List/Grid Monthly Archives: June 2011

June’s Top 15 UrbanPeeks

Here’s a list of the 15 most popular articles published on UrbanPeek this past month. Downtown Cairo – What Can Really Be Done The Evolution of a Bottle How Fun Can Your Office Get? Marina Bay Sands Integrated Hotel with SkyPark – Singapore PHOTO PEEK: Afghanistan Comic and Animation Museum – Hangzhou, China A Wake up Call – Cairo Slums Top 25 bizarre hotels (part 1) & (part 2) Burano, Italy – The most colorful in Europe Top 10 Visited Countries in the World JEANS – Fashion VS. Environment A 3D 360° Panoramic Video of the World (WATCH) A Peek inside… Read more »

The Gardens of Eden Project

The Eden Project is an exciting attraction where you can explore your relationship with nature, learn new things and get inspiration about the world around you. It was constructed in a 160-year-old exhausted clay quarry at Bodelva, near St. Austell, in Cornwall and established as one of the Landmark Millennium Projects to mark the year 2000 in the UK. The project was conceived by Tim Smit, designed by architect Nicholas Grimshaw and opened on 17 March 2001. The complex is dominated by two huge emulating natural biome enclosures which consist of adjoining domes that house plant species from around the… Read more »

8 Creative Pedestrians Crosswalk Ads

Do you like advertisements as a part of our life? Advertising is a way to communicate, but majorly the persuasion of audience turns into something annoying. And that’s when really creative ideas appear to change the whole concept of anticipation into interest. These ones are really grabby and effective. Specially if they are under your feet. Literally. 1. Made by  ACA-M (Associacao de Cidadaos Auto-Mobilizados), Portugal. The crosswalk is painted with names of pedestrians hit by cars. ‘A quarter of the road traffic victims were not inside a car. Respect the traffic signals. Respect life.’ 2. In August 2003 Mccann Erickson Costa… Read more »

3 Most Significant 3D Street Painting Artists

1. Kurt Wenner is a Master Artist and Master Architect famous for inventing three-dimensional pastel drawings – also known as – 3D Street Painting, 3D Pavement Art, 3D Chalk Art, or 3D Sidewalk Art, they are a form of anamorphic art. Anamorphism is usually considered a form of Illusion or Trompe loeil, but is really the logical mathematical continuation of Perspective. In fact, artists who work in the same style can all trace the roots of their work back to the street art of Rome in 1982, where Kurt Wenner transformed the complex geometry of Classical Italian Architecture into a… Read more »


Sweden is situated in the Northern part of Europe, to the west of Baltic sea and the Gulf of Bothnia. The country shares maritime borders with Denmark, Germany, Russia, Poland, Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia. Swedish land is also home to a large number of World Heritage Sites and almost 65% of the country is still covered by forests. Sweden was one of the most powerful military nations of the 17th century, but the country has not participated in any war since 200 years. At 450,295 square kilometers, Sweden is the third largest country in the European Union. Over 85% of… Read more »

A Peek inside the Skype office

SKYPE, the infamous VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) software company, was founded in Luxembourg in 2003 by Swedish entrepreneur Niklas Zennström and Dane Janus Friis. The company is headquartered in Luxembourg, with offices in London, Stockholm, Tallinn, Tartu, Prague, and Palo Alto, with most of the development team and 44% of the overall employees of Skype situated in the offices of Tallinn and Tartu, Estonia.  Almost no one in today’s online world wouldn’t be familiar with or haven’t used the software to voice or video-chat. In May 2011, Skype was acquired by -software-giant- Microsoft for $8.5 Billion. In April 2011 Skype moved into… Read more »

Chefchaouen – the Blue City of Morocco

Chefchaouen or Chaouen is a city in northwest Morocco. It is known for its blue-rinsed houses and buildings, a tradition that comes from the town’s former Jewish population. The city was found in 1471, as a small fortress which still exists to this day, by Moorish exiles from Spain led by Moulay Ali Ben Moussa Ben Rached El Alami to fight the Portuguese invasions of northern Morocco. Chefchaouen was a base for Riffian berber tribes from which attacks on Portuguese Ceuta were made. After the fall of Granada in 1492 there was a wave of Muslim and Jewish refugees that flooded into Morocco, who brought to the city… Read more »

A 3D 360° Panoramic Video of the World (WATCH)

The Dutch folks at YellowBird have really raised the stakes with their outstanding contribution to the motion picture and film making world, they have created a realty 3D 360° video filming technique. Marc Groothelm and Rafaël Redczus’ technology is all about enjoying a totally interactive 360° panoramic view. A view that reaches beyond today’s standard perspective and that is experienced by viewers as if they are floating. Just like a bird soaring through the sky. Here’s how it works: The camera uses six divided lenses in order to capture every possible viewing direction. Through a double glass-fiber connection, a stream of 1200… Read more »

