Tiered timber tea house embraces a Chinese ginkgo forest

June 8, 2020 by  
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On the outskirts of the Chinese city of Jiaxing, European architecture practice MADAM has completed the Gingko Forest Tea House, a tiered timber building that immerses guests in nature. Taking cues from the area’s ginkgo trees that are laid out in a grid formation, the architects crafted the three-story building as a continuation of the grid while using a material palette of wood and glass to emphasize continuity with the forest. The project was designed in collaboration with Chinese architecture firm Hexia and opened its doors in Spring 2020. Located on the western shore of Swan Lake, the Ginkgo Forest Tea House embraces its natural surroundings in both materials and orientation. After taking a train to the site, visitors follow a timber boardwalk — elevated for reduced site impact — that snakes through the trees to reach the tea house. In contrast to the winding pathway, the tea house is highly orthogonal and resembles a pyramid with its tapered form. Trees grow in and around the rooms, which are open-plan and surrounded by full-height glazing. Related: This trippy tea house in Shanghai is built from 999 handmade timber sticks “All together, the forest prevails as the main character,” the architects said in a project statement. “The pavilion remains as an inconspicuous piece of architecture in between the ginkgoes.” Inspired by traditional Chinese wooden joinery techniques, the architects use a similar construction method that overlays bidirectional beams; the timber structure has been left exposed and the interiors minimally furnished. The Ginkgo Forest Tea House spans three floors, each offering different viewpoints of the ginkgo trees and beyond. The interior rooms seamlessly connect to the exterior terraces that are fenced in by wooden slats and arranged so that views of the outdoors can be enjoyed from at least two sides. A sense of playfulness pervades the tea house and becomes more apparent on the higher levels, where sections of flooring fold up to create sitting nooks. A slide and climbing net has also been installed for children. + MADAM Images via MADAM

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Tiered timber tea house embraces a Chinese ginkgo forest

Nearly 20 living trees support this lush garden arbor in Japan

March 31, 2020 by  
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After nearly 20 years, Tokyo-based architecture firm APL design workshop recently returned to the Maezawa Garden House in Kurobe, Japan to update the grounds for the Theater Olympic 2019 international drama festival. In addition to updating the outdoor amphitheater that they had completed in 1989, the architects created the new White Flower Arbor, a stunning open-air pavilion, supported by 17 living oak and cedar trees, that blurs the boundaries between nature and architecture.  Located near the Japan Sea, the Maezawa Garden House was created by Pritzker Architecture Prize laureate Maki Fumihiko in 1982 for global Japanese company YKK. Surrounded by forest on all sides, the vast property stretches from northeast to the southwest with the house on the east end, an outdoor amphitheater on the west side and a long, undulating lawn with a natural garden in between. The amphitheater , also known as the Open Air Theater, comprises a circular, grassy mound and a semicircular slope with timber steps; the open layout and the long adjacent lawn allows for events that can accommodate anywhere from 300 to 1,000 spectators. Related: A forgotten railway takes on new life as a new cultural destination in France When the outdoor amphitheater was selected as one of the venues for the Theater Olympics 2019, APL design workshop was asked to add stage lighting to the steps — built from reclaimed railroad ties — and temporary dressing rooms, which the architects created from repurposed shipping containers lined with timber.  To provide a rest space for visitors, the architects also designed the new White Flower Arbor, an open-air pavilion with a lightweight roof supported by 26 pillars that include 17 living trees and 9 steel columns. The pavilion, which was meant to be temporary, has now become a permanent feature of the grounds due to popular demand. The architects said, “As this gazebo sits on the foot of a slope covered by a forest — almost like a Japanese Shinto shrine — its entity sinking into the forest looks like a part of nature from the outside, while on the inside, its chilly air and darkness bring the people in the gazebo to a world of myth.” + APL design workshop Photography by Kitajima Toshiharu / Archi Photo via APL design workshop

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Nearly 20 living trees support this lush garden arbor in Japan

