World’s Largest Indoor Farm is 100 Times More Productive

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[ By WebUrbanist in Architecture & Offices & Commercial. ]

indoor farm japan interior

The statistics for this incredibly successful indoor farming endeavor in Japan are staggering: 25,000 square feet producing 10,000 heads of lettuce per day (100 times more per square foot than traditional methods) with 40% less power, 80% less food waste and 99% less water usage than outdoor fields.

indoor factory lettuce farm

indoor farm high yield

Customized LED lighting developed with GE helps plants grow up to two and half times faster, one of the many innovations employed in this enterprise by Shigeharu Shimamura, the man who helped turn a former semiconductor factory into the planet’s biggest interior factory farm.

worlds largest indoor farm

Shimamura has shortened the cycle of days and nights in this artificial environment, growing food faster, while optimizing temperature, lighting and humidity and maximizing vertical square footage in this vast interior space (about half the size of a football field).

indoor future led farming

With a long-standing passion for produce production, he “got the idea for his indoor farm as a teenager, when he visited a ‘vegetable factory’ at the Expo ’85 world’s fair in Tsukuba, Japan. He went on to study plant physiology at the Tokyo University of Agriculture, and in 2004 started an indoor farming company called Mirai, which in Japanese means ‘future.'”

indoor farm interview detail

The beauty of this development lies partly in its versatility – since it deals in climate-controlled spaces and replicable conditions, a solution of this sort can be deployed anywhere in the world to address food shortages of the present and future. Saving space, indoor vertical farms are also good candidates for local food production in crowded and high-cost urban areas around the globe. Aforementioned strides in waste and power reduction also make these techniques and approaches far more sustainable and cost-efficient.


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Project Sprawl: Mesmerizing Algo-Generated Game Architecture

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[ By WebUrbanist in Gaming & Computing & Technology. ]

world building architectural model

Facing down the difficult challenge of creating an ever-changing urban gaming environment, this digital designer went with a cheap alternative that is aesthetically compelling and could have impacts beyond cyberspace.

world building generative algorithm

The game, Project Sprawl, is something of a cross between the Grand Theft Auto series and classic roll-playing games, but most critically: its metropolitan context needs to be dynamic and full of surprises, evolving over time like a real city.

game buildings brutalist urbanism

Low on funds and looking for cheaper and easier world-building solution than stock skylines or fully-custom options could provide, Cedric Kerr “decided to develop software that could auto-generate complex cities, from street maps to skyscraper architecture, for his characters to inhabit.”

game building stretch animation

As these animated illustrations show, there are rules to the way the generative algorithm constructs buildings – starting with a simple baseline, windows and doors, cantilevers and split facades morph and evolve in mesmerizing ways.

gaming architecture stretch pull

From Wired, “The solution to Kerr’s urban planning problem came in the form of Unity, a game engine often used to design game worlds from the size of a room to entire solar systems. The result was a set of building blocks that could be pulled and stretched in any direction with facades that would update in real time. Kerr could quickly sketch an outline of a foundation and in seconds have a unique building automatically populated with windows, doors, and other architectural details.”

game building city grids

The result of this project is a kind of architectural vocabulary that could be useful for deconstructing architecture, creating simulations or generating backdrops for conceptual projects. From Kerr: “the idea is that each building is decomposed into a set of rules forming a grammar that describes each stage of the process. These rules are hierarchical so a building is made up of facades, facades are made up of floors, floors are made up of tiles, tiles contain windows and so on.”


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Rebel Architecture: 6-Part Series on Global Guerilla Urbanism

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[ By WebUrbanist in Architecture & Cities & Urbanism. ]

architecture spider

In a series of six superb videos, Al Jazeera explores the gritty reality of architects and urban designers as activists in destinations from Vietnam and Nigeria to Pakistan and Brazil. Five of these 25-minute episodes are embedded in full as videos below, with summaries to let you see which you may wish to view – that said, each of the six is well worth watching!

abandoned warehouse spain

In Guerrilla Architect, Santiago Cirugeda, an architect from Seville who has dedicated his career to reclaiming urban spaces for the public, deals with difficult realities in “austerity-hit Spain, where the state has retreated and around 500,000 new buildings lie empty.”

