Tuesday, 30 April 2013


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Child’s Place: 10 Eerie Abandoned Orphanages
By Steve,
Web Urbanist, 28 April 2013.

Orphanages served as repositories for unwanted, illegitimate and unsupportable children in relatively recent yet still socially unenlightened times and places. Modern initiatives in family planning and social welfare along with the realization that institutionalizing children adversely affects their development have seen a steep reduction in the number of functional and operating orphanages. These 10 eerie abandoned orphanages represent a fading vestige of “the good old days” whose loss is in no way disappointing.

1. Greek Orphanage: Büyükada, Turkey

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Images via: Archaeopop

The former Büyükada Greek Orphanage (Büyükada Rum Yetimhanesi) was designed in the Ottoman Beaux-Arts style by French-Turkish architect Alexandre Vallaury and opened in 1899. Its remote location on Büyükada, one of the Prince’s Islands just off Istanbul in the Sea of Marmara, probably contributed to its preservation even though it’s been abandoned since the 1960s.

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Image via: Archaeopop

The orphanage closed in 1936 after running afoul of official regulations and was subsequently used as a government administration building. A lengthy court battle that finally ended in 2010 saw the title of the building returned to the Greek Orthodox patriarchate. It remains one of the world’s largest wooden buildings.

2. Abandoned Orphanage: Jena, former East Germany

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This abandoned orphanage in the German city of Jena displays a jarring combination of hope and despair on its grimy facade: bright, colourful window frames epitomize the former while dull, lifeless masonry blighted by graffiti typify the latter. In its heyday, administered by authorities in the former German Democratic Republic, the place may have been almost cheery compared to the trials and tribulations of everyday life. Thanks to Flickr user ashes_and_sackcloth for capturing this unique emotional image.

3. Abandoned Orphanage Nursery: Pripyat, Ukraine

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Images via: Nige820, Wikipedia and BBC

State-funded orphanages were common in most medium to large cities of the former Soviet bloc, though they are gradually giving way to family support programs and foster care. The process is slow, however - as of 2011 slightly over 100,000 children were residents of orphanages in Ukraine.

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Image via: Imgur

Bad as that seems, at least children no longer reside in the orphanage at Pripyat, the city of 50,000 founded in 1970 and abandoned 16 years later in the wake of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster. Judging from the cramped conditions in the nursery above, life must have been difficult at best; depressing at worst.

4. St John’s Orphanage: Goulburn, New South Wales, Australia

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Image via: Viewed At Once

St. John’s Orphanage (also known as the Goulburn Boys Orphanage) located in Goulburn, New South Wales, opened in 1912 and closed in 1976. At any one time, approximately 100 boys aged 5 to 16 called the Goulburn Boys Orphanage home. After the orphanage closed, the Christian Interdenominational Organisation conducted discipleship training courses in the building before it was finally abandoned in the late 1990s. The structure is reputed to be haunted and although entry into the interior is not allowed, nocturnal ghost tours are regularly conducted by a local company.

5. Abandoned Orphanage: near Paris, France

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Images via: About-Photos-Weblog

Located in a small village south of Paris, this abandoned orphanage closed sometime around 1990 - seemingly in a rush, just before lunch time. It hasn’t been determined exactly how old the orphanage is: though some of the buildings show evidence of appreciable age, others exhibit obviously modern brickwork.

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Images via: About-Photos-Weblog

It may have been an orphanage but the facility exudes some semblance of luxury - check out those skylights! Among the many buildings and outlying structures are stables, a tennis court, a small church, and a restaurant or canteen to name just a few.

6. Abandoned Orphanage: near Croix-des-Bouquet, Haiti

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In May of 2011 Dave Korn travelled to Haiti, volunteered with Un Techo para mi País: “a non-profit organization that strives to improve the quality of life of impoverished families across Latin America through the construction of transitional housing and the implementation of social inclusion programs.” Almost a year and a half after the devastating 2010 Haiti Earthquake, the orphanage above was both abandoned and unconnected to power and water, forcing the volunteers to pitch tents in the building’s rooms. [More]

7. Holy Family Orphanage: Marquette, Michigan, USA

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Designed to accommodate 200 children, the Holy Family Orphanage in Marquette, Michigan opened in 1915 and closed in 1965 - it’s been abandoned since then; almost for as long as it was operating. The orphanage was built at the then-astronomical cost of $90,000 to $120,000 and featured bathrooms on every floor, an in-house laundry, and heating and plumbing facilities housed in an annex. The City of Marquette has been attempted to sell the building, valued at $400,000 but as yet there have been no takers…not even Stephen King.

