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Free Castles & Villas: Italy is Giving Away Over 100 Historic Properties

18 May, 2017 - 19:00
[ By WebUrbanist in Boutique & Art Hotels & Travel. ]

Anyone who has dreamed of retiring from the rat race to run a grand estate hotel, rural farmhouse bed and breakfast, quaint inn or remote monastery spa could see their wish come true in this unprecedented giveaway from the Italian government.

As part of its Strategic Tourist Plan, Italy is offering up 103 historic sites to those with the will and means to renovate them back into use for tourism purposes. And this is just the initial offering: 200 more are slated to be given away over the coming years.

The State Property Agency and Ministry of Cultural Heritage are leading the project, aiming to draw visitors to beautiful areas with currently disused architecture. In some cases, a lot of work is needed, but that’s the nature of centuries-old structures.

State employee Roberto Reggi says “The project will promote and support the development of the slow tourism sector. The goal is for private and public buildings which are no longer used to be transformed into facilities for pilgrims, hikers, tourists, and cyclists.”

The country has previously auctioned off historic properties, including dozens of lighthouses, with similar goals in mind, but this time they are making it all free, banking on the long-term prospects of the renovations to raise funds for local businesses and the national economy (via Inhabitat).;"> Church ‘Champing’: Spend a Night in a Historic British Chapel

Spend an entire night climbing bell towers, composing your own sermons from a pulpit, examining historic artifacts up close or virtually anything else you want to get up to in one of England’s ...;"> Secular Conversion: Historic Chapel Turned Modern Library

A beautiful old chapel in the Italian town of Lonate Ceppino has been transformed into a modern library with a  perforated aluminum tower that adds to the building without compromising its ...;"> Luminaries: 14 Amazingly Beautiful & Historic Lighthouses

(Check out our complete collection of 70 Amazing Houses from Around the World.) What is it about lighthouses that captures our attention? Is it the history behind these relics of a less ...

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Oh Brothel: 12 Abandoned Houses Of Ill Repute

7 May, 2017 - 19:00
[ By Steve in Abandoned Places & Architecture. ]

The world’s oldest profession ain’t what it used to be as these abandoned brothels, bordellos and bawdy houses so sleazily show.

Oh brothels, where art thou? Brothels can be found just about anywhere regardless of any local legal injunctions prohibiting their existence. Where they ARE permitted – the state of Nevada, for example – savvy owners often locate as close as possible to places that ban them. Flickr user Joel Childers (Vacant West) brings us these artfully (and eerily) lit images of Janie’s Ranch taken in early 2010.

Janie’s Ranch is situated on Nevada Highway 6 between Tonopah, Nevada and Bishop, California. Janie’s, which closed in the 1990s, used to advertise their sleazy services in California border towns including Bishop and Mammoth Lakes.

The Caged Bird Swings

Brothels were commonplace in the oft-lawless Old West. Precious few of these then-essential establishments have been preserved as well as the Bird Cage Theatre in Tombstone, Arizona.

Operating from 1881 through 1889 (Wyatt Earp met his third wife there), the combination brothel, saloon and casino was shuttered until 1934 when new owners discovered a lost world frozen in time. Over 120 bullet holes (some with embedded slugs) can be found in the building’s walls, floors and ceilings. The place’s motto should’ve been “wham, BLAM, thank you ma’am.”

Ghosts Of Pleasures Past

The ghost town of Rhyolite, Nevada exploded into being in 1905 when gold was discovered nearby. The mines quickly played out, however, causing the town’s population to plummet from a high of about 5,000 to just 1 in 1922. The small but solidly-built brothel above, captured in 2008 by Flickr user Jitze Couperus, boasted an innovative roof made from flattened kerosene cans. Now that’s hot!

It’s Curtains For Ya

Bobbie’s Buckeye Bar & Brothel had been closed and abandoned for quite some time when Flickr user Bradley Fulton (escapo) chanced upon its remains in 2006. The Tonopah, Nevada brothel appeared to be a rather large and well-organized business with “nicely” furnished quarters for the working girls.

The warm & fuzzy atmosphere infusing these photos was achieved through the photographer’s use of cross-processing on expired film – appropriate for an expired brothel. Of course, nothing can beat the cheesiness of those painted-on curtains!

Next Page - Click Below to Read More:;"> Tee’d Off: A Dozen Abandoned Golf Driving Ranges

Golf isn't the hit sport it used to be and one consequence is the proliferation of abandoned driving ranges closed due to changes in recreational pursuits. The good thing about ...;"> Royal Blush: Japan’s Abandoned Queen Chateau Soapland

Fleeting moments of pleasure, a lifetime of neglect: that pretty much sums up the Queen Chateau soapland, a now-abandoned “brothel with baths” in Mito, Japan. The Queen of Clean (image ...;"> Scratched Out: Nine Nifty Closed & Abandoned Nail Salons

Once painted, polished and popular, these closed and abandoned nail salons won't be doing any more filing unless it's in bankruptcy court. For a short time after its gala 1976 ...

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7 May, 2017 - 00:10

La motocicleta inventada por J. Lehaitre en 1938, fue bautizada con el nombre de “Tractor-Cycle”. Se trata de un vehículo pensado para atravesar caminos complejos y grandes pendientes. A pesar de la rigidez del vehículo podía alcanzar velocidades relativamente altas y podía rotar fácilmente con un manillar sencillo.
La particularidad de esta motocicleta, que podía alcanzar 40km/h, es que incorporaba orugas en lugar de ruedas. Diseñada con vocación militar, la motocicleta, terminaría por equiparse con armas de disparo que se podía utilizar con facilidad desde el propio manillar. 300w, 768w, 730w, 30w" sizes="(max-width: 1024px) 100vw, 1024px" /> 300w, 30w" sizes="(max-width: 472px) 100vw, 472px" /> 300w, 30w" sizes="(max-width: 482px) 100vw, 482px" /> 226w, 23w" sizes="(max-width: 355px) 100vw, 355px" /> 300w, 768w, 730w, 30w" sizes="(max-width: 799px) 100vw, 799px" /> 291w, 30w" sizes="(max-width: 400px) 100vw, 400px" /> 300w, 30w" sizes="(max-width: 704px) 100vw, 704px" />

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Guerrilla Apparel: Pirate Printers Press Clothes to Painted Public Surfaces

6 May, 2017 - 17:00
[ By WebUrbanist in Art & Sculpture & Craft. ]

A Berlin street art collective is hitting the streets of Europe again, touring major cities to turn infrastructural patterns into (quite literal) streetwear across the continent. Each of their unique creations is tied to public art and design patterns often overlooked as we walk by (or on top of) them.

