Transforming Quadrant House: Rotating Terrace Follows the Sun

[ By SA Rogers in Architecture & Houses & Residential. ]

More than anything, the owners of a new transforming house in Poland wanted constant, direct access to sunlight. They commissioned the local firm KWK Promes to realize their unusual vision, and the result is definitely one of a kind.

“Quadrant House” sits on a grassy suburban plot surrounded by trees. The name comes from both the word referring to the quarters of a circle and a historical instrument used to determine the angle of the sun’s elevation in astronomy. Even without a moving element, the house stands out from its neighbors with its stacked white volumes, blind facades facing the street.

But of course, the star of the show is definitely that kinetic terrace. When it’s flat up against the side of the house, it almost doubles the living space. Moving silently and automatically, the volume swings out a full 90 degrees, allowing more or less sunlight to reach the indoor living room as desired. Sliding glass panels make it possible to open this entire section of the home to the outdoors.

“Clients wanted most simple, sunny and relaxing house, somehow reacting to the movement of the Sun. They also liked our Safe House, its changeability and mechanisms that create relations with the surroundings. The starting point was a regular shape unbuilt site, located in the suburbs among the average single-family housing. We placed a rectangular solid on it, corresponding to the wishes of investors in terms of the functional program.”

“Then we turned the part belonging to the ground floor to get as much privacy as possible from the side of the road. In the ‘cut’ space was located a living room, roofed floor and open to the garden – a similar solution can be found in Living Garden House, where the night zone is on the floor and the day zone becomes part of the garden – the boundaries between architecture and the landscape are blurred.”

Though they hoped for a flat roof, local code requires a gabled shape. The architects found a compromise by angling the gable toward the street-facing facade so that its back edge tapers down toward the yard, giving it a flat appearance from that angle, at least.

And if you’re wondering whether it might actually be dangerous to have a section of your home automatically changing positions according to the movement of the sun across the sky, don’t worry – the architects thought of that. Sensors make sure nothing is in the way of the movable volume, stopping the motion when obstacles are present.

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Zaha Hadid Architects Make Flood Protection Look Elegant in Hamburg

[ By SA Rogers in Architecture & Cities & Urbanism. ]

As urban planners grapple with the need for creative flood management systems in cities around the world, Zaha Hadid Architects provides an interesting example in Hamburg.

Located along the Elbe River, the new Niederhafen River Promenade offers two functions in one: a flood wall and a riverfront promenade. Set in a popular tourist area alongside one of the city’s most important public spaces, the new promenade offers views of the Elbe, links to adjacent neighborhoods and lots of room for pedestrians, food stalls, cafes and street performers, with shops and public utilities set into the structure at street level on the side that faces the city.

The barrier at Niederhafen was first built in the 1960s in the aftermath of severe storm surge floods that caused 315 fatalities and destroyed the homes of 60,000 residents, but according to modern calculations, it was no longer high enough to be effective. In addition to raising the total height of the barrier by .8 meters, the overburdened supporting elements of the structure needed to be replaced. The city announced a competition to design a redevelopment, awarding the project to Zaha Hadid Architects.

Standing 8.6 meters (28 feet) high on the eastern side and 8.9 meters (29 feet) high on the western side, the barrier is now tall enough to protect the city from maximum winter storm surges and extreme high tides. The architects carved sculptural staircases into the sides at various points, creating angular amphitheaters that encourage people to linger and enjoy the views and “generating an oscillating sequence in the river promenade as it repeatedly widens and narrows.”

“Dedicated cycle lanes at street level run the length of the flood protection barrier. Wide ramps at Baumwell and Langdungsbrücken connect the river promenade with street level and provide accessibility for all. A third central ramp enables service vehicles to access the promenade and Überseebrücke.”

“The river promenade is divided into two sections with different spatial qualities. The zone to the west is at a larger scale, offering wide views downstream of all shipping activity on the river. To the east, the port’s marina creates amore intimate atmosphere with a long ramp alongside the amphitheater leading visitors down to the water’s edge.”

Of course, concrete flood walls aren’t right for every city, especially those where aquatic wildlife habitats have been destroyed and need to be restored. Some cities are working on plans to do just that, like Chicago’s “Wild Mile.” Read more about how “urban rewinding” can help make cities more flood resistant.

Photos by Piet Niemann via Zaha Hadid Architects

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Shipping Container Transformed into a Giant Camera & Darkroom

[ By SA Rogers in Art & Photography & Video. ]

Pretty much anything that can be hollowed out and made light-proof can be used as a camera. Just ask Brendan Barry, who’s made a career from transforming ordinary objects like watermelon, bread, logs, mannequins and boxes made of Legos into unconventional photography equipment.

