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Dead WalMart reborn as library


A dead WalMart in McAllen, Texas has been remodelled as a library, making it the largest single-floor library in the USA. It's award-winning design makes excellent use of all that space -- two football fields' worth -- and includes an acoustically separated teen space.

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Building the prefab Contemporary Resort at Walt Disney World


Imagineering Disney has a great gallery of construction shots of the Contemporary Resort, a huge, modernist A-frame structure whose rooms were all prefabbed offsite and crane-lifted into place.

WDW Construction: Contemporary Resort

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UFO Futuro Houses of the 1960s-1970s

As a youngster, my dream was to live in a Futuro House, the UFO-like prefab homes designed by Matti Surronen and available for purchase new in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Only 100 or so were built around the world but quite a few survive to this day, in varying states of decay. In the video above, urban explorer The Unknown Cameraman visits Futuro Houses in New Jersey. You can also see many more photos of these otherworldly abodes at Cult of Weird.

3D printed book of textures and reliefs


Tom sez, "I have been thinking for some time how it would be nice to produce a 3D printed book of textures and reliefs. To publish and distribute all the wonderful architectural patterning and decoration we enjoy here in Chicago and beyond. This is the prototype for that idea. The subject matter for this book is derived from 3D scans made of sculptures and reliefs, found at The Art Institute of Chicago and The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. The scans were all produced using a regular DSLR camera and a software package called 123D Catch. By taking multiple digital photographs of a subject, the user is able to create a lifelike 3D scan of an object, person or architectural feature."

Tom's book is available as a free, downloadable shapefile on Thingiverse.

Orihon (Accordion Book) (Thanks, Tom)

Turning 425sqft of Manhattan into a tardisoid bigger-on-the-inside home


Architects Specht Harpman converted a 425sqft Manhattan micro-apartment into an amazing, multi-tiered living space by building up into the apartment's 25' (!) ceilings. It's got a bit of that shipbuilder's vibe, with cabinets built into everything, including the staircases. I love the tiny swatch of grass, too. I live in a very small place, and looking at this makes me want to explore how to cram more into our little place -- we get about 650 sqft of livable space out of an 18' square/22' tall place that's laid out in two storeys. Using this kind of technique, it seems like we should be able to get a much more livable and spacious place.

Manhattan Micro-Loft | Residential | Specht Harpman

Digital Grotesque: complex, 3D-printed room


Digital Grotesque is an ambitious architectural project using 3D printers and game-of-life-style algorithms to produce a room whose walls, baseboards, ceiling and moldings are all a-crawl with the most astonishing array of forms and complexities. They've completed a 1:3 prototype, which is presently on exhibit in Basel, and are proceeding to print out the full-scale item.


the prototypes show a regard for both material sensitivity and the limits of technologically manipulated form-- millions of grains of sand bind together to create a new typology of sandstone and subsequently treated to be glazed and gilded. drawing from the algorithmic confines of the game of life and cell division, a set of simple geometries met with minimal parameters begets a highly involved form. the result is rich, shimmering composition ridden with impossible undercuts and a transcendental sense of the limits of technology. the term grotesque is derived from the unplanned complexities of a water-shaped grotto, itself a naturally occurring architecture long regarded for the uncanny presence of human-sized spaces in various landscapes.

digital grotesque showcases 3-d printed room by michael hansmeyer

(Images: Digital Grotesque)

(via Dvice)

TWA's Idlewild lounge: Escher, eat your heart out


No, it's not a lost Escher print, it's a photo of Saarinen's long-lost TWA lounge at Idlewild, and you can buy it as a print:

Circa 1964. "Trans World Airlines Terminal. Idlewild Airport, Queens, New York." Acetate negative by Balthazar Korab (1926-2013), Hungarian-born architectural photographer who documented the work of Eero Saarinen.

TWA: 1964 (Thanks, Fipi Lele!)

Buildings built by bacteria

NewImage

Over at Fast Company, our pal Chris Arkenberg wrote about how advances in synthetic biology and biomimicry could someday transform how we build our built environments:

Innovations emerging across the disciplines of additive manufacturing, synthetic biology, swarm robotics, and architecture suggest a future scenario when buildings may be designed using libraries of biological templates and constructed with biosynthetic materials able to sense and adapt to their conditions. Construction itself may be handled by bacterial printers and swarms of mechanical assemblers.

Tools like Project Cyborg make possible a deeper exploration of biomimicry through the precise manipulation of matter. David Benjamin and his Columbia Living Architecture Lab explore ways to integrate biology into architecture. Their recent work investigates bacterial manufacturing--the genetic modification of bacteria to create durable materials. Envisioning a future where bacterial colonies are designed to print novel materials at scale, they see buildings wrapped in seamless, responsive, bio-electronic envelopes.

"Cities Of The Future, Built By Drones, Bacteria, And 3-D Printers"

Bookcase/staircase/slide!


Architects Moon Hoon designed a house in Chungcheongbuk-do, South Korea, that uses a staircase as a slide, a library and a room-divider. My goodness, it is lovely.


The basic request of upper and lower spatial organization and the shape of the site promted a long and tin house with fluctuating facade which would allow for more differentiated view. The key was coming up with a multi-functional space which is a large staircase, bookshelves, casual reading space, home cinema, slide and many more…

The client was very pleased with the design, and the initial design was accepted and finalized almost instantly, only with minor adjustments. The kitchen and dining space is another important space where family gathers to bond. The TV was pushed away to a smaller living room. The attic is where the best view is possible, it is used as a play room for younger kids. The multi-use stair and slice space brings much active energy to the house, not only children, but also grown ups love the slide staircase…An action filled playful house for all ages…

Panorama House by Moon Hoon (via Neatorama)

Carving an artificial cavern under NYC

NewImage

New York's Metropolitan Transportation Authority is digging an artificial cavern for a future Second Avenue Subway stop below 86th street. Patrick Cashin is photographing the massive operation. Fortunately, the tunnel has been blessed by a Catholic priest. Check out more of Cashin's photos on Flickr and a brief riff on the project by Geoff Manaugh at BLDGBLOG.