Raubdruckerin (AKA Pirate Printer) press apparel to painted street objects featuring a level of relief, soaking up the top layer to create impressions of manhole covers, vents, grates, bike lane symbols and just about anything else with some depth to it.

In German, there is some nuance to their name as well: ‘Rauber’ means both pirate and robber, while “drucken” is both press and print. Effectively, they press and steal patterns (though since their source material is quite literally in the public domain, no one so far seems to mind).

Like graffiti artists or mobile street painters with portable canvasses, their work tends to draw a crowd and has a performative aspect to it by its nature. In turn, they aim to raise awareness of overlooked and everyday design objects.

So far they have made their way through Amsterdam, Athens, Paris and Lisbon. In each location, they press cotton bags and apparel to street surfaces coated in eco-friendly ink, then wash up behind themselves to leave no trace.;"> Literal Streetwear: ‘Pirate Printer’ Lifts Patterns from Urban Objects

A Berlin art collective has taken to the streets, inking urban infrastructure and laying down shirts and tote bags to create a line of unique prints ... their patterns directly lifted from ...;"> Guerrilla Upcycling: Public Furniture Made of Parisian Trash

As darkness descends these guerrilla activists hit the streets, not to protest or graffiti but to build and install community infrastructure from the discarded roadside scraps of Paris, ...;"> Guerrilla Lace: Prettied-Up Urban Surfaces in Poland

Urban sidewalks, sewer grates and dingy underpasses aren't exactly the most likely places to find beautiful large-scale ornamental lace, but for artist NeSpoon Polska, that's exactly where it ...

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Avivasa Digital Garage by TeamFores Architecture | Office buildings

2 May, 2017 - 00:00

The “Digital Garage” for the penthouse of the Headquarters of AvivaSA by Istanbul based TeamFores Architecture, has been shaped with a dynamic and creative work concept combined with an industrial style. The AvivaSA Digital Garage office, which is designed by TeamFores Architecture and built on an area of 185 m2 at the penthouse of the AvivaSA Headquarters in Istanbul, has been created with a design language in which each detail presents a functional solution, and where an industrial style is adapted to the office structure with dynamic colors and touches. In this office design where there are four separate indoor sections and a terrace garden there is the perfect harmony of natural wood, steel materials, and innovative products. The target was to create a warm, flexible, and productive environment in the AvivaSA Digital Garage office and it differs from standard offices with its functional and enjoyable working areas. The indoor sections separated from one another by removable c… continue

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Shaolin Flying Monks Temple: Wind Tunnel Facilitates Midair Kung Fu Fighting

25 April, 2017 - 19:00
[ By WebUrbanist in Architecture & Public & Institutional. ]

Mixing modern architecture and traditional arena theater design, the Shaolin Flying Monks Temple features a massive wind tunnel that lets combatants in rural Henan, China, fly and fight in front of hundreds of fascinated observers.

The mountainous setting is home to the historical Shaolin Monastery (UNESCO World Heritage Site) and is considered the birthplace of Zen Buddhism and the Kung Fu martial arts practice (as well as the cradle of Chinese civilization more broadly).

Designed by Latvian architect Austris Mailitis, the pavilion is designed to be both contemporary while also deferential to the region and its traditions. The designer was commissioned based on a chance meeting at the Shanghai Expo in 2010.

The mounded shape of the complex and branching, trunk-like protrusion of the tunnel take their inspiration from a translation of Shaolin, meaning: mountain in the wood.

“The architectural and conceptual image pays respect to the beauty of surrounding nature and the historical heritage of the site. Developed in the shape of two symbols – mountain and tree – it serves as a platform for any kind of scenic arts focusing especially on flying performances.”

“The building method combines modern and ancient technologies,” explained the architect” — a laser-cut steel superstructure supports stone steps handcrafted using local quarry resources.”;"> Tunnel House: (Sub)Urban Street Art Implosion Project

If you had a house that was going to be demolished, scrapped and completely replaced with something else - what would you do with it? Well, a couple of guys thought it would be neat to turn this ...;"> Travel Through Trees: Root-Like Wooden Tunnel Installation

You may have to crouch a little to take a journey through this system of tunnels, but it's worth it to feel as if you're traveling through the roots of an enormous tree. Artist Henrique Oliveira ...;"> Mountaintop Museum: Underground Rooms Tunnel into Peak

In a bold yet beautifully contextual move, this embedded mountaintop museum structure is part of a series of buildings set high in the mountains of Tyrol, Italy, and designed by Zaha Hadid ...

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THE HAUS Berlin: Abandoned Building Taken Over By 165 Street Artists

25 April, 2017 - 03:00
[ By SA Rogers in Art & Street Art & Graffiti. ]

Set to be demolished in June to make way for an apartment building,THE HAUS in Berlin is a formerly abandoned 5-story building filled with site-specific works by 165 street artists. Dreamed up by artists Kimo, Bolle and Jörni of Die Dixons collective, THE HAUS was once a bank on avenue Kurfürstendamm, but fell into disuse over the years. The artists activated their network of creative contacts to temporarily turn it into a street art free-for-all that’s so popular with visitors, there’s often a two-hour wait outside.

The artists, who range from Berlin locals to international activists, worked almost nonstop from mid-January through March 9th to complete the project, and installations include geometric patterns made of tape, video projections, interactive exhibits and sculpture.

The exhibit opened April 1st, and guided tours run almost all day long on Tuesdays through Sundays with a donation-based, pay-what-you-can system and a ‘no phones’ rule. “Look through your eyes and not through the screen of your phone,” the website urges. You can see each individual installation on THE HAUS website, and learn more about the artists who created them.