Nearly 20 living trees support this lush garden arbor in Japan

March 31, 2020 by  
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After nearly 20 years, Tokyo-based architecture firm APL design workshop recently returned to the Maezawa Garden House in Kurobe, Japan to update the grounds for the Theater Olympic 2019 international drama festival. In addition to updating the outdoor amphitheater that they had completed in 1989, the architects created the new White Flower Arbor, a stunning open-air pavilion, supported by 17 living oak and cedar trees, that blurs the boundaries between nature and architecture.  Located near the Japan Sea, the Maezawa Garden House was created by Pritzker Architecture Prize laureate Maki Fumihiko in 1982 for global Japanese company YKK. Surrounded by forest on all sides, the vast property stretches from northeast to the southwest with the house on the east end, an outdoor amphitheater on the west side and a long, undulating lawn with a natural garden in between. The amphitheater , also known as the Open Air Theater, comprises a circular, grassy mound and a semicircular slope with timber steps; the open layout and the long adjacent lawn allows for events that can accommodate anywhere from 300 to 1,000 spectators. Related: A forgotten railway takes on new life as a new cultural destination in France When the outdoor amphitheater was selected as one of the venues for the Theater Olympics 2019, APL design workshop was asked to add stage lighting to the steps — built from reclaimed railroad ties — and temporary dressing rooms, which the architects created from repurposed shipping containers lined with timber.  To provide a rest space for visitors, the architects also designed the new White Flower Arbor, an open-air pavilion with a lightweight roof supported by 26 pillars that include 17 living trees and 9 steel columns. The pavilion, which was meant to be temporary, has now become a permanent feature of the grounds due to popular demand. The architects said, “As this gazebo sits on the foot of a slope covered by a forest — almost like a Japanese Shinto shrine — its entity sinking into the forest looks like a part of nature from the outside, while on the inside, its chilly air and darkness bring the people in the gazebo to a world of myth.” + APL design workshop Photography by Kitajima Toshiharu / Archi Photo via APL design workshop

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Nearly 20 living trees support this lush garden arbor in Japan

Floating ICEBERG creatively confronts global warming

March 26, 2020 by  
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In summer 2019, a surprising sight popped up on a New Hampshire lake — ICEBERG, a floating, iceberg-shaped pavilion made of locally sourced wood and recycled plastic. Created to raise awareness on the issue of polar ice melt, the temporary installation was the work of  Bulot+Collins , an international architecture firm that guided over a hundred Beam Campers to build the project on-site. The environmental installation also doubled as a play space with a resting area for sunbathing and a staircase that leads to a diving platform.  ICEBERG was designed and built for  Beam Camp , a summer camp in Strafford, New Hampshire that teaches campers hands-on skills and creative thinking through large-scale collaborative projects selected through an annual worldwide design competition. In 2019, Bulot+Collins’ ICEBERG project was chosen and built in three weeks by 104 campers between the ages of 10 to 17.  Located in the middle of Willy Pond, the 700-square-foot ICEBERG pavilion features a slanted wood frame buoyed by a series of empty barrels. The structure is covered in locally sourced plywood panels clad in recycled HDPE tiles manufactured on-site by the campers with a process exclusively developed by the architects for the project. Recycled plastic was melted and molded into triangular shapes and then covered in a mix of resin and thermochromic paint to simulate the appearance of a melting iceberg : the hundreds of tiles turn from different shades of blue in the cold to a polar white in the heat.  Related: ICEBERGS immerse visitors in a beautiful underwater world in Washington, D.C. In addition to its striking visual appearance, ICEBERG served as a play space with a sunbathing area and a 10-foot-tall diving platform. “As architects accustomed to working in an environment where the designer, the client and the users are often three distinct parties, we were stimulated to have the future users play an active role in the building process of the project,” note the architects. “This blurring of boundaries familiarized campers with the subtle implications of building a space, and allowed them to evolve in a structure that they constructed with their own hands.” + Bulot+Collins Images via Bulot+Collins

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Floating ICEBERG creatively confronts global warming

