Kengo Kuma’s Turkish art museum is made of stacked timber boxes

April 24, 2017 by  
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Prolific architect Kengo Kuma just unveiled plans for an amazing timber museum in Turkey. According to the architects, the Odunpazari Modern Art Museum will be an expansive complex made up of obliquely stacked wooden boxes, paying homage to the area’s traditional wooden Ottoman residences. The modern art museum is planned for Eskishehr, a university town about three hours from Istanbul. According to the Kengo Kuma studio , the design focused on blending the building into the existing urbanscape while creating a cultural landmark for the city, “Our design strategy is to make the volume in aggregation; stacking small boxes to create the urban scale architecture,” explained the studio. “Stacked boxes at the street level are read in the scale of surrounding houses and it grows taller towards the centre of the museum to stand in the urbanscape that announces itself as new cultural landmark of the area.” Related: Kengo Kuma unveils plans for spiraling timber-clad library in Sydney The timber boxes , which are placed at irregular angles will allow for the building to gradually grow in height from the exterior towards it center, creating a fairly large building but one that doesn’t hover over the traditional low-level buildings in the immediate area. Additionally, the wide spaces in between the horizontal timber slats – a nod to the area’s former wooden market – will illuminate the interior with tons of natural light . The entrance of the museum will lead to a central atrium, made up of four boxes and lit from a skylight in the ceiling. The boxes slowly rise up through the design, giving the interior plenty of flexible exhibition space . The larger exhibitions will be placed at the bottom level while more intimate collections will be exhibited in the smaller boxes at the top of the building. + Kengo Kuma Via Dezeen Images via Kengo Kuma

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2,000-year-old pre-Aztec ancient palace complex found in Mexico

March 29, 2017 by  
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There’s so much we don’t know about ancient civilizations , but the discovery of a 30,031-square-foot palace complex in Mexico may yield some hints. Two American Museum of Natural History anthropologists recently reported the impressive palace built at a time before the Aztecs. They say the El Palenque palace complex is the oldest known in the Oaxaca Valley. The colossal palace compound, announced by Elsa M. Redmond and Charles Spencer in a Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America article recently published online , backs up a picture slowly emerging of ancient civilizations in Mexico. Before the Aztecs, organized states developed in Mesoamerica – but Spencer and Redmond said determining the oldest states is a major anthropology research problem. Royal palaces in particular help signify a state. Related: Archaeologists just discovered an ancient unknown city in Greece According to Phys.org, most researchers in this field think the ancient civilization in Oaxaca was one of the earliest states to exist in Mesoamerica, and Redmond and Spencer believe their discovery supports that theory. The anthropologists dated the palace complex between 300 and 100 BC, making it somewhere around 2,100 to 2,300 years old. They think it could be one of the Oaxaca Valley’s oldest multi-functional palaces. The two say the complex is well preserved, and is similar to Mesoamerican palaces historically documented. The ruler and his family had living quarters there, but the complex also included a dining area, business offices, place for sacrifices, and a staircase. Its massive size indicates the ruler could employ a lot of manpower. The palace also offers a few insights into ancient architecture : the researchers said construction techniques used by the builders hint the complex was designed beforehand and then built in one organized, large-scale undertaking. There’s a cistern for gathering rainwater in the residential area, and a drain carved into stone to deliver fresh water and get rid of waste. Via Phys.org Images via Elsa M. Redmond and Charles Spencer

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2,000-year-old pre-Aztec ancient palace complex found in Mexico

Giant "Lily Pads" will capture stormwater at Brooklyn’s largest public-housing complex

March 29, 2017 by  
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When Hurricane Sandy made landfall in October 2012, the Brooklyn neighborhood of Red Hook didn’t stand a chance. Surrounded by the waters of the  Gowanus Canal , Upper New York Bay, and Buttermilk Channel, the coastal community was ripped apart by the tidal surge. More than four years on, Red Hook is slowly but surely returning to form. New development is under way, and Red Hook Houses , Brooklyn’s largest public housing complex, is getting a new, more resilient makeover complete with giant, green-roofed “Lily Pads” that will capture stormwater and keep it from overflowing the city’s sewage system. To help it weather the brunt of Mother Nature’s wrath, if and when she decided to call again, the New York City Housing Authority commissioned Kohn Pedersen Fox and landscape architecture firm OLIN to devise a “resiliency and renewal program.” Related: New renderings reveal resilient and revitalizing Red Hook waterfront creative complex After extensive research, including community surveys and workshops, KPF is proposing to build 14 “utility pods”—all above ground—to not only deliver heat and electricity to each of the 28 buildings but also to provide a space where residents can convene. There will also be a “Lily Pad” scheme: permanent flood barriers in the form of raised earth in the middle of internal courtyards. For extra security, Red Hook Houses will get an active flood wall bolstered with passive barriers. “These elements transform the experience of residents and guests by providing vibrant, social spaces in conjunction with the area’s infrastructural needs,” KPF wrote in a press release . Related: Red Hook Housing Project’s new urban farm grows fresh produce and jobs for the community And KPF and OLIN’s efforts haven’t gone unnoticed. The New York Chapter of the American Institute of Architects has named NYCHA Red Hook Houses one of its 2017 Design Awards winners . You’ll be able to view the project, and the other winning designs, at an exhibition at the Center for Architecture in Manhattan from April 21 through June 20. + Kohn Pedersen Fox Via the Architect’s Newspaper

