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 Island Wants Visitors to Stop Taking Wombat Selfies

iStock.com/LukeWaitPhotography
iStock.com/LukeWaitPhotography

Spending a day observing Australian wildlife from afar isn't enough for some tourists. On Maria Island, just off the east coast of Tasmania, many visitors can't resist snapping pictures with the local wombats—and the problem has gotten so out of hand that island officials are asking people to pledge to leave the cute marsupials out of their selfies.

As CNN Travel reports, the Maria Island Pledge has been posted on signs welcoming visitors to the national park. It implores them to vow to the island to "respect and protect the furred and feathered residents." It even makes specific mention of the wombat selfie trend, with one passage reading:

"Wombats, when you trundle past me I pledge I will not chase you with my selfie stick, or get too close to your babies. I will not surround you, or try and pick you up. I will make sure I don’t leave rubbish or food from my morning tea. I pledge to let you stay wild."

The pledge isn't a binding contract guests have to sign. Rather, park officials hope that seeing these signs when they arrive will be enough to remind visitors that their presence has an impact on the resident wildlife and to be respectful of their surroundings.

The adorable, cube-pooping wombats at Maria Island are wild animals that aren't accustomed to posing for pictures, and should therefore be left alone—though in other parts of Australia, conservationists encourage tourists to take wildlife selfies. Rottnest Island off the country's west coast is home to 10,000 quokkas (another photogenic marsupial), and the quokka selfies taken there help raise awareness of their vulnerable status.

[h/t CNN Travel]

The Picturesque Italian Town of Sambuca, Sicily Is Selling Homes for $1

iStock.com/DeniseSerra
iStock.com/DeniseSerra

If you want to impress your friends, take them to the swanky new bar in town and order a round of flaming sambuca shots, which are made from Italian anise-flavored liqueur. If you want to impress them even more, tell them you just bought a home in Sambuca, an old Italian town on the Mediterranean island of Sicily.

A little extreme? Maybe. But with homes selling there for as little as €1 (roughly $1.14), you can't beat the price. As The Guardian reports, dozens of homes in Sambuca are currently on the market "for less than the price of a takeaway coffee" as local officials attempt to lure newcomers to the hilltop town. Over the years, many of Sambuca's residents have moved to bigger cities, leaving their former homes deserted.

Sambuca was founded by the ancient Greeks but was later conquered by Arab groups, which explains the blend of Moorish and Baroque influences that can be seen in the town's architecture. City hall owns the homes that are currently up for sale, and locals officials have been singing the town's praises in hopes of wooing buyers.

"Sambuca is known as the City of Splendor," Giuseppe Cacioppo, Sambuca's deputy mayor and tourist councilor, tells CNN. "This fertile patch of land is dubbed the Earthly Paradise. We're located inside a natural reserve, packed with history. Gorgeous beaches, woods, and mountains surround us. It's silent and peaceful, an idyllic retreat for a detox stay."

(Lowercase sambuca, by the way, originated in the Italian port Civitavecchia, not far from Rome. However, Sambuca is home to many wineries.)

Officials say buyers will be able to move in quickly, but as always, there's a catch. Some of the homes are "badly in need of a makeover," Cacioppo says, and buyers will have three years to devote at least $17,000 to home repairs. They will also need to fork over nearly $5700 for a security deposit, which will be returned once the work is complete.

If this still sounds like a good deal to you, email case1euro@comune.sambucadisicilia.ag.it for additional details.

[h/t The Guardian]

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