Fortunately, he notes: “In times of crisis, people come together to find collective solutions.” One of his challenges, as covered in this mini-documentary, is converting an abandoned half-finished factory into a vibrant new cultural center.

architecture of violence

In The Architecture of Violence, Eyal Weizman “explains architecture’s key role in the Israeli occupation of Palestine and the evolution of urban warfare.” He explains that “architecture and the built environment is a kind of a slow violence. The occupation is an environment that was conceived to strangulate Palestinian communities, villages and towns, to create an environment that would be unliveable for the people there.”

In this episode, local Israelis and Palestinians explain in candid interviews “how it feels to live in a landscape where everything, from walls and roads, terraces and sewage, to settlements and surveillance are designed to ensure the separation of the two peoples, while simultaneously maintaining control.”

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Architectural Apocalypse: Famous Museums Seen After the Fall

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[ By WebUrbanist in Art & Photography & Video. ]

guggenheim half buried sand

Like that iconic scene in the original Planet of the Apes film, these artists have displaced great works of architecture in time and space to see what each museum might look like after the end of days, relocated in ominous environments and recast in black and white.

guggenheim museum after fall

Ukrainian photographers Vitaliy and Elena Vasilieva use surrealistic landscapes as the backdrop for these imaginative transformations, picturing structures like the Guggenheim in a sand-strewn context that looks like anything but modern-day Manhattan as we know it.

new museum in water

new museum at night

The New Museum is seen rising up from post-armageddon floodwaters, presumably after rising sees wash away the rest of New York City.

Niteroi Museum snow dunes

snow filled museum fall

The Niteroi Museum is perched precariously on a mound of snow, everything else perhaps buried in the frozen wastes around it.

pompidou center picture fall

pompidou center storm front

The Pompidou Center is set in a swirling dust storm, Paris long vanished and its inside-out appearance making it look all the more like a remnant than a finished structure.

guggenheim post apocalypse photo

guggenheim half buried sands

When the dust settles, the smoke clears and the world freezes over, what if only our artistic institutions were left? From the creators of the series: “It is difficult to escape the feeling that ‘Apocalypse in Art’ really shows the world, standing on the edge, barren, falling in decay like a story line of a picture that is breaking into fragments.”


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The Bus Stops Here: 7 Transit Shelters by Famous Architects

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[ By WebUrbanist in Architecture & Public & Institutional. ]

angled bus shelter

Trading a free vacation for their design input, a series of world-renowned designers each contributed their vision of a bus shelter to a tiny town of just 1,000 residents in Austria.

wood remix bus seat

stepped bus shelter design

Each structure within the Bus:Stop project is unique and dramatic, aimed at creating a new attraction for the area in addition to the existing natural and resort amenities of Krumbach and its surroundings.

architect bus stop project

tall top bus stop

All provide differing degrees of refuge from the elements, with some drawing on regional building typologies (stacked raw wood) or directing attention to site-specific views within and around the town (angled indicators pointing to sights).

teired wood bus stop

interior exterior bus stop

The last example above is the largest, providing both a bus shelter as well as a second-story viewing platform for a local tennis court.

bus stop design build

bus stop construction

Together with a local architecture firm and craftspeople, theses diverse shelters reflect both international design approaches and boast the capabilities of regional creatives and builders.

bus stop finished

The list of contributors includes: “Japanese architect Sou Fujimoto, Wang Shu’s Amateur Architecture Studio from China, Norwegian studio RintalaEggertsson Architects, Ensamble Studio from Spain, Chilean architect Smiljan Radic, Architecten de Vylder Vinck Taillieu from Belgium and Russian architect Alexander Brodsky. The project was overseen by Dietmar Steiner, the director of Vienna architecture museum Architekturzentrum Wien. Local private sponsors including hotel and inn owners, craft workers and business people provided the majority of the funding and services to support the process. The bus stops were inaugurated on 1 May and an exhibition documenting the design and construction process is currently on show at the Vai Vorarlberger Architektur Institut in the city of Dornbirn.”