The World’s 4th Tallest Tower – Wuhan, China

Another Chinese architectural giant is emerging on the scene. On Tuesday 21st of June, the Wuhan Greenland center tower, was announced to be the Landmark of the city of Wuhan in central China, potentially transiting the city from a regional center to an international one. Upon completion the tower would be the 4th tallest structure in the world at 606 m, 119 stories high, dwarfed only by the likes of the Shanghai Tower -scheduled for completion in 2014- at 632 meters high,  and Dubai’s Burj Khalifa tower at 828 m high. American firm Adrian Smith and Gordon Gill Architecture, the winner of… Read more »

Top 25 bizarre hotels (part 2)

13.  Das Park Hotel, Ottensheim, Austria Hotel rooms built from giant concrete sewage pipe segments This is a one-of-a-kind hotel, it has been designed from the outset to use worldwide standard concrete drainage or sewage pipe sections – so you could well see more of them in the future. The idea of Andreas Strauss in 2004, the first rooms were provided in Linz. Now in nearby Ottensheim, rooms are accessed by a digital keypad, whose code is provided by the self service website upon booking acceptance. The beauty of these pipes is that their concrete utilitarian look needs little alteration to make… Read more »

Hover Bike – The Flying Motorcycle

The HOVER-BIKE, as crazy as that might sound, it’s a real thing now. A bike that can fly at altitudes up to 3048 meters (10000 feet) high, reaching a speed of 278.42 kilometers per hour (173 mph), it can even travel at higher altitudes, but then the rider would need to carry along an oxygen cylinder. It’s simply a dream of flying come true.  Hover-Bike designer Chris Malloy -an Australian native- primarily designed it to serve purposes like aerial Cattle mustering, Search and Rescue, aerial survey, Wildlife and Parks, or Power-line inspection, not planned commercial use yet.  Inhabitat quotes the inventions as: “Quieter and smaller than helicopters, and therefore… Read more »

JEANS – Fashion VS. Environment

JEANS are trousers made from denim. Some of the earliest American blue jeans were made by Jacob Davis, Calvin Rogers, and Levi Strauss in 1873. Starting in the 1950s, jeans, originally designed for working people, became popular among teenagers. The word “jeans” comes from the French phrase bleu de Gênes, literally the blue of Genoa. Jeans fabric, or denim, originated independently in two places; The French town of Nîmes, from which ‘denim’ (de Nîmes) gets its name, and From Dongari Killa in India, from which the name dungarees was derived. Denim trousers were made in Chieri, a town near Turin, Italy, during the Renaissance and were popularized in the 19th century. These trousers were sold through the harbor… Read more »

Coober Pedy – The Underground City

Coober Pedy is a town in northern South Australia with a population of 3,500 and over 45 different nationalities. The town is known as the Opal capital of the world because of the quantity of precious opals that are mined there. Opal was first found in Coober Pedy on the 1st of February 1915 and since then has been supplying the world with the majority of gem quality opal. Unusual name of the town comes from the local Aboriginal term kupa-piti, which means ‘whitemans hole’ or ‘waterhole’. Nowadays Coober Pedy relies as much on tourism as the opal mining industry to provide the community with employment… Read more »

Top 10 Visited Countries in the World

Tourism has taken its present-day definition starting from the early 1800s as “someone traveling abroad for more than twenty-four hours and less that 6 months, for recreational, leisure, or business purposes”. It’s significant growth towards the mid 1900s gave it a different economy-impacting dimension. Nowadays for some countries as France, Egypt, Greece, United States, Spain, Italy, and Thailand, and many island nations, such as The Bahamas, Fiji, Maldives, Philippines and the Seychelles, Tourism is a vital source of income. International tourism arrivals grew nearly 7% in 2010 to 940 million travelers, generating a total of $991 billion (€693 billion) in exports earnings and is expected to grow between 4% and 5% in 2011…. Read more »

Burano, Italy – The most colorful in Europe

Burano is a pretty island in the northern part of the lagoon of Venice, Italy  with a current population of about 2,800 inhabitants. It consists of four individual islands, which are separated by narrow, 10 meters wide, canals, rio Pontinello in the west, rio Zuecca in the south and rio Terranova in the east. Burano is famous for lace-making and for its brightly-colored fishermen’s houses; the island is a photographer’s paradise. The brightly-painted walls extend all through the island and not just the principal tourist canals. The colors of the houses follow a specific system originally coming from the golden age of its development; if someone… Read more »

