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Inside a Tiny House

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The small house movement is just what it sounds like -- a shift towards people intentionally living in small spaces. Often built to be portable, tiny houses offer a minimum viable living space allowing the occupants to sleep, eat, hang out, and sometimes even work within a footprint that barely exceeds a typical suburban bedroom. The appeal is partly financial (building an entire tiny house can cost less than a few years' rent), but mostly practical -- by living in a small space, you're forced to simplify, and the outdoors becomes your living room.

In this short film, NPR's Science Friday visits one couple living in a 140-square-foot tiny house in Washington state. Keep an eye out for their solar setup -- that's another way to cut down on bills. Best of all? They built the whole thing themselves, despite having no prior construction experience.

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This Russian Kindergarten Looks Just Like a Castle
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A group of lucky kindergarteners in Russia don’t have to wear poufy dresses or plastic crowns to pretend they’re royalty. As Atlas Obscura reports, all they have to do is go to school.

In a rural area of Russia's Leninsky District sits a massive, pastel-colored schoolhouse that was built to resemble Germany's famed Neuschwanstein Castle. It has turrets and gingerbread-like moldings—and instead of a moat, the school offers its 150 students multiple playgrounds, a soccer field, a garden, and playhouses.

Tuition is 21,800 rubles (about $360) a month, but the Russian government subsidizes it to make it less expensive for parents. As for the curriculum: it’s designed to promote social optimism, and each month’s lesson plan is themed. (September, for example, will be career-focused.)

Take a video tour of the school below, or learn more on the school’s website.

[h/t Atlas Obscura]

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This Chinese Library's Interior Is Designed to Look Like an Infinite Tunnel of Books
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The Chinese city of Yangzhou is known for its graceful arched bridges and proximity to the Yangtze River and the Beijing-Hangzhou Grand Canal. Architects kept these unique local features in mind while designing Zhongshuge Yangzhou, a new bookstore and library that was completed in 2016.

Designed by Shanghai studio XL-Muse Architects, the building has black, mirrored floors and arched ceilings that symbolize Yangzhou’s famous waterways and overpasses. The floor reflects the store’s curving shelves to create the illusion of a never-ending tunnel of books—a true bibliophile’s dream.

Learn more about Yangzhou’s unique library/bookstore below, courtesy of Great Big Story.

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