Watch MIT Students Transform I.M. Pei Building into Playable Tetris Game

There are end-of-term pranks, and then there are end-of-term hacks. MIT students have been known to integrate entire campus buildings into theirs, the most famous (and coolest) example being the Great Dome’s transformation into everyone’s favorite droid, R2-D2. The latest hack occurred last night, when a team of students programmed a monumental game of color (!) Tetris on the gridded facade of MIT’s Green Building. Designed by I.M. Pei, the concrete structure is the tallest building in Cambridge, and its modular frame of windows proved the ideal vehicle for the task. These factors marked the tower prime real estate for future hacks, so much so that “Tetris on the Green Building” had long been coveted as the “Holy Grail of hacks.” Apparently, the students used a joystick mounted on a podium at ground level to control the game, which mimicked the original’s title scroll and its classic “game over” animation. You can watch the video below to see how the night played out. … Read More

  • 0

A WWII Concrete Relic Turned Superhero Hideout

What remains of the Nazi Europe? Mostly reinforced concrete towers and bunkers, whose immense size and incredibly thick walls proved difficult, even impractical, to destroy. In the 70 years or so since their construction, the structures, usually scattered along the beach or stranded in fields, have cultivated an aesthetic aura that continues to intensify as the generational gap and cultural gulf between the war and contemporary life widens. In France, for example, families in coastal towns near the Atlantic Wall have integrated some of the local bunkers into opulent single family homes. Similarly, in Belgium, architects Bham Design Studio have rehabilitated another Nazi infrastructural relic for domestic life, in what we think is a much more successful, if spurious, effort.

Built between 1938 and 1941 near the village of Steenokkerzeel, the 30-meter tall structure functioned as a water tower – briefly used by the Nazis – up until the ’90s, when it was decommissioned and preserved as a war monument. The exterior was completely restored to its original condition, while the interior was completely gutted, save for the concrete ceilings, stairs, and other elements which were left intact, repainted, and repaired where needed. The windows on the top floor were widened to accommodate a “sculptural” kitchen, library, cat house, and general living space. A steel bridge connects this floor to a rooftop panoramic terrace that offers expansive views of the region. The house was designed for two permanent residents, while a guest room on the second level may be rented throughout the month. Click through to check out some images. … Read More

  • 0

Venture Inside of Holland's Most Sacred Bookstore

A bookstore is something of a sacred place these days. The few independent outlets that remain are rare opportunities to retreat from the churning of the city and peruse an infinite number of worlds. It is no wonder that the vast library presents such an image of escape; its stores of scripts, represented by endless spines of books lined one after the other, suggests the suspension of time and a chance to retreat to places carved out by words and crafted in one’s mind.

Dutch book retailers Selexyz decided that there was no better place for their latest bookstore to occupy than a 13th century Dominican cathedral in Maastricht, Holland. According to MyModernMet, the architects at Merkx + Girod jumped on the opportunity to fuse the old with the new and created a design for Selexyz Dominicanen Maastricht that integrates a thoroughly modern bookstore within the preserved historic structure. … Read More

  • 6

Take a Tour of the Miniature Version of Hogwarts

Relatively few films can claim the lucrative after-life that is destined for the Harry Potter saga. The fact that the eight-movie cycle concluded last summer will, of course, not deter Warner Bros. from profiting off the franchise for years, perhaps even generations to come. There’s already an entire amusement park – Star Wars didn’t even get that – devoted to that cause, not too mention the scores of licensed products and cross-over promotions that will ensure the brand’s perpetuity. But the theme park aside, which is admittedly kind of cool, we’re guardedly excited about the movie studio’s latest ploy to get Potter-philes to reach back into their savings: a tour of the giant scale model of Hogwarts castle. … Read More