Even beyond the art itself, the project is definitely a community effort. Nearly all of the supplies were donated by supportive businesses, and a four-star hotel even put up all the artists free of charge. Berliner Pilsner donated beer. In an interview with Vice’s The Creators Project, Kimo stresses that THE HAUS is “not a marketing joke,” noting that nothing was for sale.

“Feel the freshest urban art gallery ever with a guided tour!” says the site. “108 dope artworks are waiting to be seen, to be experienced and to be memorized by you. Every single piece is created by one of the 165 artists from Berlin and all over the world. But be aware that THE HAUS is created to be destroyed – in the end of May the gallery is going to close and the wrecking ball will follow.”;"> Senior Citizen Street Art: Young Graffiti Artists Teach Elders

In an effort to democratize both the creation and appreciation of urban graffiti, a group of young street artists in Lisbon, Portugal, is teaching retirees how to create their own stencils and ...;"> Dynamic Shape-Shifting D*Haus Rotates to Follow the Sun

The shape-shifting D*Haus by UK designers David Ben Grünberg and Daniel Woolfson morphs and rotates to remain comfortable during all hours of the day, and all seasons. Designed as an homage to ...;"> 13 Panoramic Street Artists Stencil Far & Spray Wide

Sweeping street art enlivens super-long walls and even entire buildings with bright, fun, thought-provoking paintings and illustrations. Including works by renowned urban artists like ROA, BLU, ...

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Transparent Intentions: 13 Glass Additions to Historic Architecture

24 April, 2017 - 19:00
[ By SA Rogers in Architecture & Houses & Residential. ]

Transparent additions to historic architecture physically expand the space while making the subtlest possible changes to the building exteriors, allowing you to see the original structures right through the glazed walls. Augmenting 500-year-old farmhouses,  Victorian row houses in London and some of Paris’ most iconic-looking apartment buildings, these modern glass extensions aim to blend in with the sky, offering transitions to gardens and bringing natural light into formerly dark interiors.

17th Century Manor Update by Jonathan Tuckey Design

Invisible from the street, this ‘ghostly’ addition to the 17th century Yew Street House in London by Jonathon Tuckey Design lets you see right through its walls to the original stone structure, disrupting its beautiful form as little as possible while adding a gorgeous light-filled dining space.

Farmer’s Cottage in Croatia by Proarh

Zagreb-based architecture firm Proarh renovated a dilapidated traditional Zagorje cottage in Croatia into a modern family home, retaining the external frame while replacing the existing porch with a transparent glass view facing a view of the mountains.

19th Century Parisian Photography Studio to Rooftop Apartments

This glass addition to a 19th century photography studio in Paris by Vincent Parreira Atelier is conceived as an ‘inhabited observatory’ perched atop a Haussmannian building in the city’s Opéra-Madeleine district.

Straatweg Extension by BBVH Architecten

An original masonry structure in Rotterdam, built in the 1930s, gets some much-needed natural light thanks to a two-story, all-glass wing added by BBVH Architecten, which features a transparent roof, facade and upper-level floor with an operable garage-style door leading out to the garden.

‘Salle Labrouste’ Former French National Library

A major overhaul to the French National Library by Bruno Gaudin and Virginie Bregal updated it for the 21st century while retaining its dazzling beauty, adding a glass gallery that serves as a rooftop promenade to link two sides of the structure’s quadrangle.

Next Page - Click Below to Read More:;"> A Study in Architectural Contrasts: 12 Modern-Meets-Historic Additions

At what point do modern extensions to historic structures surpass and overwhelm the original buildings rather than complementing and enlarging them? Contrasting architectural styles can be a ...;"> Lofty Living: 11 Modern Additions to Urban Rooftops

When more living space is needed in cramped urban conditions where every last square foot of land is spoken for, there's literally nowhere to go but up. Luckily, flat city rooftops offer the ideal ...;"> Classic Modern Mix: 13 Striking Additions to Historical Houses

Stretching out of the original structures like alien growths, these modern additions don't even bother trying to blend in with their traditional architectural settings - but somehow, it works. ...

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2017 Life of an Architect Playhouse Design Competition – The Winners

24 April, 2017 - 07:01

On Saturday, April 22nd – 6 highly focused and dedicated judges walked into my home with the task of selecting the winners of the 6th Annual Life of an Architect Playhouse Design Competition. This is no small task and while it may seem a fairly simple enough process to select awesome winning playhouses – it’s not. These are surprisingly complicated little buildings and the criteria for evaluation is specific, but yet open for a wide range of interpretation. The judges had to take the 26 entries that were advanced in last week’s finals round and eliminate all but three playhouses which will be built and donated to Dallas CASA (which stands for Court Appointed Special Advocates) a nonprofit organization of community volunteers trained and supervised to serve as voices in court for abused and neglected children.

2017 Playhouse Judges Final Round

In all, the process took around 3 hours and there were some interesting debates over the different merits we were using to evaluate. The general concepts discussed were:

  • Overall Design
  • Appeal
  • Constructibility
  • Adherence to rules (mostly regarding the safeguarding of the playhouses while they were on display)

While I always think I want to be a judge during this process, I am normally glad that I am able to limit my responsibilities making sure that the judges have what they need to properly form their opinions. As always, the judging panel is made up of a wide variety of talents and opinions – something that I think is crucial to this process. I have no doubt that if I judged this competition by myself, the outcome would look slightly different.

But let’s get to the lucky winning playhouses!

2017 Life of an Architect – Winners

Riaan Kotze - Paw Rescue 2017 Life of an Architect Playhouse Design Competition Winner

The Paw Rescue Designer: Riaan Kotze – (Massachusetts, USA)

Bio: Hubby, father of 2 rascals, designer at Maugel Architects #awesome place, and a supporter of great causes.

Surprise me with Something: I get fanatic about anything.

Christiaan Luijk -Autumn House 2017 Life of an Architect Playhouse Design Competition Winner

The Autumn Cottage Designer: Christiaan Luijk – (Cape Town, South Africa)

Bio: I studied Architecture at Cape Town University 5 years ago. I am now living in South Korea, teaching English. Loving life! Taking a break from everything, but damn, I do miss design.

