Sand Paintings: Temporary Street Art Will Blow (You) Away


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

sand painted sidewalk drawing

After 650 such works, it is perhaps no wonder that this artist generates each new sand painting spontaneously on the spot, letting the pattern evolve as he pours him efforts (and handfuls of sand) into each piece.

sand 1

Joe Mangrum is a New York City painter, sculptor and all-around installation artist whose works of colorful, organic and fractal geometry often span as much as 15 or 20 feet in diameter.

sand art painting floor

Inspired by Celtic knots and Asian mandalas, he began creating these public pieces which, in turn, kept being swept up from the city streets. His story gained national attention in part due to tension with authorities, including a Parks Department in California.

sand colorful public art

Part of the beauty of his approach is its accessibility, both conceptually and physically – people can watch him work on a sidewalk for hours, and see the art evolve before their eyes.

sand public space art

He describes his work as “visual rebellion” against “the urban grid” – a sort of organic counterpoint to the strictly-defined and linear streets and sidewalks on which he works.

sand sidewalk street painting

He writes of his strategy: “Each painting  is spontaneously improvised, using colorful sand, poured directly from my hand. In the process of creation, I whisk a mash-up of visual cues, inspired by ancient traditions synced up with a rhythm of animation.”

sand art street fractal

His free-style approach and Pop Art colors are inspired by everything from undersea creatures to carnivorous plants, botanical geometries and other cultures experience through international travels.

sand 2

His pieces have be set indoors as well as outside, and in formal as well as informal contexts: “Mangrum’s  work has been exhibited worldwide. Creating over 650 public sand paintings since 2009. In 2012 he has been featured in  “Swept Away” at the Museum of Arts and Design in NYC, The Flag Art Foundation’s “Watch Your Step” exhibit and at The Corcoran Gallery Rotunda in Washington DC.  In 2003 Joe was awarded the Lorenzo de Medici Award at the Florence Biennale for his piece titled “Fragile” as it relates to economic structures. “

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Bike Tire Tent: Compact Travel Shelter Wraps Inside Wheels


[ By WebUrbanist in Technology & Vehicles & Mods. ]

tire bike travel tent

For the cycling nomad, this design uses space you never knew you had, and helps free up room in front-of-handlebar baskets or on above-back-tire racks for other uses in the process.

tire deployed camping closeup

Designed by Chung-Jung Wu, Pei-Chun Chen & Li-Fu Chen, a specially-reinforced tire creates a void into which a biker can clip their travel tent for extended rides.

tire shelter wheel design

The easy-to-access clasps make it simpler and speedier to deploy the tent when you reach your temporary destination, rather than unwrapping it from a pack or unstrapping it from a fender platform.

tire tent fully open

Of even greater value to long-distance travelers: precious cargo space on your back and elsewhere on your bicycle is freed up for clothes and other essential gear.

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Details & Diagrams: $1,000 IKEA Flat-Pack Refugee Shelter


[ By WebUrbanist in Architecture & Houses & Residential. ]

ikea shelter diagrams

Emergency shelters are designed to be short-term solutions, and many cannot withstand rain, wind and sun for more than six months. Yet the average stay in refugee camp is over twenty times that duration.

flat pack emergency shelter

The IKEA Foundation, in cooperation with the  United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, has developed a longer-term solution to this problem, turning their experience with flat-pack furniture and language-free instruction manuals toward disaster relief efforts in and around war-torn places like Syria (they are already testing in Lebanon and Iraq). Sticklers for detail should scroll carefully below for a step-by-step deconstruction of what goes into this remarkable dwelling.

flat pack shelter diagram

The problem, in part, is building the most universal unit possible in a world where emergencies happen globally, spanning regions both hot and cold and with vastly different cultural norms. Their solution is much like an ordinary IKEA product: flexible, adaptable, modular and packed into cardboard boxes of components. Naturally, they require no tools that are not included.

flat pack ikea shelter

While the structures themselves are still only expected to last a few years, they are made to be modified, enhanced and expanded in various ways. For instance, earthen walls and corrugated metal roofs can be pushed up against, fastened to and ultimately help reinforce the core buildings, or even eventually replace the need for underlying framework entirely, rendering it redundant.

ikea shelter finished

The shelters are constructed primarily from polymer panels that clip into a wire frame. On top sits an aluminum-mesh roofing sheet that is designed to reflect sunlight by day and retain heat by night. Solar energy charges a USB outlet for electrical needs. The target price range for mass production is under $1000, making it affordable in bulk to international organizations. Images and diagram via The Telegraph, IKEA Foundation and Graphic News.

