Archive for March, 2007

Russian gangster’s log cabin

Posted: March 30, 2007 in creativity
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Via Boing Boing: “This record-breaking, 13-storey log cabin was hand-built by a ruined Russian gangster as a summer place in Arkhangelsk. The towering fire-hazard is all that remains from his life of crime, and the city is threatening to tear it down on the basis that it threatens to take the whole suburb with it if it goes up in smoke”.

Ryugyong Hotel in Pyongyang

Posted: March 30, 2007 in creativity
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Via Neatorama: “The Ryugyong Hotel is much like the North Korean regime itself: it’s monolithic, unstable, and menacing. Construction began on the building in 1987; it was abandoned in 1992, presumably because funding ran out. Perhaps due to bad concrete used in its initial construction, some think it’ll never be open as it’s currently designed. To this day, a crane sits at the top, 330 meters above Pyongyang, a dormant antenna perched on the half-built, ghostly hull. The edifice lacks windows, fixtures, and fittings; that it was never finished didn’t stop the government from adding it to maps and official currency, or from manipulating it in official images so that it appears to be lit up at night. Why would an isolationist state like North Korea, a country with perhaps the world’s tightest controls on tourism, undertake the construction of a hotel with 3,000 rooms? One can only guess”.

Rolling Bridge, London

Posted: March 30, 2007 in creativity
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In my Sitooterie post I mentioned Designer Thomas Heatherwick – here is another of his awesome designs (via Neatorama): the Rolling Bridge.

“Rather than a conventional opening bridge mechanism, consisting of a single rigid element that lifts to let boats pass, the Rolling Bridge gets out of the way by curling up until its two ends touch. While in its horizontal position, the bridge is a normal, inconspicuous steel and timber footbridge; fully open, it forms a circle on one bank of the water that bears little resemblance to its former self.

Twelve metres long, the bridge is made in eight steel and timber sections, and is made to curl by hydraulic rams set into the handrail between each section.”

Singapore’s floating towers

Posted: March 30, 2007 in creativity
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Here’s another great architectural project, via World Architecture News. com. The Far East Organization, Singapore’s largest private development company, has commissioned the Office for Metropolitan Architecture for OMA’s first architectural project in Singapore – the Singapore Scotts Tower, a 36-storey residential high-rise. The 153 meter tall tower will be located at the intersection of Scotts Road and Cairnhill Road, in close proximity to Orchard Road, Singapore’s famous shopping and lifestyle street. With 20,000m² of built floor area, the building will provide 68 high-end apartment units with panoramic views. The design strategically maneuvers within the highly regulated building environment to maximize the full potential of the site: four individual apartment towers are vertically offset from one another and suspended from a central core. The skyline of floating towers directly relates to the surrounding building volumes and explores the most attractive views towards the city center and an extensive green zone to the north. The lifted apartment towers reduce the building’s footprint to a minimum; the liberated ground level provides communal leisure activities embedded in the tropical landscape.

In my mind this is an excellent example for creating a symbiotic relationship between aesthetics and sustainability. Vertically redistributing the floor area to four alternating towers makes maximum use of a small spatial footprint while offering an eye-pleasing design. I wish more city planners and architects would apply those principles.

Sand castles

Posted: March 30, 2007 in creativity
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There are two art forms I always find quite amazing: ice sculptures and sand castles. In both cases I am
not only amazed about the sculpting skills of their creators, but also the fact that the artworks actually
can be created at all and in a semi-permanent way. Anyway, a friend send me the pictures below – I am
not sure where they were taken; it seems there are lots of sand castle events happening all over the
world.

    

Tree sculptures

Posted: March 30, 2007 in creativity
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Via Wohba!: Most of these photos are courtesy of Richard Reames, author of the book
Arborsculpture
arborsmith.com

Bugatti Veyron 16.4

Posted: March 29, 2007 in science & technology
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Pity I don’t have US$ 1.3 million spare … but then, even if I would, I probably wouldn’t spend them on this toy anyway, for various ethical and environmental reasons. Nevertheless, it does look beautiful in my eyes plus it’s not for the faint-hearted (like my wife): it reaches its top speed at around 400km/h and accelerates from 0-100km/h in 2.5 seconds! The DSG transmission produces completely uninterrupted, linear acceleration – apparently not only does your head not bob at each gear change, you can’t even feel it happening. Wow …

I always find it amazing, how much VW has changed its image in this globalised world – just think of its humble beginnings with the Beetle. Anyway, for more info go to the PopSci website in the coming months or directly to Bugatti.

Sitooterie

Posted: March 20, 2007 in creativity
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Imagine living in this building …

… and having this one in your backyard!