Surprise me with Something: I like to walk a mile in someone’s shoes before I judge them. That way when I do judge them, I’m a mile away and I have their shoes.

Nicollo Abe - The White Owl's Den 2017 Life of an Architect Playhouse Design Competition Winner

The White Owl’s Den Designer: Nicollo Abe (Ontario, Canada)

Bio: I’m currently a student at Sheridan College, attending my third year of the Architectural Technology program. My hobbies include game developing, creating artworks, and uploading video content on my Youtube channel.

Surprise me with Something: In the past, my family simultaneously owned at least 10 domestic cats.

There were several playhouses that the judges wanted to single out with some sort of recognition, but these two particular playhouses were discussed at long length in the last round of deliberations and it was only by the slightest of margins that kept them from taking the place of one of the playhouses listed above. What this tells me, is that I need to start raising more funds so that I can select more playhouses for construction.

2017 Life of an Architect Playhouse Design Competition Honorable Mentions

Honorable Mention LoaA 2017 Playhouse Design Competition

The Bronto the Dino Designers: Marylis Rodriguez Beltran and Jean Carlo De Jesús Colón (Puerto Rico, Puerto Rico)

Bio: We are both Architects in Training from Puerto Rico, and we both recently completed our Masters in ‘Engineering Management’, with a specialization in ‘Construction Management’. Even though we live in different parts of the island (Jean is from Morovis and I am from San Juan), we have known each other for several years and our individual work, conceptually and aesthetically speaking, is very similar. That’s why we decided to join forces for this noble cause. I have also worked in several summer camps throughout the years. Working with children has been a very rewarding experience, which is why I feel very passionate about participating in the playhouse competition.


The White Rabbit Playhouse Designer: Noer Ucen Hong (Singapore, Singapore)

Bio: I am an architectural designer and 3D visualization artist based in Singapore.

Surprise me with Something: I just started using & learning Sketchup less than 30 days ago.

In addition to the playhouses my judges selected on Saturday night, there was another room of judges located on the premises of SketchUp, that spent just as much time reviewing playhouse submissions.


For the second year in a row, I’ve been working with the fine folks over at SketchUp and not only did they enthusiastically agree to participate again in this year’s playhouse competition, they made a sizable donation to Dallas CASA that will underwrite the construction of two of the Life of an Architect Playhouse Design Competition playhouses. I have created a special “Best of SketchUp” category to showcase the skill of the best winning design that uses SketchUp software. Considering that over the last six years almost every single entry I have received was created in SketchUp, this collaboration was a no-brainer. In addition to their amazing financial support, they have put together an incredible prize pack, the grand prize of which includes the selection of one of the winning playhouse designs (that is chosen from last week’s list of finalists).

The SketchUp Grand Prize

Amrita Raja and Katharine Storr 2017 Life of an Architect Playhouse Design Competition Winner

The Playhouse Rock Designer: Amrita Raja (London, United Kingdom) and Katharine Storr (London, United Kingdom)

Bio: We are based in London, though we met when completing our M.Arch at Yale. We both work at large architectural practices on international projects, but enjoy the challenge of designing small, community-based projects.

Surprise me with Something: We once picked 27 lbs of strawberries in one go … accidentally.  We didn’t realize just how quick it would be to pick berries, and consequently had to make 4 cakes and 3 pies the same afternoon, and still had 7lbs left over!

In addition to getting their playhouse built, Amrita and Katharine will also receive the following items:

There will also be five honorable mention finalists who will each receive a SketchUp prize pack. They are:

SketchUp 2017 Honorable Mentions 800w" sizes="(max-width: 400px) 100vw, 400px" />

Play and Learn by Rafael Duailibe dos Santos

Moai Playhouse by Ján Olexik

White Rabbit by Noer Ucen Hong

Inside/Outside Playhouse by Vijay Panchal

Fort Beach by Ryan Heck

These five honorable mention finalists will each receive a SketchUp prize pack that includes:

  • A Space Navigator
  • A SketchUp Viewer
  • And a pair of our most excellent, limited edition (of course) SketchUp socks. It’s almost like you don’t even have to win to win.

I will be reaching out to each of the winners who were selected to have their playhouses built, as you are now officially on the clock for preparing your construction drawings – which are due to the contractors by Monday, May 22nd – which means you have 4 easy weeks to get your work done. IF you can get them done sooner, I’m sure the contractors would appreciate the additional time to build your playhouse masterpiece. As listed in the competition brief, All playhouse design competition winners are required to prepare construction drawings for their entries which will be submitted to their designated contractor. In the possibility that you are unable to prepare your own construction drawings (because you don’t know how, not because you get busy with other things) with a little heads up, I have people who have offered their time and skills to prepare constructions drawings on your behalf.

This has been another amazing year of entries, and I am extremely happy with the playhouses that were selected for construction. If you took the time to participate this year and were not listed among the winners, I am deeply sorry, but you should know that the quality of the entries is getting stronger and stronger every year and the competition is fierce. The only way I know how to try and level the field is to have more winners and simply build more playhouses – so that’s my goal for 2018.

I hope to see you all once again. My deepest gratitude to you all.


Bob signature FAIA

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Apple's Almost Done

19 April, 2017 - 20:34
According to the drone footage embedded at the bottom of this post,

Apple Park is the official name for the company's 175-acre headquarters in Cupertino, California, what was previously referred to as Apple Campus 2.0 and "The Spaceship." The last time I posted about Norman Foster's design was about a year ago, in regards to the 10-1/2-foot-tall by 46-foot-long panels of curved glass, a huge engineering feat. At that time there were also reports about "two glass doors that span four stories high," but no images. The latest drone footage reveals what appears to be those doors, found at the 2:30 mark in the below video:

The April 2017 drone footage of Apple Park:
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Visionary High-Rises: Winners of the 2017 eVolo Skyscraper Competition

19 April, 2017 - 19:00
[ By SA Rogers in Architecture & Cities & Urbanism. ]

The way we design and engage with our built environments will rapidly change as we grapple with climate change and develop new technological innovations, and in some cases, radical new ideas will be required. The annual skyscraper design competition held by eVolo recognizes visionary ideas for high-rise projects that challenge our understanding of vertical architecture and its relationship with both nature and existing cities. Here are this year’s winners along with 7 honorable mentions, including an Antarctic skyscraper attempting to reverse global warming, research facilities housed in the trunks of Sequoia trees, and vertically stacked factories sharing smart waste disposal and recycling techniques.

