LEGO Architecture: 12 Sets Explore Buildings Brick by Brick


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LEGO Architecture Main

Whether official or fan-created, LEGO architecture sets enable wannabe builders to understand just how some of the world’s most iconic structures come together in terms of architectural elements, form and lines. The brand has created an architecture series exploring “the fascinating worlds of architecture, engineering and construction,” and LEGO enthusiasts – including architects – have come up with a few of their own.

Monochromatic Architecture Studio Set

LEGO Architecture Monochromatic 1

LEGO Architecture monochromatic 3

LEGO Architecture Monochromatic 2

Luring in architects with its monochromatic color scheme that enables the focus to be on form and shape, the LEGO Architecture Studio set is an all-white series containing over 1,200 pieces. An accompanying 268-page book includes the work of famous architecture firms like Sou Fujimoto, MAD Architects and Safdie Architects and covers principles like modules and repetition, creating surfaces, working in context and symmetry. Not only can it strengthen design skills in an average person, it can actually be used by working architects to create 3D models.

Limited Edition Marina Bay Sands Hotel

LEGO Architecture Marina Bay Sands

Rumored to be set for release only in Asia, the limited edition Marina Bay Sands Hotel set recreates Singapore’s striking cantilevered resort. It’s unclear exactly when this set, which was teased in the back of a LEGO instruction booklet, might be available to the public. Marina Bay Sands is the world’s most expensive building and contains a hotel, convention and exhibition facilities, theaters, restaurants and a 150-meter infinity pool on the roof (which is replicated with translucent blue bricks in this set.)

LEGO Towers by Bjarke Ingels Group

LEGO Architecture Bjarke Ingels 1

LEGO Architecture Bjarke Ingels 2

An architecture concept that was inspired by LEGOs is fittingly rendered in the little plastic bricks with this model from Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG.) The model uses conventional LEGO bricks to show off the design for LEGO Towers, a proposal for a residential, retail and hotel development in Copenhagen. It’s at 1:50 scale, uses 250,000 bricks and took five weeks to build.


LEGO Architecture Fallingwater LEGO Architecture Fallingwater 2

Perhaps the most well-known private residence in America created by an iconic architect, Fallingwater seems like it was made to be recreated in LEGOs, with its blocky stacked silhouette. Frank Lloyd Wright’s most famous design was completed in 1937 and is considered a feat of engineering, its cantilevered floors jutting out over a waterfall.

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Audio Hop: Best NYC Art Gallery Tour You Have Ever Heard


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nyc gallery audio tour

A new way to experience galleries, their artwork and the city they inhabit, even calling it a tour sells short this extremely impressive multimedia experience. Complete with props and layered audio recordings, all interspersed with civic trivia and high-speed humor, the whole Audio Hop production feels like an well-executed piece of dynamic performance art, in which you can play any number of parts. Launching next month, this hop is well worth a stop, a look and a listen.


earbuds on the sidewalk

miroslaw balka_gladstone gallery

David Behringer, the curator of this experience, is exuberant, knowledgeable and very dedicated, visiting over 250 galleries in Chelsea each month to find the five most worthy ones to show any given group (and rotating with each tour). From start to finish, his personality and enthusiasm make it work. For an simple sample, check out his video recap below showing ten of his favorite exhibits from 2013 – then click here to buy tickets for the program starting next month.

Unlike a traditional audio walking tour, this one features both live and prerecorded sound, all delivered wirelessly to an inconspicuous device, letting its guests meander through the galleries but also break away from the group. The clips include carefully curated and edited interviews with artists and other soundbites related to a given work or its context. “A hidden radio transmitter allows you to hear your guide from any distance (in total secret) AND listen to insightful audio clips of the artists themselves while you’re in the gallery.”

installation art rebar piece

olafur eliasson_tanya bonakdar gallery

Effectively, you and your fellow half-dozen tour-takers feel both empowered to enter galleries that might seem open or feel welcoming you but also liberated from the the feeling of being tied to a traditional clustered bunch of gawking tourists. You can fall behind and linger, or stride ahead to the next stop, all while absorbing auditory input in the background.

nyc gallery wall art

andreas gursky_gagosian gallery

30 out of 30 reviewers on TripAdvisor rated David’s private tours as ‘Excellent’, effectively a unanimous a 5-star recommendation. WebUrbanist’s own Executive Editor had the opportunity to a sneak peak at his new and more-public offering this summer and was beyond impressed – what were individual tours are morphing into something suddenly more accessible.

