The future is looking wetter and wetter. According to some climate scientists, sea levels could rise to just under a meter, plunging many coastal cities underwater. Biomimicry designer and material scientist Jun Kamei may have a solution for the future of hydro-living: Amphibio, a mask that lets humans breathe with the fish.
House-Flipping Has Come to the Virtual World
One of the best parts of The Sims, the wildly popular life simulation video game, is building and renovating the house the Sims inhabit. Finally, there’s a game that lets players focus exclusively on that pursuit without the mundane life stuff, like getting a job or taking a shower. House Flipper, available on Steam for under $20, allows players to flip a fixer-upper in impressively rendered virtual detail with complete creative control.
How Design Inspires Creativity in the Workplace
We’re all born with varying degrees of creativity. Companies that want to be competitive and innovative in today’s market are turning to workplace design as a solution to boost creativity. Rapidly, the design community has responded by envisioning projects and products that honor the creative urge in all of us and seek to hone that drive into an even sharper expression of what the contemporary digital workforce is able to accomplish.
A team of international scientists may have stumbled upon a solution to the global plastic waste problem. They mutated an enzyme that was first discovered inside a plastic-eating bacterium in Japan, initially just to understand how it evolved. What they actually ended up doing was making that enzyme even better at breaking down PET plastic, a promising development as the world grapples with the enormous quantity of plastic that amasses in landfills and pollutes the ocean.
Akihisa Hirata Builds a Literal Urban Jungle in Tokyo
Japanese architect Akihisa Hirata’s Tree-ness House would be an unusual sight anywhere, but its location in Tokyo’s bustling Otsuka neighborhood makes it worthy of a double take. Designed for a minimalist gallery owner who loves the outdoors, the structure is comprised of stacked white boxes that fold and open, letting trees, shrubbery, and potted plants peek out in unexpected places. This seamless indoor-outdoor approach was inspired by the “richness of a tree,” according to Hirata.
Combat Vehicles Get a Clever Robotic Update
DARPA, in collaboration with Carnegie Mellon University’s National Robotics Engineering Center, unveiled a reconfigurable wheel track for defense vehicles, which improves their durability in combat zones with varied terrain. The wheel track enables the vehicle to shift between round wheels, ideal for traversing hard surfaces, and a triangular track, which is better suited for rugged ground. The transition between the two modes takes roughly two seconds without a break in speed, an impressive feat considering the vehicles could be traveling up to 70 mph.
Spotlighting a global lineup of firms, the Bi-City Biennale of Urbanism/Architecture alternates between Hong Kong and neighboring Shenzhen, China. The latter hosted the most recent biennale, but, unlike previous ones sited in typical exhibition venues, this edition staged high-concept interventions in migrant villages outside the city center. It was there that Wutopia Lab transformed side-by-side residences into His House and Her House, a gender-inflected meditation on the modern cosmopolis.
Running Shoes Can Now Be Made From Recycled Ocean Trash
Plastic in our oceans is a serious problem. The majority of deadly waste comes from abandoned fishing gear, nets, and lines made from tough nylon, but bottles are prevalent, too. To make a dent in this problem and get a conversation going about what private companies can do to combat ocean pollution, Adidas partnered with Parley for the Oceans to produce a stylish running shoe made out of recycled ocean plastics.
From Waste to Walls
Finding a way to curtail plastic waste is one of humanity's greatest challenges. One solution that’s been growing in popularity around the globe are Ecobricks: plastic bottles filled with compressed, non-biodegradable plastic trash. These bricks can be tied, glued, or mortared together to create walls for structures, playgrounds, stools, tables, and many other practical objects.
After an incendiary marketing campaign and heated tiffs with urban planners, Elon Musk’s plans for the Boring Company seem to have shifted. The Hyperloop's tunnels, which will shuttle automobiles beneath the traffic-jammed streets of Los Angeles on magnetized tracks, will now include an urban loop system. It seems vaguely like a conventional subway, but rather than having large stations where multiple lines converge, it will have thousands of small stations the size of a single parking space that will blend seamlessly into the urban fabric, Musk tweeted.
The Humble Mushroom Becomes an Alternative Construction Material
Aleksi Vesaluoma, a student at Brunel University, experimented with mushroom mycelium—the “root” part of the mushroom organism—and produced a structure made entirely out of “mushroom sausages.” These sausages were rendered by growing a combination of mycelium and cardboard within a tubular cotton bandage, then arranged over a mold inside a ventilated greenhouse, where they grew for a month. While this isn’t the first example of mycelium being used as a material, it is another notch in the natural materials column for architects looking to build with more earth-friendly materials.
IKEA Dips Its Toe Into Augmented Reality
IKEA has taken its penchant for great products and an absurdly easy consumer experience to the digital realm with the augmented reality app IKEA Place. Built on Apple’s ARKit technology, Place allows prospective shoppers to drop automatically scaled products (with up to 98% accuracy) into rooms—users simply scan a space, browse available products, select, move, and place. The app even allows users to send photos or videos of their augmented reality creation for second opinions.
Architect Samar El Sayary believes the future of the Red Planet is green. His submission to 2017’s Mars City Design competition took home first place in the sustainability category for its inspiring use of robotic, mobile pods that will plant trees across the surface of Mars in protected skins that double as energy harvesters. Rather than relying on the sun, El Sayary explained, the pods will convert the vibrational energy from wind and cosmic rays into electricity that will sustain the flora within.
Adidas Is Running a "Creator Farm" in Brooklyn
In the neighborhood of Greenpoint, Brooklyn, Adidas recently opened its Brooklyn Creator Farm, a design headquarters where Adidas intends to be “creating culture." The Brooklyn Creator Farm is really a design lab with the distinct aim to recruit young and future talent in a hip neighborhood. Adidas global creative director Paul Gaudio himself describes the Farm: “In the end, it’s very much a brand statement. It’s who we are; it’s who we want to be. It’s so deeply connected to that strategy of understanding where culture happens. New York City is the place.”
Urban Footprint Transforms Data into Better City Simulations
Software startup Urban Footprint, and their product of the same name, are looking to radically transform the way cities plan for the future. Their software program allows urban planners to test a range of scenarios and study a broad set of impacts, including traffic and commute times, walkability, carbon emissions, and effects on the local economy. The state of California was so impressed with this technology at a recent demonstration that it is releasing the software to over 500 of its cities, counties, and regional agencies through a partnership with Urban Footprint.