First Place: Mashambas Skyscraper

Based on the Swahili word for ‘an area of cultivated land’ often including the dwelling of the farmer, ‘Mashambas’ by Polish designers Pawel Lipinksi and Mateusz Frankowski aims to bring the green revolution of expanded harvests to the poorest people so they can produce surplus food for themselves and their neighbors, helping to eradicate poverty and hunger in their communities. The skyscraper itself is a “movable educational center” providing education, training on agricultural techniques, cheap fertilizers, modern tools and a local trading area, and it’s made of simple modular elements that can expand or disassemble as needed.

Second Place: Vertical Factories in Megacities

In decades past, prior to a round of improvements that made them far less noisy and polluting, factories were often relegated to land outside cities, requiring workers to commute long distances or move to suburban areas. But we don’t exactly want them taking up valuable square footage in urban areas, either. This concept by Tianshu Liu and Linshen Xie stacks them on top of each other like a towering sandwich so they can all take advantage of the same modern technologies for waste removal, potentially even transforming those waste products into clean heat, electricity, fertilizer and water.

Third Place: Espiral3500

In ‘La Albufera,’ a coastal area of Spain located within a natural agricultural park, a rapid increase in tourism during the summer has led to speculation-based development, threatening the very characteristics that make it so attractive in the first place. Population increases up to 1000% in some areas during high tourist season, and they empty out in winter. The Espiral3500 concept aims to meet the needs of tourists while protecting the natural resources of the territory via vertical growth, packing private and public spaces into a skyscraper with an ‘inverted street’ system. Visitors can wind their way up to the top, enjoying a wide range of shops, restaurants and hotels while taking in the view.

Honorable Mention: Arch Skyscraper

The basis of the Arch Skyscraper is envisioned as “an arch that undergoes transformations through the changes of light, human behavior, and other factors to form different spaces/units, which overlap one another vertically to form the final design.” Double-layer arches inspired by those found in medieval cathedrals and ancient Chinese pagodas are combined with vertical transportation, creating a series of vaulted spaces that are fun to explore.

Honorable Mention: The Forgotten Memorials

Noting that in the past, older architecture was often demolished to make way for the new in the constant cycle of urbanization, the designers of The Forgotten Memorials skyscraper concept propose requiring every generation to construct new buildings underneath the older ones. This could help preserve the past while accommodating the future on limited land. “They gradually, generation by generation, penetrate the clouds and become memorials beyond the sky.”

Next Page - Click Below to Read More:;"> Futurbanist: 10 Award-Worthy 2014 eVolo Skyscraper Designs

From 3D-printed towers of sand to garbage-powered architecture of the seas, these eVolo Skyscraper Competition entries push the envelope in every possible direction, and a few impossible ones ...;"> Taking Competition to New Heights: Skyscraper Dangles from an Asteroid

That tongue-in-cheek ‘world’s longest skyscraper’ design we highlighted last week seems totally reasonable compared to a new proposal taking the competition for the world’s tallest ...;"> Jungle in the City: Wild Urban Biome Skyscraper Design

Suspended aquariums, snowy landscapes, jungles and caves can all be found in the heart of the city, steps away from dense urban housing, in the middle of this wild skyscraper concept. Winner of ...

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3 Things to Look for When Buying Commercial Property

19 April, 2017 - 10:20

Being a business owner will require you to do some things that can make your company successful. Of course, you will need to have the right space to get the business you need, and this can be done by purchasing the ideal commercial property. However, the key to making the right choice is sure to depend on knowing what to look for before you make this purchase. Taking time to consider some things before putting an offer in on any property you’re considering is sure to be ideal.

Location 600w, 768w" sizes="(max-width: 700px) 100vw, 700px" />

You’ll want to be sure to find the ideal location for your business. This is one that will be easy for others to get to and can allow you to get the additional customers and clients you need for success.

The physical address for your company will play a large role in the overall profits that you may be capable of making. Keep in mind that you will want to choose a real estate property that has enough population in the area to help make your business one that is visited frequently.

The more traffic you have, the greater potential of being able to make a sale while having an increased amount of profit and this may depend on your location.

Health Inspections 600w, 768w" sizes="(max-width: 700px) 100vw, 700px" />

You can count on having your property inspected by a professional to ensure it meets all of the requirements before you will be able to open your business. When you’re considering real estate development San Diego residents consider the importance of the condition of this property and take the advice of others when looking in this area. Getting recommendations from family and friends is sure to be helpful to you.

The last thing you will want to do is to have to make a ton of repairs because this simply means more money out of your pocket. If you have to do a great amount of work on any commercial property you purchase, this will directly take away from your profit margin. 600w, 768w" sizes="(max-width: 700px) 100vw, 700px" />

Listed below are some of the things that are necessary to pass a health inspection for a restaurant:

  1. Cleanliness – If you operate a food business, you will need to ensure that it’s clean and sanitized. The officials that do this inspection will look for any dirtiness or uncleanliness, and this could prevent your business from passing.
  2. Storage – You will need to properly store your food, and this means keeping raw food in the right places, as well as having your food at the ideal temperature. You will want to ensure any property that you do purchase offers the right space to get this done.
  3. Washrooms – Your business will have to meet the requirements when it comes to the areas where the food is washed and kept in good condition before serving it.

Parking area 600w, 768w" sizes="(max-width: 700px) 100vw, 700px" />

Being sure your customers have a place to park is one thing that you must consider. You will want to take a good look at the parking lot to ensure that you won’t need to do a lot of work to it.

