to Isolée was the same as designing a piece of furniture.”
A 'tree' of five circular photovoltaic panels rotate to find the best direct sunlight (Click Image To Enlarge)
The motor-controlled hinges are connected to a computer that lets the owner decide when they’re open or closed (Click Image To Enlarge)
Isolée contains a system of LED lights and solar panels that make it self-sufficient (Click Image To Enlarge)
What makes Isolée so different than, say, a cabin in the woods? First of all, there are the tree-like spindles of photovoltaic panels that sprout from its roof, supplying enough energy to recharge the batteries in the home’s LED lights. Two sides of the building envelope are clad in hinged slats of wood, which can be opened or closed depending on the weather. The designers say.
“The shutters are computer controlled to follow the wishes of the inhabitants, and close automatically when a storm approaches.”
Both the rotating PVC panels and the shutters are powered by motors, powered by the sun. Water and heat aren’t accounted for, though--the designers imagine a nearby well where water can be drawn.
The only thing it doesn’t have is running water--the architects imagine a nearby well (Click Image To Enlarge)
Cross-bracing against lateral forces is visible in this shot (Click Image To Enlarge)
There are a few possible stumbles here, when it comes to energy efficiency and structural stability. The four points of contact would, potentially, make the home structurally unsound (a structure this tall necessitates a foundation). There isn’t a clear rationale for putting the PVC panels on rotating "branches," when an equal amount of energy could be gleaned from laying off-the-shelf panels flat on the roof. Which isn’t to say that Isolée isn’t a smart (or good-looking) idea. Rather, Tjepkema has answered his own question about why architecture hasn’t kept pace with phones or cars. Unlike prototyping a new car or phone, building an inhabitable structure is expensive and slow. Experiments like this can become very expensive gambles, which many architects and clients aren’t willing to take. Tjep deserves kudos for imagining the future--now, they need to figure out how to test it.
COMMENTARY: Architect Frank Tjepkema and his design team at Tjep really got me excited and simultaneously spooked out with the design concept for Isolée. The house stands on four legs which is more reminscent of a piece of furniture, rather than a house. Tjepkema has created Isolée with a minimalist design concept, that is simple and elegant.
Tjepkema has gone vertical with Isolée, constructing the home on three levels: living room (first floor), kitchen and dining (second floor) and bedroom and bathroom (third floor). Going up three flights of stairs is probably its only glaring disadvantage.
The green technology incorporated into the Isolée and enveloping the house in hinged slats of wood, which can be opened or closed depending on the weather, give the house an architectural and technological uniqueness which I have never seen before. You can open individual louvres on the hinged slats to create windows anywhere around the house.
The idea of "opening up" the house to its surrounding environment, is the closest thng to actually living in the outdoors. Exposing yourself to that environment complete with the sun, air, bugs, and scents of that environment brings one closer to nature. You are one with nature. I say bring those bugs in. Invite them for dinner. Let them swim in your soup. LOL. I can hardly wait for the finished full-size prototype when it is finally built.
View of a series of underground tunnels under construction below New York City for the new Long Island Railroad to Queens, NY MTA Eastside Access Project (Click Image To Enlarge)
A LITTLE REMINDER OF WHAT’S GOING ON UNDERNEATH THAT GRAY’S PAPAYA.
It’s easy to take the subway for granted. Just like other subterranean marvels of engineering, it’s a system that’s deliberately hidden from view--you descend into a station, plunge into darkness, and arrive at your destination. In fact, you might forget you’re actually underground the whole time. But you are, and these new photos from the MTA serve as a nice reminder of how much work it takes to put you there.
New tunnels will be constructed from the LIRR Mainline tracks in Queens, under Amtrak'sSunnyside Yard and LIRR's Existing Rail Yard, connecting to the existing 63rd Street Tunnel just beyond Northern Blvd. In Manhattan, new tunnels will be bored from the existing bellmouth structure at Second Avenue and 63rd Street, west and then south, under Park Avenue and Metro-North Railroad's four-track right of way. (Click Image To Enlarge)
The pictures show the current progress of the MTA’s East Side Access project, one which doesn’t actually involve a subway but rather will connect the Long Island Rail Road to Grand Central Terminal for the first time. It’s currently expected to open in 2019. It involves a lot of digging.