audio hop chelsea tour

mark di suvero_paula cooper gallery

If it was not already clear: we would strongly recommend taking a trip with David to anyone who wants to get a glimpse of the art world … or simply wishes to take a artfully curated walk through New York City, learning about the neighborhood, its architecture and artwork alike. Even if you are not in the area, you can still check out the blog to learn about fantastic new works.

new york audio tour

rain room gallery installation

Above: The Mots Amazing Art of the Year in NYC, 2012 edition. From “New York City contains the highest concentration of contemporary art galleries in human history. The result is the opportunity to enjoy the best art on the planet in a museum-like environment, without the crowds, for free, IF you can sort through the ever-changing 500+ galleries to find the most unique, jaw-dropping experiences. Good news, we found them. You’re invited on an unprecedented live audio experience of the most cutting-edge art in the world.  It’s a secret tour that takes you to the best, lets the artists speak for themselves, and give you complete freedom to wander.”

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Cargo Home Videos: 10 Films on How to Build Container Houses


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cargo shipping container home

You see them all the time as polished finished products, but for those looking to try the ultimate do-it-yourself home-building project, these videos will help show you how various ISO container houses were really built in different environments and at various budgets and scales. From timelapses and diagrams to interviews and walkthroughs, they will help introduce you to what someone attempting a similar endeavor could or should expect along the way.

cargotecture home finished design

In this HGTV segment, you can get an overall sense of how the Seattle architects of Cargotecture shifted two containers to create a livable container retreat of their own. The result is as much an experiment and demonstration model as a working residence, and a good introduction to what is possible and what can be problematic.

modulus shipping container home

In this timelapse footage and subsequent tour, you can see a whole multistory house, designed by David Fenster (filmed by FairCompanies) for the Redwoods in the Santa Cruz mountains, coming together in a single day. The structure celebrates the industrial aesthetic of its containerized components, but also reflects the difficult reality of moving building materials out to such a remote location.

cargo home exterior build

shipping container home build

Part of the building is cantilevered over one side, supported by a hollow concrete column below (that in turn also contains an outdoor shower). The layout uses the space between shipping containers to let in light and widen spaces beyond containers while also framing views. The steel shells also make the building more robust, resistant to natural disasters like falling trees and forest fires.

The Kuziel Residence consists of a series of shipping containers set around a central space on concrete foundations, taking a half-year in total to build – the video above shows photos throughout the process. On the builder’s website, you can “read about the idea, all required prep-work, creation of the foundation, six months long endeavour of making of a chassis, build of the timber roof structure and pouring of lots of concrete for floor slab, work on the house exterior and interior and [all the other] things happening along the way.”

Perhaps one of the most audacious shipping container structures ever attempted, this dream ‘Sea Can’ home of Bill Glennon will have 31 total containers when it is completed, using solar for heat and electricity and boasting a windmill as well. Amazingly, some containers are turned vertically, creating turret-style protrusions making the whole thing look like a modern-day castle in its early stages. In the first film, Bill introduces the project. In the second, he gives a brief tour of the interior and explains some of the passive and other sustainable strategies going into the design. In the third, you can see how massive the almost-finished project turns out to be.

Meanwhile, a series of videos from shows the step-by-step process of constructing a small-sized, single-shipping-container abode DIY-style in Costa Rica, highlighting the actual tools and time required for such an undertaking. After all, a container is made of metal and can require a great deal of additional work, particularly when it comes to adding doors and windows, even if it is in a location that does not require a foundation or insulation. Unlike some of the other video series shown here, this is a start-to-finish look at a low-budget cargo home solution, including a walk-through of the modest final product.

Not sure where to look next for inspiration on what or how to build your own cargo container home? Here are 30 additional cargo container homes, 30 container offices, 20 cargo city and container shelter concepts, and some additional cargotecture. Whatever you do, keep in mind that building codes vary between cities, states and countries, and climactic demands also impact what degree of finish your shelter may require.

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CityCharge: Solar Gadget Charging Stations Installed in NYC


[ By Steph in Gadgets & Geekery & Technology. ]

CityCharge Solar Charging Station 1

Anyone passing through New York City’s Bryant Park can avoid the headache of searching for free outlets at coffee shops to juice up their phones, powering up at outdoor tables with built-in solar charging stations. Solar company Green Barrel Energy Inc. teamed up with street furniture manufacturer Landscape Forms and the Bryant Park Corporation to provide free power with cables that fit most electronic devices.

