Mountain-Shaped Residences with Walkable Green Rooftops


[ By WebUrbanist in Architecture & Cities & Urbanism. ]

green space residential complex

Beyond any inherent beauty or formal references to surrounding mountains, there is a more profound proposition in this series of structures about the way we walk into, through and above spaces.

green space ridge tops

green space aerial view

green space flowering plants

green space outdoor paths

Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) was commissioned by a Taipei developer to create a mixed-use complex of housing, restaurants, cafes and more, all woven together with pedestrian walkways, jogging paths, gardens and plazas.

green residential complex diagram

green space sloped sides

Their solution introduces a degree of vertical accessibility we are not used to seeing beyond the first few floors of a building, tying together indoor and outdoor circulation, connecting public and commercial spaces beyond ordinary horizontal surfaces.

green space lobby area

green space entry seating

green space interior home

The Haulien Residences are intended to be a resort destination and their shape was inspired in part by mountains and the ocean, but many of its signature green ribbons are sloped to accommodate paths and stairs.

green complex elevation image

green hill structures

In turn, the green roofs provided by this approach offer shelter and shade in a tropical region for the dwellings themselves while preserving views and providing gardens, decks and porches at various heights throughout.

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Urban Jungle Street View: 3D Hack Uses Hidden Depth Data


[ By WebUrbanist in Gaming & Computing & Technology. ]

urban jungle street view

An explicitly illicit use of dimensional data buried in Google Street View, the Urban Jungle project adds eerie layers of post-apocalyptic green overgrowth to major cities around the world.


urban jungle side street

As in Google Maps, a user can simply drag and drop their tiny avatar in a location of their choosing, then explore a plant-infested, tree-filled, vine-covered alternate version of reality. Click here to start exploring.

urban jungle street maps

From its creator: “This experiment using an undocumented part of Street View, the depth data. With that a depth map and a normal map is generated, which can be used in the shaders and to plot geometry and sprites in (almost) the correct position in 3d space.”


street trees vines plants

Despite a glitch here or there, most locations and settings are shockingly convincing, looking like something that was lovingly crafted in incredible detail for a game (or an artist’s rendition of life after the apocalypse).


street view urban jungle

This otherworldly effect could just be the beginning – you too can grab the depth data at GitHub and create your own surreal landscapes or otherwise-hacked environments (samples via GMM, PSFK & PK).

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Deep Roots: Underground Farm in London Air-Raid Tunnels


[ By WebUrbanist in Culture & Cuisine & Global. ]

underground tunnel london gardening

100 feet beneath the surface, below even the level of the London Underground, there is another layer of World War Two shelters where something amazing is coming to life.

underground hyrdoponic garden farm

underground farming campaign idea

Richard Ballard and Steven Dring are behind Growing Underground, experimentally introducing hydroponic systems to 2.5 acres of abandoned subterranean passages right in the UK’s capital city.

growing subterranean tunnel space

growing underground urban context

The closed-loop nature of their approach means that weather and environmental factors (like rodents and runoff) are nothing to worry about. There are other advantages of their situation, too: 70% less water is needed to grow below ground, and their agricultural system is self-recycling, low-maintenance, pesticide-free and carbon-neutral.

underground crowdfunding green produce

Their unique and central location means they can provide ultra-local micro-greens to restaurants, wholesalers and retail vendors right above where they grow, all in a matter of hours.

underground vegetable growing hyrdoponics

growing underground package design

Their planned crops so far range from pea shoots and broccoli to garlic chives and mustard leaf, not to mention edible flowers and miniature vegetables. Mushrooms and tomatoes are also on the horizon.

grown underground farming example

growing underground founder pair

From the company: “Because we have total control over their environment, each tiny leaf tastes as amazing as the last and because they are unaffected by the weather and seasonal changes, we can reduce the need to import crops and drastically reduce the food miles for retailers and consumers.”

