Mobile Village: Seattle Teens Build Micro-Homes for Homeless


[ By WebUrbanist in Architecture & Houses & Residential. ]

seattle shack designs

Serving a nomadic homeless shanty town known as Nickelsville, the Impossible City project involves a group of a teenagers who are creating not just tiny houses but also solar power stations, composting latrines and a community kitchen.

seattle homeless build

seattle homeless camp help

Nickelsville moves from place to place, going where land is available since its residents cannot afford to pay rents. Slowly but surely, thanks to this project, its rickety collection of tarps, tents and donated Home Depot shacks are being replaced by modest but functional shelters.

homes for homeless

seattle homeless home

The challenge is non-trivial – the structures need to be somewhat easy to disassemble and move while also meeting city code and basic safety standards. Backing the youth builders is Sawhorse Revolution, an area non-profit that teaches kids how to use tools and build structures.

seattle homeless project

seattle homeless shelter

While many institutions, organizations and governments take an all-or-nothing approach, trying and generally failing to get the homeless off the streets, this project attempts to take on the actual situation on the ground, bridging the gap between sleeping on the streets and having a permanent residence.

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Rainworks: Water-Activated Street Art & Games in Rainy Seattle


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Rainworks are pieces of street art that only appear when wet, featuring messages, images and interactive games that work great for a city infamous for its frequent precipitation. The idea, in part, is to encourage people to enjoy the rain, and reward those who go out and play in the gathering drizzle.

rain dry art street

rain animal art

Peregrine Church creates these works which, while temporary, can last for months before degrading – the water-repellent sprays used are eco-friendly and will biodegrade when the designs eventually dissolve.

rain wet dry pie


Neverwet is not exactly a new material, nor is the idea of applying it to stenciled graffiti art novel, but the variety of Church’s work is compelling, as is his targeting of its results to different neighborhoods in an oft-soaked city, from the U District to Ballard and beyond. Some of the vignettes are simply playful images, or geek and gaming references, while others carry water usage-related messages.

rain visible artwork

rain error sun 404

rain ground is lava

Indeed, this seems the perfect set of urban settings – while Seattle has frequent rains it rarely has downpours, meaning the ground is often moist but the weather rarely so bad that it is difficult to go out and experience it.

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UP for Auction: Bids Fail to Save World-Famous Holdout House


[ By WebUrbanist in Architecture & Houses & Residential. ]

fdamous up house

In the esoteric realm of ‘nail houses’ – properties whose owners refuse to sell them to developers at any cost – Edith Macefield‘s may be the most well-known, but her century-old home now appears doomed to face a wrecking ball.

macefield up house

An auction for the property was just completed but no buyers were found – anyone purchasing the house would also have had to adopt its existing $500,000 mortgage, which, despite its fame, was not enough to attract either curious collectors or real estate developers.

Macefield herself turned down an offer for $1,000,000 from developers trying to buy up the land for a commercial complex, hence the construction of a giant concrete wall on three sides as their project went ahead without this last little lot.

edith macefield home construction

In a strange but heartwarming twist: before she passed away in 2008, Macefield befriended the superintendent of the surrounding commercial development. Apparently she ultimately enjoyed the attention and company brought by the development.

up house in context

As Macefield aged, this superintendent began taking her to appointments and purchasing her groceries and their friendship grew. In the end, she willed him the property – in an attempt to respect the gift, he then tried to make it work as an office or restaurant.

At this point, the house has been boarded up for some time now and the failed sale leaves few possibilities outside of its destruction. It has no historic preservation status, for instance, that might further delay its demolition.

up house movie story

Some fans hoped Pixar Animation Studios, producers of ‘UP’, would buy the house for publicity purposes and spare it the wrecking ball, but there has been no news on that front.

nail house boarded up

Though there are many holdout homes around the world, hers has become a symbol of resistance – her defiance a story that will certainly outlive the structure itself, whatever its fate.

