Thursday, October 02, 2008

What a bank!

In most cities, strategic downtown street corners are flanked by enormous, old banks, the ornate cathedrals of capital designed to impress and intimidate. With the massive changes in real estate values and consumer banking habits, such monuments to Mammon are no longer smart or necessary. But what amazing opportunities such massive commissions must have been for the architects of the day! And what depressing alternatives we’ve experienced since! Luckily, online banking has made a bank visit almost obsolete, but when you must visit, most of the time you’ll find a boring, convenience-store-type standardized box — retail banking in the worst meaning of both words.

But we are starting to see a change. Several new bank design concepts are in the works, and some have been launched recently, including CheBanca! in Milan by Crea International. The concept for CheBanca! (translation: What a bank!) reflects the brand’s simplicity, transparency and innovation. When Crea International co-founder Massimo Fabbro will speak at POPAI Italia in November on the power of physical brand design to bring to life a brand's language, spirit and values, he will no doubt mention CheBanca!


Nintendo officially unveils Nintendo DSi and online store, coming Nov 1 in Japan for $180

Even before Nintendo announced it, the DSi had been the talk of the town. According to our Japanese correspondent, the DSi will be 12 percent thinner, and will get rid of the GBA slot entirely. The DSi will also include two built-in cameras (one reportedly VGA resolution) and music playback. It will add an SD card slot and internal storage (we don't yet know how much) to enhance its multimedia capabilities. The screens are now slightly larger at 3.25 inches, photos can be synced to the Wii Photo Channel, and the unit will include a free browser application.

Nintendo is also launching the "DSi Shop" to sell content directly over Wi-Fi. Prices for the store, which are also tied into Wii Nintendo Points, will use 0, 200, 500 and 800-point tiers. Until March 2010, 1000 Nintendo points will come bundled with the device.

Nintendo is calling the DSi a "third platform," implying that it's not competing with the DS -- though as a history lesson, the DS was originally a "third platform" against the now-retired Game Boy Advance.

The DSi will launch November 1 in black and white colors. It will cost ¥189,000 (approx. US $178). We won't fault you for misreading this as "iDS," given the very iPod Touch-esque additions.

Update: The official DSi website is up.


Saturday, March 29, 2008

China has plans already in the works to make sure it doesn't rain on the 2008 Olympics, no matter what

The details of how this gets done are mighty impressive, starting with a supercomputer-driven weather tracking system that gives hourly forecasts for the Beijing area, specific to within a kilometer. Once an errant cloud is spotted though, the big guns are hauled out. Literally.

Then, using their two aircraft and an array of twenty artillery and rocket-launch sites around Beijing, the city's weather engineers will shoot and spray silver iodide and dry ice into incoming clouds that are still far enough away that their rain can be flushed out before they reach the stadium.

The obvious implications of technological hubris are dealt with in a smart and balanced way in the remainder of the story, with nods to some of China's other massive technological undertakings like the Three Gorges Dam, and a brief but engaging history of weather control systems across the globe. Worth a read, if only to see what it looks like when you take "designing your environment" to its logical extreme. Full story

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Eiffel Tower Extension

Paris-based Serero Architects have claimed victory in the open competition to redesign any of the Eiffel Tower's public reception and access areas. Serero's project will extend the top floor plate of the tower by grafting a high performance carbon Kevlar structure on it. The structure will be temporarily bolted to the slab without requiring any modification of the existing structure. It will expand the usable floor area from 280 m2 to 580m2.


Is This The Flip iPhone? Apple Patents Dual-Touch Screen Flip Phone

It's rare that Apple's patents actually show the exact form factors of devices they have in development, but this "dual sided trackpad" patent for a phone seems to definitely show that they've got some flipphone version coming up. The patent itself outlines a phone that has two multitouch sensors, both on the "bottom" part of the phone. When it's closed, the phone acts like your current model iPhone. When it's open, only the bottom part of the phone is touch-sensitive, whereas the top part is just a display.

Photoshop image of what the device might look like

Sources: 1,2

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Mirror Rock Installation Looks Invisible

A rock deep in the woods was covered by mirrors as part of an art project by Michel de Broin. Since it reflects it's surroundings it seems invisible. Wouldn't want to run into this thing while biking in the woods.


Incredible Photo of Scienctist Stroking a Great White Shark

The shark had been lured to the boat with chunks of bait as part of tests on a "Shark Shield'" - an electronic device designed to ward sharks away from surfers.
The extraordinary picture was taken in 2007 by scientists who were exploring whether the devices attracted sharks more than they repelled them.

Full story here

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Google Office in Zurich

If your ideal workspace includes a slide, a games room, a 'chill-out' aquarium and plenty of free food then you had better get your CV into Google.

Dotcom companies were defined by beanbags and pizza but Google, a company that came to prominence after the bubble had burst, has taken that image to a whole new level.

Meeting 'pods' in the style of Swiss chalets and igloos, fireman poles to allow easy access between floors and a slide to ensure that people can get to the cafeteria as quickly as possible are all part of a design of its new European engineering headquarters in Zurich Switzerland.

The building was designed for - and partly by - the 300 engineers who will work there. Full story.


Actual Picture of the Spiral Galaxy M104 Looks Like a Painting

From NASA:

The striking spiral galaxy M104 is famous for its nearly edge-on profile featuring a broad ring of obscuring dust. Seen in silhouette against a bright bulge of stars, the swath of cosmic dust lanes lends a hat-like appearance to the galaxy in optical images suggesting the more popular moniker, The Sombrero Galaxy. Here, Hubble Space Telescope archival image data has been reprocessed to create this alternative look at the well-known galaxy. The newly developed processing improves the visibility of details otherwise lost in overwhelming glare, in this case allowing features of the galaxy's dust lanes to be followed well into the bright central region. About 50,000 light-years across and 28 million light-years away, M104 is one of the largest galaxies at the southern edge of the Virgo Galaxy Cluster.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Spectacular New Building Projects in Dubai

Shuffle Tower (Scheduled for Completion in 2009)

DU Tower (Scheduled for Completion in 2010)


World's Longest & Tallest Arch Bridge (Completion in 2012)

Here's some info on the bridge as envisioned by New York architecture firm Fxfowle:

- It's one mile long and 670 feet tall.
- It will have 12 lanes for traffic.
- It will cost 817 million dollars.
- The design has Sheikh Mohammed's official stamp of approval.
- The bridge will carry more than 2,000 vehicles per hour in each direction.
- A metro line will run across the middle.
- Construction begins in March, with a slated completion date of 2012.

Images by Fxfowle