Some of us like a contrast between urban grit and city chic, some well-worn infrastructure with our tony brownstones. We like seeing the logo of the local metropolitan transit authority on strange buildings tucked away between alleys and elevated trains. Then there are those of us more sensitive to preserving the "charm" of upscale city hoods or maintaining their historic aesthetic. It seems the transport authorities fall into the latter category in several instances, at least in the case of the fake townhouses exposed in New York, London, and Paris on messynessychic.com today, one of which is even cited in an Umberto Eco novel. All three were devised to hide air shafts for underground trains.
Every aspect of Medellín's Parque Biblioteca Espana was designed for the needs of the local residents. Starting with the facade, the three buildings fit so seamlessly with the surrounding mountain landscape that they can easily be mistaken for a natural rock formation. Inside, the buildings house a library, a day care center, an auditorium, and computer labs with internet access.
The structure is intentionally prominent in the landscape of the neighborhood. The city of Medellín wanted the complex, part of a public works project to help rehabilitate low-income high-crime areas, to be a point of pride for the Santo Domingo Savio neighborhood. According to Architonic, Sergio Fajardo, then mayor of Medellín, said of the project, "Our most beautiful buildings must be in our poorest areas." [via Ignant]
In a few weeks, big cities across the US will experience the annual bummer/phenomenon known as "Urban Heat Island." There's not much we can do to avoid the extra high temperatures, but the designers at Rael San Fratello Architects have a solution for the future in their Planter Brick, which is a brick designed to act as a permanent planter on a building's exterior. Having live plants built directly into a structure wall could not only counter the heat island effect and aid in filtering the air, but could also create better sound and temperature insulation for buildings. Aesthetically speaking, we think it would be awesome to see a wall of succulents. The concrete bricks are 3D-printed to order, and are in production now. [via emerging objects]
The coastal city of Lagos, Nigeria has a flooding problem. Construction projects try to anticipate rising waters by using massive stilts to raise buildings above the highest water levels, but it's impossible to estimate exactly how high the water will rise, and buildings often suffer from water damage. Earlier this month, architecture firm NLÉ completed Makoko Floating School, a project that addresses the rising sea levels on the Nigerian coast. The school's A-frame structures float on beds of large plastic drums, have up to three levels, and feature solar panels and locally-sourced materials. [via The Design Ark]
While gazing out of windows is considered much less creepy than gazing into windows, New York City-based graphic designer Jose Guizar has chosen the latter as a source of inspiration for his latest project. Part an ode to architecture and part a self-challenge to never stop looking up, Guizar’s "Windows of New York" project is a weekly illustrated fix for his growing—you guessed it—window obsession. “A product of countless steps of journey through the city streets, this is a collection of windows that somehow have caught my restless eye out from the never-ending buzz of the city,” explains Guizar. And while the designer has done an impressive job of illustrating the many windows of Manhattan, we’re hoping he’ll venture over to New York’s outer boroughs with the same amount of enthusiasm—and creepiness—in the weeks to come.