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Image via: Chad R. Johnson

Kudos to Flickr user Chad R. Johnson for the above and other photos of the Holy Family Orphanage’s overgrown majesty. Johnson’s “warts and all” images let the aged structure’s undeniable beauty shine unhindered through a thick patina of weathered neglect.

8. Royal Liverpool Seamen’s Orphanage: Liverpool, United Kingdom

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Images via: 28 Days Later

The Royal Liverpool Seamen’s Orphanage in Newsham Park, Tuebrook, Liverpool was opened in 1870 to care for the orphaned children of families who had died at sea - judging from the immensity of this frightfully gothic structure, such a fate must have been quite common. The facility ceased to be an orphanage in 1949; becoming Newsham Park Hospital and then an old age home before being fully shuttered and boarded up in 1988. Consider it an architectural expression of the Great Circle of Life.

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Image via: 28 Days Later

Several schemes have been put forth towards turning the character-rich derelict building and its 99,000 square feet of interior space into a housing estate but as yet, none have been approved and the structure continues to decay. The most lively activities being conducted there these days are organized by “ghost hunting” tours.

9. Abandoned Orphanage: Belgium

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Images via: A.Ypeij/Panoramio

Time-tested construction of stone and wood soon deteriorates and decays while cheap plastic toys retain their newly-purchased lustre long after the last child has left the orphanage. Is this the fate of all Man’s earthly endeavours? It would seem so, if A.Ypeij‘s evocative image of an abandoned orphanage somewhere in Belgium is any indication.

10. Jesse Lee Home for Children: Seward, Alaska, USA

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Opened in 1926 to house children orphaned by the 1918 Spanish Flu epidemic, the Jesse Lee Home for Children consisted of three main buildings (and a number of smaller ones) connected by covered arcades to ease movement during deep, dark, depressing arctic winters. As many as 120 children lived at the orphanage in the pre-War era, though less than 40 returned after the complex’s reversion to Methodist Church ownership following a camouflaged stint as Fort Raymond Army Base.

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The Great Alaskan Earthquake of March 27th, 1964 severely damaged the Jesse Lee Home for Children; there were no fatalities at the site but the Home’s largest building had to be demolished due to unrepairable damage. Since 1966 the property as a whole has been abandoned, and the use of asbestos insulation during its original construction has complicated efforts to either redevelop the site or raze it entirely.

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Image via: Futurama Wiki

Are there still places for orphanages today…or even tomorrow? Regardless of the significant leaps society has made in the last few decades when it comes to children’s welfare, the age-old bugaboos of social stigma, prudishness, hypocrisy and familial irresponsibility still conspire to condemn our children to cold and oft-uncaring institutions like orphanages. If in a perfect world orphanages do not exist, then it would seem we’re not quite there yet.

[Source: Web Urbanist. Edited. Some links added.]


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10 3D printing technologies bringing you the future of medicine
By Colin Druce-McFadden,
Dvice, 29 April 2013.

We love our 3D printing here at DVICE, because printing whatever objects you want whenever you want is just awesome. We loved 3D printing when it only existed in awesome sci-fi films, like The Fifth Element. We loved it when it was only a DIY kit. And we really loved it when it went mainstream.

3D printing has become a part of everything from the national gun debate to movie props and cars. 3D printing is becoming so ubiquitous that no matter what it is that you desire, you can print it for yourself. People are even going so far as to compare 3D printing favourably with the replicators of Star Trek fame. And while that might be going a bit far, 3D printing has been leaping forward in a number of astonishing ways. Yes, moon bases and bacon are pretty awesome, but they aren't what we're talking about. The real marvels of 3D printing have been in an area less expected; that is, unless you clicked through that Fifth Element link a couple paragraphs ago. We're talking medicine, and here are 10 awesome medical applications of 3D printing.