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Caught on Video: Illegal BASE Jump Off NYC Freedom Tower

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[ By WebUrbanist in Travel & Urban Exploration. ]

skydiving illegal 1 wtc

Breaking into One World Trade Center and scaling to its top was just the beginning for this daring trio, who then not only parachuted from close to the peak but also had to navigate nearby structures on the way down and ultimately land in the street.

If you are not one for suspense, skip to the two minute and thirty second mark in the first video above to watch as the first jumper takes the plunge from the 1,776-foot tower, followed shortly thereafter by the man behind the camera.

amazing building jump

After months of hiding their identities, James Brady, Marco Markovich and Kyle Hartwell have turned themselves in and are already raising legal funds for their defense. They are charged with burglary, reckless endangerment and jumping from a structure.

base jump caught video

nyc street landing strip

skydiving street landing

According to the New York Times, the trio have been “described by their lawyers as experienced, amateur sky divers who also sought thrills leaping from buildings, bridges and other structures.” As for how they got in and up in this case: apparently, they simply slipped through a hole in the fence, scaled the stairs and did not encounter any security along the way to the top of the tower above. A similar stunt was pulled by a teenager not too long ago, but reporters who tried to follow suit found themselves caught and arrested.


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World’s Smallest Park: 2-Foot Circle in the Middle of a Street

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[ By WebUrbanist in Global & Travel & Places. ]

micro park street median

Originally designed to house a lamp post, this unassuming spot in Portland, Oregon, was left empty until a local journalist took it upon himself to declare it a park, naming it Mill Ends after his column in the regional paper.

micro one tree park

The earthen concrete-enclosed spot, outside the Oregon Journal office of writer Dick Fagan and situated between lanes and medians, had began to sprout weeds until one night in the 1940s he declared it a park. In a fit of fancy, he claimed it was occupied by leprechaun Patrick O’Toole and began printing stories about the space and its resident.

micro park crosswalk

Though only Fagan seemed to see its miniature occupant, his editorials claimed the area should be subject to the city’s park rules, including curfews. Soon enough, it was a local, then national, then international legend (though some outsiders mistakenly know it as ‘Mill’s End’).

micro park history placard

Today, the beloved micro-park even sports a sign explaining its history and origins, also showing its original location in the context of surrounding structures.

micro tree portland oregon

Although frequently occupied by a single tree today, the circular anomaly has featured everything from a swimming pool and diving board (for butterflies and, presumably, leprechauns) and a miniature Ferris wheel (also clearly for small occupants of the park). It was even relocated at one point to accommodate building construction in the area. (Images by Dukbrx0PiutusCraig Dietrich)


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Real Street Photographer Documents Virtual Life in GTA V

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[ By WebUrbanist in Gaming & Computing & Technology. ]

gta v street photos

Advanced artificial characters and enhanced in-game graphics have increasingly made in-game worlds look and feel like real-life places. It was only a matter of time before photographers hit the digital pavement to shoot the resulting scenes, equipped with an in-game camera no less.

grand theft street art

Fernando Pereira Gomes has shifted from the actual streets of New York to the simulated ones inside the San Andreas of Grand Theft Auto V. People and buildings come alive with lighting, reflections, details and detritus, all captured in his photo series Street Photography V.

gta v lonely walker

“Being a big fan of GTA, I went to the midnight launch and played the night away,” Gomes explains.  “As I played, I noticed that the characters had cameras on their phones… With this new tool, and the huge world of Los Santos, I started experimenting with the camera and the digital streets.” His resulting (and ongoing) series captures everything from passed-out drunks and hungover street walkers to ambling pedestrians and everyday business people heading to and from work.

grand theft auto street

“What I found was remarkable. The game is so realistic that it felt like being in the streets outside, running around for shots, anticipating passersby’s movements and reactions. In a way, it was also incredibly frightening that these algorithms could look so real, or is it that we ourselves are becoming ever more algorithmic?”

gta v character art

As with many forms of art, there are limitations one can see as restrictive or liberating, like the inability to tilt the camera significantly up or down. Also as in real life, there are many shots of opportunity that only come once – you have to look around, see what is happening, snap an image and hope for the best.

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