Clever, 130sqft Paris apartment


Inthralld showcases a 130 square-foot apartment in Paris, where a set of insanely clever design decisions allows for a full apartment's worth of amenities to be jammed into a teeny weeny space. I love the drawers in the steps, but of course I really love the hiding bed/sofa. Basically, I want to live in a Murphy apartment and/or houseboat.

What was once a master suite of an apartment in the Montparnasse neighborhood is now a 130 square foot micro apartment that houses all of the necessities. There’s even an extremely creative way to house the mattress-slash-sofa. The bed doubles as seating space for lounging and entertaining, which rolls away discreetly underneath a set of steps on the floor. The Magis One stools add some much needed contemporary pizazz to the inner environment, while the storage really looks like art and functions just perfectly.

130 Square Foot Micro Apartment in Paris (via Core77)

Mid-Century Modern housing designs vs children


Projectophile's Clare has a funny post about the hazards presented by beautiful mid-century modern home designs to children. My grandparents had a proper split-level MCM when I was a kid, and it's a wonder we survived. As Clare says, "I love open, flowing space as much as the next modern girl. But I know it would only be a matter of minutes before my kid flings himself off one of these deadly ledges..."

15 Mid-Century Modern Dream Homes that will Kill Your Children (via MeFi)

Why architects should stop drawing trees on top of skyscrapers


Vanessa Quirk Tim De Chant argues that the practice of drawing trees on top of skyscrapers in architectural renderings should stop. First, because pretty, high-altitude foliage is the first thing that cost-conscious developers jettison when the actual building is underway; but secondly, because trees can't really survive at that altitude:

There are plenty of scientific reasons why skyscrapers don’t—and probably won’t—have trees, at least not to the heights which many architects propose. Life sucks up there. For you, for me, for trees, and just about everything else except peregrine falcons. It’s hot, cold, windy, the rain lashes at you, and the snow and sleet pelt you at high velocity. Life for city trees is hard enough on the ground. I can’t imagine what it’s like at 500 feet, where nearly every climate variable is more extreme than at street level.

Wind is perhaps the most formidable force trees face at that elevation. Ever seen trees on the top of a mountain? Their trunks bow away from the prevailing winds. That may be the most visible effect, but it’s not the most challenging. Wind also interrupts the thin layer of air between a leaf and the atmosphere, known as the boundary layer. The boundary layer is tiny by human standards—it operates on a scale small enough that normally slippery gas particles behave like viscous fluids.

Bottom line: if we're going to have skyscrapers, let's build them without the illusion that they'll harbor high-altitude forests.

Can We Please Stop Drawing Trees on Top of Skyscrapers? (Thanks, Fipi Lele!)

(Images: “Le Cinq” Office Tower / Neutelings Riedijk Architects, Rendering by Visualisatie A2STUDIO, Pentominium / Murphy/Jahn. Image courtesy of Murphy/Jahn.)

Castle for sale in upstate NY

Castleeee

NewImageAs Boing Boing has outgrown both our converted ICBM silo and air park and secret lair in the Alps we expect to purchase this stately castle in upstate New York, built in 1894 for the National Guard Amsterdam. It is quite a steal at $1 million although our planned improvements will be costly, starting with the piranha-stocked moat. We intend to leave the billiard room and basketball court as-is but the, er, "basement toy room" needs some help. Perhaps we should do a Kickstarter. Upstate Castle Amsterdam, NY National Guard Armory for sale (Thanks, Lindsay Winterhalter!)

Albania is riddled with decaying Soviet-era bunkers


Wired's Pete Brook talks with Dutch photographer David Galjaard, author of the 2012 Aperture Foundation/Paris Photo First Photobook Award-winning book Concreso, a photo-essay on the insane "bunkerization" practiced by the paranoid Soviet Albanian dictator Enver Hoxha. Hoxha built a one bunker for every four Albanians, 24 per square kilometer, and now the country has no idea what to do with all these decaying, apocalyptic concrete blobs.

“I’m telling a story about a country and I’m using bunkers as metaphors,” says Galjaard. “Albania is an Eastern country but it wants to be part of the West. It has one foot in each, and the split is sort of unnatural. Albanians still have not found their identity so they struggle with the past, but also struggle with the future. And future for them is being part of Western Europe.”

The Communist leader Hoxha rose to power in 1944 as leader of the Party of Labour of Albania and ruled until his death in 1985. Hoxha was on constant alert for political threats and maintained his position with routine immobilization, imprisonment and eviction of his people and political opponents. Hoxha’s suspicions also extended beyond Albanian borders and the bunkers, which number 24 to every square kilometer, and were built in preparation for a multi-front war Hoxha expected from invading countries, East and West. Every citizen in Hoxha’s plan was a reservist. Twelve-year-olds were trained to fire rifles. The bunkers never saw action.

Today, Albanian authorities are at a loss for what to do. The reinforced concrete domes are as difficult to repurpose as they are to destroy. Tourists are fascinated by the bunkers strewn like confetti across scenery, but for locals they’re a largely uninteresting, if obstructive, part of the landscape.”

Paranoid Dictator’s Communist-Era Bunkers Now a National Nuisance [Pete Brook/Wired]