Some things to consider include is it paved and smooth for your customers to use. If not, it could be an expensive task to repave the entire area. In fact, studies do show that the low cost of adding asphalt to this area is $1,400. Of course, there are many factors that will play a large role in this expense, and these include the size of this area. 600w, 768w" sizes="(max-width: 700px) 100vw, 700px" />

The key to making the right choice when it comes to choosing a commercial property you will enjoy is to know what to look for well in advance. Taking the time to do your research beforehand is an ideal place to start and could be the key to getting past making the wrong decision. Making an investment in commercial real estate is a big one to make, and you’ll want to be sure you select the right property to meet all of your needs today!


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Steampunk Micro-Home: Mobile Shabby Chic Trailer Rocks Lofty Aesthetic

15 April, 2017 - 19:00
[ By WebUrbanist in Architecture & Houses & Residential. ]

Borrowing stylistic details from urban warehouse lofts and rustic rural cabins, this 200-square-foot home manages to look weathered and sophisticated at the same time.

Reclaimed pine and cedar, a gabled roof and various recycled materials make the exterior of this abode look well-worn but welcoming.

Inside, the so-called Earth and Sky Palace feels surprisingly spacious, complete with a queen bed at one end, bathroom at the other and combination living and dining area in between (as well as small loft above).

While metal, glass and wood detailing help the place feel more upscale (while somehow still minimal), small touches like a large bathroom mirror also help the interior feel larger.

Expensive fixtures and finishes help give an impression of something like a mountain resort lodge, dark but rich in detail right down to the fancy shower heads and butcher-block counter tops.

And it isn’t just about the looks: LED track lighting hooked up to dimmers gives users fine-grained control over the atmosphere, as does an app-controlled air conditioning and surround-sound system. Not bad for $74,000.;"> Social Climbers: 7 Vertical Trailer Parks for Mobile Urbanites

Addressing the combined challenges of mobility and density, this series of design solutions (both conceptual and actual) turn trailer living into a vertical endeavor. While the image above was ...;"> Eco Capsule: Mobile Grid-Free Home Harnesses Sun, Wind & Rain

With stylistic nods to classic rounded Airstream trailers, this next-generation mobile pod dwelling is powered by solar and wind energy and provides drinkable water by recycling and filtering the ...;"> Mobile Village: Seattle Teens Build Micro-Homes for Homeless

Serving a nomadic homeless shanty town known as Nickelsville, the Impossible City project involves a group of a teenagers who are creating not just tiny houses but also solar power stations, ...

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A Taste of Japan: Immersive Animated Restaurant Shifts with the Seasons

14 April, 2017 - 19:10
[ By SA Rogers in Art & Installation & Sound. ]

The exclusive experience of dining at this Tokyo restaurant, which serves just eight patrons a day, is not really about the food – though Saga Beef restaurant Sagaya-Ginza is not necessarily lacking in quality. It’s just that watching nature spring to life all around you, cycling through the seasons to represent some of Japan’s most striking natural beauty, tends to eclipse whatever’s on your plate. Art collective teamLab, known for their creative projection-based installations, created a multi-sensory immersive experience with ‘Worlds Unleashed and Then Connecting.’

In classic teamLab form, this projection is not just immersive, but also interactive, responding to the dishes as they’re placed on the table as well as movements of the diners and servers. While other well-known works by the collective tend to unfold within a larger space, like a warehouse or gallery, this installation is private and intimate.

“When a dish is placed on the table, the world contained within the dish is unleashed, unfolding onto the table and into the surrounding space,” the artists explain. “The worlds unleashed from each dish connect in the external space creating a new larger world. The worlds unleashed are affected by the other dishes on the table.”

“For example, a bird unleashed from one dish can perch on the branch of a tree unleashed from another. The trees that grow from each dish are not identical; their sizes and shapes are affected by the worlds unleashed by the other dishes on the table. These unleashed worlds are also affected by your behavior. If you stand still, a tiny bird might alight on your hand; if you move suddenly, it might fly away. The worlds unleashed from the dishes on the table influence each other, react to the actions of the visitors, and combine to create one single continuous world. The world is constantly changing from moment to moment and no two moments are alike.”;"> Forest of Resonating Lamps: Brilliant Interactive Illuminated Installation

Dangling from a darkened ceiling like strange bioluminescent blooms, hundreds of high-tech lamps respond to the movements of people in the room, glowing in a particular color that resonates ...;"> Surround Screen: ‘Illumiroom’ Immersive Gaming Projection

What ever happened to in-home 3D technology and virtual reality? Perhaps futurists got a bit ahead of themselves, and maybe the way our eyes and minds focus means that many entertainment ...;"> Real Holodeck: 360-Degree Immersive Home Gaming Environment

Using a series of networked camera-and-projector units, this working demonstration turns an entire living room into and interactive gaming environment. Dubbed RoomAlive (a successor to ...

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Underpass Art & Parks: 15 Fun Projects Reclaiming Disused Urban Space

12 April, 2017 - 19:00
[ By SA Rogers in Architecture & Cities & Urbanism. ]

Climbing walls, skate parks, art installations, theaters and even miniature marinas take advantage of the cathedral-like spaces beneath highways and bridges, revitalizing formerly disused and depressed square footage in urban areas. In cities around the world, underpasses are often fenced off, strewn with trash and generally unappreciated, but these intervention projects reclaim the space in fun and creative ways that benefit the community.

Folly for a Flyover by Assemble, England

“Starting with the idea that how spaces are imagined is often as important as their physical characteristics in determining their use, the Folly reclaimed the future of the site by re-imagining its past,” says ASSEMBLE of its ‘Folly for a Flyover’ installation beneath a disused motorway underpass in Hackney Wick. “The new ‘fairy tale’ for the site described the Folly as the home of a stubborn landlord who refused to move to make way for the motorway, which was subsequently built around him, leaving him and his pitched roof stuck between the East and Westbound lanes. The Folly hosted an extensive program of cinema, performance and play… by day the Folly hosted a cafe, events and boat trips exploring the surrounding waterways; at night, audiences congregated on the building’s steps to watch screenings, from blockbusting animation classics to early cinema accompanied by a live score.