The MTA Eastside Access Project uses a variety of heavy-duty machines, including massive 200-ton boring machines that will be left in place after construction is completed (Click Image To Enlarge)
Workers busy working on the MTA Eastside Access Project underground tunnel construction (Click Image To Enlarge)
Undergrund subway escalator leading to the boarding platform for the new Long Island Rail Road line running from Grand Central Terminal to Queens, N.Y. (Click Image To Enlarge)
View of a still unfinished undergrund subway tube boredd through solid rock for the new Long Island Rail Road line running from Grand Central Terminal to Queens, N.Y.
Thankfully, we’re not just sending people down there with shovels. These types of tunnels are excavated using a variety of heavy-duty machines, including massive 200-ton drills that are so big, and so unwieldy, that in some cases it’s actually far less expensive to just leave them down there after they’re done working--which is exactly what they did with one such machine involved in the East Side Access project last year.
Underground tennel workers removing rock from new bored subway tunnels for the MTA Eastside Access Project running from Grand Central Station to Queens N.Y. (Click Image To Enlarge)
Slated for completion in 2019, it will eventually connect the Long Island Rail Road lines to Grand Central Terminal (Click Image To Enlarge)
Incredible view of a huge underground chamber bored from solid rock under the streets of New York for the new MTA Eastside Access Project (Click Image To Enlarge)
The photos serve as a nice reminder that when you’re taking the subway or traveling out of Grand Central, you really are underground (Click Image To Enlarge)
COMMENTARY: Now that's what I call a massive underground project. It's quite impressive to see the massive size of the underground tunnels and chambers bored using humongous boring machines and heavy drilling equipment. Can hardly wait to see the new Long Island Railroad extension from Grand Central Terminal to Queens, N.Y. when it is finally completed in 2019.
The MTA Capital Program provides the critical infrastructure investments that keep New York's transit system moving. In this video, you'll learn about the Capital Program's three major projects to extend the network for the first time in two generations: the Second Avenue Subway, East Side Access, and the 7 Subway Extension.
East Side Access Facts
$8.24 Billion Project
New 8 Track LIRR Terminal at Grand Central Terminal
22,000 square feet of new retail space
46 escalators and 13 elevators
Revenue service to begin August 2019
When completed, MTA's East Side Access project will bring Long Island Rail Road trains into Grand Central Terminal. Here's a one-minute explanation of the project.
What is the MTA EastSide Access Project (Click To View A Video)
3D concept illustration of NASA JPL's first lunar base (Click Image To Enlarge)
The first lunar base on the Moon may not be built by human hands, but rather by a giant spider-like robot built by Nasa that can bind the dusty soil into giant bubble structures where astronauts can live, conduct experiments, relax or perhaps even cultivate crops.
Shackleton Crater, the site of NASA JPL's proposed lunar base (Click Image To Enlarge)
Location and cutaway view of Shackleton Crater, the site of NASA JPL's proposed lunar base (Click Image To Enlarge)
We've already covered the European Space Agency's (ESA) work with architecture firm Foster + Partners on a proposal for a 3D-printed moonbase, and there are similarities between the two bases -- both would be located in Shackleton Crater near the Moon's south pole, where sunlight (and thus solar energy) is nearly constant due to the Moon's inclination on the crater's rim, and both use lunar dust as their basic building material. However, while the ESA's building would be constructed almost exactly the same way a house would be 3D-printed on Earth, this latest wheeze -- SinterHab -- uses Nasa technology for something a fair bit more ambitious.