1. Skull Transplants

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This story, which broke a couple weeks ago, is still mind-blowing. On March 4th, a patient received a successful transplant of 75 percent of his skull cap. Thanks to 3D printing the patient - who remains unidentified - received a transplant shaped precisely the same as his own skull. The polymer used also mimics the density and stiffness of real bone while encouraging cell growth.

2. Ear Transplants

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Like a skull, the human ear is an organ that varies in shape from patient to patient, which is something that has caused difficulty and delays for surgeons for quite some time. The process of replacing an ear is also much different than that of a skull cap. Individually-printed ear moulds are combined with injectable gels comprised of collagen and living cells. Over a three month period the ears then replace the collagen with cartilage. The result is an ear that is practically identical to a traditional one.

3. Kidneys

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Back in 2011, surgeon Anthony Atala gave a TED talk outlining how we might one day be able to print kidneys and other internal organs to match individual patients. He outlined the process of taking X Ray scan data and developing a 3D representation of a particular patient's kidney and then uploading that data to a printer. During the talk, he showed off the very printer capable of printing organs. Each specially-designed kidney takes about seven hours to print and is then ready for transplant. Atala is still hard at work, and is currently developing more than 30 different printable organs and tissues.


4. Arteries

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Last year, Professor Sangeeta Bhatia of MIT lead a team that successfully printed a basic artery network with a Rep Rap 3D printer. Flexible, hollow structures like veins aren't easy to create in a one step process using 3D printing, so Professor Bhatia and her team devised a simple solution: create a solid structure whose centre layer can be easily dissolved away. For that dissolvable layer they used a mixture of sucrose, glucose and dextran. The outer layer is comprised of tissues and sturdier gel, a formula capable of receiving oxygen and nutrients like traditional arteries. Next up for prof. Bhatia's team: finding out how to properly transplant their artery networks into patients.

More: Rep Rap, via Engadget

5. Biobots

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Farther off the beaten track, biobots appear to be more "mad scientist" and less "medical marvel." 3D printed gel scaffolds, heart cells from rats, and a little bit of liquefied food and these faux organs are juiced up and ready to go. Through what is fundamentally a heartbeat, biobots can inch their way along at about 236 micrometres per second. Not quite world dominating speeds, but as DVICE contributor Adario Strange points out: "...[give them] about 50-80 years and you have the makings of what could turn out to be real-life Replicants." For good of course, not evil.

More: Nature, via DVICE

6. Stem cells

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Regarding those rat heart cells that were used to make those Biobots: you needn't worry about armies of rat-people replicants rising up to destroy us. That’s because the synthetic organs of the future will be constructed out of lab-printed stem cells, not rat heart cells. A team of researchers from Heriot-Watt University in Scotland pioneered the technique. 3D printed spheres of nutrients house and nurture the growth of stem cell after stem cell, allowing for supplies in large enough amounts to theoretically create replacement organs for each and every patient waiting on an organ donor list.

7. Nerve tissue

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Oxford University scientists have just recently created a new type of human tissue that seems capable of transmitting electrical impulses in the same way that nerves do. Just as fascinating, the basic structures of these tissues have been printed entirely from oil and water. Adding membrane proteins to this simple solution was what allowed the Oxford team to send electrical impulses through the tissue, mimicking home-grown nerves.

More: Science, via The Verge

8. Bio-Ink

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Another take on the whole printable organs concept comes to us from Iowa State University, where a team led by Professor Ibrahim Ozbolat is using a substance called bio-ink and a one-of-a-kind bio-printer to create organ structures. Yes, they have their eyes on transplants like the rest of our examples, but Prof. Ozbolat has a few other tricks up his sleeve: "one of the most promising research activities is bio-printing a glucose-sensitive pancreatic organ that can be grown in a lab and transplanted anywhere inside the body to regulate the glucose level of blood." Reread that: a "pancreatic organ" that can be transplanted "anywhere in the body." These guys are actually conceptualizing new organs to print. Now that's some innovative science.

9. Emma's magic arms

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Not every medical 3D printing project needs to involve amazing science and the construction of organs from scratch. Emma was born with arthrogryposis, a condition that meant she could not move her arms on her own. Because Emma was young and still growing, a traditional prosthetic would be outgrown time and again. Emma now has the use of her limbs thanks to her "magic arms," 3D printed constructs that aid her mobility. Emma, being a kid, has broken a few pieces of her prosthetic here and there and outgrown the device at least once. Not to worry, though, because in each case replacements were printed right up and Emma was given back her mobility quick as a wink.

