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Architecture as Advertising in Los Angeles

Here in Los Angeles, cars rule. You've all heard the Missing Persons' song "Walking in LA" - well it's true: nobody walks here. It's just not that kind of town. Never has been. We've always been car-crazy here, especially back when cars were something special. Back in the 1920s, the city's love affair with the car turned into some pretty odd offspring. Roadside business shaped like giant owls, dogs and mushrooms sprouted up. It was easier to see a giant pumpkin than a plain storefront, especially since the customers travelled by car, not on foot. The shape of these buildings conveyed the nature of their merchandise to customers zooming by. Architecture became advertising and roadside stands brought convenience to the car culture. Unlike Chicago or NYC, where shopping was in a central downtown area, LA shopping got spread out as the car became the main way people got around.

Buildings shaped in the form of giant objects became the most memorable landmarks in this car-centric city of ours. Between 1920 and 1940, about 75 such buildings were erected. Though relatively few in number, they certainly helped give this town the flamboyant identity it now has. Beyond that, it influenced future building designs in other new towns, adapting to the car and the motorist.

Hoot Hoot-I Scream 1928-1938

The Dog Cafe 1928-1973

Tail o' the Pup 1946-2006

Wilshire Boulevard Brown Derby 1926-1980

Coca-Cola Company Bottling HQ 1936- present

Chiat/Day

Taking a page from the past, here's the present-day Chiat/Day Ad agency parking lot gate in Venice, CA, designed in 1991 by Claes Oldenburg

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History
The Secret World War II History Hidden in London's Fences

In South London, the remains of the UK’s World War II history are visible in an unlikely place—one that you might pass by regularly and never take a second look at. In a significant number of housing estates, the fences around the perimeter are actually upcycled medical stretchers from the war, as the design podcast 99% Invisible reports.

During the Blitz of 1940 and 1941, the UK’s Air Raid Precautions department worked to protect civilians from the bombings. The organization built 60,000 steel stretchers to carry injured people during attacks. The metal structures were designed to be easy to disinfect in case of a gas attack, but that design ended up making them perfect for reuse after the war.

Many London housing developments at the time had to remove their fences so that the metal could be used in the war effort, and once the war was over, they were looking to replace them. The London County Council came up with a solution that would benefit everyone: They repurposed the excess stretchers that the city no longer needed into residential railings.

You can tell a stretcher railing from a regular fence because of the curves in the poles at the top and bottom of the fence. They’re hand-holds, designed to make it easier to carry it.

Unfortunately, decades of being exposed to the elements have left some of these historic artifacts in poor shape, and some housing estates have removed them due to high levels of degradation. The Stretcher Railing Society is currently working to preserve these heritage pieces of London infrastructure.

As of right now, though, there are plenty of stretchers you can still find on the streets. If you're in the London area, this handy Google map shows where you can find the historic fencing.

[h/t 99% Invisible]

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Guillaume Souvant, Getty Images
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This Just In
For $61, You Can Become a Co-Owner of This 13th-Century French Castle
Guillaume Souvant, Getty Images
Guillaume Souvant, Getty Images

A cultural heritage restoration site recently invited people to buy a French castle for as little as $61. The only catch? You'll be co-owning it with thousands of other donors. Now thousands of shareholders are responsible for the fate of the Château de la Mothe-Chandeniers in western France, and there's still room for more people to participate.

According to Mashable, the dilapidated structure has a rich history. Since its construction in the 13th century, the castle has been invaded by foreign forces, looted, renovated, and devastated by a fire. Friends of Château de la Mothe-Chandeniers, a small foundation formed in 2016 in an effort to conserve the overgrown property, want to see the castle restored to its former glory.

Thanks to a crowdfunding collaboration with the cultural heritage restoration platform Dartagnans, the group is closer than ever to realizing its mission. More than 9000 web users have contributed €51 ($61) or more to the campaign to “adopt” Mothe-Chandeniers. Now that the original €500,000 goal has been fulfilled, the property’s new owners are responsible for deciding what to do with their purchase.

“We intend to create a dedicated platform that will allow each owner to monitor the progress of works, events, project proposals and build a real collaborative and participatory project,” the campaign page reads. “To make an abandoned ruin a collective work is the best way to protect it over time.”

Even though the initial goal has been met, Dartagnans will continue accepting funds for the project through December 25. Money collected between now and then will be used to pay for various fees related to the purchase of the site, and new donors will be added to the growing list of owners.

The shareholders will be among the first to see the cleared-out site during an initial visit next spring. The rest of the public will have to wait until it’s fully restored to see the final product.

[h/t Mashable]

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