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The product of joint research first started between space architects Tomas Rousek, Katarina Eriksson and Ondrej Doule and scientists from Nasa's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), SinterHab is so-named because it involves sintering lunar dust -- that is, heating it up to just below its melting point, where the fine nanoparticle powders fuse and become one solid block a bit like a piece of ceramic. To do this, the JPL engineers propose using microwaves no more powerful than those found in a kitchen unit, with tiny particles easily reaching between 1200 and 1500 degrees Celsius.
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Nanoparticles of iron within lunar soil are heated at certain microwave frequencies, enabling efficient heating and binding of the dust to itself. Not having to fly binding agent from Earth along with a 3D printer is a major advantage over the ESA/Foster + Partners plan. The solar panels to power the microwaves would, like the moonbase itself, be based near or on the rim of Shackleton Crater in near-perpetual sunlight.
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"Bubbles" of binded dust could be built by a huge six-legged rClick Image To Enlargeobot (OK, so it's not technically a spider) that can then be assembled into habitats large enough for astronauts to use as a base. This "Sinterator system" would use the JPL's Athlete rover, a half-scale prototype of which has already been built and tested. It's a human-controlled robotic space rover with wheels at the end of its 8.2m limbs and a detachable habitable capsule mounted at the top.
Here's a video of it dancing, because science:
Athlete's arms have several different functions, dependent on what it needs to do at any point. It has 48 3D cameras that stream video to its operator either inside the capsule, elsewhere on the Moon or back on Earth, it's got a payload capacity of 300kg in Earth gravity, and it can scoop, dig, grab at and generally poke around in the soil fairly easily, giving it the combined abilities of a normal rover and a construction vehicle. It can even split into two smaller three-legged rovers at any time if needed. In the Sinterator system, a microwave 3D printer would be mounted on one of the Athlete's legs and used to build the base.
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Rousek explained the background of the idea to Wired.co.uk:
"Since many of my buildings have advanced geometry that you can't cut easily from sheet material, I started using 3D printing for rapid prototyping of my architecture models. The construction industry is still lagging several decades behind car and electronics production. The buildings now are terribly wasteful and imprecise -- I have always dreamed about creating a factory where the buildings would be robotically mass-produced with parametric personalisation, using composite materials and 3D printing. It would be also great to use local materials and precise manufacturing on-site."
"It's good to realise that we have this unique chance to jump from our atmosphere and go to the next evolutionary level -- it's comparable with leaving the ocean and climbing down from the trees. I went to Strasbourg to study space architecture at the International Space University in France, where I formed the team with Ondrej Doule and Katarina Eriksson. Our friend there, Richard Rieber from Nasa's JPL, is one of the co-authors of the 3D printing system based on the Athlete robot. We were inspired by their invention and immediately started designing architecture that would use this technology."
Sintering is quite cheap, in terms of power as well as materials, and an Athlete rover should be able to construct a bubble volume in only two weeks, Rousek estimates. He said:
"It would have a very good cost-value ratio as you don't need to import as much material from Earth. The whole expandable module, with the membranes to cover the base when built, would be carried by the same rocket that would bring other modules of the outpost, but it can build a volume four times bigger than a rigid cylindrical module. Since we don't have the necessary transport capacity to the Moon at the moment, estimating a price now would be very inaccurate. As a comparison, the International Space Station has so far cost approximately $150bn (£99bn) but a lunar base could be designed much more cheaply with private companies."
3D concept illustration of NASA JPL's Sinterator moon crawler robot (Click Image To Enlarge)
Another benefit of sintering is that astronauts could use it on the surface of the Moon surrounding their base, binding dust and stopping it from clogging their equipment. Moon dust is extremely abrasive -- without natural weathering or erosion like on Earth, dust isn't ground down into smooth spheres. Instead it remains tiny yet jagged, perfect for getting into any exposed cracks, scratching lenses, wearing down airtight seals and becoming deeply embedded into human lungs. Former Apollo astronaut Harrison Schmidt has called the dust the biggest environmental issue on the Moon, even more so than radiation (which in SinterHab would be blocked by a combination of the Moon dust structure, "strategically located water tanks" and layers of inflatable polymers).
