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Palace in Venice’s Famous Piazza San Marco to Open to the Public for the First Time in 500 Years

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Part of Venice’s famed Piazza San Marco will soon open its doors to the public for the first time in five centuries. Dezeen reports that Procuratie Vecchie, the oldest of three interconnected palaces on the square, will eventually become an arts venue and headquarters for The Human Safety Net, a nonprofit organization aimed at empowering disadvantaged individuals and communities around the world.

First, British architect David Chipperfield plans to renovate the palace, an undertaking that's expected to last until 2020. It has been the headquarters for Generali, an Italian insurer, since the mid-1800s, and the renovation will create new space for The Human Safety Net, a social initiative funded by Generali. When it reopens, the palace will host exhibitions and public programming related to the organization's mission, which is to help refugees and children growing up in poverty.

A view of the exterior of the Procuratie Vecchie
Courtesy David Chipperfield Architects

The three-story palace was rebuilt in the 16th century after the original 12th-century structure was damaged in a fire. Like the other palaces in the square, it was once home to Venice’s procurators, high-ranking government administrators. The renovation and repurposing of the building will make its interiors accessible to the public for the first time in 500 years.

Chipperfield has plenty of experience restoring historic buildings. He is currently at work restoring Berlin’s New National Gallery, a building originally designed by storied 20th-century architect Mies van der Rohe, and has previously repaired and restored other historic structures, like Berlin's 19th-century Neues Museum and a group of 11 colonial-era buildings in Shanghai.

The restoration of the Procuratie Vecchie will largely be interior, but it will also include recreating a historic route through the palace to the Royal Gardens on the waterfront—which Generali is also involved in restoring.

[h/t Dezeen]

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Are You Eco-Conscious? You Could Win a Trip to the Dominican Republic
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Do you love lounging on the beach but also want to take action to save the planet? You'll be able to do both if you're chosen to serve as a "sustainability advisor" for a luxury resort in the Dominican Republic, Lonely Planet reports.

The worldwide contest is sponsored by Eden Roc at Cap Cana in Punta Cana. The winner and one friend will receive a five-night stay at the Relais & Châteaux hotel, where they'll partake in specially curated activities like a food-sourcing trip with the hotel's chef. (One caveat, though: Airfare isn't included.)

You don't need a degree in conservation to enter, but you will need an Instagram account. Give the resort's Instagram page (@edenroccapcana) a follow and post a photo of you carrying out an eco-friendly activity on your own page. Be sure to tag the resort and use the official hashtag, #EcoEdenRoc.

The only requirement is that the winner meet with hotel staff at the end of his or her trip to suggest some steps that the hotel can take to reduce its environmental impact. The hotel has already banned plastic straws and reduced its usage of plastic bottles, and the sole mode of transport used on site is the electric golf cart.

Beyond the resort, though, the Dominican Republic struggles with deforestation and soil erosion, and the nation scored poorly on the 2018 Environmental Performance Index for the agricultural category.

Entries to the contest will be accepted until August 31, and you can read the full terms and conditions here.

[h/t Lonely Planet]

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What Happens When You Flush an Airplane Toilet?
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For millions of people, summer means an opportunity to hop on a plane and experience new and exciting sights, cultures, and food. It also means getting packed into a giant commercial aircraft and then wondering if you can make it to your next layover without submitting to the anxiety of using the onboard bathroom.

Roughly the size of an apartment pantry, these narrow facilities barely accommodate your outstretched knees; turbulence can make expelling waste a harrowing nightmare. Once you’ve successfully managed to complete the task and flush, what happens next?

Unlike our home toilets, planes can’t rely on water tanks to create passive suction to draw waste from the bowl. In addition to the expense of hauling hundreds of gallons of water, it’s impractical to leave standing water in an environment that shakes its contents like a snow globe. Originally, planes used an electronic pump system that moved waste along with a deodorizing liquid called Anotec. That method worked, but carrying the Anotec was undesirable for the same reasons as storing water: It raised fuel costs and added weight to the aircraft that could have been allocated for passengers. (Not surprisingly, airlines prefer to transport paying customers over blobs of poop.)

Beginning in the 1980s, planes used a pneumatic vacuum to suck liquids and solids down and away from the fixture. Once you hit the flush button, a valve at the bottom of the toilet opens, allowing the vacuum to siphon the contents out. (A nonstick coating similar to Teflon reduces the odds of any residue.) It travels to a storage tank near the back of the plane at high speeds, ready for ground crews to drain it once the airplane lands. The tank is then flushed out using a disinfectant.

If you’re also curious about timing your bathroom visit to avoid people waiting in line while you void, flight attendants say the best time to go is right after the captain turns off the seat belt sign and before drink service begins.

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