This story appears to have it all: architecture, LEGOs, Star Wars, and controversy. The Telegraph reports that the Turkish Cultural Community of Austria (TCCA) has taken offense at LEGO’s latest miniature plastic toy, a replica of Jabba the Hutt’s Palace from the Star Wars trilogy. While some are calling the absurdity of the move a spoof, the group alleges the model is based on the architecture of Istanbul’s Hagia Sofia and the Jami al-Kabir Mosque in Beirut, and fills the two revered symbols of the Islamic world with armed criminals. Jabba the Hutt is the slug-like alien and crime boss who maintained a mixed-relationship with smuggler-turned-hero Han Solo, at one point cryogenically freezing Solo.
According to the Telegraph, the TCCA said on its website (in German), “It is clear that the ugly figure of Jabba and the whole scene smacks of racial prejudice and vulgar insinuations against Asians and Orientals as people with deceitful and criminal personalities.” It has called on LEGO to apologize for the creating negative views of their culture and is considering legal action. A spokesperson for LEGO denies any link between Jabba’s Palace and the Hagia Sofia.
Treehouse of Worship. Everyone loves a treehouse, especially one that dates from 1696 (built in a tree that’s over 800 years old, no less). Boing Boing uncovered the chapel in Allouville-Bellefosse, France dedicated to the Virgin Mary that was built in the hollowed out trunk caused by a lightning strike.
Talking Tanks. Who can forget the Mayor of Vilnius, Lithuania who, fed up with cars parked in the bike lane, crushed the offending vehicles with a tank. Classic. Transportation Nation couldn’t get enough of the car-crushing crusader, either, and has posted an interview where the mayor warns that tanks may return to the streets of Vilnius.
Frank Llego Wright. Will we ever tire of LEGOs? I hope not. LEGO has already immortalized Wright’s Fallingwater and his Guggenheim Museum in tiny plastic bricks, but Building Design just reported that the Prairie-style Robie House in Chicago is also available for architects and aspirants to assemble and adore.
Baking Buildings. Some of the most beautiful historic (and modern, too!) buildings feature terra cotta facades, but whether they’re ornate or sleek, we seldom have a chance to peek behind the scenes to see how the clay cladding is made. Buffalo Rising took a visit to a local terra cotta factory to check out what’s involved.
Solar-Powered Fun. New York City’s first solar merry-go-round just opened at the South Street Seaport, offering free rides to kids through September 7th. GE’s Carousolar is powered by 100 solar panels made of ultra thin semiconductors able to withstand extreme humidity and UV ray exposure. The green fun isn’t just for kids—GE also provided solar-powered cell phone charging stations for adults around the carousel, reported Inhabitat.
Sun-Filled Fasting. According to Dubai’s top cleric Mohammed al-Qubaisi, residents of the Burj Khalifa, world’s tallest skyscraper, will have to wait a few extra minutes to break their fast during Ramadan. Muslims living above the tower’s 80th floor should fast two additional minutes after dusk while those above the 150th floor wait an additional three minutes, The Guardian reported. Al-Qubaisi explained that just like early Muslims living in the mountains, the residents of the highest floors must adjust their fast due to the extended visibility of sunlight.
#ThingsNotToDoOnPublicTransportation. Public Transportation is trending on Twitter and the end result is a humorous user guide to transit etiquette. Transportation Nation rounded up some of their family-friendly favorites.
LEGO Gate. While not yet officially announced, European blogs have been abuzz that the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin will be the next in LEGO’s Architecture line of miniature real buildings. Unbeige revealed the series’ designer Adam Reed Tucker developed the Brandenburg model, representing the 2nd building outside of the US (the first was SOM’s Burj Khalifa tower in Dubai).
Etch-a-Desert. In the Peruvian desert, you will find artist Rodrigo Derteano’s robot scraping away at the dirt to create massive drawings. In an interview with Derteano, We Make Money Not Art explained, “Guided by its sensors, the robot quietly traced the founding lines of a new city that looks like a collage of existing cities from Latin America.” The drawing was completed over the course of five days, most of which the robot spent tracing alone. Have a closer look at the video above. (via BldgBlog.)