NASA JPL's Sinterator moon crawler robot (Click Image To Enlarge)
London-based space architect Rousek, director of A-ETC, has continued working on SinterHab with Doule and Eriksson since first proposing the idea in 2010 at the International Aeronautical Congress as a way of taking advantage of the Sinterator system. The design -- now published in the journal Acta Astronautica-- is based on the equilibrium found in bubbles. You might have noticed, the last time that you had a bubble bath, the way that groups of bubbles join together naturally to form a more solid structure -- that's exactly what SinterHab will look like. A bunch of rocky bubbles connected together, with cladding added later. Rousek explained:
"The internal structure was selected to demonstrate how we can arrange the interior and create walls inside. The first version should probably have only a single volume to decrease the risk. Then we could think about a bigger module, which would use connected volumes."
A second version of SinterHab -- SinterHab 2.0 -- is "currently being developed under the leadership of Ondrej Doule from the Florida Institute of Technology," Rousek said.
"We plan to further develop the interior design, deployment and construction process and life-support system. We would like to also do research about possible spin-offs of such construction methods on Earth."
Nasa iskeen on figuring out a way to build a lunar base, and as one of several proposals being batted around inside the organisation it's been used in a proposal for further development of sintering technology -- and I, for one, welcome our new robo-spider space architect overlords.
COMMENTARY: Presently 3D printers are only able to print, if you can call it that, small objects like a cup, vase or head bust. The machines that perform the printing are relatively small, fairly expensive and difficult to operate. What NASA JPL is proposing would simply be amazing and on a much larger scale. Sinterator would have to do its work of building the lunar base completely autonomously and without human intervention. This presents tremendous technological challenges for NASA JPL scientists and engineers.
Since there is no water on the Moon, and transporting building materials there from the Earth would be very costly, it is obviously cheaper to use directly the Moon's resources in order to make water-free concrete. US scientists developed a method that would allow for substituting water with the sulfur found in lunar dust. The resulting concrete would be very solid and would dry much faster than the regular one obtained here on Earth.
The sulfur that would act as a binder for the Moon dust can be extracted directly from it. The sulfur must to be in a liquid or semi-liquid form to work as a binding agent. This would imply that the dust is heated to temperatures of about 130° to 140° C. After cooling, the mixture immediately becomes rock-solid, ultimate-strength concrete able to bear about 170 times the atmospheric pressure (approximately 17 megapascals). With normal concrete you have to wait seven days, in extreme cases even 28 days to get maximum strength.
"My Micro NYC," a micro-unit scheme designed by nARCHITECTS that won the city’s AdAPT NYC competition. (Click Image To Enlarge)
NEW YORK’S FIRST PREFAB APARTMENT TOWER WILL RISE IN 2015. ITS 55 UNITS WILL BE VERY, VERY SMALL.
Mayor Bloomberg inspects the model unit at the Museum of the City of New York (Click Image To Enlarge)
On Tuesday, Mayor Bloomberg--trailed by his perpetual entourage of news cameras--stepped through the door of a tiny but neatly kept apartment. He explored the model unit, which currently sits inside of the Museum of the City of New York, pulling down a trundle bed and peering inside of unexpected storage spaces. There wasn’t much ground to cover (only 300 square feet, in truth), and soon Bloomberg migrated to a podium to introduce the unit as the winning design in his AdAPT NYC competition, which seeks to imagine the future of housing in New York.
the building, which will contain 55 micro-unit apartments, will be the first prefab tower in New York city (Click Image To Enlarge)
Of course, it’s unlikely that Bloomberg will ever live in a “micro-unit,” but his administration is betting that millions of other New Yorkers will like the idea. Specifically, the city’s 1.8 million households of one or two people, a demographic that has ballooned over the past two decades, growing far beyond the roughly 1 million studio and one-bedroom apartments available in Manhattan. Mayor Bloomberg explained.