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Giant "Lily Pads" will capture stormwater at Brooklyn’s largest public-housing complex

6 groundbreaking examples of tech innovations inspired by biomimicry

March 29, 2017 by  
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Da Vinci was definitely on to something when he observed birds and copied their forms to create his own wings for flight. Although biomimicry wasn’t ultimately successful in helping Da Vinci achieve flight , it has a solid track record for getting engineers, thinkers, and inventors to approach problems in design and technology by returning to nature and its processes. Here are six examples of how observing and imitating nature lead to designs that can improve issues in the modern world. Wind turbine with hummingbird wings Wind turbines typically incorporate a pinwheel shape, but a breakthrough design from Tyer Wind has cleverly tapped into the gravity-defying hovering abilities of hummingbirds . While it may look like these feather-light birds are furiously flapping their wings in a linear fashion, they actually use a figure eight configuration. The design for this new turbine uses wings instead of traditional rotating blades to turn energy from wind into green electricity through 3-D Aouinian Kinematics . Cactus water collector After observing certain cacti ’s ability to collect and store water particles from fog, students from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago were inspired to create Dewpoint , a design with real-world applications beyond the desert. By recreating a cactus’s prong-like spines and attaching them to a panel that can absorb, collect, and efficiently save water, the team is beginning to explore water security possibilities for a world that is increasingly facing drought, desertification, and disappearing water sources. Stable and durable bridge Anyone who has ever watched a little leaf on a tree take hit after hit from wind or pelting rain (or perhaps a child with a stick) and still persist knows that surprising hidden strength can be found in many of Mother Nature’s designs. Wanda Lewis has been studying that idea for 25 years, looking specifically at how examining the ways that fragile elements in nature respond to external forces and stress can benefit the structure of a modern, man-made bridge . Lewis developed a mathematical model for bridge design that would take into consideration modern stressors such as traffic and extreme weather conditions. Lewis’s “form-finding” would enable the creation of bridges that are safer, more durable, and long-lasting  by using a previously elusive optimal arch. Related: Biomimicry keeps hope alive despite the new regime Light-sensitive robot caterpillar What may look like a tiny piece of wavy plastic (or perhaps a miniaturized piece of bacon) is actually a robot that can carry loads up to 10 times larger than itself . With caterpillars as inspiration, physics researchers in Poland created this 15 millimeter long critter which is crafted from light-sensitive Liquid Crystalline Elastomers. Mimicking the wave-like motions of a moving caterpillar, this soft robot can also go up a slope or squeeze into a small space. Watch this little robot move in a surprisingly meditative video. Artificial leaf Artificial photosynthesis has been around for over a century, but Caltech’s Joint Center for Artificial Photosynthesis has found a way to mimic the natural process and safely, effectively, and affordably produce and store energy using the sun . The group’s artificial leaf consists of two electrodes (one that generates hydrogen gas, the other that generates oxygen gas), as well as a plastic membrane that keeps the collected gases separate. The Caltech crew is working on scaling up the design, but their innovation shows promise for creating a system that uses only sunlight, water, and carbon dioxide to produce hydrogen fuels that can be utilized as needed. Avian-inspired train It’s a bird…it’s a train…it’s kind of both: a bullet train  whose design was partially inspired by features of an owl and a kingfisher . Engineer, general manager of the tech development department for Japan’s bullet trains , and avid bird-watcher Eiji Nakatsu wanted to make his trains both faster and quieter . He first employed his observations about the noise-dampening feather parts of an owl to reduce the sound effects of the trains as they whizzed through neighborhoods and tunnels. Later, he observed that the streamlined shape of the kingfisher’s bill could be used in a new train design to further reduce noise (including a persistent sonic boom effect) and decrease necessary fuel amounts, all while reducing travel time.

