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Twitter user, @NBBJDesign
Twitter user, @NBBJDesign

Here's a Design For Skyscrapers That Don't Cast A Shadow

Twitter user, @NBBJDesign
Twitter user, @NBBJDesign

New skyscrapers in the city are all but an inevitability. In crowded areas, the only way to grow is usually up, and new buildings are almost always many stories high. While this creates interesting skylines from a distance, up close and on the ground, these tall buildings plunge pedestrians into nearly-perpetual shade as the long shadows stretch across the sidewalks.

In London, about 250 new skyscrapers are slated to start casting their shadows on the streets below in the near future. To shed some light on the situation, London-based architecture firm NBBJ set out to design a shadow-less building—or, a pair of buildings, as it turned out.

The architects used a software program called Rhinoceros, which allows them to enter different data requirements and see a design for a pair of buildings that would maximize the light reflected onto the ground. After adjusting the input to make sure building was workable in real life, they settled on a hypothetical design that reduced the shadows by 60 percent.

The finished concept—designed for a potential pair of towers in Greenwich, England, right on the Prime Meridian—works by having the northern building act as a giant curved mirror, with a glass exterior that reflects sunlight onto the shadow of the southern building. Throughout the day, the curvature of the building causes the reflected light to move, following the shadow’s path. The reflected light is diffuse, so pedestrians don't need to worry about getting fried by a focused beam like ants under a magnifying glass.

It's not a perfect design—after all, the northern building still casts a shadow—but it's an innovative solution that focuses on how new development effects the lives of people who live in the vicinity, and that is great news.

"It’s definitely high time for this type of design to be baked into the building so it can play well with the environment," Daniel Safarik, a spokesperson at the Council of Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat, says. "It should be standard practice."

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Luke Hayes, Asif Khan/Getty Images
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Vantablack Pavilion at the Winter Olympics Mimics the Darkness of Space
Luke Hayes, Asif Khan/Getty Images
Luke Hayes, Asif Khan/Getty Images

British company Surrey NanoSystems disrupted the color spectrum when it debuted Vantablack: the darkest artificial substance ever made. The material is dark enough to absorb virtually all light waves, making 3D objects look like endless black voids. It was originally designed for technology, but artists and designers have embraced the unique shade. Now, Dezeen reports that British architect Asif Khan has brought Vantablack to the Winter Olympics.

His temporary pavilion at the Pyeongchang Winter Olympic Games in South Korea has been dubbed the darkest building on Earth. The 33-foot-tall structure has been coated with Vantablack VBx2, a version of Vantablack pigment that comes in a spray can.

The building’s sides curve inward like shadowboxes. To break up the all-consuming blackness, Khan outfitted the walls with rods. White lights at the ends of the sticks create the effect of stars scattered across an endless night sky.

Child next to wall painted to look like the night sky.
Luke Hayes, Asif Khan/Getty Images

Khan told Dezeen that the piece is meant to give “the impression of a window cut into space.” He was only able to realize this vision after contacting the scientists behind Vantablack. He told them he wanted to use the color to coat a building, something the pigment wasn’t designed for originally. Sculptor Anish Kapoor securing exclusive rights to artistic use of the color in 2016 further complicated his plans. The solution was the sprayable version: Vantablack VBx2 is structurally (and therefore legally) different from the original pigment and better suited for large-scale projects.

The pavilion was commissioned by Hyundai to promote their hydrogen fuel cell technology. The space-themed exterior is a nod to the hydrogen in stars. Inside, a white room filled with sprinklers is meant to represent the hydrogen found in water.

The area will be open to visitors during the Winter Olympics, which kick off in Pyeongchang, South Korea on Friday, February 9.

[h/t Dezeen]

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Shari Austrian
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Design
You Can Order a Stunningly Detailed LEGO Replica of Your House on Etsy
Shari Austrian
Shari Austrian

LEGO blocks can be used to construct fictional starships and works of abstract art, but there's something comforting in replicating what's familiar to you. That's the concept behind Little Brick Lane, an Etsy shop that promises to custom-build detailed LEGO models of real homes.

Designer Shari Austrian tells Apartment Therapy that the idea came to her when her family was building their real-life house. Her twin boys had recently gotten her interested in LEGO, so she decided to construct a scaled-down, blocky replica to match their new home. She enjoyed the project enough to launch a business around LEGO architecture on Etsy at the end of 2017.

Austrian bases her designs off interior and exterior photos of each house, and if they're available, architectural plans. Over eight to 10 weeks, she constructs the model using LEGO pieces she orders to match the building design perfectly, recreating both the inside and outside of the house in the utmost detail.

To request a custom LEGO abode of your own, you can reach out to Austrian through her Etsy shop, but warning: It won't come cheap. A full model will cost you at least $2500 (the exact price is based on the square footage of your home). That price covers the cost of the materials Austrian invests in each house, which can add up quick. "The average LEGO piece costs approximately 10 cents," she tells Mental Floss, and her models are made up of tens of thousands of pieces. But if you're looking for something slightly cheaper, she also offers exterior-only models for $1500 and up.

For your money, you can be confident that Austrian won't skimp on any details. As you can see in the images below, every feature of your house—from the appliances in your kitchen to the flowers in your yard—will be immortalized in carefully chosen plastic bricks.

A bedroom made of LEGO

A kitchen model made of LEGO

The exterior of a house made of LEGO

[h/t Apartment Therapy]

All images courtesy of Shari Austrian.

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