France is a land full of old-to-ancient buildings and a country zealous about guarding its national heritage. So how did a house designed by a Finnish architect and completed in 1989 land a coveted spot on the French Ministry of Culture’s list of official historic monuments?
The answer, in a word, is: Bubbles.
It also helped that the owner of said house is French fashion icon Pierre Cardin. And that the house — called the Palais Bulles or Palace of Bubbles — is one incredibly cool piece of architecture.
If you had walked down Zelazna Street in Warsaw prior to 2012, it is unlikely you would have noticed a narrow alley next to #74. Like so many throughout the Polish capital and other large cities, the unremarkable alley smelled of urine and was used by local residents as an unofficial garbage dump.
Today, if you were to walk by that same alley, you won’t see any trash bags or discarded furniture. But you would see a staircase. An oddly-located staircase. Were you to think about it you might wonder why the staircase were there. But you would probably not guess that it leads to someone’s home.
Shipping containers. Is there anything they can’t do for the environmentally-conscious architect?
Shipping containers can be stacked and arranged into all manner of cool buildings. They’ve been fashioned into a shipping container amphitheater. They’ve been melded into a shipping container office park. Outside of Seattle, you can even order an extra-hot half-caf double-tall non-fat extra-dry cappuccino from a shipping container Starbucks.
The problem is: all the world’s shipping container buildings aren’t near enough to make use of the estimated 800,000 containers that are abandon by shipping companies every year. Which is why Spot Cool Stuff was thrilled to learn about the ECOntainer, the world’s first bridge to be constructed out of used shipping containers.
Spot Cool Stuff has written before about installing hidden doors inside your home — secret passageways from one room to another. But hidden doors can also also be on the outside of a house. And, as the video below shows, they aren’t necessarily that difficult to install. The key is to blend the look of the door in with the house with some secret means of opening it.
You don’t need to be an architect to love cool architecture. Urban planning and building design is an interdisciplinary passion, attracting the likes of art enthusiasts, engineers, history buffs, designers and travelers. Chances are that at least one person on your gift shopping is among those.
With that in mind, here’s our roundup of seven inexpensive—and one not-so-much—gifts for architecture enthusiasts. For this review we specifically excluded architecture magazines and books (of which there are a huge and excellent variety to choose from). We also nixed items used by working architects in their craft, like drafting tables or home design software.
Spot Cool Stuff scours the world, virtually and in-person, looking for places, products and concepts with a WOW! factor. We do that professionally. We do that constantly. And we’re still surprised how often we come across ideas that are incredibly cool yet seem incredibly simple. Like this one: Taking billboards and converting them into bamboo gardens.
The project is called Urban Air and it is the work artist Stephen Glassman.
If a tree falls in the (Canadian) woods does it make a sound?
If it’s a Whistler-area Hemlock that’s home to a previously secret tree house, the answer is a resounding yes. In fact, the general public is now weighing in on the fate of novice carpenter Joel Allen’s architectural delight “HemLoft.”
Driven by the appeal of building the structure where it wouldn’t be found and the lack of funds to purchase land, Allen stealthily built the egg-shaped tree house on nine acres of Canadian government-owned forest in the backwoods of Whistler.
Most Starbucks are architecturally rather cookie cutter and bland. But the popular chain of coffee shops does have a handful of locations with a cool edge to them. Perhaps none more than the company’s drive-thru located in outside of Seattle in Tukwila, Washington. The Starbucks there is built out of used shipping containers!
Since Spot Cool Stuff’s first post about shipping container architecture, use of the eco-friendly building material has grown hugely in popularity. Sadly, it hasn’t grown as quickly as the surplus supply of used containers. But nearly every day work begins on at least one new shipping container house or office building somewhere on the planet.