Futuristic Safezone Shelter battles air pollution in Thailand with a green oasis

March 18, 2020 by  
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According to the World Air Quality Index of 2019, the city of Bangkok suffers from unhealthy levels of air pollution most of the year. In a bid to raise awareness about air quality and the urban heat island effect, Thai design collective Shma Company created Safezone Shelter, an ephemeral pavilion filled with air purifying plants and technology to create a welcoming gathering space for passersby. Shaped like a cloud, the sculptural intervention was briefly installed in front of the Grand Postal Building during Bangkok Design Week 2020.  In contrast to the brutalist architecture of the Grand Postal Building, the 150-square-meter Safezone Shelter features a futuristic, organic shape with a white nylon covering to evoke the appearance of a cloud. The white textile allows light to diffuse through while hiding the interior from outside views. Inside, the designers created an unexpected oasis filled with tropical plants, informational signage and seating, which also includes part of the postal building’s steps.  Related: Architects design giant air purifying towers to fight Delhi’s air pollution To create a cooling microclimate, the designers engineered the pavilion to pull in hot, polluted air with fans and pass it through dense vegetation to capture dust particles. This “pre-filtered wind” is then passed through a dust filter plate and a cooling plate to purify the air . In addition to the cool air flow generated by fans, the trees, shrubs and ground cover help keep the pavilion’s interior temperatures to between 72 and 84 degrees Fahrenheit. A humidifier maintains humidity levels of 50% to 70%. Recorded nature sounds, such as the sounds of water and birds, are also played inside the space. “All of these inventive methods could further be applied to solve air pollution in other kinds of design,” the designers explained. “Looking wider at an urban scale, bus stops, recreational space under expressways and skywalks also have a potential to be revitalized with such purification systems. At the end, even high-rise buildings might become old-fashioned when a better choice like an air purifier tower could be constructed.” Safezone Shelter was put on display from December 2019 to February 2020.  + Shma Company Images via Shma

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Futuristic Safezone Shelter battles air pollution in Thailand with a green oasis

