Category : Nature
German photographer Robert Voit has taken a terrific series of photos of what he calls New Trees, examples of cellphone antennae camouflaged as trees.
San Francisco photographer Alex Fradkin has made some beautiful photos of concrete bunkers ruins around the San Francisco Bay Area. Built by the U.S. military to defend against an enemy that never came., some have fallen into the Pacific Ocean and some just sit quietly as they are absorbed back into the earth.
You think times are tough for you? At least you don’t own a mall. Once a bulwark of American economy, culture and probably its soul, the shopping mall has fallen on hard times. And to see the decline close up you should check out the site deadmalls.com. So what should we do with this new surfeit of empty big boxes surrounded by oceans of asphalt? There are a few good ideas submitted to Reburbia, a design competition to re-imagine suburbia. One suggestion from the Alabama-based architecture firm Forest Fulton suggests that perhaps the mall should see a reversal of a function and go from being:
a retailer of food – food detached from processes from which it came to be – to producer of food. The parking lot becomes a park-farm. The inside of the big box becomes a greenhouse and restaurant. Asphalt farming techniques allow for layering of soil, compost in containers on top of asphalt. The big box store’s roof is partially replaced with a greenhouse roof. Other details, such as the reversal of parking lot light poles into solar trees that hold photovoltaics can be implemented. One can imagine pushing a shopping cart through this suburban farm and picking your produce right from the vine, with the option to bring your harvest to the restaurant chef for preparation and eating your harvest on the spot.
See more finalists in the Reburbia design competition.
Where y’at New Orleans? Four years after Katrina, architects, planners and builders have made messy, heterogeneous efforts at rebuilding the Crescent City. There’s a great article in the recent Atlantic Monthly profiles some of the approaches to rebuilding that are underway.
In the absence of strong central leadership, the rebuilding has atomized into a series of independent neighborhood projects. And this has turned New Orleans—moist, hot, with a fecund substrate that seems to allow almost anything to propagate—into something of a petri dish for ideas about housing and urban life. An assortment of foundations, church groups, academics, corporate titans, Hollywood celebrities, young people with big ideas, and architects on a mission have been working independently to rebuild the city’s neighborhoods, all wholly unconcerned about the missing master plan. It’s at once exhilarating and frightening to behold.
Spend some time exploring the amazing map of the Mannahatta Project. If you zoom in and click around, you can explore every damn block on the island of Manhattan and see what was there before 1609. After nearly ten years of research, landscape ecologist Eric Sanderson, working through the Wildlife Conservation Society at the Bronx Zoo, has used old maps and modern spatial analysis techniques to map every hill, valley, stream, spring, beach, forest, cave, wetland, and pond that existed on the island of Mannahatta. It also lists all possible animals, humans, and plants that could have been in there– on every damn block! The project claims the GIS database for the project is the most complete description of a landscape ever attempted. This year marks the 400th anniversary of of Henry Hudson’s arrival in New York Bay and other coinciding history goodness includes the exhibit Mannahatta/Manhattan: A Natural History of New York City, at the Museum of the City of New York and the publication of Sanderson’s book, Mannahatta: Natural History of New York City.
Ingrid Newkirk, founder of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals India, is going to be very busy after she’s dead.
As bizarre as it seems that packs of coyotes are now living in Golden Gate Park, right in the center of San Francisco, it’s worth noting that dense urban areas are actually great habitat for coyotes. Read more about how coyotes are thriving in Chicago.