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6 groundbreaking examples of tech innovations inspired by biomimicry

First fluorescent frog in the world found in South America

March 16, 2017 by  
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Scientists found the first fluorescent frog in the world – by accident – in South America . Researchers at Buenos Aires’ Bernardino Rivadavia Natural Sciences Museum stumbled across the discovery while studying pigment in polka dot tree frogs, which are common in the continent. Beneath an ultraviolet (UV) light , the otherwise dull-colored frog glows bright blue and green. Fluorescence – or the ability to take in light at short wavelengths and re-emit it at longer wavelengths – is found in several ocean creatures but is incredibly rare on land. Only some scorpions and parrots were known to possess it until now, and this is the very first amphibian we’ve found that fluoresces. Scientists don’t really know why creatures are fluorescent; they could be communicating, attracting mates, or concealing themselves. Related: Biofluorescent sharks glow bright green in the depths of the sea The scientists initially thought the frog might glow a faint red because it contains the pigment biliverdin, which gives some some insects a slight red fluorescence. But when the researchers shone a UVA flashlight on polka dot tree frogs that came from the Santa Fe, Argentina area, they were amazed to see the brown-green frogs glow bright green and blue instead. The journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences published their research on March 13. Study co-author Maria Gabriella Lagoria told Chemistry World, “This is very different from fluorophores found in other vertebrates, which are usually proteins or polyenic chains.” And there could be even more fluorescent frogs that we haven’t discovered yet. Co-author Julián Faivovich told Nature, “I’m really hoping that other colleagues will be very interested in this phenomenon, and they will start carrying a UV flashlight to the field.” He plans to seek fluorescence in 250 other tree frog species that have translucent skin like the polka dot tree frog. Via Nature and The Guardian Images via Carlos Taboada et al

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First fluorescent frog in the world found in South America

Mark Twains personal library opens to aspiring writers

January 12, 2017 by  
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Mark Twain is one of America’s most revered writers – and his legacy is still influencing literature . Now, aspiring writers will be able to write in the author’s personal library thanks to a new initiative by the Mark Twain Museum . The museum recently announced they will open up a handful of slots this year for wordsmiths to work uninterrupted in Twain’s library for up to three hours at a time. Although writers cottages abound around the world, it’s quite rare for a museum to open historic spaces for public use. However, in this case, the museum is paying homage to Twain’s love for the Hartford house, where he wrote some of his most famous works, including The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Adventures of Huckleberry Finn . Slots are limited, with only four nights available throughout 2017. Lest those participants think they can show up with a fifth of whiskey and a quill, those who reserve spaces will be held to some strict rules. The reservations will be for a maximum of three hours and there is no wifi. Plugs are “few and far between,” so laptops should be fully charged before entering. And about that quill? Sorry, no ink allowed, only pencils are permitted in the historic house . Despite the restrictions, the event is geared to the hope of inspiration, “Participants will have the house to yourselves,” a note on the library’s website states. “Feel inspired by the beautiful sounds of the fountain in the family conservatory; rest your eyes upon Twain’s bookshelves as you ponder your next word.” + Mark Twain Museum Via Huffington Post Images via John Groo/The Mark Twain House & Museum 

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Chinese circus ties up endangered tiger so that visitors can take selfies

January 12, 2017 by  
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A horrifying video posted on Chinese video platform iQiyi shows circus trainers brutally binding a tiger to a metal table – all for the sake of selfie photographs. The animal is believed to be an endangered Siberian tiger, and it was cruelly lashed down so that children and adults could sit on its back for photos. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M4SDV_Xi3To The video’s description says the circus was performing in the Hunan province, and that the tiger was strapped down “to be safe for everyone to take pictures – but the expression of the tiger is very desperate.” When the tiger was finally freed, it bounded up and dashed away from the table. Related: Tigers punched for fun at horrifying “sanctuaries” in China Mashable reports that in China the God of Wealth is often portrayed sitting on tigers, and the act is associated with the deity. In the video a small child can be heard saying (as translated by Mashable), “I’m scared, I’m scared,” and one trainer responded, “Isn’t it cool to sit on a tiger? It can keep you away from the devil and earn you promotions and wealth.” Many commenters condemned the actions of the trainers and the parents who gleefully allowed their children to sit on the poor tiger. One iQiyi user said, “What kind of values are these parents teaching their children?” Another user wrote, “You can’t earn much from this, and instead you’ve brought so much pain to the animal, do you think it’s worth it?” Siberian tigers, also called Amur tigers, are found in the Russian Far East, China’s border areas, and possibly in North Korea, according to the World Wildlife Fund . There are only up to 540 of the endangered tigers left in the world. Via Mashable Images via screenshot

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Spectacular new shipping container museum nestles near China’s Great Wall