Pixie Retreat: Behind the scenes in a raw commercial kitchen

March 18, 2020 by  
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I’ve been vegetarian since childhood and have met people with many different takes on a healthy plant-based diet. The raw foodists I’ve encountered have blown me away with the innovation it takes to come up with a menu beyond salad while limiting cooking temperatures to no more than 118 degrees. The raw food philosophy is that heat breaks down food’s nutritional value, while low temperatures allow food to retain enzymes and vitamins, leading to the body’s ability to prevent and fight disease and generally thrive. So when Theresa Keane, co-owner of Pixie Retreat , invited me to tour her Portland, Oregon raw food kitchen, I was intrigued. Her team produces a full vegan, organic , gluten-free and mostly raw menu on a commercial scale. Not only do they supply Pixie Retreat’s three Portland retail locations, they’ve also started wholesaling to local stores. Let’s take a behind-the-scenes look at a commercial raw food kitchen. The early years Pixie Retreat was built on a dream and a lot of hard work, trial and error. Keane co-founded the business with Willow O’Brien in 2008. At the time, they wanted to make and sell healthful and delicious food , but were new to the dining business. “We didn’t know what we were doing,” Keane said. “We never worked in kitchens, Willow and I. She didn’t even know how to make food. She made tea and stuff like that.” They started out sharing a commissary kitchen with other vegan businesses. That’s where they met Anna Clark, who later became their third business partner. Clark, a pastry chef, was the only one with formal culinary training. After 9 months in the commissary kitchen, they rented a house and ran Pixie Retreat out of it, working late into the night while filling wholesale orders. Keane described a time when an engineer acquaintance stopped by. Their setup left him shocked. “We had eight refrigerators, freezers, 20 dehydrators,” Keane said. “He said it’s amazing you don’t burn this house down. Every night, the power would trip off. We couldn’t even turn the heat on because it would trip the power.” A spotless, modern raw food kitchen They’ve come a long way. Now headquartered in Southeast Portland’s industrial district, the Pixie Retreat RAW’r Laboratorie & Makery is both a retail outlet and the site of their commercial kitchen. The small front part has a seating area and a case of premade wraps and goodies. “We’re grab-and-go style, because that’s how people are living,” Keane said. “We’re not a sit down-like service restaurant . We’re into flavor, satisfaction and integrity of our ingredients. Plating is not my forte.” Customers can also custom-order kale- or millet-based bowls and coconut cream puddings with toppings. The millet is one of several cooked ingredients available. A big white curtain hangs behind the counter, obscuring the kitchen. “That’s more for health department reasons,” Keane said, indicating the curtain. “And to protect the magic back there.” We step through the curtain and find three workers preparing food in an extremely well-organized kitchen. It’s Thursday, one of the big assembly days for delivering to the two other Pixie Retreat outlets. Tacked up on the door of the walk-in dehydrator are long to-do lists for each day of the week. Keane introduced me to her staff and to each machine, many of which were specially made or adapted to the needs of a mostly raw food kitchen. The walk-in dehydration room is the most exciting and unusual. Keane opened the door, releasing a smoky smell. Inside are trays and trays of eggplant bacon strips, which stay in there for 72 hours. Pixie Retreat bought the dehydrator from a former kale chip entrepreneur who devised tools to streamline raw food making. Keane estimated the walk-in dehydrator is 75% more efficient than the company’s former multiple-dehydrator setup. Pixie Retreat has a Robot Coupe Blixer, which is an industrial-strength food processor. “This tool is a game changer,” Keane said. “I mean, it’s expensive like a car, but it paid for itself in labor. I love this tool so much.” The company uses it to blend ingredients for pizza dough, macadamia nut cheese and raw onion bread. Pixie Retreat makes raw chocolate in its chocolate machine, melting it down at a temperature of 108. The chocolate winds up in treats like chocolate salted “karmals”, “almond butta cups” and dehydrated, oat-based chocolate chip cookies. Other interesting tools include an Italian fruit press repurposed for squeezing excess moisture out of sauerkraut and a specially made enormous cookie-cutter to cut onion bread into uniform squares while minimizing waste . Raw and vegan at home The Pixie Retreat kitchen is cool but daunting. What about the average person who wants to add more raw food into their diet without shelling out for a Blixer? “Make nut milk ,” Keane said. “That’s where I would start.” You’ll need a nut milk bag, available online or in some grocery stores’ produce departments. She recommended starting with hazelnuts or almonds. For flavor and sweetness, add sea salt, vanilla and a Medjool date. Put it all in your blender. “Kick it up on high. Blend it. Then you put it in the nut milk bag and you squeeze it out.” Dry out the pulp and use it as a nut flour for baked goods. Related: How to choose the healthiest, most sustainable milk alternative After you master nut milk, try making nut cheese. Keane recommended blending buttery macadamia nuts with water, Italian seasoning, lemon juice and sea salt for a plant-based ricotta. Going national Pixie Retreat scaled back from wholesale for a while to focus on retail locations. But it has just relaunched, selling chocolate “karmal”, salted “karmal” and raspberry “l’il puddin” at New Seasons stores in Portland. Made with organic young coconut meat and Irish moss, these raw desserts are packed with nutrients . Soon, Pixie Retreat plans to introduce nationwide cold shipping of the “l’il puddin’”. Currently, customers across the U.S. can order sweet or savory Pixie snack boxes . But Pixie Retreat’s goals go far beyond Portland or even the U.S. When I asked Keane about the company vision, she immediately said, “Global. That’s the dream. We want to be the fast food of the future.” + Pixie Retreat Images via Josh Chang and Marielle Dezurick / Pixie Retreat and Teresa Bergen / Inhabitat

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Pixie Retreat: Behind the scenes in a raw commercial kitchen