A8ernA, Zaanstad Underpass Installation by NL Architects

Another underpass project offering access to the adjacent waterway is A8ernA by NL Architects, located on the river Zaan in the Zoog aan de Zaan village near Amsterdam. The architects describe the new highway, built on columns, as a “brutal cut in the urban tissue.” Their installation attempts to heal this cut while taking advantage of the cathedral-like space, creating an “optimistic intervention” encouraging a new type of urban life, and includes a supermarket, flower and fish shop, parking, a park and a ‘graffiti gallery.’ There’s also a skate bowl, a mini-marina, a soccer field and a small hilly park.

Underpass Park, Toronto

Toronto’s Underpass Park is not only the most extensive park to ever be built beneath an overpass in Canada, but one of the most unusual parks of its kind throughout the world. Transforming a derelict and underused space into a new urban neighborhood feature and pedestrian passageway, the park turns what was formerly a barrier between the north and south parts of the community into a connection. Murals by world-renowned graffiti artists, playgrounds, sculptural installations, sports fields and other amenities draw locals in to engage with the space on an unprecedented level.

Ballroom Luminoso Installation by JB Public Art, San Antonio

The I-35 freeway underpass in San Antonio briefly became ‘Ballroom Luminoso’ thanks to a public art installation by JB Public Art, featuring six color-changing chandeliers made of recycled bicycle parts and sprockets. After dark, the lanterns would light up, casting intricate gear-shaped shadows all over the concrete structure.

Seattle’s Fremont Troll

Frequently popping up in movies and television shows set in Seattle, the Fremont Troll is a public sculpture by four local artists set beneath a bridge in the Fremont neighborhood. The piece won a neighborhood competition in 1990 as an idea to revitalize what was, at the time, a dumping ground. The troll sculpture is clutching an actual Volkswagen Beetle.

Next Page - Click Below to Read More:;"> Abandoned Bridge Amphitheater Reclaims Urban Space

An abandoned, deteriorating bridge in the city of Kosice in Slovakia has been rehabbed and modified to serve as an amphitheater and public gathering space that glows in bright rainbow colors at ...;"> Under London: Disused Tunnel Now a Subterranean Skate Park

The infamous Old Vic Tunnels under London's Waterloo Station are now home to the city's first subterranean skate park with the opening of House of Vans, a cultural complex taking up the entire ...;"> Sensational Skate Park & Urban Climbing Wall in Spain

It's not just a skate park, it's an architectural landmark. Factoria Joven ("youth factory") is a skate park and climbing wall in Merida, Spain, which opened in  March 2011. Its bright, modern ...

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Fairy Pools

8 April, 2017 - 00:10

Al sur de la Isla de Skye, en Escocia, se encuentra uno de lugares que alberga más fantasía y más belleza natural del planeta: las Fairy Pools, o albercas de hadas.
Las piscinas naturales se forman debido al trazado del río Brittle, que erosiona la roca. Es esta misma roca, la que filtra el agua provocando que ésta sea cristalina y libre de impurezas. A ambos lados del río crece una vegetación peculiar de tono violáceo, creando un paisaje muy especial. 300w, 730w, 30w" sizes="(max-width: 740px) 100vw, 740px" /> 199w, 20w" sizes="(max-width: 498px) 100vw, 498px" /> 300w, 30w" sizes="(max-width: 720px) 100vw, 720px" /> 300w, 30w" sizes="(max-width: 720px) 100vw, 720px" /> 200w, 20w" sizes="(max-width: 480px) 100vw, 480px" /> 300w, 768w, 730w, 30w" sizes="(max-width: 3872px) 100vw, 3872px" />

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Young Architects Should Work in Construction

4 April, 2017 - 07:01

If I have one regret during my education (between the ages of 18 – 24) is that I never worked on a construction site. Once I graduated from college, I went straight to work in an architectural office, drawing up all sorts of stuff that I had literally never seen before in my life. I managed to get along but I was acutely aware of my lack of practical knowledge and I have been trying to make up for it over the last 20+ years.

It’s really difficult to get firsthand experience on a construction job site once you have a different 8am-6pm job. It wasn’t until I bought my first house did I roll up my sleeves and start to get my hands dirty. My wife Michelle had a job where she traveled for work 5 days a week, and since I am not really a “go hang out at the bar” type of guy, I spent my evenings at home making repairs on my 1920’s era house. I didn’t really know any best practices, but I had been drawing details for awhile and I kind of knew some stuff … but knowing and doing are two really different things.

living room with concrete floor 03

What got me thinking about this was that I spent my Sunday getting the front room in my house ready for some concrete renovation work. We bought this house right at a year ago and I have been making minor cosmetic changes week to week. Most of the time it’s been fairly minor – I’ve rewired a bunch of light fixtures, replaced a bunch more, patched holes in sheet rock, rehung cabinet doors, re-hung gutters – that sort of thing. Some of the slightly more aggressive work has included fixing the pool (saw cut out some cracks in our pool, install new tile and put a new coat of plaster down) but now it’s time to tackle another project – polishing the concrete floors in my front living room.

I’m not going to be doing the grinding myself – even though I would like to try. This is more about the equipment needed to do the job properly. I don’t have access to large format grinders and for a job this small, it wouldn’t be worth the cost to try and rent one with all the necessary grinders and abrasive pads/discs. No, I am taking care of all the prep work and I am hiring someone else to come in and give me a  Level 3 (semi-polished) finish.

What’s that?

A level 3 polish is achieved by going up to an 800-grit or higher diamond abrasive – in my case, I am taking it 1500 grit. This is a “shiny” finish (just short of “wet”) and you’ll start to see good light reflectivity. At a distance of 30 to 50 feet, the floor will clearly reflect side and overhead lighting.

living room with concrete floor

SoI spent my weekend pulling up carpet and pad, scraping the floor a bit, and removing the perimeter carpet tack strips. I can’t help but think that the guys putting in the tack strips got paid based on the number of nails they used to attach the strips to my floor.

living room fireplace with concrete floor

This house – my 6th since I’ve been married – was actually designed by an architect, but I only know this because I have a copy of the original drawings. The house has been victimized by terrible design decisions and even poorer construction execution over the years, and you can see for yourself that the current design motif is still entrenched in the 1980’s.