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12-County Coalition: Building the Great Green Wall of Africa


[ By WebUrbanist in Global & Travel & Places. ]

green wall trees desert

The clock is ticking for the collaborative creation of a living green wall to span nearly 5,000 miles across the African continent, designed to slow or even stop the relentless spread of desertification. The scope of this unique organic building project is unprecedented, as is its urgency.

green wall project africa

China took over 1,000 years to construct their Great Wall, but scientists believe Africa may only have a few decades before the Sahara Desert engulfs more than two thirds of its arable land. Hence the Great Green Wall of the Sahara, set to stretch from coast to coast, west to east.

green wall planting example

The cooperation of the twelve contiguous African countries involved is as impressive as their challenge is daunting – participating nations include: Senegal, Mauritania, Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger, Nigeria, Chad, Sudan, Eritrea, Ethiopia, and Djibouti.

green wall small large

The idea to create a ‘green front’ to protect Africa is almost half a century old, but the plan began to be taken more seriously starting just over ten years ago. Since being ratified by participating countries, the program has raised billions of dollars in pledges from international organizations.

great green wall tree

From AtlasObscura: “Leaders point out that the Great Green Wall is about more than just protection from windblown sand. The project will bring thousands of jobs to impoverished communities, and has already transformed otherwise unusable land into gardens scattered with tree nurseries. The influx of tourists, scientists, and medical professionals has also brought attention and resources to a neglected region in which aid is scarce and doctors are not readily available to needy populations.”

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Mobile Hotel: Converted Double-Decker Bus B&B Still Drives


[ By WebUrbanist in Boutique & Art Hotels & Global. ]

bus hotel with tractor

Quintessentially British, this boutique suite sleeps six, features a wood-burning stove and much more, but perhaps most amazing of all: the vehicle remains road-worthy, despite its conversion to a sweet retreat.

bus boutique road worthy

The Big Green Bus was originally part of the west midlands metro transit system and purchased by its new owner (and renovator) Adam Collier-Woods for approximately $7,500 at auction on eBay.

bus hotel renovation project

bus hotel working kitchen

The still-working bus, driven back into the countryside by its buyer (and moved around on demand), required more than $15,000 to be turned into a unique three-bedroom accommodation, including a functioning kitchen and bathroom facilities.

bus hotel big green

bus hotel seating sleeping

bus hotel wood stove

Currently set on a “glamping site in the heart of the Sussex countryside,” the bus has its own decking area, a fire pit and all this next to a beautiful pond.” The rural property can accommodate extra campers for parties larger than six who wish to enjoy a stay. In addition to pantry essentials (tea, coffee, milk, herbs and olive oil), logs for the fire pit or stove are available on request.

bus hotel outside view

bus british countryside site

More from its maker and operator about its present location: “A gorgeous 15 minute walk away through country lanes to Chiddingly is the Six Bells pub, a classic traditional country pub, luring all sorts of music, poetry and arts lovers to its various festivals. Brighton is close by too with all its various charms, is 25 minutes drive down the road, or leave your car at Glynde and take the train. Lewes has more trains per hour, Make sure you get to the Lewes Farmers Market on the first Saturday morning of every month.”

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Throw a Bouquet: Guerrilla Seed Bombs & Flower Grenades


[ By WebUrbanist in Art & Street Art & Graffiti. ]

seed bomb guerrilla gardening

Filling shotgun shells with flower seeds is just the latest (and loudest) in a long line of designs for guerrilla gardeners. If you are looking for a little less bang for your buck than seed-swapped buckshot, you may wan to try a seed ball, bomb or grenade instead, all a bit more stealthy despite their loud-sounding names.

seed bomb flower grenade

One throw-and-grow option for the concrete jungle is this compostable-shelled Flower Grenade packed with ryegrass, buttercups and poppies. This hardy custom-tailored mix is designed to flower in sequence for a multi-week, time-delay effect well beyond the ten seconds or so of their traditional wartime relatives.

seed bomb machine dispenser

Another cleverly-titled approach comes from Greenaid, a group intent on seeding the urban landscape with converted gumball machines rejigged to dispense seed bombs instead of sweets. Put in a quarter and receive a ball made of clay, compost and seeds to help you compact dull gray vacant lots and faded green parking medians.

These Greenaid creations are uniquely tailored to provide local wildflowers native to the areas in which they are deployed – in LA, for instance, they contain White Yarrow, California Poppy, Lupine and Blue Flax.

seed bombs region specific

There are lots of other options, too, from region-oriented seed balls for sale on sites like Etsy to do-it-yourself instructions or kits to help you build your own. When it comes to guerrilla gardening, the real trick is understanding your environment and purpose, then strategically finding a solution for that particular context.

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Hourglass Lamp: Grid-Free LED Powered by Falling Sand


[ By WebUrbanist in Design & Furniture & Decor. ]

hourglass diy powered lamp

Traditional timepiece meets inventive illumination in this human-powered hourglass lamp that draws its energy elegantly from grains of falling sand.

hourglass light large sized

Designed by Danielle Trofe, each fixture pivots around a central point so users can easily rotate the wood-and-glass core, thus refreshing the timer and turning the light back on each time it runs out.

hourglass table sized light

A larger and longer-lit variant comes in the form of a table, essentially an extension of the same design but in a multi-functional format.

hourglass and mushroom lights

Other works by Trofe include the above mushroom-shaped lamps (Mush-Lume), which is built from agricultural byproducts (including mushrooms) and seems to balance precariously on its base. These are scheduled to launch on Kickstarter next month.