CityCharge Solar Charging Stations 5

CityCharge Solar Charging Stations 6

Each small round table is set on swiveling wheels (lockable, so they can’t be stolen), making them portable enough to move out of the way for special events or to keep the rotating panels in the sun throughout the changing seasons.

CityCharge Solar Charging Stations 2

CityCharge Solar Charging Station 4

The round design promotes social interaction, encouraging people to gather around and have a conversation as their gadgets charge. The six prototypes are currently being tested in Bryant Park, and six additional tables are coming soon, along with more in other areas throughout New York City and eventually, the United States.

CityCharge Solar Charging Station 3

The compact footprint makes it easy to fit the tables into existing public spaces, working with a variety of seating, umbrellas and ground surfaces. Waterproof and weatherproof, it can be left outdoors full-time without needing any special storage during rain or snow.

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Topographic Tables: 12 Terrain-Inspired Furniture Designs


[ By Steph in Design & Furniture & Decor. ]

Topographic Furniture Abyss Duffy 4

Meandering rivers, icebergs and a deep blue abyss are invoked in layers of blue-green glass, burled wood and cast concrete and translated into tables. Ranging from self-taught artists crafting each piece by hand to high-end designers using precision laser-cutting machinery, these three sculptors and furniture makers take inspiration from the natural world to make practical pieces that mimic topography.

River Collection by Greg Klassen

Topographic Furniture Klassen River 1

Topographic Furniture River Klassen 2

The naturally wavy edges of discarded lumber, considered too imperfect for standard usage in construction and furniture, are aligned just right and joined with strips of pale blue-green glass to become watery landscapes.

Topographic Furniture River Klassen 3

Topographic Furniture River Klassen 4

Taking inspiration from the beautiful natural scenery of his home in the Pacific Northwest, theologist-turned-furniture-maker Greg Klassen sources his wood at construction sites and from fallen trees in the forest. “I Love the idea of taken a discarded tree and giving it a new life,” he says.

Topographic Furniture River Klassen 5 Topographic Furniture River Klassen 9

“The collection is inspired by the exciting edges and vivid grains found in the trees sustainably taken from the banks of the Nooksack River that twists below my studio.”

Topographic Furniture River Klassen 7

Topographic Furniture River Klassen 8

Topographic Furniture River Klassen 10

Designs include the striking River Console, with its undulating ribbon of water, the Pond Table carved from a massive maple trunk, and Folded River, an asymmetrical L-shaped design in which the glass trails down one side.

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‘RePack’ Name & Concept Copied, Repackaged by Design Student


[ By WebUrbanist in Design & Products & Packaging. ]


The strange ongoing controversy around RePack has reached a conclusion, with Royal College of Art determining that the accused student is technically guilty of plagiarism and misconduct. While the subject is arguably a revolutionary innovation for the future of sustainable retail, RePack turned out to be repackaged (pardon the wordplay) copy of an existing brand’s idea, in all but name, which remained the same.

repack carrying under arm

repack original package design

RePack (as shown in the two images above) is a reusable packaging startup based in Finland, boasting a “sustainable system for online retailers and shoppers whereby delivery packages can be conveniently and easily returned, and then re-used.”

repack design packages plain

Meanwhile, design student Yu-Chang Chou developed a thesis project (pictures above and below) with not only the same name and concept but even some of the same descriptive text, which came to the attention of the RCA after its publication on Dezeen.

repack different sizes instructions

Similar to its Finnish counterpart, “The customer would opt for for the packaging when they make their purchase. Once they receive the product, they simply fold and reseal the Repack bag and post it back to a central address, in exchange for a refund of the deposit they paid when ordering.”

repack concept diagram

The oddest part of the whole affair is the school’s declaration that the plagiarism was inadvertent, which seems a stretch in this situation. One could imagine that a brand name and concept could be accidentally duplicated, but additional text suggests that the student must have had some knowledge of the original project. Regardless, the institution has reached its conclusion and removed the project from their website, declaring the investigation at an end – the student, meanwhile, has already graduated.

repack post box return

The Finnish RePack seems to have reluctantly accepted the situation, and affirms that, regardless of the specifics of this case, they are glad that students are exploring sustainable packaging designs along similar (if not exactly the same) lines. Either way, wherever one weighs in on the plagiarism part, these ideas could give rise to a renewed usefulness of post boxes turned into de facto recycling centers, and may allow packages to be reused up to hundreds of times without having to be discarded. And, in the end, ideas get recycled a lot – perhaps it is the execution that matters.

