We absolutely love this rendering by UK architecture firm Foster + Partners for their SkyCycle concept. If you squint a little, it looks like the SkyTrain line between Science World and Chinatown/Stadium stations. The British design would see dedicated bike paths installed above the 136 miles of suburban rail lines that snake in and out of London, which is all kinds of amazing pipe dream stuff. Does Vancouver need this? Not really. The cost would be so prohibitive as to be amusing, and the ranting from both sides of Vancouver’s spectacularly stupid bike lane divide would prove too insufferable a daily torment. We just wouldn’t be able to stand it. Still, Vancouver would be a little cooler if its SkyTrain – where it runs parallel with the Dunsmuir Viaduct - had a traversable roof of some kind. And you are free to deny that at your soul’s peril.
(via) We like ice cream. Like, a lot. We were the first in the door at Earnest Ice Cream on Fraser St. and the first to ever try a Rain Or Shine ice cream taco on West 4th. We’ve even had the subscription-based Sunday Morning Ice Cream delivered to our office. But what we really, really want (and have yet to see locally) is a rad fez-hatted Turkish vendor with a mega-stache doling out ice cream in the wicked fashion seen above. Someone, this summer, please! Start growing your whiskers and get training with the tricks.
Yup, it’s a thing, albeit a viral marketing thing (a girl can dream). In the UK, noodle brand Kabuto has extended a special service through the holiday season wherein those with hangovers can book one of their Kab-U-To Work taxis for their morning commute. “Once booked, the taxi will pick you up from your doorstep and not only drive you to work, but serve you a pot of hot Kabuto soup noodles and fresh orange juice, together with a care package consisting of a pair of sunglasses, some paracetamol [for headaches] and a packet of breath mints.” The service is currently free during a pre-Christmas trial period, with rides hailed via Twitter. Bonus: personalized chopsticks!
— giselle wainwright (@missgisellew) December 18, 2013
(via) The fun-loving creatives at Spanish design house Play Office have come up with a way to make reading more fun for kids with this gigantic suspended net that functions as a reading hammock. I dare say it would make reading more fun for adults, too, which is why our public libraries should install them straight away. Sure we might have to sign waiver forms, wear helmets, and stand in a line-up because only two people would ever be allowed to enjoy it at once, but an hour hanging out in one of these would be worth whatever restrictions the nanny’s would throw at it. Making it wheelchair accessible might prove a bit of a problem, but that’s what engineers are for. Yay future!
A recently launched subscription service in London delivers locally brewed craft beer to City offices every Friday. The miracle is aptly called Desk Beers.
How does it work? “You and your team do awesome stuff during the week (like always). We drop by at some point Friday afternoon with this week’s pick. You call it a week and sip back on some serious beer. You did good.” Here are the FAQs:
What beer will we get? You’ll get what you’re given, but it’ll be top notch. We’ll do our best to get the best beers at the best times. So expect light & hoppy in summer, and dark and filling in winter.
Will all the beers be the same? Each week, yes. Drinking and discovering beer isn’t something to do alone. Everyone gets the same beer. You taste, you comment, you taste again. No one misses out. Everyone’s happy.
When will it be delivered? At some point Friday afternoon. We will aim to get it to you no later than 5pm. No one should have to wait that late for a beer.
Do you only deliver on Fridays? For now, yes. But we have big plans, and we know that beer isn’t just for Fridays. Don’t worry, we’re on it.
Who will deliver it? Your new best friends.
Wouldn’t it be fantastic to have someone arrive at your office every Friday with some suds? It’s really not hard to imagine Parallel 49 one week, some Brassneck the next, some 33 Acres the week after, and some Red Truck to close out the month. It would be great for company morale, and a fun way for local breweries to broaden their nets.
Sadly, of course, our local liquor laws likely wouldn’t allow a service like this to get past the drawing board, but who knows? Maybe someday. The times they are a’ changing.
(via) Vancouver has plenty of “public” art, but not nearly enough of it is employable by said public. That’s why we dig this vertically looped picnic table designed by Michael Beitz, which currently sits atop the roof of the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art in Wisconsin. They’d fit well in most public spaces, but for starters we think they’d gel especially well in False Creek’s Olympic Village.
When the evangelical Westside Church bought the 1,800 seat Centre in Vancouver For Performing Arts on Homer St. earlier this year, I was pretty disappointed. My religious beliefs had nothing to do with it. No one likes to see a cultural institution fall by the wayside.
OK, that’s not entirely true. It bothered me to learn that the same venue that gave people a chance to see the Nutcracker was becoming a church. I didn’t like that its leader was a master at ambiguously dancing around his church’s stance on homosexuality. I didn’t like it one bit.
I mean, Tchaikovsky was gay, so the thought of at least some of this congregation – possibly believing in their generous hearts that the brilliant composer of the 1812 Overture was suffering an eternity in hell – worshipping in the same location where Tchaikovsky’s glorious notes once fittingly resonated is tricky for me to reconcile, try as I might.
But live and let live, right? That’s how they roll in The Netherlands, where a 1465 Dominican Monastery was recently converted into a bookstore (see above). The Dutch firm of BK Architecten was sensitive enough to preserve the pipe organ, the stained glass, and the ceiling art, but the reverence that the design once inspired is now for learning, not God. The conversion, to me, is just as beautiful as the original.
So with Christianity’s popularity on the local wane (non-believers are now in the clear majority in Vancouver), it’s fair to wonder if the future will see our increasingly under-utilized churches, maybe even our cathedrals, playing host to punk rock shows, operas, book fairs, ballets, flea markets, and performances of the Trio for Strings in B-flat major by Franz Schubert (cough – also gay – cough).