10. Teeth

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Stratasys, the same company behind Emma's magic arms, is also spearheading the introduction of 3D printing into the world of orthodontics. Crowns and dentures existed before 3D printing, but the new technology is allowing for faster, more accurate dental appliances. Plus, taking a 3D scan of a patient's mouth looks a lot less invasive than stuffing their mouth full of gel and taking a mould. Awesome. Crowns used to take a week to come back from the lab, but it looks like they'll be ready next-day or maybe even while you wait. The systems are even designed to be accessible to smaller dental clinics, making small communities just as likely to get these improved appliances as major cities. Viva la 3D printing revolución!

[Source: Dvice. Edited.]

Related Posts:
The Most Mind-Blowing 3-D Printed Objects Of 2012
2. 14 Incredible 3D-Printed Design Objects


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LapTouch: a conceptual laptop for creative minds
By Donna Taylor,
Gizmag, 29 April 2013.

Einstein famously maintained that a cluttered desk is a sign of a brilliant mind. However, for many modern designers the desk is not just messy but is also jammed with a mandatory array of PCs, laptops, screens, tablets, and more. French designer Amir Labidi has developed a laptop concept dubbed the “LapTouch” for the creative community, with the specific aim of consolidating design functions and reducing desktop congestion.

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The LapTouch concept is targeted at the creative community.

As a daily user of a graphics tablet and computer, Labidi says the concept was derived from the difficulty he found positioning a tablet and PC together to be able to press keys while using the pen. These issues, coupled with carrying a separate laptop and graphics tablet on the move, formed the notion of designing a laptop with a built-in graphics tablet.

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The large touchpad would also serve as a graphics tablet that features specific touch-sensitive scroll
and zoom buttons, to save moving to the keyboard to activate commands.

Though hybrid touchpad laptop models are already available, Labidi’s concept for the LapTouch is aimed at a specific market. The large touchpad also serves as a graphics tablet that features specific touch-sensitive scroll and zoom buttons, to save moving to the keyboard to activate commands. In addition, the touch pad is designed as a removable shell that can be turned to the preferred side.

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The concept includes a rotating screen that you can draw on directly in tablet fashion.

Labidi hopes that if the new Panasonic tablet or Wacom Cintiq prove to be beyond your price range, then his idea may meet tactile drawing requirements in a cost-effective manner should the concept be realized.

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The LapTouch concept has been successfully shared on the social networks and is currently under
application to obtain a patent.

With its good looks and bundled features, the LapTouch concept has been shared on social networks and is currently undergoing a patent application. There is still much to resolve, and the concept’s multiple components alongside the significant processing power to run the design software may prove costly to manufacture.

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The concept was derived from difficulties found positioning a tablet and PC together to facilitate
continually moving to press keys whilst using the pen.

For the time being at least, the creative world will have to stick to a cluttered desk and its suggestion of a brilliant mind.

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The touch pad is designed as a removable shell that can be turned to the preferred side.

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The screen can flip in a similar manner to hybrid laptop touchpads currently on the market.

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The concept's sleek looks should appeal to the design community.

All images: Amir Labidi

Article Source: Amir Labidi via Iam Architect

Top image: The LapTouch concept. Image: Amir Labidi.

[Post Source: Gizmag. Edited. Top image added.]


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12 Unconventional Homes Inspired by Nature
By Sara Carpenter,
Bobvila, 19 April 2013.

In recent years, architecture has seen a flurry of offbeat yet beautiful abodes with designs based on the world around us.

Back to Nature

Whether it's a hike in the woods, a night beneath the stars, or a sunny day at the beach, natural inspirations are creeping more and more into residential architecture. Intended to be in sync with their surroundings, these homes may appear out of the ordinary, but their designs are based on common features of the great outdoors like mushrooms and seashells. Read on to see a dozen stunning examples of organic architecture from yesterday and today.