What is it? A common or garden gazebo, according to designer Thomas Heatherwick, known for his innovative use of engineering and materials in public monuments. This remarkable structure is called a ‘Sitooterie’, which supposedly is Scottish for something you ’sit oot’ in. Like much of Heatherwick’s work – for example the Longchamp Store in New York City, a Buddhist temple in Japan or the blue carpet civic square in Newcastle – the Sitooterie defies easy categorisation. It’s clearly though a marvel of design, architecture, structural engineering and fibre optics. [I love the Longchamp Store]

The ‘Sitooterie’ is essentially a 2.4 cubic meter aluminium cube, with a door, a seat, a window and more than 4000 precisely angled holes, each of which holds a hollow aluminium tube cap-sealed with a tiny orange Perspex dome. The tubes all point to the centre of the box and work like optical fibres. At night, just one 100-watt light bulb at the centre can light up the whole space age pincushion; and if someone moves in front of the light, their shadow will appear on the spines, greatly magnified.
The sitooterie is at Barnard’s Farm, near Thurrock, Essex, which could be described as a rather eccentric place. Besides growing and cultivating crab-apples, the farm’s 17 ha property contains a bog garden (see below), kinetic and other sculptures (see example below) and an air strip to welcome – aviators and their flying machines. The Barnard’s Farm website also has a range of links to other garden, conservation sites, the natural history museum and local community pages, possible indicating some level of commitment to sustainable living.

    

The Ghostwriters – Political Animal

Posted: March 15, 2007 in creativity
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politicalanimalI had never heard of The Ghostwriters before, and there is next to no info on them on the Net. Yet they are born out of Australian rock history, being the brainchild of Midnight Oil’s drummer Rob Hirst and the Hoodoo Gurus‘ bassist Rick Grossman. The group so far has produced 3 albums: the self-titled Ghostwriters (1991), Second Skin (1996) and Fibromoon (1999). They also played many live sessions in Sydney pubs.

Notable contributors to the Ghostwriters included Dorland Bray (Do Re Mi); Dominic Turner (backsliders); Chris Abrahams ( Jazz pianist – Benders, Laughing Clowns, The Necks and many others); Mark Moffatt (session musician with The Saints, Mental As Anything, Eurogliders, Yothu Yindi and many others); Warne Livesey (producer Midnight Oil); and Jeremy Smith , Jack Howard and Michael Waters of Hunters and Collectors fame. Fellow Oils members Jim Moginie and Bones Hillman made guest appearances at live gigs.

Allmusic calls this side project a “Richard Hell – indebted stepson”, a claim I cannot not judge, not having heard their music yet. What seems to have won some praise are the Ghostwriter’s rich lyricism, and what I personally like is the rotating support cast, which would I imagine add a bit of variety to the sound of the group. On the other hand: what has been lacking apparently is the classical political disobedience of Oil and the levity of the Gurus. Allmusic though mentioned their sweep of unpolished aboriginal garage rock … whatever that might mean.

Sony have announced the launch of Ghostwriters’ fourth album, Political Animal. It will be launched at the East Coast Blues & Roots Festival at Byron Bay on April 8-9, 2007, and it is this announcement combined with me listening to one of the songs (the single ‘Start the Day’) from that new album on my favourite radio station ‘fbi’ ) that made me write this post.

Rob Hirst and Rick Grossman return with the strongest ever Ghostwriters line-up: ex-Midnight Oil man Martin Rotsey on guitar, Lee Moloney on drums (Diesel, Lost Gospel), and producer/guitarist DC (Beau Young) on guitar/keys. The songs are tough, melodic, and retain the excitement and energy that comes from recording live in the studio. As Rick says, laughing: “This group is driven by powerful stuff – deep anger and resentment!” Well, let’s hope so! ‘Start the Day’ certainly is great: it’s anti-Bush, anti-Howard, anti-war etc, and it reminds me of the old Midnight Oil; it could be great if the Ghostwriters would continue the legacy – I’m sure traitor Garrett would not be missed at all.

Myspace (which also has a video clip for ‘Start the Day’) mentions that “Political Animal was prompted by a sense of foreboding about world conflicts, and frustration with the government and their media lickspittles: “I felt I needed to match my money with my big ARIA mouth,” says Rob, referring to his recent comments regarding the virtual disappearance of local protest music”. Rick Grossman sounds supportive: “Ghostwriters have evolved into a (shock, horror) rock band! The group has got the mix right, with a hard sound that mirrors the sentiment. And the passion burns bright.”

Let’s hope they mean it and they’re right! I do have some doubt though: there’s always a lot marketing spin in such statements, especially when coming from their official myspace page. An what political message does it send to me when all the public domain images I could find of Hurst and Grossman (except the one above) linked straight back to the Ghostwriters website, where all photos had a Sony copyright slapped onto them. And isn’t Sony the company that not too long ago embedded DRM technology into their music CD’s that gave hackers a backdoor to your computer when you played one of those Sony CDs that you actually legally bought in a shop! Rock is Money after all. And protest music of course keeps us off the street and rebellion in our heads; it too is opium of and for the masses. Capitalism transforms everything into a consumable good – from love to anger and political outrage to anarcho-capitalism. So, in the end, it’s all not as great as it sounds (literally).

Fractals

Posted: March 13, 2007 in creativity
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A couple of great fractal sites. Chaoscope showcases the beauty of chaos, according to this TechRepublic page (which also has links to pages allowing to create your own fractals). Witness the beauty and elegance of mathematics with 50 breathtaking fire fractals.