Sustainable Sculptures


Discarded rubber flip flops wash ashore in Kenya at an alarming rate littering the beaches and harming wildlife. Ocean Sole, a community-driven marine conservation organization, set out to recycle the detritus in creative ways while providing jobs for locals. The results are vibrant and colorful rubber sculptures of elephants, lions, giraffes and a variety of other animals. Ocean Sole plans to recycle 400,000 flip flops a year and currently recycles 220 pounds of sandals a week. The sculptures are sold to zoos and museums around the world and a percentage of profits go to marine conservation and adult education.

Image via inhabitat

Reading Rooms


Belgian architecture studio BC Architects has designed the first building of a new school for deaf children in Burundi, Africa. The clay colored structure was built by the firm along with community members and features local materials including rammed earth walls and baked ceiling tiles. The design borrows from indigenous building typologies and serves as both a quiet educational space and gathering place for the community. Another take on a library, The Bookmobile Project travels the United States and Canada via a vintage airstream trailer that contains 300 books you can’t get at your local library including one-of-a-kind photocopied zines and small press publications.

Image via Dezeen

The Imaginarium


This winter, London department store Selfridges has planned a series of installations, lectures, debates, and workshops for their Festival of Imagination. The store commissioned Rem Koolhaas to design the festival’s hub, a sleek contemporary amphitheater. Meanwhile, concept stores have been transformed into “imagine shops” and avant-garde fashion designer Gareth Pugh’s MONOLITH installation takes viewers on a scintillating journey into his visual world. The immersive experience envelopes the viewer in monochromatic cityscapes, stark geometry, and ethereal sounds. Through February 22.

Image via Dezeen

Fantastical Art at The Groninger


Contemporary artist Jaime Hayan’s first major solo exhibit, Funtastico, opens at The Groninger Museum in The Netherlands. A multimedia virtuoso, Spanish-born Hayon employs ceramics, wood, glass, and textiles in his 3-dimensional art objects. The exhibit documents the trajectory of his career– from experimental glasswork made in collaboration with French crystal manufacturer Baccarat, to clown-inspired lamps and vases, to oversized ceramic chess pieces in his installation ‘The Tournament.’ In concert, Hayon’s pieces creates a whimsical and humorous play land inciting contemplation and laughter (at objects like the absurd ‘rockin’ hot dog’ chair) and captivating the minds of young and old alike.

Urban Installations


In Stockholm, Sweden citizens and visitors don’t need to enter a museum for artistic inspiration, they can glean it everyday when navigating the subway. Often referred to as the world’s largest art museum, the Stockholm subway system immerses riders in expansive works of art dating from the 1950s-2000s all for the cost of a Metro ticket. 90 of the system’s 100 stations possess captivating and colorful murals and sculptures from 150 different artists. Here at home, MoMA PS12014 Young Architects Program  recently selected five finalists to design an innovative outdoor installation that includes seating, shade, and water for the PS1 courtyard in Long Island City, New York. The proposal’s guidelines include addressing environmental and sustainability issues. One project will be selected and the winner’s design will debut summer 2014.

Winding Garden


Landscape designer Michael Van Valkenburgh has taken a tiny plot of land at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston – the Monk’s Garden – and made it into a vast area for exploration. By covering the garden with winding brick paths, the area becomes a series of twists and turns among trees and plants. Ferns and small trees cover most of the area outside the path, giving it a layered, dense sensation, like a forest. Van Valkenburgh said he created the garden as a “compliment in contrast” to Renzo Piano’s museum addition.

Colorful Climb


Proving that a little color can go a long way, a group of Syrian students recently painted a vibrant colored pattern onto the longest public stairs in Syria, completely transforming the drab concrete into a beautiful statement. With hopes to bring a little light and color to the politically embattled nation, architecture academic Salmo al-Bata organized a crew of volunteer students to paint the path in shades of green, blue, yellow, orange, pink and red.

Flowering Stockholm


The beautiful, experimental flower shop Landet Järna in Stockholm is focused on finding and working with local, organically-grown plants, sourced from a town south of the city, Järna. Bunches of dried flowers and plants hang throughout the shop, bringing it to life. The shop is also connected to a restaurant and bar next door, where the owners work together to pair food and wine with seasonal botanicals from the shop.

World Landscape Prize


A vast, breathtaking botanical garden at a former quarry in Australia recently won the World Architecture Festival’s Best Landscape Prize. Landscape studio Taylor Cullity Lethlean and plant expert Paul Thompson worked together on the project, which is laid out in a beautifully organic way as a journey through the range of Australian fauna. 1700 species are represented in 170,000 plants exhibiting the range of the country’s landscape, from desert to forest.

Rove Where You Want To

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When traveling, many of us have happened upon a cafe or shop that turned out to be amazing – but the next time we’re in the area, have trouble remembering exactly where it is. Rove is a new app that may help solve this issue – turn it on, and it passively & privately tracks where you go, how you get there, and how long you stay. Add notes or photos to places you want to remember or share. Its a great new kind of travel journal.

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