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The Fallen: 9000 Figures Hand-Drawn in the Sand for D-Day


[ By WebUrbanist in Art & Installation & Sound. ]

fallen beach art project

To commemorate those fallen on D-Day in France – civilians, Axis and Allies alike – a pair of sand artists used stencils and solicited volunteers to create a highly temporary art installation, destined and designed to be washed away by the incoming tide.

fallen beach peace day

fallen art d day

fallen d day detail

On September 21st, the pair and their helpers, given stencils and quick instructions, had to work quickly to make The Fallen a reality. At one point, it looked like they would not have even assistance to finish before the water came in to erase their creation.

fallen beach stencil volunteers

Thankfully, hundreds of additional people turned out on top of the dozens who had agreed to help … together these, “people took stencils and rakes in hand and embarked on drawing the 9000.  The Peace Day project had finally begun in earnest represented by the people of the world.”

fallen commemorative world war

Jamie Wardley and Andy Moss (images by Sandinyoureye) developed the idea of The Fallen as a project for Peace Day well in advance. They created stencils in preparation, but were surprised by the people who turned up from around the world (drawn together, as it were) to commemorate those lost in World War II and otherwise.

fallen art beach detail

Among those participants in attendance, “Monika Kershaw was there remembering her son and his colleagues that died in Afganastan and even wrote in their names beside them. George, a veteran who was on the D-Day beaches was also there and embraced the importance of the project as demonstrating the result of conflict. There were a group from Israel that drew together, people from Germany, Finland and as far as Chili.”

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Parasitic Architecture: 15 Precariously Perched Structures


[ By Steph in Architecture & Cities & Urbanism. ]

Parasitic Architecture main

These parasitic buildings commandeer wasted urban space, often siphoning utilities from their host buildings. Some are additions that make no attempt to blend into the original structures, some are serious solutions for making the most of existing space, and others make artistic statements on fringe society and sustainable growth, but all illustrate that there are still many corners and crevices of our cities that could be put to use.

ParaSITE Inflatable Shelters

Parasitic Architecture Inflatables

Michael Rakowitz creates inflatable ‘paraSITE shelters’ for the homeless, often specifically designed to suit individual needs, which narrowly fit within the definitions of legal temporary structures since they’re not much larger than a sleeping bag. They’re often made on a budget of less than five dollars using trash bags, ziploc bags and clear waterproof packing tape, and attached to the ventilation systems of adjacent buildings. One man, for example, requested as many windows as possible, because “homeless people don’t have privacy issues, but they do have security issues. We want to see potential attackers, we want to be visible to the public.”

Urban Tree Huts by Tadashi Kawamata

Parasitic Architecture Tadashi Tree Huts

Tadashi Kawamata’s rustic pine tree houses are normally found where you would expect them – in trees (though sometimes in unexpected places, like New York City’s Madison Square Park.) But sometimes, they’re attached like man-made bird nest to urban locations, like lamp posts, bridge trusses, scaffolding and luxury apartment buildings.

Stone Villa  on Top of a Chinese Condo Tower


An eccentric Chinese man spent six years creating his very own mountain paradise – on top of a Beijing high-rise – illegally. It has everything you’d expect from a luxury residence including boulders, trees, gardens, winding paths, viewing platforms and pools, hauled up through the building to adorn his private penthouse retreat. Unsurprisingly, other residents in the 26-story building have complained about construction noise and even flooding. The Chinese government has ordered the professor to remove the 800-square-meter villa.

Prefab Parasite

Parasitic Architecture Calder

Empty vertical surfaces could become the basis of parasitic living spaces made out of prefab panels. The dwellings could be affixed to any wall or pylon strong enough to support them using a mountain plate. This particular design, by Lara Calder Architects, features paneling made of compressed bamboo and recycled paper. It measures about 400 square feet, and features an open-air rooftop terrace. A combination staircase and service shaft connecting the home to power, sewer and water is the only part touching the ground.

Excrescent Utopia: Parasite Architecture for the Homeless

Parasitic Architecture Homeless Utopia

British architecture graduate Milo Ayden De Luca envisions parasitic structures for the homeless that could cling to the sides of lamp posts . Made of cheap and readily available materials like pulleys, nylon and rope lines, the structures are translucent and nearly weightless.

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Porta-Park: Mobile Urban Square the Size of a Parking Spot


[ By WebUrbanist in Art & Installation & Sound. ]

portable urban square project

Compact and portable, this crafty collaborative design-build project is part art installation and part impromptu gathering space. This student-built platform pushes people to think about the flexible potential of public space – it also showcases the power of group brainstorming and rapid prototyping.

portable student public space

Facilitated by Izmo in Italy, participating students followed a process-oriented approach. They were presented a framework for construction – a metal-framed rectangle – divided into four quadrants. Each of these sections was assigned to a group along with a set of discarded building materials ready to be reused and a time limit for construction.

portable public space deployed

The cut, pasted and painted result looks somewhat like a three-dimensional patchwork quilt. Its various sides feature fold-out furniture, sliding drawers and secret slots from which various interactive objects are deployed on demand. The structure itself sits on wheels and is sized to fit into public parking spaces or other small and slim sites.

portable park design build

About Izmo itself: “The name Izmo originates from the word isthmus, a thin strip of land that joins two areas. Our research topic is in fact the territory: where interactions take place between individuals and public space . Our mission is to link the territories, the people with the land and the citizens with each other. We do this, for instance, through projects of urban design, installation; organization of seminars, meetings and workshops; and development of Web platforms. In all cases, the projects designed by Izmo come from reading and from listening to people and places that will benefit from our operations.”