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Animal of the Day: Octopus Tries to Escape Seattle Aquarium


An octopus recently tried and failed to make a break for it at the Seattle Aquarium.

The 8-legged beast climbed up his tank and nearly made it over the edge before a member of the staff thwarted his plans.

He was probably just hungry and headed for the crab tank. Or he was jealous of some his cellmates who were recently granted their freedom.

A few weeks ago, the aquarium successfully mated Franklin and Hazel who met on an octopus “blind date” before releasing them back into the wild.

Here’s video footage of the two being set free below a pier.


Submitted by: (via IsoscelesKr4mer)

Seattle Adoption Results for National Cat Day Event!


We have some news from The Seattle Humane Society regarding some of the early positive results of our National Cat Day kitten delivery event.

9 of the kittens that cruised the streets of Seattle in style have been placed on hold and are waiting to go to their forever homes. An additional 13 kittens were adopted from the Seattle Humane Society during the event. The staff at the shelter were ecstatic to announce that this was a very impressive Tuesday!

Thank you to everyone who adopted, and congratulations on welcoming a tiny, fuzzy, meowing best friend into your home. Let's all work to keep this awareness going!

We will continue to post updates to our blog as we receive more positive news from the other shelters we collaborated with.

Submitted by: Unknown

Amazon Biosphere: Retailer Gets Glass Dome Headquarters


[ By Steph in Architecture & Offices & Commercial. ]

Amazon Biosphere Headquarters Seattle 1

How much more creative could you be if you were working in a stunning faceted glass dome every day? Some lucky Amazon workers will get to find out, as the City of Seattle’s design panel has approved plans for new structures at the company’s headquarters. Designed by international firm NBBJ, the project will consist of three connected biospheres with a steel framework.

Amazon Biosphere Headquarters Seattle 2

Each of the 25 to 35-meter-high biospheres will offer five floors of flexible work spaces along with about 65,000 square feet of open green space with both new and mature trees. The futuristic-looking design is meant to feel like a public park, and will be part of a larger green space known as ‘Block 19.’

Amazon Biosphere Headquarters Seattle 3

Amazon Biosphere Headquarters Seattle 6

The geometric pattern of the steel is is called a ‘Catalan Skin,’ based on a pattern of numbers in mathematics. The resulting shapes look a bit like sand dollars.

Amazon Biosphere Headquarters Seattle 4

Amazon Biosphere Headquarters Seattle 5

Not everyone is a fan of the planned additions. Curbed Seattle said “Our initial thought was that they resembled spores, slowly growing and spreading across the city until they encase all our trees.”

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Blue Trees: Surreal Spectacle Coming to Seattle Parks

[ By Steph in Environment & Nature & Travel & Places & Urban & Street Art. ]

Nature lovers making their way through Seattle’s Westlake Park or taking a leisurely stroll along the Burke-Gilman Trail are likely stopping, staring and scratching their heads at this very moment. Gazing up at the honey locusts and birches, they might wonder, “Am I imagining this?” No. Those trees really are blue.

Artist Konstantin Dimopoulos paints trees with a ‘biologically safe pigmented water’ to make a statement about how important trees are to our survival. The color will naturally degrade over a period of months. Seattle’s trees turned color on April 2nd, 2012, and will likely remain that way through the summer.

Dimopoulos previously gave trees the Smurf treatment for the 2011 Vancouver Biennale. Other locations have included Richmond, Virginia and Melbourne in the artist’s home country of Australia. Seattle’s 4Culture organization, which is backing the project, says that it’s meant to “inspire discussion and action around deforestation issues.”

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“Colour is a powerful stimulant, a means of altering perception and defining space and time,” says Dimopoulos. “The fact that blue is a colour that is not naturally identified with trees suggests to the viewer that something unusual, something out of the ordinary has happened. It becomes a magical transformation. In nature colour is used both as a defensive mechanism, a means of protection, and as a mechanism to attract. The Blue Trees attempts to waken a similar response from viewers. It is within this context that the blue denotes sacredness, something reverential.”

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