“The city’s housing stock is misaligned with the changing demographics of its population, largely because of outdated housing codes that prevent the construction of smaller units,"
Inside, the 300-square-foot units are designed to appeal to young professionals (Click Image To Enlarge)
AdAPT is part of a grand experiment to change that. On a plot of land in Kip’s Bay, the city has agreed to suspend its current housing codes and allow the construction of a tower consisting solely of micro-units under 300 square feet. The winning AdAPT proposal, by a team including nARCHITECTS, developers Monadnock, and the Actors Fund HD, will begin construction on the site next year. Their scheme, "My Micro NY," calls for nine stories of long, thin units stepped back from the street. Each apartment will be prefabricated in the Brooklyn Navy Yard and arranged on site using a crane, saving precious construction days and millions of dollars.
The units are divided into a 'toolbox,' which packs a bathroom, kitchen, and fold-down table into a compact box, and a 'canvas,' the window-facing tabula rasa that can function as a bedroom, or living room, or study (Click Image To Enlarge)
nARCHITECTS, who’ve been building living spaces in New York for more than a decade, designed the units to be a bit like a cabin on a ship--full of hidden details. Each unit is divided into a "toolbox," which packs a bathroom, kitchen, and fold-down table into a compact box, and a "canvas," the window-facing tabula rasa that can function as a bedroom, living room, or study. A juliette balcony lets in air, and over head, a step ladder leads to a storage space equivalent to that of a VW Jetta. The firm’s design will pack 55 of the modular units on site, with nearly half priced below market.
A juliette balcony lets in air, and over head, a step ladder leads to a storage space equivalent to that of a VW Jetta (Click Image To Enlarge)
Some may disagree with Bloomberg’s approach to the housing shortage. Richard Florida has argued,
"Increasing density in urban cores isn’t always the right path toward building communities, providing a counterpoint to urban economists arguing that we need more flexible land use, more flexible building regulations, that we need to build more housing in some of these very precious urban areas which don’t want any.”
Florida suggests that cities which expand “out, not up” will breed healthier and more creative neighborhoods. In other words--the city should be looking at how to lure tech startups to Queens and the Bronx, not figuring out how to fit more people in Manhattan.
The units will be constructed by Capsys, a prefab company based in the Brooklyn Navy yards (Click Image To Enlarge)
But as long as Manhattan exists, there will be people chomping at the bit to live there--so why not design a better model for how we use space in these hot-commodity neighborhoods? AdAPT isn’t so much about planning how a city should grow--rather, it’s acknowledging how the city is already growing, and planning accordingly.
Wherever you fall on the continuum of Jane Jacobs to Michael Bloomberg, there are plenty of alternative proposals on view in Making Room: New Models for Housing New Yorkers at the Museum of the City of New York. Check it out until September 15.
COMMENTARY: Micro apartments maybe new in the U.S., but they have become mainstream in other countries like China and Japan where buildable land is at a premium, construction costs are high, and population densities are high. The only alternative is to go vertical with buildings consisting of hundreds of micro apartment units. Checkout these 330 square foot "make your own" micro apartment units in Hong Kong:
And look at how this Japanese family lives in a very small urban house built between two buildings:
In a blog post dated November 10, 2012, I profiled the Keret House, a 4-foot wide house sandwiched within the space of two buildings. The Keret House, was conceived and finally built by Polish architect Jakub Szczęsny and finally finished at the end of 2012.
ROMAN & WILLIAMS HAS CREATED NOSTALGIC INTERIORS THAT MOST OTHERS CAN ONLY EMULATE. HERE’S THE LUNCHROOM THEY CREATED WITH FACEBOOK.
Facebook's Epic Cafe cafeteria greats staffers with the words EAT at the start of the waiting line lane (Click Image To Enlarge)
Google ruined everything. Microsoft gave out free soft drinks, but Google let employees eat gourmet food for free. How can you possibly differentiate mealtime in Silicon Valley with that act to follow?
