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Lintao Zhang/Getty Images
Lintao Zhang/Getty Images

China Plans to Build New City to Deal With Overpopulation

Lintao Zhang/Getty Images
Lintao Zhang/Getty Images

Beijing is one of the most crowded cities in the world—home to 24.9 million people in the metro areas. It's also one of the smoggiest, with some of the worst air quality in the world. In an effort to combat the city’s rapid growth (an average of 600,000 residents per year flocked to the city between 2000 and 2013) and the traffic congestion and pollution associated with it, China plans to build an entirely new city to take the pressure off its capital, Curbed reports.

The Chinese government recently announced a regional economic project called the Xiongan New Area, which will be a new metropolis built about 60 miles south of Beijing. According to China Daily, Beijing will remain the functional capital of China, but the new city will take over some of the general economic functions that have so far been concentrated within Beijing.

The idea is that some of Beijing’s industry and business will move to Xiongan, and with it, some of its population. With jobs no longer concentrated so densely in Beijing, people will be able to live closer to their work, giving them more transportation options and cutting down on air pollution.

Not that it’s necessarily going to happen that way. Planned cities don’t always work out as well as their spontaneously developed cousins. Many of the world’s greatest and most vibrant metropolises were created without any kind of central planning, while meticulously master-planned cities can come off as sterile and soulless. (Think of New York City’s cramped but bustling streets versus Washington D.C.’s grand boulevards.) As Adam Greenfield wrote in The Guardian in 2016, “Most of the planet’s newest cities bear a markedly strong resemblance to one another. Whether they happen to be planted on African terrain or Indian or Chinese, they have the self-contained, inward-turning flavor of a high-end condo, and indeed are branded and marketed in just the same way.”

But this isn’t China’s first time creating a major new city. After Shenzhen was named a Special Economic Zone in 1980, it went from a 300,000-person town to a major financial hub that’s now home to 11.9 million people.

Real estate speculators are betting on the same thing happening in Xiongan, though—a few days after the new city was announced, so many people rushed to buy property that the government instituted an emergency ban on sales.

[h/t Curbed]

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Luke Hayes, Asif Khan/Getty Images
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architecture
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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