Massive tree-like sculpture takes over Switzerlands largest train station

July 23, 2018 by  
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An explosion of color has taken over the central train station in Zurich, Switzerland. In collaboration with the Fondation Beyeler , Brazilian contemporary artist Ernesto Neto has installed a stunning and monumental work of art that rises 65 feet to the ceiling height of the Zurich Main Station, the busiest train station in Switzerland . Dubbed the GaiaMotherTree, this sculptural and interactive tree-like artwork resembles a living organism. Crafted from colorful strips of cotton knotted together with finger-crocheting techniques, Ernesto Neto’s GaiaMotherTree is made all the more eye-catching due to its backdrop—the Neorenaissance architecture of the Zurich Main Station, built in 1871. The sweeping organic structure was shaped and stabilized using drop-shaped counterweights filled with ground spices including turmeric, cloves, cumin and black pepper. The central counterweight that hangs above a giant outline of the world in the heart of the GaiaMotherTree is filled with 30 kilograms of plant seeds . No nails were used to support the installation ; in addition to the counterweights, 840 kilograms of earth was used to secure it. “With GaiaMotherTree, Neto establishes a connection to the story of creation,” read a statement about the installation, which took three months to complete. “The work’s title refers to Greek mythology: Gaia, the personification of the Earth , emerges from chaos, the origin of all things. She is the Mother Earth goddess, bestowing the gift of life, but also the goddess of death, to whom the dead return. Neto places ‘Mother Earth’ at the heart of his sculpture.” Related: This minimalist timber writer’s studio in Switzerland is suspended in mid-air As an immersive installation, GaiaMotherTree serves as a community space and visitors are welcome to walk inside and sit on low textile-covered seating. The installation, which was unveiled June 30, has hosted a series of activities including musical concerts, workshops and debates. GaiaMotherTree is open to the public every day until July 29, 2018. + Fondation Beyeler Images © Mark Niedermann, portrait by Niels Fabaek

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Massive tree-like sculpture takes over Switzerlands largest train station

A prefab chapels sculptural form amplifies the Spanish landscape

July 23, 2018 by  
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Perched on a hilltop in a bucolic rural landscape in southern Spain, the Sacromonte Chapel is a minimalist, prefabricated structure designed to coexist with nature in harmony. Designed by Uruguay-and Brazil-based architecture firm MAPA , this sculptural place of worship is set on one of the highest peaks in the traditional Andalusian neighborhood Sacromonte and overlooks unobstructed, panoramic views of its surroundings. The building was mainly constructed from cross-laminated timber panels and steel and was assembled onsite in just one day. Crafted as a “landscape amplifier,” the Sacromonte Chapel takes cues from its surroundings — a rolling landscape of vineyards, lagoons, hills and shelters — and features a relatively simple shape that complements the environment. The chapel comprises two cross-laminated timber panels — measuring nearly 20 by 30 feet in size — angled toward one another, like a pair of hands in prayer, without actually touching. The semi-enclosed structure simultaneously creates a defined interior while remaining open to the environment. “How should the sacred spaces of the 21st century be? The chapel ponders possible interpretations of this and other questions through its ambiguous relationship with matter, space and time,” MAPA said in a project statement. “A peaceful tension reigns when in contact with it. A tension between weight and lightness, presence and disappearance, technology and nature . Enigmatic and mystifying, it leaves its visitors with more questions than answers.” Related: Provocative timber horn explores the hypnotic pull of the unknown The Sacromonte Chapel was prefabricated in a factory in Portugal and then transported to the site for assembly. The architects strived to use as few resources as possible to make a simple and austere design statement. A black metal box faced with a sheet of translucent onyx punctuates one of the timber planes and houses a statue of the Virgin of “La Carrodilla.” A slender timber cross was installed in front of the chapel. + MAPA Images by Tali Kimelman

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A prefab chapels sculptural form amplifies the Spanish landscape

Air pollution levels in national parks rival those of major US cities

July 23, 2018 by  
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Bad news for national park lovers: a new study published in Science Advances  has found that many national parks have levels of of air pollution on par with major US cities. In parks such as Sequoia, Acadia, and Joshua tree, toxic ozone levels breaching the safe limit set by the EPA rivaled those found in cities such as New York and Los Angeles, which has the worst air quality rating of cities in the United States. While the number of dangerous pollution days has fallen for both cities and parks since the 1990 enactment of the Clean Air Act and the EPA’s Regional Haze Rule of 1999, experts are pressing for more regulation after this week’s findings. National parks see an 8% decline in visitor numbers, on average, in months recording two to three days of bad air quality. The statistics suggest that many of the parks’ guests choose to come not only for the sights, but for their health as well. And, while some have criticized Regional Haze Rule regulations, study co-author Ivan Rudik disagrees. An assistant professor at Cornell University, Rudik stated that “some of the arguments that people are making against the Regional Haze Rule are that the benefits are basically zero, that these visibility rules don’t matter much or maybe the health improvements are overstated. But if you look at what people actually do, they clearly do care.” Related: UN creates a new global climate change coalition Recent years have seen record-breaking numbers of visitors to national parks, yet another reason to reevaluate government standards when it comes to air pollution. Speaking to The Associated Press, Rudik remarked that “even though the national parks are supposed to be icons of a pristine landscape, quite a lot of people are being exposed to ozone levels that could be detrimental to their health.” + Science Advances Via Ecowatch Images via Shutterstock

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Air pollution levels in national parks rival those of major US cities

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