Facebook's Epic Cafe knows how to put out the food fr Facebook staffers -- and there's plenty of it (Click Image To Enlarge)
Facebook's Epic Cafe food looks delicious. Here's one of the salad bars (Click Image To Enlarge)
Facebook aimed for cool. They hired Roman & Williams--the ultra-hip powerhouse firm behind landmark projects like the Ace Hotel--to create their Epic Cafe. In reality, Roman & Williams is mostly the vision of husband-and-wife design team Robin Standefer and Stephen Alesch, who are largely credited with the trend of alluring, faux-nostalgic interiors, pieced together through an alchemy of heirloom furniture, found objects, warm woods, grommets, and occasionally, even flannel. Their look is what the New York Times calls the "Benjamin Button school of design," or a nostalgia for a time that never actually existed. Indeed, if interiors had an Instagram filter, it’d be Roman & Williams.
Facebook’s Epic Cafe is their Menlo Park eatery created by Ace Hotel designers Roman & Williams (Click Image To Enlarge)
Facebook's Epic cafe is full of reclaimed furniture and custom pieces, all which create a post-industrial space that’s reminiscent of a schoolhouse or factory (Click Image To Enlarge)
Everything is left a step unfinished, to give the Epic Cafe's space a feel of constant flexibility and iteration, like the Facebook platform itself (Click Image To Enlarge)
The meeting between Facebook and Roman & Williams was happenstance.Everett Katigbak and Ben Barry, who head Facebook’s Analog Research Lab, actually bumped into Standefer and Alesch in the lobby of the Ace Hotel.What eventually resulted was a collaboration on Facebook’s Epic Cafe, a cafeteria that sits somewhere between a schoolhouse lunch line and a half-finished construction site. The spa has all the carefully curated objects of a Roman & Williams design mixed with the “don’t you dare finish painting those walls!” mentality of Facebook’s corporate culture.Facebook’s Everett Katigbak tells me.
“[That culture] indirectly starts with the product, not that we leave it unfinished, but we leave the product open to iteration. It’s a continual work in progress.”
Ben Barry and Everett Katigbak at Facebook's Analog Research Laboratory (Click Image To Enlarge)
Much of Katigbak’s job is ingraining Facebook’s culture into their buildings, designing interior spaces to ensure going to work at Facebook doesn’t feel like going to work anywhere else. So when Facebook opened its Menlo Park campus, Katigbak didn’t want one big design firm painting the grounds with a single stroke. Instead, he was inspired by Facebook’s roots, the tiny company that sprouted in Palo Alto, snagging a patchwork of buildings downtown to accommodate a quickly growing workforce.
Facebook's Epic Cafe has big, communal areas for socializing (Click Image To Enlarge)
Facebook's Epic Cafe also has quieter nooks for ideating (Click Image To Enlarge)
Facebook's Epic Cafe also has some neat, vintage prints hanging around too. But there isn’t a piece of taxidermy to be seen (Click Image To Enlarge)
“It was interesting to have to run to meetings across town, navigate through the city. It had this feeling of energy we really liked and connected with.”
The Menlo Park campus itself is largely modeled to “feel like a city.” With the building serving as one blank canvas, employees were free (even encouraged) to claim their own spaces, creating a mini urban environment inside a corporate office.
And Epic Cafe had to feel like a social hotspot in this city--a place you wanted to go, meet, eat, and collaborate with friends in the company that you may not see in your normal office area.
“On the general employee side, we wanted them to have something they felt proud of, a place ‘I’ get to eat as a destination, but flexible in a Facebook way. They could add to it without changing the overall vibe of it.”
The resulting space is like your childhood lunchroom, reformulated for adults. It’s largely Roman & Williams, filled with postindustrial furniture (some discovered, some crafted), found print art (magazine clippings), exposed light bulbs, and plenty of rivets. But whereas Roman & Williams’s brand of alchemy generally finishes these components, Facebook’s culture demands they stay raw. It’s no pseudo-swank hotel lobby; the cafeteria is built on a concrete floor and topped with exposed rafters, like a construction site waiting for the laminate and drywall guys to show up already. Since it’s Facebook, you could probably carve your name in a chair, but since it’s Roman & Williams, destroying the cultural artefact would be sacrilege.