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Flat-Pack Emergency Shelters Slot Together Like Puzzles


[ By Delana in Architecture & Houses & Residential. ]

emergency shelters flatpack plywood

Times of emergency call for quick action to get victims into safe shelters. Plenty of easily-assembled emergency structures have been designed over the years, but Australian architecture firm BVN Donovan Hill has presented an interesting take on the topic. Their idea goes together like a 3D puzzle, each piece of plywood slotting together as easily as a flat-pack furniture kit.

flatpack emergency shelter

The shelter consists of pre-cut plywood boards that would be delivered to a disaster site flat-packed. Each piece has notches that fit into the next piece; assembling one of the shelters requires no tools other than the hands of one or two people. Once the wooden skeleton has been assembled, a waterproof skin is put on the outside to keep out the elements. The goal is for the structure to be able to be assembled in just one day.

easily assembled flat pack emergency shelter

The inside of the structure features contours that jut out to create shapes that could be used for sitting or sleeping. That’s according to the designers – to us, the thin plywood shapes don’t look comfortable enough to support a person without an extreme amount of padding between them and the human body.

modular pre-cut easy assemble emergency shelters

According to the designers, one of their main goals in this design was to create a space that is not simply utilitarian, but one that creates happiness in times of tragedy. The shelters are small – around 100 square feet – but very heavy at about half a ton each. This makes each one quite substantial and perhaps usable for long periods if necessary.

temporary emergency shelter flat pack

The structures can be grouped together to create a temporary community, with some buildings serving as meeting places instead of grouping all of the victims together in one very large space. The concept will require a significant amount of fleshing out before it becomes a viable option for disaster relief, but the idea of an easily (and quickly) assembled, private temporary home is one that will appeal to just about anyone who has ever been displaced by a natural disaster.

(images via: Inhabitat)

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Design Miami Tent Covered with Inflatable Sausages


[ By Steph in Architecture & Public & Institutional. ]

Bundles of giant white inflatable sausages make a big visual impact on the exterior walls of the Design Miami tent at Art Basel. New York studio Skarnitecture covered the structure in vinyl tubes bundled together at varying heights for a result that’s highly unusual, to say the least.

The studio aimed to transform the tent using limited palette and a limited range of materials, mostly relying on the same vinyl that was already used to create the tent itself.

The tubes drip down into lounge areas just outside the tent like rounded man-made stalactites.

Inflatables give architects an opportunity for experimentation that can’t be replicated with permanent materials. See 17 more creatively amorphous inflatable structures including pavilions, additions, temporary balconies and even entire cities.

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3Space: Sharing Vacant Spaces with the People

[ By Steph in Architecture & Cities & Urbanism. ]

Properties that sit vacant and empty for too long tend to invite crime and decay. Many charitable organizations can’t find affordable places to meet and hold events. Bring the two together and you’ve got 3Space, a UK program that matches vacant spaces with people who need to use them for temporary pop-up projects.

3Space works in partnership with landlords and leaseholders to offer otherwise empty properties to organizations that benefit the community, free of charge. The properties remain on the market, but they’re available until they sell, which can take a year or longer in some cases.

Landlords across the United Kingdom are eager to participate in the project, as the groups that use the spaces tend to attract positive attention to the properties. Spaces range from five floors of office space in central London to a vacant retail store in northern Scotland.

The groups using the spaces are just as diverse, including autism awareness organizations, sports teams, environmental activists and theater troupes. They just have to be registered non-profits. Learn more at

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Red Bull Music Academy: Vibrant, Lush Temporary Space

[ By Steph in Architecture & Design. ]

Occupying an empty warehouse in Madrid, the Red Bull Music Academy is a temporary space for a nomadic music academy organized by the energy drink brand. With bright colors, bold patterns, high ceilings and lots of lush vegetation, the formerly empty space has been transformed into a vibrant hub of activity where musicians can practice, learn and record.

Designed by Spanish studio Langarita-Navarro Arquitectos, the academy takes visual cues from the jagged shapes of the existing warehouse architecture and fills it with a compact village comprised of tents and wooden huts. Each of the tiny one-room huts is shaped like a house; some bear colorful patterns painted on one face while the others are bare, pale wood.

The 2011 incarnation of this annual festival was meant to be held in Tokyo, but the devastating effects of the earthquake and tsunami forced a sudden re-location to Madrid. Organizers chose the Matadero Madrid as the location, which is an early 20th century warehouse complex open to the air. The complex included offices, studios for musicians, recording studios, conference space, a radio studio and a lounge.

The complex was designed so that it could be dismantled without leaving a trace of its presence at the warehouse. The recording studios featured walls made of sandbags, and all of the plantings were transferred to public areas around Madrid.

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