Makkah Metro

In November 2010, the city of Makkah, KSA unveiled its newest and first elevated train spanning a distance of 18.1 km (11.2 miles).  The project’s main aim is to help ease the transport process of pilgrims in the Hajj season between the holy sites of Makkah, Muzdalifa, Mount Arafat, and Mena.  The rail is constructed parallel to the pedestrian road so that pilgrim tents in Mena are not disturbed. The project was originally planned to be a monorail, but was changed to a conventional steel-wheel, steel-rail design running on a viaduct. The entire train system, including stations, will be elevated… Read more »

Ethiopia [PHOTO PEEK]

ETHIOPIA is a landlocked country in the northeast African region known as the Horn of Africa. The country has a high central plateau, with some mountains reaching more than 4,000 meters (13,000 feet). The Great Rift Valley splits the plateau diagonally. The western highlands get summer rainfall; the lowlands and eastern highlands are hot and dry. Most people reside in the western highlands as does the capital, Addis Ababa—the highest capital city in Africa at 2,400 meters (8,000 feet). The population is almost evenly split between Christians, living in the highlands, and Muslims inhabiting the lowlands. The Oromo, Amhara, and… Read more »

A Mobile Opera House – Pavilion 21 MINI

PAVILION 21 MINI Opera Space is an experimental performances hall built for the Bavarian State Opera in Munich, Germany. The Pavilion 21 Mini Opera Space creates a space with 300 seats (or 700 standing spectators). Austrian architecture firm COOP HIMMELB(L)AU have unveiled their revolutionary design of a mobile structure that can be taken a part, relocated, and re-mounted in any other location making the respective urban space distinctive through its shape. The aluminum structure is made up of sharp pyramid-like geometry to maximize the sound’s reflection area. Here’s a part of the designer’s statement: “Mass & weight are the decisive criteria for good acoustics. The conception… Read more »

London Cabs fare paid via Cell Phone

Vodafone UK teamed up with the London Taxi company and equipped 500 of their infamous black cabs with mobile phone charger docks; a nice promotional service I’d have to say. Sometimes you actually might need to give your Blackberry or iPhone a little juice to get through the day, but can’t find the plug. Now, they’re rolling out another handy scheme, you can now pay your taxi fare through your phone with an SMS sent with the vehicle’s license plate number to a certain digit code along with the amount due, which transfers the fare to the driver’s pocket and charges it to your… Read more »

The Soft Rocker

An interesting creation coming from the heart of Massachusetts institute of technology (MIT) in Cambridge, MA, USA. In the beginning of May 2011, a team lead by Sheila Kennedy, MIT Professor of the Practice of Architecture, presented to the Killian Court of MIT an outstanding project of a smart solar energy charging station – Soft Rocker (as it looks like an outdoor rocking lounge furniture). The idea of the leaf-like loop is to create the solar tracking system using its environment, it has a 12 ampere-hour battery and store solar energy harvested during the day. With a creation like this, outside gatherings… Read more »

Top 25 bizarre hotels (part 1)

1. Palacio de Sal, Uyuni, Bolivia Palacio de Sal Hotel & Spa, newly remodeled and unique in the world, is completely built in salt. Walls, floors, ceilings, and most of the furniture too – chairs, tables and beds are all made of salt. There is also a 9-hole salt golf course designed by Christian Pensu. You’ll also see stunning sunsets (you’re 3650m above sea level), with an amazing backdrop of the mountain ranges in the distance. 2. Dockside Crane Hotel, Harlingen, Netherlands This is a genuine dockside crane which has been the recipient of intelligent engineering and dedicated devotion rarely… Read more »

A Wake up Call – Cairo Slums

CAIRO, the biggest city and metropolis in the Middle East and Africa -with a population of 16-20 millions- is  a city that has the culture, the history, the nightlife, the year round warm climate, the strategic location, and the educational facilities that have supplied Egyptians and all neighboring Arabs and Africans with higher level learning for decades.  As some might think, Cairo does have it all. What some of us do know, this is not the only face of Cairo.  The city has a behind-the-scenes side, a dark one; a study by the UN has revealed that 25-35 % of Cairo’s… Read more »

Comic and Animation Museum – Hangzhou, China

We’ve been mentioning China a few times so far since our start and we still didn’t get enough! Featuring another magnificent structure scheduled for construction in 2012, the China Comic and Animation Museum in Hangzhou, China. Dutch studio MVRDV – the winner of museum’s international design competition – quoted: “(Rotterdam, 5th May 2011) Hangzhou urban planning bureau has announced MVRDV winner of the international design competition for the China Comic and Animation Museum (CCAM) in Hangzhou, China. MVRDV won with a design referring to the speech balloon: a series of eight speech balloon shaped volumes create an internally complex museum experience of in total… Read more »