I asked Facebook if they’d used any tricks of social hacking in the space, much like Google had found eight-person tables were the perfect number to prevent cliques yet maintain conversations. Katigbak says.
“We don’t get that granular, to find the optimal metrics and measurements.”
But he does see the value of communal seating in empowering “chance encounters,” and a few smaller tables have clearly been set up to allow two people to run a more focused discussion over lunch.
Indeed, the word that comes up again and again with Katigbak isn’t “synergy” or “networking.” And it certainly isn’t Google’s creed, which would probably be “optimization.” It’s simply “cool.” For however we may try to classify Roman & Williams, identifying the unifying threads or jealously criticizing its brand of quasi-retro chic, most of us agree, in this place and time, that it does feel “cool.” And Facebook’s cafeteria is pretty cool, too--for reasons a bit beyond mere association.
COMMENTARY: What a novel idea: A corporate cafeteria that is not finished, a work-in-progress, if you will, where staffers can add their personal embellishments to what is supposed to be the most popular spot on the Facebook's corporate campus in Menlo Park.
However, I differ greatly when it comes to describing Facebook's Epic Cafe as "cool." It's not cool at all. It looks entirely too institutional. The school cafeteria and unfinished construction zone look is most appropriate. To this I would add boring, bland, uncool, unFacebook, to name a few.
If you are going to use the term "cool" to describe something, it should be a absolutely unforgettable, an explosion to the senses and memorable almost to the point of being historic. Facebook's Epid Cafe does not meet those standards.
Having said this, Zuck hired away executive chef Josef L. Desimone from Google in 2011, and under his able hand, has formed quite an impressive Facebook Culinary Team (see below):
Facebook Culinary Team Tony Castellucci, Chris Moss, Josef L. Desimone, and Virgil HIdalgo (Click Image To Enlarge)
The Epic Cafe's menu is international in scale, befitting of a company with staffers from all parts of the globe. The food is highly ultra cuisine, very creative, tasty, healthy, there's a huge seletion of it, and it's 100% free to Facebook staffers, and served three times a day, and I don't think Facebook's hackers miss a meal. Here are a few examples from the Facebook Culinary Team page:
Chop Stick is a building constructed almost entirely of one tree (the same tree you see sticking right through its center) - Click Image To Enlarge
THIS KIOSK IS MADE FROM PARTS OF A SINGLE TREE, A SINGLE TREE THAT STAYED MOSTLY INTACT.
Just about every building is made, at least in part, from trees. But Chop Stick, by Visiondivision, won’t let you forget that fact. It’s a “treehouse” made almost entirely from a single yellow poplar tree for 100 Acres park in Indiana. For an additional twist, every bit of the tree that wasn’t used served as an epic cross beam for the structure. So to the onlooker, there’s basically a whole tree sticking straight through a wooden kiosk.
Everything about the construction required extremely careful planning and modeling, as bits from the tree had to be removed without challenging its structural integrity (Click Image To Enlarge)
The project is meant to remind us that natural materials are sacrificed for everything we build (Click Image To Enlarge)
The team tells me.
“Normally, we don’t think about where things are coming from in our daily life, and we really wanted to make it obvious. Paper, bricks, mobile phones, whatever they might be, don’t just pop up by themselves … our idea is that we should really show this raw material in a pedagogic way, to see where things are coming from, and to also make a pretty awesome building.”
The project required an incredible amount of patient ingenuity. Once the actual tree had been selected, all of its bark was removed and treated to serve as shingles (shingles that are maintenance free for 80 years, I might add). For the remainder of the project, the team had to closely analyze the shape of the tree itself to see which chunks could be removed without destroying its structural integrity.