The future is dead. National Geographic reported that the most recent algae bloom in Qingdao, China has clogged 7,700 square miles of the Yellow Sea. The insurgence of green goop, however, has not stopped children and families from taking a dip while at the beach, but as the algae dies and decomposes, a dead zone and fish kill is expected as oxygen is depleted from the water.
Off to Jupiter. NASA sent three little LEGO figurines atop space probe Juno to visit Jupiter. Each LEGO person models a particular character: Galileo Galilei, the Roman god Jupiter, and the Roman goddess Juno. The figurines are made of aluminum and are expected to reach Jupiter by July of 2016. More at Design Boom.
Resources at RISD. The Rhode Island School of Design just opened its Materials Library, a long-term student project focusing on design process and material interaction, according to Core77. It’s hoped that designers will find a deeper appreciation of material through the tactile experience of holding them in their hands.
Pruitt Overgrown. Thirty three acres in the middle of St. Louis are now densely overgrown with forest, but the site was once home to the infamous Pruitt Igoe homes. Preservation Research Office led a tour of the site last week and took some great photos on the way to a screening of the Pruitt-Igoe Myth documentary.
Ciclovia Transformations. While LA shut down city streets over the weekend for its first CicLAvia of 2011, Project for Public Spaces imagines how such car-free events can invite new thinking about the use of public space in cities across the world.
Tobacco Troubles. On Friday, the latest round of drama surrounding Brooklyn’s Tobacco Warehouse played out, and it wasn’t the latest performance by the indie theater troupe of St. Ann’s Warehouse, who plans to renovate the abandoned building. A judge has issued an injunction against developing the property on grounds that a public hearing wasn’t conducted. Brownstoner and the Brooklyn Paper have the latest.
Lego Love. The Overhead Wire spotted a lego train with an actual operating sliding door. OW says it best: “I like legos, I like trains, and I like them together.” In other Lego news, Curbed found the world’s tallest Lego tower in Sao Paulo, Brazil standing 102 feet high, and Unbeige reports that Mies’ Farnsworth House is the newest architectural icon to become a Lego set.
Or a puzzle. At least that’s what New York mag said the would-be-architect said to Parade mag this weekend. To be more precise:
Architecture is like play to me. As a boy, you play with Tinkertoys, Lincoln Logs, Legos, and you get interested in how things are made, like cars and drills and all that. Years later you come back around to what interested you as a boy. Now, if I have something that I’m dealing with that’s causing me a lot of stress, my mind goes to architecture. I walk around the yard and start thinking about what I need to do to the house structurally. It’s similar to puzzles in that way, like a crossword puzzle or anything else I can put my mind into. It’s a relief for me.
Perhaps we were too busy checking out the jaw-dropping FLW retrospective at the aforementioned museum to notice, but two weeks ago, LEGO and the Wright Foundation announced they would launch two new, rather amazing sets to honor the architect’s centennial, part of a new Architecture line your LEGO-obsessed editors were heretofore also ignorant of. Read More
Another strange day at the AIA Convention in San Francisco. And perhaps the weirdest place of all is the Expo floor, where you can examine products ranging from stainless steel bathroom stalls to impact resistant drywall to powder coatings for steel systems (actually not a bad idea). But perhaps the strangest, and perhaps most intriguing product award goes to a company called Sky Factory, which manufactures “virtual windows” and “sky ceilings” which create the illusion that you have a beautiful waterfall or an ocean view outside your building. Read More
Sorry, this post was accidentally erased last week.
Finally, the public events for AN’s New Infrastructure competition have ended! (there’s one more at the AIA/Mobius Conference in June, but that’s not exactly public..) The final event- also one of the last at GOOD magazine’s space at 6824 Melrose Avenue, which is moving down the street in the coming months (more details to come as they emerge)- included a workshop led by Metro planner James Rojas, in which the audience was asked to build their own transit systems out of found materials like beads, legos, wooden and foam blocks, plastic figures, chess pieces, and much more. The ideas, concocted in just minutes, were stunning in their beauty and creativity, revealing a public desire to make LA’s transit systems more efficient, user-friendly, and most of all fun. Read More