1. Fallingwater

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Perhaps the most famous house on this list, Fallingwater was designed by the incomparable Frank Lloyd Wright in 1935. The house represents an attempt by the architect to build a structure both inspired by and integrated with nature. Taking its cues from Japanese architecture, a waterfall on the site, and the surrounding Pennsylvania forest, Fallingwater is considered a consummate success in creating harmony between man and nature. [More] [Fallingwater website]

2. The Cloud House

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Can you guess what natural feature this house mimics? Undulating walls ensure that the cross-section of this remarkable residence resembles a fluffy, floating cloud. Built as an addition to an Edwardian-era home in Australia, the "cloud" is not visible from the street, keeping this little bit of tranquillity a well-guarded secret. [More] [Designer McBride Charles Ryan website]

3. Redwoods Treehouse

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Wrapped around a redwood tree in New Zealand, this cocoon of sustainably harvested pine and poplar slats - a treehouse restaurant, in fact - plays host to what must be a most ethereal dining experience. The open-slat design allows light to filter in by day; at night, light emanates from inside, visually setting the cocoon and walkway ablaze. [More] [The Redwoods Treehouse website]

4. Nautilus

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Inspired by the work of Antoni Gaudí and Frank Lloyd Wright, the Nautilus House in Mexico City was designed by Javier Senosiain of Arquitectura Orgánica to resemble a seashell. The smooth walls and spiral interior create a transporting experience that suggests what it must be like to walk in a cephalopod's shoes - well, shell. [More here and here] [Arquitectura Orgánica website]

5. Mushroom House

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This mushroom-shaped New York abode was actually inspired by Queen Anne’s lace. The five interconnected pods define distinct private and common areas. Texturized walls create a cave-like effect indoors, while a bevy of large windows provides a visual gateway to the woods beyond. [More here and here] [Architect James H. Johnson website] [Mushroom House website]

6. Floating House

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In designing a family’s floating house in Oregon, architect Robert Harvey Oshatz looked to the river that would buoy the structure. The roofline comprises two ‘waves’ on the verge of breaking. Solid walls on either side provide privacy from neighbours moored nearby, and a glass wall that is open to the river offers a view that could easily inspire an cannonball dive on a hot summer day. [More here and here] [Robert Harvey Oshatz website]

7. Shell House

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The reinforced concrete exterior of this home, designed by Tokyo firm ARTechnic, mimics the organic curves of a shell. The soft arcs of the façade are echoed indoors. Though inspired by a shell, the rounded walls of the interior and exterior evince a futuristic twist that goes beyond nature. [More here and here] [ARTechnic website]

8. Flower House

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When this flowery dwelling is completed, a wind turbine, ground-source heat pump, and array of solar panels will help it achieve a zero-carbon footprint. The living area of each "petal" will converge underground to create a four-bedroom home. Skylights and expansive windows at entry points will fill the subterranean house with light. [More here and here] [Make Architects website]

9. Leaf House #1

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This Brazilian home employs an open floor plan to create a strong cross-breeze - important in such a balmy climate. The leaf-shaped roof traps the cool air inside and protects the house from the hot sun. If the distinctive botanical form doesn’t leave you feeling at one with nature, the swimming pool that stretches from the backyard to the indoors might do the trick. [More here and here] [Designer Mareines + Patalano website]

10. Leaf House #2

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Just as leaves provide cover in nature, the copper "leaves" of the roof on this Australian home give shelter to its occupants. Shaped to resemble a cascading pile of fallen foliage, the roof is supported by walls of glass that allow those inside to feel as if they're living within the landscape. [More here and here] [Designer Undercurrent Architects website]

11. Lilypad House

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Two freestanding circular structures bookend this Australian home, providing much-desired shade and visually announcing the design as distinct from its suburban surroundings. Even as they shield and unify the living spaces, below, these "lilypads" allow a nearby park to seem almost integrated with the property, establishing a connection between outside and in. [More here and here] [Designer Jorge Hrdina Architects website]

12. Human-sized Bird's Nest

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Well-known treehouse builder Takashi Kobayashi constructed this human-sized bird’s nest for the set of a Nescafé commercial in Japan. Due to the structure’s growing fragility, visitors are no longer permitted, but the treehouse's unique appearance still draws attention in the nearby town and has surely inspired a backyard fort or two. [More here and here] [Takashi Kobayashi Treehouse People website]

Top image: Pierre Cardin Bubble House. Photo:

[Source: Bobvila. Edited. Some links added.]