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Glass-Bottomed "Sky Pool" in Houston Hangs 500 Feet Above Street Level

The infinity pool gracing the top of Market Square Tower in Houston, Texas is a great place for residents to unwind ... unless they’re afraid of heights, in which case the clear-bottomed pool jutting out from the top of the high-rise is anything but relaxing. The pool is situated 500 feet above the streets of downtown, and all swimmers need to do to soak in the views is look down.

As Travel + Leisure reports, the glass-bottomed pool became the highest in the state when it opened in October 2016. The “sky pool” starts on the rooftop and extends 10 feet beyond the edge of the 40-story building. The cantilevered floor is made of 8-inch thick plexiglass, so guests can trust the structure’s stability. That being said, experiencing at least some vertigo while swimming hundreds of feet in the air is to be expected.

Thrill-seekers looking to take a dip will need to make a commitment first. The pool is restricted to high-rise residents, with leases on one-bedroom apartments starting at $2100 a month. Rent also includes access to a traditional terrace pool for days when residents don’t feel like raising their adrenaline levels to go for a swim.

[h/t Travel + Leisure]

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High-Tech Skyscrapers Could be Built with Low-Tech Wood
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When we think of wood construction, we often think of log cabins, tree houses, or the framework of residential properties. But if a new start-up has its way, we might soon be gazing up at 12-story buildings made almost entirely out of Douglas firs.

In a report for CityLab, journalist Amanda Kolson Hurley profiled Portland, Oregon's Lever Architecture, a firm attempting to revitalize wood-based towers that reduce the carbon footprints of conventional buildings. Their offices are located in a four-story property made from wood; their next major project, titled Framework, is expected to be 12 stories and slated to debut in Portland in 2019.

Part of Lever’s goal is to reduce concerns over wooden structures—namely, that they’re prone to fire hazards or might not be structurally sound in an earthquake. Developers use a building material called mass timber, a special type of strengthened wood in which timber panels are glued together to make beams and cross-set layers for walls and floors. Fire tests have shown the mass timber doesn’t ignite easily: It chars, which can insulate the rest of the panel from the heat. Strength testing has shown the layers aren’t easily jostled by outside forces.

Lever’s architects hope that wooden buildings will lessen the environmental impact of commercial towers that use concrete and steel, which are responsible for 10 percent of greenhouse gas emissions during their manufacturing.

Other firms have designs on taller buildings, including one 35-story tower in Paris and a 24-story building in Vienna.

[h/t CityLab]

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Need a Dose of Green? Sit Inside This Mossy Auditorium
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Lecture halls aren’t known for being picturesque, but a new venue for lectures and events in Taipei might change that reputation. Inside, it looks like a scene from The Jungle Book.

As Arch Daily alerts us, a new lecture space at the JUT Foundation features textile art that makes it look like its interiors are entirely covered in moss.

The JUT Foundation is the arts-focused wing of a Taipei construction company called the JUT Group, and its gallery hosts talks and other events related to art and architecture. Designed by the Netherlands-based architects MVRDV, the 2500 square feet of greenery-inspired lecture hall is lined with custom carpeting designed to look like moss and biologically inspired textiles by the Argentinean artist Alexandra Kehayoglou.

A close-up of green, yellow, and red textiles fashioned to look like moss

A view of the back of an auditorium that looks like it's covered in green moss

Made of recycled threads from a carpet factory, the handmade 3D wall coverings pop out in a passable imitation of a forest ecosystem. The mossy design—which took a year to complete—pulls double duty as a sound buffer, too, minimizing the echo of the space. If you have to pack into a lecture hall with 175 other people, at least you’ll be able to pretend you’re in the middle of a quiet, peaceful forest.

[h/t Arch Daily]

All images courtesy the JUT Group.

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