Barry’s creations got bigger and and cooler than ever in 2017 when he transformed an old caravan he purchased for $200 into a mobile camera and portable darkroom. Now, he’s back with a project that builds on that idea. He describes his shipping container camera as “the world’s biggest, slowest, and most impractical polaroid camera.”

That may be so, but it’s still really cool, and the photos have a sort of hazy, dreamy quality that make them feel like antiques. As seen in a documentary by Exploredinary, the shipping container camera has a custom-made rear door with a built-in lens, which pulls into place to make its black-painted interior a camera. It’s also used as a darkroom, gallery and a space for holding workshops.

Barry set up the shipping container camera at Northernhay Gardens in Exeter for about two and a half weeks, taking photos of subjects who wandered up and volunteered. He thinks part of the charm of the resulting photos comes from the fact that people are accustomed to having their photos taken by a conventional camera, but something about these quirky handmade cameras lowers their guard.

Barry says his work is “mostly concerned with the transformation of different objects and environments into spaces capable of viewing and capturing a photographic image, using the mechanics of photography as a tool for exploration and collaboraiton.”

Check out the rest of his work at BrendanBarry.com and on Instagram @brendanbarryphoto.

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Dairy Err: 10 Closed & Abandoned Australian Milk Bars

[ By Steve in Abandoned Places & Architecture. ]

Chain store competition is creaming Milk Bars across Australia, leaving independent store owners, desperate smokers and the odd lost droog thirsting for more.

Milked Dry

Milk bars have a curiously convoluted history dating back almost a century: the first so-named establishment opened in India back in 1930. The concept of an alcohol-free pub catering to the younger set with healthy, dairy-based fresh and frozen comestibles then took off in the UK, and by 1940 had spread to the United States.

In Australia, milk bars evolved into proto-convenience stores selling cigarettes, newspapers and sundries alongside trademark tasty treats. Our lead images of the abandoned Oak Milk Bar in Kangaroo Point, NSW were taken in 2003 by Flickr member Geoff Eastwood though by that time, the quintessentially Sixties structure had already been long-abandoned.

Nixed Business

The sign says “Mixed… Business” but to the average Aussie, that meant a milk bar with the aforementioned odds & ends sold within. One would hope the floor within this abandoned milk bar in Fitzroy (a suburb of Melbourne) was more level than the street outside but if not, any spilt milk would run off instead of forming a puddle. Call it a feature, not a bug. Flickr member Susan Fitzgerald snapped the tipsy ex-establishment in July of 2006.

Petered Out

They do things a little differently in the Antipodes… care for some “Tea of Flavor”, fer instance? You’ll find it – at least you COULD, before the shop went (down) under, sold along with Peter’s ice cream at this unnamed former milk bar in Annandale, Sydney. Aussies also take their milk barrista-ing seriously: none other than Mrs. R.V. Craig, “Reg. Milk Vendor”, served up the cow juice with fresh or frozen att-teat-tude! Flickr member Navin (no, not Navin R Johnson) posted the above pic early in 2010.

Heavy Medal

The weight of time is apparent when gazing at the now-demolished Olympia Milk Bar in Stanmore, Sydney. Flickr member Newtown grafitti recalls a movie house just next door, the closing of which likely decimated business at the Olympia. Too bad – a scoop or two of Street’s Ice Cream would have made a notoriously hot Sydney summer evening a tad less hellish.

Never On Sundae

From the serene blue-tiled facade to the homely (in a good way) rose-patterned window curtains, this nameless former milk bar in Murrayville, Victoria just oozes cooling replenishment of the dairy persuasion. One wonders, did anybody ever actually “insist” on being served a “delightfully refreshing” Holten’s aerated drink? We sure wish we could do so but alas, Flickr member Matt‘s photo above plainly and painfully points out the milk bar’s CLOSED status as of January 2010.

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Adversarial Fashion Designed to Trick Automated License Plate Readers

[ By SA Rogers in Gadgets & Geekery & Technology. ]

As it turns out, surveillance cameras that have been “trained” to spot and read license plates aren’t all that good at discerning real ones from fakes. That makes it pretty easy to trick Automatic License Plate Reader (ALPR) systems with images of fake plates, making it possible to flood their databases with unusable information.

When hacker and fashion designer Kate Rose learned – through a conversation with Dave Maass, a researcher with the Electronic Frontier Foundation – that the plate readers kind of suck at their jobs, she got an idea. Her new line “Adversarial Fashion” is the result. Unveiled at the DefCon cybersecurity conference in Las Vegas last week, the garments spell out the words of the fourth amendment of the US constitution, which protects Americans from “unreasonable searches and seizures.”