Seaweed pavilion encourages environmental conservation at WEF

February 4, 2020 by  
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In the landlocked Swiss town of Davos-Klosters, German designer Julia Lohmann has brought multi-sensory elements of the sea to guests of the World Economic Forum (WEF) 50th Annual Meeting. Hidaka Ohmu is a seaweed installation accompanied by a seaweed prototyping workshop. Created as part of the Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum exhibition, ‘Partnering with Nature,’ the installation aims to “encourage participants to play with natural elements, learn about the symbiotic relationships in nature and be inspired to imagine a more cohesive approach to working with nature.” Made from kelp and rattan, the organic pavilion immerses visitors in the scents and colors of the ocean as a reminder of the importance of environmental conservation. The Hidaka Ohmu installation is part of Julia Lohmann’s Department of Seaweed, an ongoing collection of work that explores the sustainable uses of seaweed and ways the material can be used to spark dialogue. At WEF, the installation took the shape of an organic pavilion with a rattan frame and semi-translucent kelp panels, the colors of which change depending on the light. Hidaka Ohmu takes its name from the Hidaka kelp used for the installation and the pavilion’s resemblance to Ohmu, the massive insect-like creatures from the 1984 Japanese animated film Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind , a cautionary sci-fi tale of environmental devastation. Related: 100% biodegradable, edible packaging is so much better than plastic In addition to exploring the sights and smells of Hidaka Ohmu, WEF participants were invited to create objects from seaweed themselves in Lohmann’s Department of Seaweed prototyping workshop. The workshop aims to make science and our relationship with nature more tangible as a means of encouraging environmentally responsible actions and raising awareness about climate change . The installation and workshop were presented from January 21 to January 24, 2020. “We need an empathic, more than human-centric way of engaging with nature,” Lohmann said. “Every species has an equal right to life on this planet. We can use the same human ingenuity that has led to the climate crisis we are facing now — and design has a lot to answer for in this — to protect and regenerate the ecosystem that sustains us.” + Julia Lohmann Photography by Valeriano Di Domenico, Farouk Pinjo, Claran McCrickard, and Sikarin Fon Thanachaiary via WEF

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Seaweed pavilion encourages environmental conservation at WEF

Hundreds of red plastic crates are repurposed into a public mosque in Indonesia

January 22, 2020 by  
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One green-thinking firm, Parisauli Arsitek Studio , has managed to find a way of giving new life to hundreds of discarded plastic crates . Located in Tangerang, Indonesia, the Kotakrat Pavilion is a 440-square-foot “Space of Kindness” that can be used for various purposes. In its initial form, the pavilion is currently being used as a small mosque, complete with a covered prayer room. According to the design team, the inspiration for the pavilion stemmed from the desire to create vibrant public spaces out of discarded items. Plastic crates are common containers for just about any type of product, but they are often left on curbsides to be sent off to landfills. Related: 30,000 recycled water bottles make up this 3D-printed pavilion The Kotakrat Pavilion is a modular structure that can take many shapes and sizes and will suit almost any type of function. First, the pavilion is put together by stacking hundreds of plastic crates on top of each other to create the outer shell. The crates are then screwed together and reinforced with steel pillars to create a sturdy, durable building. In this particular case, the public pavilion was designed to be a small mosque. Indonesia has the largest Muslim population in the world, and the call to prayer happens five times a day. Having a covered area with several staggered roofs during these times is quite welcomed, especially during inclement weather. Several crates near the pavilion’s entrance are designated as storage space for shoes. Further inside, there are several “shelves” to store prayer rugs. Throughout the modular pavilion , several hanging plants give the mosque a warm, welcoming atmosphere. According to the studio, the process of repurposing waste into public spaces is a practice that all communities in today’s world should adopt. “KotaKrat is a ‘ruang kebaikan’ (space of kindness) that starts with the diversity of people’s needs, behavior and habits,” the team said. “The existence of this space of kindness adapts to the context, location and needs of its user community. Space of kindness may appear as a stall, prayer room, emergency posts, shelter, bus stop and others.” + Parisauli Arsitek Studio Via ArchDaily Photography by via Parisauli Arsitek Studio

