Recently Carbondale has become home to a couple new seating areas in front of local Main Street businesses. These little wooden decks provide exterior seating to the businesses they sit in front of and create an interesting dining experience. Now, people can literally eat on Main Street and chat with their friends as they pass by. Carbondale can’t have been the first town to come up with such an inventive way to bring more fun to downtown dining, can it?
The first PARK(ing) space coalesced in 2005 as a two-hour experiment in San Francisco in which some sod, a tree and a bench were placed on a metered parking space. Now, people all over the world take part in utilizing parking spaces for creative purposes. More permanent street-side parking space alternatives like the ones now seen in Carbondale have been bubbling to the surface in several cities across the US.
In New York they started as “Pop-Up Cafes,” platforms with seating and vegetation for public use where once there were parking spaces. There, these spaces must fulfill several requirements before being permitted including wheelchair access, use of quality (preferably sustainable/recycled) materials, and inclusion of plantings (you can see a time-lapse video of one of them here).
Not surprisingly, the birthplace of PARK(ing) Day also has more permanent parking spot alternatives. These “Parklets” are much like their east-coast relatives and also must be open for public access. These San Francisco mini parks have had some pretty sweet designs (which you can see on flickr here).
Going by the name of “Street Seats,” Portland’s use of street-side parking is more business-oriented. Unlike their San Fran and NYC cousins these spots are for extra seating for patrons of whatever business chooses to pay for said parking space (they also have some pictures on flickr).
Here in Carbondale the two umbrella-populated platforms seem to most resemble those over in Portland. These wooden decks help to enliven Main Street, especially at night, and are a creative way to reimagine the downtown streetscape. Overall, they seem to be a pretty cool place to gather. Who knows, the DHM Carbondale office might even try to get in on this new trend and create a cute little parklet of its own.
Carbondale Street Seats
San Fransisco Parklet
Portland Street Seat
People strive to make places multi-functional in today’s space-restricted world. The Salina Turda Salt Mine in Turda, Transylvania is a place that has succeeded in transforming an abandoned salt mine into a world renowned museum and underground amusement park.
The museum itself is located inside the mine and features the historic equipment, structures, and tunnels that were used for salt mining for over 200 years (from 1690 until 1932). However, the underground amusement park that has been constructed at the base of the mine is the primary tourist attraction. The amusement park includes a 65 foot tall Ferris Wheel, miniature golf, bowling, table tennis, a pool table, a soccer field, an amphitheater, and boating on the underground lake. The mine, which reaches a depth of 400 feet has attracted over two million visitors since its opening in 1992 and is now the largest attraction to people visiting the town of Turda in Transylvania. The salt mine is also currently listed as number 22 on Business Insider’s “unbelievable travel destinations in the world.”
Click here for a good virtual tour of this incredible site.
“. . . When the students do think about building houses these days, they show off the kind of raw, moonshot zeal that tends to wear away by the time most of us turn 30. They ask big questions like, “Why does anybody have to live in a trailer?”
The Rural Studio of Hale County Alabama has been asking this and other big questions since 1993. A part of the Auburn University School of Architecture, this design build program emphasizes the social responsibility of architects to make good design for everyone – rich and poor. Located in one of the poorest counties in Alabama, students at the Rural Studio take on the design and construction of a variety of projects, from private homes, to churches, boys and girls clubs, and skate parks. Some of the projects change the lives of a single family, others lift up an entire community, and all have lasting impact on the students who participate in their creation.
Early projects of Rural Studio focused on the recycling and repurposing of found and reclaimed materials. Beautiful buildings such as the Glass Chapel, created from car windshields and the Butterfly House with cantilevered lofted ceilings will continue to feed our imagination, but recently the studio has taken a more serious look at the problem of affordable housing. Started in 2006, the 20k House project focuses on producing durable, single family homes that can be reproduced efficiently on a large scale for $20,000. 12 homes have been completed thus far and 8 more are under construction this year.
If you would like to learn more about Rural Studio, Nick Kaye of “The Bitter Southerner” has written a beautiful story on the program, the legacy of Rural Studio founder, Samuel Mockbee, and the cascading effects of his philanthropic efforts beyond his life and beyond the borders of Haley County. Well worth a few minutes of your time.
I want my work to appear like it came from nature, so that if someone found it on a beach or in the forest, they might think it belonged there.
American glass artist, Dale Chihuly, has been creating award winning glass sculptures for almost 50 years. After studying interior design in college, he enrolled in the first glass program in the country (University of Wisconsin) and then continued his studies at the Rhode Island School of Design. In 1968 he received a Fulbright scholarship and continued his exploration of glass work at the Venini glass factory in Venice. Since that time, his glass work has won numerous awards and been exhibited around the world.
We are in luck! His latest exhibition, Chihuly in the Garden, will be coming to the Denver Botanical Gardens this summer, from June 14th – November 30th. It is not to be missed!
To check out his amazing creations…follow this flickr link… or enjoy some images from the exhibition (currently in Phoenix) here:
Aaaah Spring. The light lingers longer and so do we…outside, peering curiously at our gardens to see the first signs of life emerging. Soft catkins dangle from the cottonwood trees and a few timid hyacinth bloom low to the ground, lest they lose a limb to our spring snows. Any day now, I expect to see a daffodil…the true herald of spring in my mind.
The daffodil (Narcissus genus) came from humble beginnings. Growing in the dappled shade of an ancient woodland in Devonshire, the wild daffodil followed the glory-seeking path of the Tulip. It caught the fancy of botanical tinkerers, was transformed through many patient decades, and can now be found all over the world in cultivated and wild scenarios from Western Asia to Europe…prolific in the form of 30,000 different hybrids.
Someone managed to classify those 30,000 hybrids into a mere 8 groupings. Lovely. I know that daffodils are overdone, but I just can’t stop loving them. Have you really given this hardy little perennial, this world traveler the chance it deserves? Sometimes it is the old standbys that offer us the most unexpected surprises. Take a gander…and let me know if you plan to include daffodils in your bulb planting plans next fall. Enjoy:)