  • 2

Miami’s New Museum of Science Boasts a Shark-Filled Atrium

Last week, construction broke ground on the new Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science in Bicentennial Park in Miami. Apart from the green gizmos the 250,000 square-foot-building will sport, including and not limited to rain/energy collectors and a data center that will monitor the structure’s energy performance, the most striking aspect of the design, by Grimshaw Architects, is its 600,000 gallon aquarium, under which – if the renderings are to be believed–visitors will frolic in evening wear, sipping cocktails beneath the auspices of feeding sharks. Yes, sharks. … Read More

  • 0

A Dream Vacation for ‘Star Wars’ Fans: Travel to Tatooine

It’s less than four short months until summer, and what better way to pass the last couple weeks of winter than by planning your dream vacation to Tatooine! While the Outer Rim is only a figment of the Bearded One’s imagination, Tatooine is actually much closer than you think – an adventure playground of sun-scorched mesas, eroded seas, barren canyons, sculptural standing stones, and extinguished geysers. Podrace down Beggar’s Canyon, hit the markets at Mos Espa (and haggle with the Jawa shop-owners), discover Mos Eisley’s nightlife, tour Jabba’s palace, ride the rugged terrain by Bantha, and explore the ruins at Anchorhead. Accommodations can be made at the Lars homestead, where you’ll enjoy the cozy ambiance, home-cooked meals (with fresh blue milk), and a complementary droid cleaning. Dig in and watch the twin suns dip down past the horizon. … Read More

  • 0

Frank Lloyd Wright’s Long Lost Doghouse

Frank Lloyd Wright is generally considered to have been an arrogant, irascible curmudgeon, whose voracious egotism was and remains legendary. But he could be a gingerly grandfather as well. Case in point, the Jim Berger doghouse. As Architects & Artisans reports, Wright designed the canis domus in 1956, after the 12-year old project’s namesake wrote the famous architect asking if he would fashion a house for the Berger family’s then 4-year old black Lab, Eddie. The boy, who specified in his letter that he would cover the expenses of the plans and materials with wages he earned from his bike route, wrote to Wright in June of 1956, saying that he “would appreciate it if you [Wright] would design me a dog house, which would be easy to build, but would go with our house.” … Read More

  • 0

A Pillow Designed for Sneaking Office Naps

While office design is moving increasingly away from the high-walled cubicle and more towards shared open spaces, sometimes, you just need that private space. Design studio kawamura-ganjavian has come up with a punchy solution for those sudden mid-workday bouts of I-can’t-take-it-anymore: OSTRICH, a pocket pillow that “offers a micro environment in which to take a warm and comfortable power nap at ease.” In other words, it’s almost like you’ve hopped into a sensory-deprivation tank (at least from the neck up) — without ever having to leave your desk. … Read More

  • 3

Cozy Podhouses to Pass the Winter Months In

Ernest Hemingway famously likened a good book to that “pleasant sound coyotes make on a very cold night when they are outside in the snow and you are in your own cabin that you have built or paid for with your own work.” Well, imagine reading a good book on a snowy night nestled in one of these cozy pods. The PodHotel in Flims, Switzerland offers visitors the chance to experience the “camping of the 21st century,” and while we’re unsure what that exactly means, we’d be more than willing to spend our winter evenings in these little huts. … Read More

  • 1

The Creation of “The World” Commences

It would be superfluous to go on about the conceptual and social vacuity of “The World” in Dubai. That much has become the standard, even knee-jerk critique of the project – expounded by notions such as the ideological perils of “Google Earth Urbanism” and the woeful exploitation of migrant workers – of which matters little to the absurdly wealthy patrons who will shore up on one (or two!) of the project’s three hundred man-made archipelagos. The large, vaguely urban scheme, which spans an area of 6 by 9 kilometers, was debuted nearly 10 years ago, yet has been stalled periodically ever since due in part to the global recession. Despite the setbacks, the first attraction to be completed, the World Island Beach Club on “Lebanon Island,” is set to open in a matter of weeks. No, the following images were not photoshopped. … Read More

  • 0