Wanderlust

In the Mountains

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Villa Vals, a retreat in the hills of Switzerland, is a literal hideaway for those who stay there. Christian Müller Architects (CMA) and SeARCH, both based in Amsterdam, created the incredible structure by digging it into the side of the mountain. The stone and concrete structure provides unobstructed, amazing views of the nearby Vals baths and beautiful mountainside. Its concave entrance responds to the slope of the hill, while providing a patio area and ample natural light into the home, giving its inhabitants a fabulous escape.

In the Bag

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Take some of the stress out of traveling, and put it in your bag. Partnering with T-Mobile and Rimowa, Airbus announced a prototype of a “smart luggage” model, with sensors and an RFID chip. From the moment you are packing the bag, it can sync with your smartphone to tell you how much your bag weighs, and give lists of acceptable carry-on items. At the airport, it can communicate with airline check-in systems, indicating whether the bag has been re-opened once you retrieve it, and via GPS, showing where its located.

Camp in Style

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There are now varying levels of “glamping” – from luxurious spa-like accomodations in cabins, to designer gear. On the gear-end of the spectrum, British company Field Candy takes the classic tent form, and spruces it up with designer-created graphics. Dutch designer Tord Boontje applied his trademark illustrative, forested style to his tent. And for those lovers of the classic VW Bus, it can also now be had in tent form – car camping at its best.

Height of Hong Kong

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French photographer and graphic artist Romain Jacquet-Lagrèze looks up, a lot. His subject matter are the many buildings of Hong Kong, climbing to the sky from the viewpoint of the street. His work, recently collected in the book Vertical Horizon, is a stunning glimpse into the built environment of a city that seems to never cease its growth upwards. Some are vertigo-inducing views, of the courtyards, ongoing balconies, and steel, stone and glass structures that dominate Hong Kong, all with small glimpses of the sky above.

Ando in Korea

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After 7+ years of construction, Tadao Ando’s design of the Hansol Museum in Korea’s Gangwon province recently opened to the public. Sited atop a mountain and adjacent to a 250-acre forest preserve, the museum’s stone, concrete and glass structure respectfully nods to and respects the surrounding landscape. Housing the modern and contemporary collection of the founder of a paper company, the art within and around includes a lovely arc-ed red outdoor sculpture of Mark di Suvero’s, and four light installation experiences by James Turrell. A stone garden with alternating mounds weaves through the surrounding lush forest to the Turrell works.

Roll With It

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Taking the term ‘mobile home’ literally, the British circus and theatre group Acrojou created a conceptual wheel of a house. The large metal wheel, adorned on its interior with various turn-of-the-century household items – stools, suitcases, clocks, clothing, and various knickknacks – is operated by two acrobats who twist and turn and push their way around, in order to roll the wheel along. Their stage becomes part of their act, as they perform and interact with it. Check out the video here.

Orange Glow

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We recently came across Paris-based Jakob + Macfarlane Architects’ “Orange Cube” project, completed in 2011 on the River Saône in Lyon, France. With its striking bright orange facade, it more than succeeds in accomplishing its mission to revitalize the harbor area where it sits. The orange structure is porous in many ways – with large round cut-outs at 2 corners, and dotted with randomly scattered holes across its entire surface. Both in the daytime and at night, the building glows and radiates against its grey surroundings.

The Power of Art

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We recently came across Arts@efa, a wonderful non-profit organization whose mission is to support revitalization of depreciated and overlooked communities through the arts. Arts@efa partners artists and creative initiatives with communities in need, focusing their efforts on small towns like Topeka, Kansas, Mobile, AL, and Hartford, CT. Projects supported include Artspace in Elgin, IL, – a $15 million building including artist work/live lofts, and retail and community space for arts-friendly businesses and non-profits.

Room to Read

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For NYCxDesign earlier this month, furniture company Vitsoe created a little quiet space – a reading room for fair-goers to sit, drink coffee, read a book and take a break. Flavorwire put together a great collection of some of the best reading rooms around the world – a terrific round-up that reminded us of how great it can be to have an inspiring space for getting lost in a book. Included are Van Alen books’ bright yellow, angular wooden seating/stairs (shown), the British Museum’s massive domed reading room, and the Victoria and Albert Museum’s bookshop reading room, which is paired with a wine bar.

Blooms Forever

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Happy Memorial Day! Hopefully you can get out and enjoy a some nature – like this fantastical Infinite Garden in Loire, France by architects Meir Lobaton Corona and Ulli Heckmann. For the 22nd International Garden Festival of Chaumont sur Loire, they created a lush garden forest in the shape of a cube, a scaffolded structure lining it. The exterior of the wall is white fabric, with cut-out holes scattered along at varying heights, while the interior is lined entirely with mirrors, giving the effect of infinite greenery beyond the small square space.

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