That isn’t meant to be an insult to Christians or religious people in general. Far from it. I only mean to say that if houses of the holy are permitted to supplant our cultural institutions, then it shouldn’t be a one-way street.
(via) This five-storey, 97ft high treehouse in Tennessee includes a church, bell tower, an antique church pew, a stained-glass window of Jesus, a choir loft, and a make-shift basketball court. There are some 80 rooms and cloisters in total. It took a priest and a handful of faithful $12,000, a quarter million nails, and 14 years to build it around a base of 6 oak trees. It was just entered into the Guinness Book of World Records, presumably as the most awesome thing ever. Had he chosen to build it here in Vancouver, he probably would have had some grief navigating the dual downers of the City of Vancouver’s Engineering Department and the Parks Board, but who knows? The Lord (I’m told) works in mysterious ways…
Vancouver’s tourism ads have jumped the shark. One can always anticipate a treatment of the skyline (via seaplane), a mountain vignette (usually more than one), shots of Chinatown, inukshuks, kayakers, rainforest warriors, First Nations dancers, killer whales, and so on. They’re so very predictable. The Yankee state of Massachusetts has long shared this predicament, only with Fenway Park, autumn colours, statues of John Adams, and the equally “expected” like being the same same anchor around their necks. Lucky for them, a Scandinavian group called Ylvis put together a new tourism video that captures it all in uniquely weird fashion (see above), complete with Nelson Mandela’s house and a little latent homo-eroticism. If the troupe would come to Vancouver to produce a similar video, we’d be ever so happy to host them and show them around.
(via) This BBC clip from the tech program Click has the host sitting down at an automated restaurant in Tokyo where every table comes complete with a tablet for ordering, a newfangled conveyor belt, and a plate chute so you can bus your own mess. There are no front of house staffers at all. Why do we want to see this in Vancouver? So we can see with our own eyes how ridiculous the idea is, and to watch it fail with delight. Restaurants that are worth going to aren’t just about the food. For better or for worse, they’re also about the people who work there. When you take them and their personalities out of the equation, whether it be in a fine dining joint or a humble ramen house, the experience spoils. The same goes for robot bartenders and monkey waiters. They aren’t the future. They’re merely gimmicks; fodder for lazy news editors.
(via) 44 years ago, an Italian restaurateur/tinkerer named Bruno started Ai Pioppi, a roadside restaurant in a forest outside Battaglia. He launched with jugs of red and white wine, some soppressata, and a whole bunch of sausages that he hung from a tree over an outdoor grill. We can imagine it being simple and good, but what makes Ai Pioppi so unique are the many rides that Bruno has built around its periphery. Think swings, slides, seesaws, gyroscopes and roller-coasters, all made by hand in the surrounding woods. Watch the video above. It’s mesmerising.
Of course, something like this would never be possible in Vancouver. For starters, the rides would be seen as death traps. There would need to be “plans” for them, architectural drawings and engineering schematics, not to mention a special, prohibitively expensive license that was drawn up in 1904 as a civic cash grab. Every customer would need to sign a waiver form and take a breathalyzer test, and no children would ever be allowed. It’s clear that Bruno has had no use for plans or rules since 1969. Our city inspectors would just laugh at his applications anyway, and there’s no way in hell that sausages would be allowed to hang from trees. Nor could wine be purchased by the jug from a vintner down the road. That’s tragically typical, to be sure, but what’s especially sad is that – short of a round trip to Italy – the closest thing to this that our kids will ever see in Vancouver is a McDonald’s “Playplace”.
(via) I love mosaics, especially Roman ones. There’s just something about the colourful arrangement of thousands of little tessarae (the smaller the better) that makes me smile. I particularly enjoy watching them get uncovered by archaeologists (watch these guys reveal the beauties at Dinnington in Somerset), but that doesn’t happen every day. Mosaicists are a rare breed in the modern age, but Gerhard Marx, an artist in South Africa, recently put together one of the most gorgeous and unique mosaics I’ve ever seen with Spier Architectural Arts. Instead of Apollo and Daphne prancing around a pomegranate or a simple geometric pattern, it’s a realistic birds-eye rendering of a section of Johannesburg done in marble, travertine, red brick, ceramic, and chips of Venetian smalti glass, all set within 56 different panels. Altogether, the free-standing work of art weighs three tonnes. Watch the video below to get a feel for the process…
(via) London’s poets have been invited to participate in a new campaign to improve passenger etiquette on the Tube. We think that would our poets should be entreated to do the same for the SkyTrain, where basic civility long ago went to die. The new UK initiative, dubbed Travel Better London, also invites passengers to come up with their own poems and submit them to a blog. The winning work will be turned into a poster and featured throughout the city’s vast transportation network. Dig this Chivalry Haiku:
Small clouds of grey suits
Part To Make Way For Tired Mum
Wheeling Red Buggy
Vancouver’s annual fireworks celebrations are the city in microcosm. There are corporate sponsors, occasional stabbings, police wasting perfectly good liquor, no parking, bridge and tunnel hordes, a Cactus Club, marijuana clouds, and carefully manufactured excitements that are remote and untouchable on a barge way out in the ocean. Wouldn’t it be nice to let loose and do like Mexico do? Every year at the National Pyrotechnical Festival in Tultepec (photos via Thomas Prior), over 100,000 people gather to watch and participate in the spectacle. Sure there might be an injury or two, but these must be offset by the noise, fun, tequila, and the unique satisfaction that comes when you aren’t treated like a plodding infant by the State.