The cameras, however, read the garments as real license plates, and the proof is in their databases. ALPRs are always on, and can collect thousands of plates per minute, so for the system, there’s nothing unusual about capturing so many individual plates at a time. As Rose’s presentation at DefCon noted, overloading this kind of surveillance technology is one of the main methods of confounding it (along with blocking the collection of information.)

If you’re interested in making your own, Rose has provided all of the information you need to do it. But her line of Adversarial Fashion is pretty affordable, with prices starting at $24.99 – check it out here, or follow the brand new Instagram account @adversarialfashion.

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Disorienting Perspective-Shifting Animations by Dirk Koy Might Make You Dizzy

[ By SA Rogers in Art & Drawing & Digital. ]

Some of Dirk Koy’s videos should come with warnings before viewing, but not for the usual reasons. If you’re at all prone to motion sickness, just watching a few seconds of these disorienting animations could turn your stomach a little.

The Basel, Switzerland-based artist specializes in short experimental films that take ordinary scenes – like cars navigating a roundabout or a diver doing a flip into a pool – into dizzying and disorienting loops you can’t seem to look away from. Frequently employing drones to rise above a landscape, Koy subverts the footage just enough to make you feel like somebody dosed you with psychedelics.

Most of these clips are posted on Instagram, YouTube and Vimeo with no comments other than some identifying hashtags, further distancing the viewer from the real place. If you can make it all the way through a series of them without feeling ill, hats off to you.

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IKEA’s Latest Project: Designing Low-Cost Flat-Pack Dementia Villages

[ By SA Rogers in Architecture & Houses & Residential. ]

Across the globe, populations of older people are growing dramatically, and few plans are in place to properly care for them. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) says 8.5 percent of people worldwide are over 65, and that number will jump to nearly 17 percent by 2050. The need for supportive long-term housing and healthcare has never been more urgent, especially for those with dementia. But elder care is modernizing, and in many cases, that means doing away with the concept of the institutional nursing home.

IKEA is getting in on the game by partnering with construction company BoKlok to launch low cost flat-pack housing for people with dementia. The Swedish retailer has been working on these “SilviaBo” homes since 2015, designing them with a host of sensitive features. They’re meant to be arranged in small communities with gardens and clubhouses that encourage socializing and spending time outdoors.

Named after Sweden’s Queen Silvia, the homes are a modified take on BoKlok’s other affordable flat-pack units. They’ll feature kitchen appliances with old-fashioned knobs and buttons instead of digital controls, bright red shower railings, doors and other components that can easily be seen. There are no mirrors or dark-colored floors in the bathroom, which can confuse people with dementia. The company says these are just a few examples of the 50 slight changes made to the SilviaBo home.

“In March 2017, the first two SilviaBo homes began to be assembled – a quick timeframe made possible thanks to the focus and effort of everyone involved. It’s a process of assembly, as also key to the affordability of a BoKlok home is a highly efficient system of industrialized construction in which truck-sized housing modules – complete with finished interiors including flooring and even cabinets – are produced in a factory. They are then hauled to each site and lifted into place to form the houses.”

IKEA is reportedly ready to start putting the houses into use. A small pilot community with six apartments was trialled outside Stockholm, but residents haven’t moved in yet due to an ongoing permit dispute with neighbors. The houses will rent through BoKlok’s “Left to Live” payment model, which allows residents to pay what they can afford after taxes and living expenses.

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Mishicot Markdown: A Small Town Supermarket Checks Out

[ By Steve in Abandoned Places & Architecture. ]

The Mishicot Family Market served residents of a small Wisconsin town for over 120 years until the now-demolished Main Street mainstay was itself shelved.

Feeling Wisconsin

1889 was a good year for Mishicot, a town of approximately 1,440 (as of 2010) located in eastern Wisconsin’s Manitowoc County, south of Green Bay and north of Sheboygan. Back then, the town (such as it was) had only a couple of hundred residents but it’s likely most of them were on hand for the opening of Holst’s Department Store. Holst’s changed ownership in 1963, becoming first Krause’s Shopping Center, then Main Street Market, and finally Mishicot Family Market. The current building dates from 1970.

Small Market Market

It’s hard to underestimate the importance of grocery stores to America’s rural communities, especially smaller markets that are literally “the only game in town”. High school kids got their first jobs stocking shelves, bagging groceries and running the cash register. Homeowners, meanwhile, depended on the market in much the same way their pioneering forefathers (and foremothers) relied upon the friendly neighborhood General Store.