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Gruel Britannia: 10 Abandoned Little Chef Restaurants


[ By Steve in Abandoned Places & Architecture. ]

abandoned Little Chef restaurant Wansford 1a
Serving up American style with British flavor, hundreds of Little Chef roadside restaurants once warmed up the UK‘s motorways but less than 80 remain today.

abandoned Little Chef restaurant Wansford 1b

abandoned Little Chef restaurant Wansford 1c

abandoned Little Chef restaurant Wansford 1d

“Once a familiar site by the roadside for greasy grub and indifferent service!,” according to Flickr user mad jeff, Little Chef was to the British Isles what Howard Johnson’s was to the USA – less the hotel rooms, swimming pools and fried clams. Founded in 1958 by Sam Alper, an entrepreneur admittedly influenced by America’s diners in the golden age of postwar road travel, Little Chef ballooned to 439 locations by the turn of the century… and you know what happens to balloons. The store above, located off the A1 motorway near Wansford, was one of the first Little Chef locations and stands (barely) today as a symbol of the once-robust chain’s astonishing slide into dereliction.

Kent Found On Roadside Dead

abandoned Little Chef restaurant Kentford 1a

abandoned Little Chef restaurant Kentford 1b

abandoned Little Chef restaurant Kentford 1c

abandoned Little Chef restaurant Kentford 1d

abandoned Little Chef restaurant Kentford 1e

According to the brazenly optimistic Little Chef website, “we’ve grown to become one of the UK’s favourite roadside restaurants with 78 Little Chef restaurants from Scotland down to Cornwall.” 78 and counting… downward. Most pundits blame Little Chef’s inexorable death spiral on inconsistent ownership looking only to squeeze a few more pounds sterling out of the business before flipping it; a scenario that’s played out a jaw-dropping SEVEN times since the mid-1970s. The dreary images of an abandoned Little Chef located just off the A14 in Kentford, eastern England, come to us courtesy of who states, “discarded cassette tapes litter the area”. Nice.


abandoned Little Chef restaurant A46 Binley Woods 1a

abandoned Little Chef restaurant A46 Binley Woods 1b

abandoned Little Chef restaurant A46 Binley Woods 1c

Here’s a rather rough-looking abandoned Little Chef situated by the A46 Coventry by-pass near Binley Woods in Warwickshire. This store was one of a group of restaurants closed following the sale of the Little Chef chain to RCapital, a UK private equity group, in January of 2007. Kudos to Geograph member David Lally for documenting the state of the store in July of 2007 – one can only imagine what it looks like now assuming it hasn’t been bulldozed.

Sufferin’ In Suffolk

abandoned Little Chef restaurant Suffolk 1a

abandoned Little Chef restaurant Suffolk 1b

abandoned Little Chef restaurant Suffolk 1c

These evocative images of an abandoned Little Chef somewhere in Suffolk, eastern England were taken by Flickr user will2988 in May and June of 2013. Though originally modeled after classic diners and burger stands over the pond, Little Chef made efforts to appeal to the unique taste of domestic travelers with all-day breakfasts and traditional British fare such as bangers & beans with chips (fried potatoes) and even Ox Cheeks. Sorry, no Spam Eggs Sausage & Spam.

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Chameleon Pen: Scan, Save & Draw Up to 16 Million Unique Hues


[ By WebUrbanist in Design & Products & Packaging. ]

scribble surface scan grab

Five years ago it was an mind-boggling design concept, but today the idea color-changing pen has morphed into a working prototype that draws colors from objects and surfaces, natural or artificial, then lets you use them in all kinds of creative ways. This real-world version can make over 16,000,000 different tones and store over 100,000 unique colors in its memory.

scribble drawing color picked

scribble pen in case

scribble pen user interface

Imagine the possibilities of Scribble, both artistic and practical: instead of trying to mix just the right paints to capture a landscape or replicate a color scheme for your interior remodel, you can scan the actual colors of environments and use those. Users can then upload, store, tag and share their color picks for future applications.