December 30, 2016 by  
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Nestled near China’s famous Great Wall rests a new cultural museum made with shipping containers . The Zhao Hua Xi Shi Living Museum designed by IAPA Design Consultants offers an opportunity to learn while appreciating glorious scenery. Locally sourced and recycled materials add to the peaceful museum’s sustainability. IAPA worked with The Mother Earth Happiness Group to design the Zhao Hua Xi Shi Living Museum in Beijing, China. The design statement said the architects emphasized art culture and environmental protection in their vision for the sleek center that includes offices and exhibit areas wrapped in patios, courtyards, and gardens. Trees and hills of the encircling Great Wall historic site root the museum in nature . Related: Rammed earth Palenque Cultural Tambillo is designed to celebrate Afro-ecuadorean arts Modular containers provide the museum’s main buildings, and recycled timber decking adds a natural touch. Details like woven reeds sourced locally for the outdoor corridor ceilings add to the museum’s beauty. Stone, steel, and hemp are among the other building materials utilized. Varying building heights allow the complex to blend in without blocking too much of the landscape; the design statement says courtyard house style inspired the architects. The Zhao Hua Xi Shi Living Museum is a place to relax; visitors can soak in the scenery via a roof garden, viewing platform, viewing tower, or from the bridges connecting the shipping container buildings. They can wander about the museum, dine in a restaurant, or seek refreshment in a teahouse. According to the design statement, “Zhao Hua Xi Shi Living Museum is a representation of the continuity of traditional cultural heritage.” IAPA’s goal as stated on their website is to use “modern design techniques to interpret traditional oriental philosophy.” It appears they accomplished that goal elegantly in the Zhao Hua Xi Shi Living Museum. + IAPA Design Consultants Via ArchDaily Images via ZENG Zhe/ArchDaily

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Spectacular new shipping container museum nestles near China’s Great Wall

Spectacular new shipping container museum nestles near China’s Great Wall

December 30, 2016 by  
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Nestled near China’s famous Great Wall rests a new cultural museum made with shipping containers . The Zhao Hua Xi Shi Living Museum designed by IAPA Design Consultants offers an opportunity to learn while appreciating glorious scenery. Locally sourced and recycled materials add to the peaceful museum’s sustainability. IAPA worked with The Mother Earth Happiness Group to design the Zhao Hua Xi Shi Living Museum in Beijing, China. The design statement said the architects emphasized art culture and environmental protection in their vision for the sleek center that includes offices and exhibit areas wrapped in patios, courtyards, and gardens. Trees and hills of the encircling Great Wall historic site root the museum in nature . Related: Rammed earth Palenque Cultural Tambillo is designed to celebrate Afro-ecuadorean arts Modular containers provide the museum’s main buildings, and recycled timber decking adds a natural touch. Details like woven reeds sourced locally for the outdoor corridor ceilings add to the museum’s beauty. Stone, steel, and hemp are among the other building materials utilized. Varying building heights allow the complex to blend in without blocking too much of the landscape; the design statement says courtyard house style inspired the architects. The Zhao Hua Xi Shi Living Museum is a place to relax; visitors can soak in the scenery via a roof garden, viewing platform, viewing tower, or from the bridges connecting the shipping container buildings. They can wander about the museum, dine in a restaurant, or seek refreshment in a teahouse. According to the design statement, “Zhao Hua Xi Shi Living Museum is a representation of the continuity of traditional cultural heritage.” IAPA’s goal as stated on their website is to use “modern design techniques to interpret traditional oriental philosophy.” It appears they accomplished that goal elegantly in the Zhao Hua Xi Shi Living Museum. + IAPA Design Consultants Via ArchDaily Images via ZENG Zhe/ArchDaily

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Spectacular new shipping container museum nestles near China’s Great Wall

Manetti Shrem Museum’s 50,000-square-foot canopy was inspired by the texture of the agrarian landscape

November 28, 2016 by  
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The light-filled, multi-use building was built to further the educational mission of the museum and become a new cultural destination for the entire community. It will offer spaces for exhibitions, classes, studios and communal activities, all nestled under a 50,000-square-foot floating ‘Grand Canopy’ made of perforated aluminum triangular beams. Related: The Smithsonian’s Vaulted Canopy Brings Nature and Light Inside Chosen from a design competition in 2013, Bohlin Cywinski Jackson and SO – IL, together with construction company Whiting-Turner, created a building that redefines the concept of a university museum and the way in which the campus community will experience art. Related: Brooklyn Children’s Museum Unveils Plans for New Eco-Friendly Rooftop Canopy “The museum’s design was inspired by the agrarian landscape of the Central Valley, which is rich in pattern, texture and color,” said Karl Backus, design principal from Bohlin Cywinski Jackson’s San Francisco office. “We incorporated these elements into the program of the building as a way to create smaller volumes and provide an approachable, human scale .” + Bohlin Cywinski Jackson + SO-IL Photos by Iwan Baan

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