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Crowdfunded Skyscraper: Record-Breaking Tower in Bogotá


[ By WebUrbanist in Architecture & Cities & Urbanism. ]

crowdfunded skyscraper

With over $200 million from more than 3,500 supporters, the world’s largest crowdfunding campaign has generated the means to create the highest skyscraper in Columbia (and the first new one in 40 years).

crowd build columbia bogata

The communal nature of the stake puts both the property and power in the hands of the contributors, who in turn receive stake in the finished structure being built in downtown Bogotá. This approach, facilitated by the Prodigy Network, also distributes the risk of this bold venture between those with the motivation to see it made a reality - primarily locals and others with a vested interest in the city’s future.

crowd plaza rendering detail

The structure will address a lack of dense vertical growth in a city that has suffered from sprawl, on the one hand, and too-busy streets on the other. It aims to create a residential, commercial and institutional focal point in a location “where tourism, culture, education and shopping are all together, but also where traffic and congestion demand different means of development.”

crowd buildings top

Green strategies include advanced water collection systems with graywater reuse, green roof elements, advanced natural lighting optimization and supplemental passive heating and cooling systems.

More statistics on the finished project: “When complete the BD Bacatá will be 66-stories high and 1.2 million square feet. Development will include office and retail space, apartments and a hotel. The 364-room hotel, located in the tallest tower of the complex will be operated by Eurostars, and feature such amenities as a business center, restaurant, cafeteria, and full-service gym providing hotel guests with above-and-beyond service to ensure their experience will be worth remembering.”

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Living Staircase: Spiral Stairs Wrapped in Organic Greenery


[ By WebUrbanist in Architecture & Offices & Commercial. ]

living stairs viewing platform

Boldly curved and cantilevered into midair, these plant-wrapped stairs are designed to provide more than just a means of moving from one floor to another.

living steps atrium view

Stepping onto them takes occupants temporarily away from concrete floors and columns, then into and through a unique miniature ecosystem of warm and living materials.

living staircase concrete floors

This staircase by Paul Cocksedge for the Ampersand building in London is punctuated by platforms overlooking a central atrium.

living steps top floor

These circular areas act as impromptu self-contained break and gathering spaces removed from the bustle of each main office floor.

living hand rail supports

Standing out not just physically but also materially, the lively-grained wooden curves are bedecked with thin stem-like strands of white metal. In turn, these support planters that supplant the role of traditional hand rails while still providing physical and psychological safety and support.

living stairs axon drawing

Each set of stairs is supported by the floors themselves, thus rendered structurally independent of a more ordinary central-column approach.

living steps design diagram

living steps upper level

Further interactivity is woven into the biological side of the design in the form of herbs that employees can nurture, grow and ultimately pluck from the rails, facilitating a sort of in-office garden and adding a bit of mint to their tea or spice to their lunch.

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Boneyard Studios: Vacant Lot Hosts New Micro-Home Village


[ By WebUrbanist in Architecture & Houses & Residential. ]

boneyard studios night view

In a bold bid to change urban landscapes, a series of tiny home builders and enthusiasts has come together to turn empty space into a microcosmic example of what small-space living can mean for dense and high-cost cities like Washington D.C.

boneyard studios logo banner

boneyard corner lot approach

boneyard studios construction progress

Starting with a small, awkward and triangular alley lot the Boneyard Studios group proceeded to clear the debris build a series of four small homes. “The lot originally had overgrown grass, broken concrete, pooling water, garbage, illegal parking, and occasional criminal activity (e.g. a dumped stolen vehicle).” 

boneyard jay exterior front

boneyard jay projector view

boneyard daytime solar panels

Brian’s Minim House is clean, refined and modern featuring minimalist details, wood siding with black metal trim and a metal roof with solar panels. It also has interior features like in-seat storage and a pull-down screen for a space-saving projector television and video player.

boneyard elaine wood interior

boneyard elaine exterior view

Elaine’s Tumbleweed Lusby is framed and filled with warm wood, feeling as much like a cabin in the woods as it does a cottage in the city. It comes complete with a bamboo ladder leading up to a cozy lofted sleeping space.

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