original color scanning pen


see n scan pen

The Color Picker by Jinsun Park (shown below) was a purely conceptual design model at the time, but operated on the same principle (like the Photoshop eyedropper tool), made to contain a series of inks that (much like a printer) would mix in the appropriate amounts, reproducing colors scanned into it. This new variant on the device also converts the colors into other formats (like binary, decimal and hexadecimal) that can be saved and deployed for digital art. And with cartridge refills, you will never need to buy another color of pen.

scribble pen prototype

The applications are myriad: “For the colour blind, kids, interior decorators, homeowners, teachers, artists, photographers, designers and students, the Scribble colour picker pen will make copying an exact colour, any colour from any object, an absolute breeze. With Scribble you can scan, match or compare colours, draw on paper or your mobile device.” Of course, you don’t have to scan in a new color – you can always mix your own on the computer and input that preferred tone too.

scribble nature scanning tool

scribble child user example

scribble tablet device upload

Here is the executive summary from the company: “Scribble is the first coloring device of its kind that can take the world of color around you and transfer it directly to either paper or your favourite mobile device. Simple hold the Scribble’s scanner up to any color, like on a wall, a book or magazine, a painting or even a child’s toy and within a second or two that color is stored in Scribble’s internal memory. You can now instantly draw on paper with the Scribble Ink Pen or draw on a digital device like an iPad or Wacom Tablet with the Scribble Stylus Pen.”

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Time in Color: Skatepark Graffiti Acts as a Working Sundial


[ By Steph in Architecture & Cities & Urbanism. ]

Skatepark Graffiti 1

Skaters at this park in Lugano, Switzerland don’t have to pull out their phones to check the time – they can just glance down at a series of colored lines painted right onto the concrete of the bowl as a modern sundial. A ribbon of rainbow hues curves up and down the undulating surface, the sun and shadows revealing the current hour.

Skatepark Graffiti 2

Skatepark Graffiti 3

A different line of color indicates each hour of the day, marked off as the sun passes overhead. Designed by Moscow group Zuk Club, the vibrant park is like an abstract modern mural customized specifically to the shape of the bowl and the surrounding area.

SKatepark Graffiti 4 Skatepark Graffiti 5

It’s an interesting and visually resting concept, though perhaps no match for the largest and most complex skate parks around the world. Skaters who find ordinary skate parks unimaginative should check out 13 examples of highly skateable architecture, ranging from the specially renovated interior of a hunting lodge to Zaha Hadid’s futuristic science center in Germany.

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Sensational Skate Park & Urban Climbing Wall in Spain

Factoria Joven, a skate park and climbing wall in Spain, sets an example for urban youth centers worldwide with its bright and beautiful architecture. Click Here to Read More »»

Skateable Sculpture in France Glows in the Dark

A new skate park on an island in France doubles as an art installation and glows an eerie green at night thanks to an application of phosphorescent paint. Click Here to Read More »»

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[ By Steph in Architecture & Cities & Urbanism. ]

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Hyperphotos: Architectural Hybrids Remix Built Environments


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hyperphoto endless staircase image

There is something almost mystical (or mythical) about these photographic collages, at once apparently realistic in content and seemingly impossible in composition.

hyperphoto urban city montage

hyperphoto babylon

The Hyperphotos portfolio of Jean-Francois Rauzier, a French artist and photographer, represents years of captured images overlaid to create incredibly detailed composites. “In his monumental works he mixes the infinitely big and the infinitesimal, in a profusion of details so unusual as fascinating. The image thus recomposed numerically gives way to the dreamlike world of the artist.”

hyperphoto reflected mythical interior

Some seem to reflect the nature of their places of origin, from New York City and Paris to Istanbul and Barcelona, or the time period from which the architecture originates, from ancient cathedrals to modern brownstones.

hyperphoto stacked bridges

hyperphoto infinite future city

Others are works of almost pure fantasy, casting the viewer into imaginary futures or impossible pasts. While people, plants and animals are sometimes included, the focus of his fascination is almost always a built environment.

hyperphoto inside religious structure

About the artist: “Fascinated by photography from an early age, Jean-François Rauzier graduated from the School Louis Lumière in 1976. He has since been working as a professional photographer, while developing a personal creative work. In 2002, his artistic work takes an innovative and radical turn.” Now “he creates virtual images consisting of several hundreds of shots, taken with a telephoto lens and assembled by computer.”

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