But Chop Stick’s tone is positive, or playful even--you can even purchase the tree’s sweet sap from the snack counter (Click Image To Enlarge)
Youngsters along with their parents have fun on the Chop Stick swing (Click Image To Enlarge)
The team explains.
“We had to calculate each board that was required for the kiosk and also say exactly where this piece of wood was coming from.”
The team labels this process the most difficult part of the project. Of course, these cuts gave the tree a newly balanced weight, meaning new mathematical simulations were run frequently, leading to the inverted jigsaw puzzle that was ultimately built.
In its new life, the tree will provide a beautiful swingset for kids in the park, and it will also serve refreshments. On the menu? Yellow poplar syrup that was extracted from the tree’s bark. As the team put it best, “you could actually eat a part of the building.”
COMMENTARY: I just love how Visiondivison has carefully crafted into the construction of the Chop Sticks treehouse and playground the natural beauty of nature. Regular steel swings are so boring after seeing the Chop Sticks treehouse and playground. Chop Sticks is not just a playground, but a community watering hole where parents and children congregate, play and socialize. It's an outing and a celebration of nature's beauty.
'Fast Track is an attempt to create intelligent infrastructure that is emotional and corresponds to the local context,' write the architects (Click Image To Enlarge)
Just last month, Co.Design wrote about a French architect’s plan to build a trampoline bridge across the Seine. Now, a group of Estonian architects have built a trampoline walkway through a Russian forest. Mathematically speaking, we’re only one piece of trampoline architecture away from a full-on trend.
Salto Architects’ 560-foot-long trampoline walkway, Fast Track, was built this summer as part of an emerging architecture festival called Archstoyanie. The six-year-old event is held in the small village of Nikola-Lenivets, a few hours outside of Moscow, that has recently blossomed as a center for land art. The community has a surreal flavor, producing installations like a wooden replica of the Large Hadron Collider and other otherworldly follies that are sometimes conflagrated, à la Burning Man.
Salto cut a trough of land about two football fields long to create the installation (Click Image To Enlarge)
Then, the team installed an anchorage system along each side, along with a long rubber mat, which makes Fast Track roughly equivalent to your backyard version (Click Image To Enlarge)
Salto, which is based in Tallinn, was one of five firms invited to participate in the festival this year. explain the young designers, who had to cut out a trough of land about two football fields long to create the installation. The young designers, who had to cut out a trough of land about two football fields long to create the installation explain.
“Fast Track is a road and an installation at the same time.”
Fast Track hosted a series of performances and events over the course of the festival (Click Image To Enlarge)
Fast Track, a 560-foot-long trampoline path, was part of the Russian architecture festival Archstoyanie (Click Image To Enlarge)
Then, the team installed an anchorage system to hold the long rubber mat taught. In the end, it’s not all that different from the trampoline you had in your backyard. During the festival, Salto held performances and events on the walkway, inviting dozens of visitors to experience it themselves.
So, by calling it a “road,” are the architects suggesting that such a scheme could be implemented somewhere other than a festival in the Russian woods? Actually, yes.
Salto Architects, a Tallinn-based studio, were one of five firms invited to participate in the festival this year (Click Image To Enlarge)
Salto’s designers write.
“It challenges the concept of infrastructure that only focuses on technical and functional aspects and tends to be ignorant to its surroundings. Fast Track is an attempt to create intelligent infrastructure that is emotional and corresponds to the local context.”
It may not be entirely efficient, but it’s definitely poetic. Besides, some of us may swim to work one day--why shouldn’t we bounce?
COMMENTARY: Now that's what I call something that hasn't been tried before, a piece of art, a trampoline road or walkway, and maybe the world's largest trampoline. Whatever. It's unique and beautiful and I can bet you that if you laid out something similar in the U.S., Europe, or even in China, the populace would gravitate to it and startup trampoline walking on it like crazy. The kids would definitely love it. Hope you enjoyed it as much as I loved presenting it to you.