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Hundreds of red plastic crates are repurposed into a public mosque in Indonesia

Architect makes playful puzzle pavilion for Design Week Mexico

January 20, 2020 by  
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At the 11th annual Design Week Mexico, Mexican architect Gerardo Broissin created the Egaligilo Pavilion, an eye-catching structure made with large jigsaw puzzle-shaped concrete pieces. Installed on the grounds of Mexico City’s contemporary art museum Museo Tamayo, the boxy pavilion draws the eye with its puzzle-inspired form and bubble-like protrusions designed to deliberately obscure views of the interior. Inside is a lush garden that remains exposed to the outdoor elements thanks to small slits and perforations cut into the pavilion on all sides. Installed last year at the beginning of October, Broissin’s Egaligilo Pavilion builds upon Design Week Mexico’s tradition of using architecture and design to spur thought-provoking conversations. The basis for the Egaligilo Pavilion begins with the teachings of French philosopher Michel Foucault, particularly how the discovery of self is centered on a state of constant questioning. Broissin explores this “principle of agitation” by designing a space that juxtaposes seemingly opposite elements, from the inclusion of both traditional and parametric architecture to the concepts of the artificial and the natural. For instance, the rectangular pavilion’s puzzle piece-shaped panels seem to suggest rigidity and order but are contrasted with the bubble-like dome protrusions and further undermined by the interior’s curved walls. A large circular opening marks one end of the pavilion and provides the only view inside of the structure, which houses a surprisingly lush garden with a mulch ground. Related: This prefab weekend retreat made from shipping containers can be ordered online “The Egaligilo’s external structure remains light weighted and displays shape contrasts, it holds a living oasis inside, in which symbolism is exalted and gives the visitor the capacity to assume a new role, to reinvent him/herself following Foucault,” Broissin said in the project statement. “A space that originally should have been outside is held on to walls that are capriciously opened to light, but can’t be penetrated by the gaze. This quality demands the visitor to immerse in space, and once again, creates a tension between the limit of the public and the private.” + Gerardo Broissin Images via Gerardo Broissin

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Architect makes playful puzzle pavilion for Design Week Mexico

Dramatically twisted timber weaves together in the Steampunk pavilion

November 8, 2019 by  
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In Tallinn, Estonia, a team of designers have merged traditional craftsmanship with digital modeling to create Steampunk, a sculptural pavilion that uses steam-bent hardwood and computer-aided design. Winner of the Tallinn Architecture Biennial 2019 Installation Program Competition, the spectacular artwork uses the laborious process of steam bending timber by hand, rather than by robotic production, to call attention to the merits of traditional craftsmanship absent in machine building. Gwyllim Jahn, Fologram’s Cameron Newnham, Soomeen Hahm Design and Igor Pantic designed the Steampunk pavilion with the help of digital models that were rendered as holographic overlays during construction. Instead of translating their designs into CNC code for robotic production, the team decided to use a hybrid approach and build the pavilion by hand with the help of a holographic guide.  “While computer aided manufacturing and robotics have given architects unprecedented control over the materialization of their designs, the nuance and subtlety commonly found in traditional craft practices is absent from the artefacts of robotic production because the intuition and understanding of the qualitative aspects of a project as well as the quantitative is difficult to describe in the deterministic and explicit language of these machines,” explain the designs in a statement. “We are interested in approaches to making that hybridize analogue construction with the precision and flexibility of digital models .” Related: Otherworldly tree sculpture mimics plant growth with glowing veins Using standardized 100-by-10-millimeter timber boards, the construction team bagged, steamed and then bent each strip over an adaptable formwork while using the holographic model as a reference. The twisted pieces of timber were then assembled to create the appearance of a woven 3D knot measuring roughly eight meters wide and 4.6 meters in height. The pavilion has four distinct spaces framing views towards the old city of Tallinn as well as the Architecture Museum. + Soomeen Hahm Design Images by Peter Bennetts

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Dramatically twisted timber weaves together in the Steampunk pavilion

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