Some cities are adding high-tech infrastructure. Some are implementing revolutionary sustainability plans. Others are fostering innovative business and science developments. But which city combines these qualities and others to be the smartest city? Boston came in #1 with San Francisco and Seattle trailing close behind.
Google’s Dublin flagship covers 47,000 square meters of pricey downtown real estate. The offices are spread across four buildings, though the campus’s central building has been attracting the most attention. Designed by architecture firm Camenzind Evolution, the main offices occupy 14 floors of a jet-black Miesian tower; they’re linked by spunky, brightly colored interiors and in-your-face design cues. The vertical operations are packed to the gills with amenities, all meant to keep you inside for as long as possible. Employees have their pick of five restaurants; can preuse new products at various on-site tech shops; and have access to 42 kitchenettes, a fitness center, a game room, and an 82-meter swimming pool.
The London Underground commemorated its 150th anniversary with a quintet of maps made of Lego. But the creative display was built for more than fun and games. It shows how the network—the world’s first underground passenger railway—has evolved in a century and a half.
We think of 3-D printers as desktop machines, stagnant workhorses used to generate piecemeal shapes for humans to relocate in the real world. But a new, stunning piece of architecture by the Mediated Matter Group at MIT Media Lab brings all of those assumptions into question.
It’s called the Silk Pavilion, and it is what researchers call a “biological swarm approach to 3-D printing.” It is a beautiful structure constructed by 6,500 live silkworms, and may be the most epicly named piece of fabrication technology since the blowtorch.
Plastics like styrofoam currently take up between 25%-30% of our landfill space, and a single cubic foot of styrofoam has the same energy content as about one and a half liters of gasoline.
College pals Eben Bayer and Gavin McIntyre established Ecovative, which grows cost-effective alternatives to plastic insulation and packaging. While they were students at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Bayer and McIntyre experimented with mycelium, the network of vegetative filaments in mushrooms, and realized that it could be used to form incredibly strong bonds. Essentially, the substance functions like a glue that you can grow and use to form agricultural byproducts like plant stalks and seed husks into natural alternatives to styrofoam packaging and insulation.
The JF-Kit House by the Spanish design firm Elii is an experiment in “domestic fitness,” rendering “the image of a possible future where citizens produce part of their domestic energy requirements with their own physical activities.” Each room features a fancifully named exercise station that would, theoretically, help create energy to power the home, including an “arm workout bureau,” a “spinning kitchen,” and a “triceps greenhouse.” A video shows the home’s imagined inhabitant lifting weights, cycling, and doing calisthenics as part of his house’s everyday upkeep and daily chores like cooking.
"One of the easiest ways to go green is to go small," Hill says. "I want to show people that there’s an amazing modern green future, and make it easy for them to step into it."
Hill transforms his couch into a bed, makes a desk appear from the wall, and then moves that entire wall to reveal a guest bedroom. Just as quickly, he disappears the guest room, pops a Murphy bed back into place, and reveals a dining room table with seating for 10. Even Hill’s bathroom is multifunctional: He soundproofed the toilet stall and added a handsome wooden bench that folds over the seat, which turns it either into a private phone booth or, no joke, a very tiny meditation studio. That’s why he and nine others who are trying to change how we live made our list of The 100 Most Creative People of 2013.
Cities across the country are making plans to cater to bikers and pedestrians (along with cars) as they design and manage their transportation infrastructure. These are 10 that are doing it really well:
No discussion of the life and work of Oscar Niemeyer is complete without Brasília, the dazzling capital that sprung up in the Brazilian savanna in 1961. The Brazilian starchitect who passed away on Wednesday, was responsible for the project’s crowning achievement: the monumental government buildings that stood proudly as emblems of the power of Modernist architecture’s promise—and, later, unfortunate failure—to shape a utopian society.
What gets less attention is that, a decade earlier, another urban vision was taking form more than 8,000 miles away, in India, under the supervision of Le Corbusier. Chandigarh, like Brasília, was intended to be a sparkling new city, created from scratch as a way of shaking off the albatross of colonialism and instating a native, democratic government. And modern notions of urban planning and architecture were central to both new capitals, as the premier architectural photographer Iwan Baan documents in a recent book, “Brasília-Chandigarh”. Fifty years into existence, the two cities have evolved into examples of how grand utopian projects can both inspire and disappoint.
Living to the age of 104 is what most of us only hope for. Working to the age of 104? It’s not a fate most of us would wish on our worst enemy, but Oscar Niemeyer, who passed away on Wednesday in Rio de Janeiro, claimed that continuing to work was what sustained him. Niemeyer outlived his wife, one of his own children, and countless friends (like Le Corbusier). He was designing new buildings up until a few weeks ago.