Tag Archives: planet

What if toads could predict earthquakes?

Seen in the French paper Le Figaro on April 1st, this toad-related news story is no April fool’s prank: “Distinct behavioral changes in male toads were observed some 5 days before the April 6th, 2009 earthquake in the Italian village of Aquila.  This research was conducted by a team of British zoologists who study amphibians and their mating sites, and was published in the Journal of Zoology.”  The toads were located some 45 miles away from Aquila.  In the days leading up to the quake, the researchers noted that the toads began to desert the site—indeed, 3 days before the earthquake, no copulations were recorded, an unheard of occurrence.  The researchers still do not know for certain what exactly made the toads desert—but they have remarked that the lack of copulations coincided with the seismic movements that were occurring.  Other animal behaviors regarding earthquakes have been studied (among which: elephants, fish, snakes and wolves) but none seem as decisive as the toads’ behavior.

What if architecture responded to our environment?

During the “semaine de la publicité” (“the week of advertising”), I most appreciated architect François Roche who contributed to the debate on “The New Creative Classes”.  François has an iconoclastic approach to architecture—he imagines buildings that integrate themselves into their environment.  Look to “hybrid muscle”, his buffalo powered pavilion installed in northern Thailand.  Or, check out the Museum of Modern Art in Bangkok, a living witness to the city’s pollution (images above and below).  While most architects add plant life into the walls and roofs of their buildings to make them eco-friendly, François Roche and his associate Stéphanie Layaux decided for to do the opposite: construct a building whose surface attracts pollution.  Thus, the building becomes a living testimony to the city’s high pollution levels.  Here is what François Roche had to say during the project’s exhibition at the Centre Pompidou in Paris: “In Bangkok, I am constructing a contemporary art museum for a collector who had also asked Rem Koolhass to design the building.  Bangkok has two distinctive characteristics: it is one of the most polluted cities in the world and it is a city that has not at all integrated urban planning.  The city grows rapidly, by individual fits and starts.  In constructing this building, we wanted to integrate these two phenomena.  This loss of control dictates the form of the building and the pollution and carbon residue create the “skin” of the building. Thanks to an electrostatic system that covers the exterior, the building becomes an urban filter.  The result, at once visual and tactile, is the flesh of our economy: insulated, up-tight and dusty.”  This building is beautiful in part because it reveals to us what we cannot see.

What if Towers became Vertical Villages?

This story is from the French construction site Moniteur:

“ ‘It’s a ‘vertical village’” declared Jean-Luc Poidevin, Managing Director of Nexity real estate group.  Known as “Habiter le ciel “ (“Inhabit the Sky” in English), this building is part of the “Grand Paris” urban renewal initiative for Greater Paris. According to its creator, Roland Castro, this tower will “reconcile nature with the city”.  This 17-story high building will feature 5 superposed garden courtyards.  Each garden is accessible to a pair of duplexes (four stories high, in all). The two glass elevators at the back of the courtyard accentuate the garden like quality of the building.

The first “Habiter le ciel” building, which will be priced between 3,500 € and 5,000 € per square meter, will be constructed in the city of Gennevilliers, according to Nexity.

What if we slept on cloud 9?

What if we slept on cloud 9?

Imagine that your hotel room could lift you to an altitude of 10,000 feet in the air—all while staying earth friendly!  Welcome to the Aircruise project, a visionary transportation project thought up by the Design and Innovation firm SeymourPowell, in partnership with Samsung.  Check out the below presentation video that was just made public.

Aircruise is best described as a futuristic hot-air balloon: a diamond shaped aircraft that can rise to an altitude of 12,000 feet, thanks to its reservoirs equipped with hydrogen and can be propelled by solar energy, gathered from panels.

“Aircruise challenges what we think the future of luxury travel will be: expensive and environmentally unfriendly flights, in cramped spaces” explains SeymourPowell’s design director Nick Talbot.  Inside this 870 foot high “hotel balloon”, is a bar-lounge, 4 duplex apartments, a penthouse, and 5 smaller apartments.  In addition, it’s equipped with a restaurant, a gym and a few individual rooms.  With a speed of 95 miles per hour, this balloon could go from Paris to New York in around 40 hours.  For technical installation, Samsung has announced the presence of flat screens, sensory cameras and floor with memory technology.

Only one question is up in the air: can this crazy idea become a reality?