Bachelorette Pad. This fall, Barbie is finally becoming an architect—and getting a new house—built with the latest sustainable materials. Mattel teamed up with AIA to host a competition to design Barbie’s new home and Ting Li and Maja Parklar’s design for the Malibu Beach House took the top prize. Their design features a green roof, solar panels, bamboo flooring, and low VOC paints. More at Inhabitat.
Cheating on the Test. In a major blow for public safety, the New York Post reported that American Standard Testing and Consulting Labs—the company responsible for testing the safety and strength of concrete in projects like LaGuardia Airport, the Lincoln Tunnel, and Yankee Stadium—faked concrete test results. DOB inspectors have begun conducting spot checks and the buildings were found safe.
Transit Geography. Using Google Maps, Mapnificent illustrates how far public transportation users can go in a specified amount. While only available in major global cities, the maps allow users to calculate transportation times at two intersecting areas, highlighting possible travel distances. Now we can figure out exactly how far public transportation takes us in a New York minute.
Hanging in There. Nasa’s Hangar One at Moffet Field in San Francisco—built in 1933 for the USS Macon Navy airship—was once the largest freestanding structure in the world, but funding to renovate the massive facility have fallen through according to Gizmodo. NASA is in the process of pursuing alternative reuse options for the historic modern landmark.
City Farming. Last week, the New York City Council amended the city’s building code to allow for rooftop farming and greenhouses: now, rooftop greenhouses will not be considered an additional story. The bill also requires prisons to purchase locally grown food and calls for the city to maintain a record of spaces suitable for farming, Inhabitat said.
Mobile Equity. The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights argued in a recent report titled “Where We Need to Go: A Civil Rights Roadmap for Transportation Equity” that mobility must be a civil right. Recent studies indicate that low-income areas and the elderly lack adequate access to mass transportation, particularly in rural areas. With abut 80% of federal transportation funding marked for highways, mass transit is under-funded reported Wired.
Home Slim Home. While Japan is famous for its narrow residences, the world’s thinnest house will soon lie in Warsaw, Poland, says ArchDaily. Designed by Centrala, The Kennet House is 122 cm to 72 cm at is narrowest part and will serve as the residence and workplace for writer Etgar Keret.
Perfect Pyramids. In a Wired post, a physics professor at Southeastern Louisiana University examined the construction of pyramids—how tall can pyramids be, and what is the best angle? Through mathematical formulas, he mused that 140 meters is the most efficient height.
Playhouse. While the 300 year old Italian home of architect Armin Blasblicher features rustic, vernacular elements like stacked logs, Blasblichler updated the house with whimsical, playful elements. He incorporated doors on ceilings, doors within doors, and a contemporary interpretation of stained glass inspired by Pantone color swatches, as pictured above. More at Gizmodo.
Super-giant photo. The Culver Center of the Arts in Riverside, California is exhibiting the world’s largest photograph, created by the world’s largest camera. Lost at E Minor said the camera was fashioned from a converted airplane hangar with a 6mm opening in one its walls. At eleven stories long and three stories high, the resulting landscape photograph needed a 35 minute exposure.
Blooming brownfields. Seattle is cleaning up its brownfields in South Lake Union. The district, once home to factories, paper mills, and other industries, fell into decline as businesses moved out. For decades, the sites lay abandoned, tainted with toxic chemicals. The city has issued large-scale cleanups that include removing contaminated soil and building materials. The area is in various phases of redevelopment, with new offices, residences, and shops opening, reported the Wall Street Journal.
Un-knotting bikes. Knowhow Shop created a playful tongue-in-cheek bike rack for Roanoke, Virginia in the shape of a large comb, keeping bikes upright and tangle-free. Resting on its side, it is made from mangaris wood and supported by black steel bars that are supposed to resemble hair, posted Gizmodo.
Open to the Elements. A recent collaboration between architect Ryue Nishizawa and artist Rei Naito produced an elegantly curved open-air art museum. Located in Takamatsu, Japan, the Teshima Art Museum is built from concrete and gently mirrors the hilly topography it sits upon. More info at ArchDaily.
Printed Organs. Three-dimensional printing sure is popular. We recently spotlighted the use of printing technology to create chocolates and solar cells, and now, 3D printing is crossing into the realm of medicine. The Wall Street Journal highlights technology that may soon enable printing of self-derived organs—think kidneys. While medical researchers have successfully “grown” organs through 3D printing, they are only structural and not yet functional, but scientists believe a breakthrough is nigh.
Olfactory Aisles. In a strange effort to boost sales, Brooklyn supermarket chain, NetCost Market, is now infusing its store aisles with food scents, such as strawberry in the fruit section and smoky bacon in the meat section, according to PSFK. While scenting clothing stores and movie theaters has been commonplace for a little while now, NetCost’s “food perfume” is taking olfactory branding to the next level.
Transport without Oil. The upcoming issue of Colors, a magazine published by clothing retailer, United Colors of Benetton, will center on transportation in a future without oil. Opening up submissions to the public, the Benetton website Colors Lab invited web users to upload artwork, photography, designs, and stories, envisioning new possibilities for transportation.
Empty Spaces. Searching for a place to exhibit her work as an art student in 2003, an artist from the rural mining town Malmberget, Sweden, organized a program titled Tomma Rum (Empty Spaces) that converts empty lots into artist studios and gallery spaces. As described in an interview with Polis, the program has morphed into a traveling summer artist-in-residence, where global artists have displayed their pieces on fences to streets in various towns.
Town and Country. Is city life or country life better for your health? The Wall Street Journal reports on the ongoing debate between the quality of life in urban versus rural areas. Each have their benefits and drawbacks. Studies indicate that in urban areas, there are less obese children but also higher crime rates. In the country, there are larger numbers of fatal driving accidents but lower incidences of allergies.
Big Box Redux. In Seattle, empty malls are attracting new tenants. A fitness center owner is converting empty mall space into a new climbing gym, while grocery stores such as Whole Foods and Trader Joes, and sporting goods stores such as Sports Authority are taking over retail vacancies, The Seattle Times reports.
Taxing Gas. A study conducted by the multi-partisan Leadership Initiative on Transportation Solvency, part of the Carnegie Foundation for International Peace, may have found a better way to increase funds for transportation infrastructure through a more effective gas tax system. In their report, DC Streets Blog highlights, that taxing gas when the price lowers and a more efficient program with a focus on design with economic performance are key.
Safer at night. Two design students at Carnegie Mellon University created a functional and graceful lighting system for bikers that enhances side visibility at night. The LED lights that line the wheel rims, are powered by pedaling and change colors depending on speed. Bloggers at Greater Greater Washington have posted a video of the lights in action.
Convenient Cities. What makes a city “convenient”? According to a study published by The Street, factors include walkability, public transportation, and amenity proximity. Their city ranking, using data from Walk Score, Zillow and APTA, put Boston, New York, Denver, Portland, and Chicago at the top.
Olympic Pollution. A documentary by filmmaker Faisal Abdu’Allah, Double Pendulum, examines the harmful effects of pollution on East London residents and athletes, The Guardian says. Abdu’Allah cautions that poor air quality in East London may threaten athletes’ performances in the London 2012 Olympic Games.
Designer Chocolates. PSFK reports that researchers in a joint program between the University of Exeter, the University of Brunel, and Delam, a software developer, have created a printer that turns 3D CAD designs into ready-made chocolates. An upcoming retail site will allow the public to upload original designs.