Shopping Photo

Flickr member Michael Steeber has dedicated himself “to the collection, preservation, and cataloging of the buildings and areas in and around Manitowoc County, WI.” His 43-photo online album, titled “Mishicot Family Market”, features photos taken inside and outside the store dating from June of 2006 through May of 2017. The decade-long spread of images neatly brackets the store’s formal declaration of bankruptcy, filed on February 27th of 2012.

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The World’s Largest Bike Garage is a Subterranean Wonder in Utrecht

[ By SA Rogers in Architecture & Cities & Urbanism. ]

Considering that more than a third of Dutch people use a bike as their main mode of transportation every day, it’s no surprise that the world’s largest bicycle garage is located in Utrecht. Recently completed by the firm Ector Hoogstad Architecten, the cavernous three-story bike parking facility is tucked beneath Utrecht Central Station, which is currently in the midst of a major makeover that aims to make this part of the city more sustainable, walkable and vibrant.

While various “modernizations” in the 60s and 70s made the area around Utrecht Central Station more car-friendly, the ongoing project to update the station is doing the opposite. The growing popularity of e-bikes and rising consciousness about the climate crisis are contributing to more bike riders than ever in the Netherlands, which will require new and modified public transport hubs with plenty of amenities for cyclists.

A modernist building that once connected the railway station to the adjacent shopping mall has been dismantled, allowing for a new public pedestrian street and square to be inserted along with the new bike garage, say the architects.

“The three storey bicycle parking is situated underneath the square. It has been designed with three aims in mind:  convenience, speed and safety. In order to achieve this in a facility of this scale cyclists are enabled to pedal all the way up to their parking slot. The parking lanes branch off the cycle paths, to ensure that users do not get in the way of cyclists passing through the system.”

“Room for mounting and dismounting is left alongside the cycling lanes. Modestly sloping ramps connect the parking areas on different levels The walls are colour-coded to indicate the routing, and electronic  signals indicate the position of free parking slots. Additional facilities such as a cycle repair shop, a cycle rental outlet and several floor managers meet users’ every need.”

“Stairwells and tunnels create direct connections to the elevated square, the main terminal building and the platforms. Ensuring good orientation and plenty of daylight, the stairwells are located inside atria covered by glass roofs. Large windows in the outer walls allow users views toward the platforms and the bus terminal.”

Featuring generous proportions and raw surfaces made of concrete, steel and wood, the garage feels clean and modern, with just as much care and attention given to it as you’d see in a high-profile parking garage for cars in the United States, like Miami’s 1111 Lincoln Road by Herzog de Meuron.

Check out more photos at EctorHoogstad.com.

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Emoji Revenge: A California Spite House for the Digital Age

[ By SA Rogers in Architecture & Houses & Residential. ]

When a California woman’s neighbors reported her for illegally turning her home into an AirBnb, she got back at them in a thoroughly modern way: with emojis.

In an incident that’s referred to in local paper Easy Reader News as “The Emoji House War,” homeowner Kathryn Kidd shocked her neighbors in Manhattan Beach with a dramatic new paint job. The two-level duplex is now a vivid pink and prominently adorned with two enormous emojis, one with googly eyes and its tongue sticking out and the other with a zipper across its mouth.

Her neighbors say it’s a less-than-subtle message following a disagreement over how the property is being used. Kidd lives a few blocks away and purchased the duplex as a rental a year ago, using it for short-term rentals, which is illegal in Manhattan Beach. Her neighbors reported her, and she was fined $4,000.

Kidd maintains that the intention wasn’t to spite her neighbors, but rather to add some cheer to the neighborhood.

“The artist is kind of a friend of mine,” she told Easy Reader. “Instead of everybody being so gloomy, always so depressed, always in other people’s business, I just wanted to send a message to be happy, be colorful, be positive and enjoy.”

But the artist, a local known as Z the Art, says Kidd didn’t tell her anything about the drama before hiring him, and is shocked to find himself at the center of the dispute.

The city of Manhattan Beach has no ability to regulate murals on private property, so the paint job is here to stay, at least for now.

Spite houses are a long, petty tradition, often used to get back at neighbors, family members and former spouses for perceived affronts. They almost always succeed in ruining other people’s views. Some are set up on incredibly narrow plots of land, built mere inches from neighbors or adorned in irritating paint jobs, like this one. Some even have windows shaped like fists with raised middle fingers.

Check out 22 more examples:

Spite Houses: 12 Structures Built Just to Annoy People
No Respite: 10 More Houses Built Out of Spite

Top image via Easy Reader News

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