Yes, that square recessed light fixture is not aligned with the fireplace, you aren’t seeing things. Would you also like to know that the trim ring on those fixtures is brass? That have been poorly painted over with flat white ceiling paint?

living room with concrete floor

This is a large room – around 420 square feet.

living room with concrete floor

There is another great thing about this room – the light. We get really wonderful light during the day because of the large exposed windows, which make up the majority of the walls, face East and South, and we do not get direct sunlight into this room.

removing carpet

I went back through my old pictures and I could only find one that still showed the carpeting. I suppose it wasn’t that old, I pulled the carpet up to check on the quality of the slab work underneath to initially find out if I could grind the slab.

removing carpet tack strips

Tack strips.

This is the part that was the worst. Pulling the carpet up and hauling it off only represented about 15% of my time and effort. The rest was spent sitting on the floor, hammering in-between the nails that were used to set these tack strips. There were almost a 100′ linear of tack strips, and if I did the math right, that equates to about 300 nails. In my attempts to minimize a number of concrete icebergs that were attached to each nail I removed, I had to use my hammer and chisel on both sides of each nail.

work is hard on your back when you're old

This is about an hour into the process.

Why yes, that is a bar on the left-hand side of this photo! While I was removing tack strips, my wife removed all the stuff from this room as part of our “mask-off-the-house-from-concrete-dust”. We learned this lesson the hard way from the last house we lived in and all the floors were concrete.  You can read this (Refinishing Concrete Floors) and see some photos of just how bad the concrete dust was.

discarded carpet tack strips

This is a look at just some of those hateful carpet tack strips. So. Many. Nails!!!

I like to think I am pretty handy around the house and more times than not, if I don’t take on a home renovation project, it’s either lack of resources ($$$). As I sat on the floor of my front room, hour after hour hammering and chiseling, I couldn’t help but think how working on my own houses over the years has fundamentally shaped how I think as an architect when I walk onto a job site.  I can’t help but have a deeper appreciation for the craftsmanship I am observing (hopefully observing …) and a better understanding of the effort it takes to create the desired result.

If you are a young architect or plan on becoming an architect one day, I think the best advice I can give you is to find your way onto a construction site – even if that construction site is your own.

Bob signature FAIA


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Window Shades: Contextual Street Art Frames View of Greek Cityscape

4 April, 2017 - 03:00
[ By WebUrbanist in Art & Street Art & Graffiti. ]


A turn of phrase meets art in this mural made to look like a face, with glass-framed eyes reflecting the world outside.


Graffiti interventionist Achilles likes to put art in context, using walls and spaces as backdrops for layered works that wouldn’t work quite the same way anywhere else.




Many of his site-specific works play with perspective and create visual surprises by tucking elements onto different surfaces to create reveals as the viewer approaches.

Compared to his complex works, his artist bio is short and to the point: “Achilles lives and creates in Athens, Greece. He loves street art, graffiti and painting. He works as a freelancer creating murals, portraits, paintings, illustrations etc.”;"> Street Art, Decades Apart: 40 Then & Now Graffiti Photos

We tend to notice as buildings come and go, skylines change and grow with planning and oversight, but what about the spray-painted wall art the adorns the sides of these structures, sometimes ...;"> Legible Graffiti: Repainting Street Art for Digital-Age Audiences

Artist Mathieu Tremblin has hit the streets again, expanding on his portfolio of repainted tags, turning messy walls into neat and readable 'tag cloud' arrays. His past works have ...;"> Photography in a Can: 37 Works of Hyper-Realistic Street Art

Recreating absolute realism in paint typically takes time, tiny brushes and a quiet, well-lit work space. Those are three things that street artists don't usually have at their disposal - and yet ...

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Beyond Brutalism: Cutting-Edge North Korean Architecture

2 April, 2017 - 19:00
[ By Steve in Architecture & Cities & Urbanism. ]


The infamous Ryugyong Hotel in Pyongyang may have stolen the spotlight but North Korea can boast many other examples of unusual cutting-edge architecture.



The Korea Central Zoo (also known as the Pyongyang Central Zoo) was founded in 1959 but recently underwent an extensive makeover, re-opening in July of 2016. The zoo was and continues to be criticized for exhibits that include a chain-smoking chimpanzee and various breeds of dogs. Canines are forbidden to be kept as pets in the capital city, ostensibly for hygienic reasons.




We’re here to discuss architecture, however, and when it comes to the Central Zoo the highlight has to be the huge tiger-head entrance archway. Rather impressive, unless you’re an easily frightened child (or adult). At least the scaredy-cats can find some solace at the turtle-shaped Reptile Enclosure.

Handball Hall


Handball is kind of a big deal in North Korea and the North Korea women’s national handball team has competed at the Asian Women’s Handball Championship no less than six times since 1991 – though they’ve never finished higher than third. The team practices at the strikingly angular and not at all ball-shaped Handball Hall located on Chongchun Street in Pyongyang’s “city of sports” district.


We don’t have a date for the first photo but the image just above snapped by Flickr user Aaron Geddes (Gedsman) in March of 2016 displays some subtle differences.

International Cinema Hall



The International Cinema Hall isn’t in use very often as its main raison d’etre is hosting the Pyongyang International Film Festival every other year since 1987.


The sprocket-shaped building sits cheek-by-jowl to a golf course (you read that correctly) on the island of Yanggakdo, located in the Taedong River running through downtown Pyongyang.

Next Page - Click Below to Read More:;"> Exclucity: Unique GoPro Footage of Pyongyang, North Korea

Notoriously restrictive of the media, the North Korean government surprisingly granted the request of an outsider seeking to shoot a virtually unprecedented video: a continuous car tour of the ...;"> Shanghai Expo 2010: 15 Cutting-Edge Architectural Designs

(Images via: Shanghai Cultural China,, Arch Daily) When you're awarded the highly coveted position of official host city to the world’s latest, greatest and inarguably grandest ...;"> Kim Jong Il Leaves an Unusual Architectural Legacy

Started in 1987 and still not complete, North Korea's Ryugyong Hotel is perhaps its most potent architectural symbol, and an odd legacy for an odd and secretive leader. The 105-floor, ...

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