Giant Megaphones Built In Estonian Forest Amplify the Sounds of Nature

tõnu tunnel
tõnu tunnel
Photo Credit: tõnu tunnel

If you would like to do some meditating or relaxing, a forest clearing is a good place to go. A group of students in Estonia took that idea and, well, amplified it. Some interior architecture students at the Estonian Academy of Arts installed three giant wooden megaphones in a forest in Estonia's Võru County. This “forest library” is located near RMK’s pähni nature centre, where the quiet sounds of chirping birds and rustling leaves are amplified for surrounding site visitors. It sounds remarkably relaxing.

tõnu tunnel

tõnu tunnel

tõnu tunnel

The wooden megaphones, which are called “ruup,” span three meters in diameter. They're large enough for visitors to crawl inside and enjoy the sounds of nature. The conical shape provides shelter for hikers to spend the night, and a platform for outdoor classes, cultural events, and even concerts. 

tõnu tunnel

henno luts

According to Valdur Mikita, a writer and semiotician involved in the project, "The trademark of Estonia is both the abundance of sounds in our forest as well as the silence there. In the megaphones, thoughts can be heard. It is a place for browsing the ‘book of nature,’ for listening to and reading the forest through sound.” 

henno luts

Hannes Praks, the course advisor and head of interior architecture at the Estonian Academy of Arts, says of the project’s remote location, “The farther we get from the intense vibration of the capital, the better we are able to sense the low-frequency vibration of nature.” Spoken like an architect who is a poet at heart.

henno luts

The students were instructed by Aet Ader, Karin Tõugu, Kadri Klement, and Mari Hunt, architects from the firm b210. The construction of the megaphones was financed by RMK and the interior architecture department of the EAA. The opening events also received help from the Estonian cultural endowment

renee altrov

Next time you want to be one with nature, you should probably head over to Estonia. 

[h/t: DesignBoom]

Australian Accounting Firm Offers Employees 12 Weeks of ‘Life Leave’ to Strike the Perfect Work-Life Balance

iStock.com/karenfoleyphotography
iStock.com/karenfoleyphotography

What would you do if you could take a three-month vacation each year? Would you book a flight to Hawaii, catch up on your favorite Netflix shows, or simply spend some quality time with your partner, kids, or dogs? The employees at one Australian accounting firm undoubtedly have a few ideas about how to spend the six to 12 weeks of “life leave” they will soon be granted.

As Travel + Leisure reports, Ernst & Young Oceania decided to introduce more flexible work hours in an attempt to attract and retain top talent. “We’re innovating so we don’t lose these people while they pursue passions outside of work,” company official Kate Hillman told The Independent. Hillman went on to cite volunteer experiences, training programs, and even a trekking trip to Nepal as different ways that employees might take advantage of the new policy, which goes into effect April 1.

Employees can either use their leave all at once or split it into two smaller vacations. The only catch is that the leave is self-funded—so it’s essentially an unpaid vacation. Still, if someone has the burning desire to backpack through Europe for a couple of months, or work on a project, it’s a safer option than quitting their job only to return unemployed and broke.

In addition to this policy, employees can choose to reduce their hours to a part-time schedule for up to three months each year. Parents may also choose to take advantage of a term-time arrangement, which lets them work regular hours when school is in session, then take time off during school holidays.

According to the firm’s research, flexibility at work boosts employee engagement by 11 percent. There are plenty of other reasons to take a vacation, too—not the least of which is evidence that time off may help you lead a longer, healthier, and happier life. Plus, you’ll come back refreshed and motivated, so your boss will be happy, too.

[h/t Travel + Leisure]

The World's 10 Most Expensive Cities

An apartment complex in Hong Kong
An apartment complex in Hong Kong
iStock.com/Nikada

If you think San Francisco is pricey, you should see some of the other metropolises that appear in a new ranking of the 10 most expensive cities in the world. As The Real Deal reports, Singapore, Paris, and Hong Kong have been jointly named as the three cities with the highest cost of living in a new analysis by The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU).

It was the first time in the history of the Intelligence Unit’s Worldwide Cost of Living report that three cities have tied for first place. Billing itself as a global business intelligence group, the EIU takes the prices of more than 400 items into consideration for its annual list, including food, clothing, household supplies, private school fees, and recreation.

Singapore's appearance on the list is no surprise, considering that it has been crowned the world’s most expensive city for the past five years in a row, and Paris has consistently made the top 10 since 2003. Hong Kong, meanwhile, rose three places in the newest ranking, while Osaka, Japan rose six places.

New York City and Los Angeles also made the top 10 list this year, tying with other cities for fourth and fifth place, respectively. This is partly due to exchange rates.

“A stronger U.S. dollar last year has meant that cities in the U.S. generally became more expensive globally, especially relative to last year’s ranking,” the report notes. “New York has moved up six places in the ranking this year, while Los Angeles has moved up four spots.”

Check out the 10 most expensive cities below, and visit the EIU’s website to download a full copy of the report.

  1. Singapore; Hong Kong; and Paris, france (tied)

  1. Zurich, Switzerland

  1. Geneva, Switzerland; and Osaka, Japan (tied)

  1. Seoul, South Korea; Copenhagen, Denmark; and New York City (tied)

  1. Tel Aviv, Israel and Los Angeles (tied)

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER