These Portable, Stackable Studios May Be the Apartments of the Future

Jeff Wilson knows a thing or two about making the most of small spaces—he spent a year of his life living in a 33-square-foot dumpster as part of a social experiment. It was during that time that he was inspired to develop the Kasita, a tiny, self-contained studio apartment he believes could be the answer to the nation’s growing housing crisis.

The “mobile home” is a 10-by-20 foot steel box that comes with a dishwasher, washer/dryer, and a subwoofer in the floor (that’s already more than you can say for many urban apartments). Unlike a trailer, this living space is designed for the heart of downtown. The vision behind the design is that the units will eventually be able to be stacked on top of one another. A building frame called a “rack” would be able to house several Kasitas at a time, providing them with water, electricity, and other utilities through hookup valves. And if a renter ever needed to move to a different location, the unit could be removed via crane and popped into a different rack elsewhere.

This type of network is the ultimate goal for Jeff Wilson and the team behind the Texas startup. They’ve already built their first prototype and leased the space for a rack in Austin, where some units could go for as little as $600 per month. Wilson believes the opportunity for residents to have a true, personal space of their own is a major part of the Kasitas’ appeal. "One of the things we're trying to solve for is having your own place," Wilson told NPR, "and not getting on Craigslist and finding a bunch of roommates that have too many cats and too much bong water left out on the dining room table."

Kasita

To give the prototype the illusion of space, they used design tricks like white walls, high ceilings, and reflective surfaces. The front wall is a fully enclosed, glass balcony, where hypothetical residents would be able to look down at the street below. Not bad for a dwelling inspired by a dumpster, huh?

[h/t: NPR]

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India's Supreme Court Demands That the Taj Mahal Be Restored or Demolished
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iStock

The Taj Mahal is one of the most recognizable monuments on Earth, but over the years it's started to look less like its old self. Smog and insect droppings are staining the once pure-white marble exterior an unseemly shade of yellow. Now, The Art Newspaper reports that India's Supreme Court has set an ultimatum: It's threatening to shut down or demolish the building if it's not restored to its former glory.

Agra, the town where the Taj Mahal is located, has a notorious pollution problem. Automobile traffic, factory smoke, and the open burning of municipal waste have all contributed to the landmark's increasing discoloration. Insects and acid rain also pose a threat to the facade, which is already crumbling away in some parts.

India's highest court now says the country's central government must seek foreign assistance to restore the UNESCO World Heritage Site if it's to remain open. Agra's state of Uttar Pradesh has taken some steps to reduce pollution in recent years, such us banning the burning of cow dung, which produces heavy brown carbon. In 2015, India's Supreme Court ordered all wood-burning crematoriums near the Taj Mahal to be swapped for electric ones.

But the measures haven't done enough to preserve the building. A committee led by the Indian Institute of Technology in Kanpu reportedly plans to investigate the exact sources of pollution in the area, a process that will take about four months. The Supreme Court plans check in on the status of site every day from July 31.

Air pollution isn't the only factor damaging the Taj Mahal. It was constructed near the Yamuna River in the 17th century, and as the water gradual dries up, the ground beneath the structure is shifting. If the trend continues it could lead to the building's total collapse.

[h/t The Art Newspaper]

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Morfeus Arkitekter. Photo: Silja Lena Løken / Statens vegvesen
Norway Opens Another Spectacular Roadside Bathroom
Morfeus Arkitekter. Photo: Silja Lena Løken / Statens vegvesen
Morfeus Arkitekter. Photo: Silja Lena Løken / Statens vegvesen

Norway’s National Tourist Routes will change how you think about rest stops. As part of a decades-long program, the Norwegian government has been hiring architects and designers to create beautiful roadside lookouts, bathrooms, and other amenities for travelers along 18 scenic highways throughout the country. One of the latest of the projects unveiled, spotted by Dezeen, is a glitzy restroom located on the Arctic island of Andøya in northern Norway.

The facility, designed by the Oslo-based Morfeus Arkitekter, is located near a rock formation called Bukkekjerka, once used as a sacrificial site by the indigenous Sami people. The angular concrete and steel structure is designed to fit in with the jagged mountains that surround it.

The mirrored exterior wall of the bathroom serves a dual purpose. On the one hand, it reflects the scenery around the building, helping it blend into the landscape. But it also has a hidden feature. It’s a one-way mirror, allowing those inside the restroom to have a private view out over the ocean or back into the mountains while they pee.

The newly landscaped rest area near the bathroom will serve as an event space in the future. The Bukkekjerka site is already home to an annual open-air church service, and with the new construction, the space will also be used for weddings and other events. Because this is the Arctic Circle, though, the restroom is only open in the late spring and summer, closing from October to May. Check it out in the photos below.

A bathroom nestled in a hilly landscape
Morfeus Arkitekter. Photo: Hugo Fagermo / Statens vegvesen

The mirrored facade of a rest stop reflects concrete steps leading down a pathway.
Morfeus Arkitekter. Photo: Hugo Fagermo / Statens vegvesen

A person stands outside the bathroom's reflective wall.
Morfeus Arkitekter. Photo: Hugo Fagermo / Statens vegvesen

A wide view of a rest stop at the base of a coastal mountain
Morfeus Arkitekter. Photo: Trine Kanter Zerwekh / Statens vegvesen

[h/t Dezeen]

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