Flash Mob

Have you ever seen a number of regular looking people taking part in a bizarre, out of the blues act? First thought to your mind – they must be crazy… something definitely weird is going on… The answer is very simple. You’ve just become a witness of the flash mob. A flash mob as a term appeared in 2003 to denote a group of people who assemble suddenly in a public place, perform an unusual and sometimes seemingly pointless act for a brief time, then disperse, often for the purposes of protest, advertisement, entertainment, or satire. Usually all the details… Read more »

Argentina [PHOTO PEEK]

South America’s second largest country following Brazil. Located in the southern-most part of South America, the Andes Mountains lies on its west, while it is bounded in the south and east by the southern part of the Atlantic Ocean. In the northeast of Argentina lies Uruguay, and Brazil borders it on the north. Argentina also lays claim to the Falkland Islands. Following independence from Spain in 1816, Argentina experienced periods of internal political conflict between conservatives and liberals and between civilian and military factions. After World War II, a long period of Peronist dictatorship was followed by a military junta… Read more »

Afghanistan [PHOTO PEEK]

Do you know that every day, 10 people in Afghanistan are injured by landmines? It will continue for the next 50 years, because the country has the largest number of landmines in the world – Mohsen Makhmalbaf. Afghanistan has the misfortune of sitting in a strategic position at the crossroads of Central Asia, the Indian subcontinent, and the Middle East. Despite its mountainous terrain and fiercely independent inhabitants, the country has been invaded time after time throughout its history. Today, Afghanistan is once more embroiled in war, pitting NATO troops and the current government against the ousted Taliban government and its… Read more »

Dubai gets the Longest Unmanned Train

Metro systems have evolved to take one of the biggest roles in modern transportation, with a 160 active systems in 2010 worldwide. In 1863, London, UK was the first city to have an underground metro in the world.  In 1987, the Middle East and Africa got their first subway in Cairo, Egypt. The second Middle Eastern metro system was a project that attracted the spot lights.  On the 9th September 2009 at 9:09:09 pm Dubai Metro became the newest system to start operation in the ME. Consisting of 2 major lines, the first line (red line) serves 10 stations and… Read more »

The World through Road Signs

A globalized world, growth of populations, and facilitated means of transportation, increase the number of commuters and travelers around the planet. Nowadays while visiting other countries, excursions with a guide are not enough. More and more people want to explore their trip destinations on their own with the enjoyment of driving around. Part of what makes driving in foreign countries less complicated is their guiding road and traffic signs. By 2004, 52 countries of the world had signed The Vienna Convention on Road Signs and Signals (1968), so the standardized system would simplify the driving while visiting countries with language difference,… Read more »

Marina Bay Sands Integrated Hotel with SkyPark – Singapore

A hotel with a roof garden? I don’t think so! In Singapore, Safdie Architects have completely changed the traditional meaning of a “roof garden” to evolutionary expectations.  The Boston-based internationally renowned design firm have created a masterpiece within its existence, The Marina bay Sands. 3 Hotel towers 55 stories each acting as the carriers of a 2.5 acres SkyPark that spans from one tower to the other and cantilevers 65 meters (213 feet) beyond the third tower (the largest roof garden in the world)! Just Amazing. The Marina Bay Sands combines more than 121,000 square meters (1.3 million square feet)… Read more »

How Fun Can Your Office Get?

How many times you woke up in the morning feeling like not going to work today? Plenty is my guess.  An average employee spends approximately 160 hours or more per month at work, multiply that by the years of work from graduation till retirement that’s around a 1/3 of a person’s most productive years spent at the office. The business world is mostly stuck to a specific design of workspace, usually indiscernible colors, similar small cubicles, and uncomfortable kitchens and facilities – if available, leading sometimes to boredom, inefficiency and weak staff performance. The stereotype should be broken, and it… Read more »

Oriental Art Center – Shanghai, China

Shanghai, China, a rising mega city that have attracted the architectural spot light for the past decade, with dream designs brought to reality, and a symbolic message sent out showing off a mighty city in a mighty country.  Today we feature one of the iconic buildings of amazing Shanghai, The Oriental Art Center. Designed by Paris’s Paul Andreu, he formed a beautiful 7 levels-giant flower covered by a cantilevered roof, enclosing 3 auditorium halls [philharmonic orchestra hall (1979 seats), a lyric theater (1054 seats) and a chamber music hall (330 seats)].  It also houses public facilities such as an exhibition hall, music shops,… Read more »

Share the Knowledge

Today marks the end of our second week of publishing :) with 15 articles in our archives. Launching our blog was the harvest of 7 months of unexpected detailed amount of work. For me building a website was an unknown field that arouses my geeky curiosity. I’ve been  a loyal fan of some greatly useful blogs for a few years now, and I always got a very dynamic vibe from the mechanism of blogs, and the social interaction they create.  You read the article, you like it, you share it, got more curious you ask a question, start a discussion, show your approval,… Read more »

The Evolution of a Bottle

The Coca Cola Company is celebrating 125 years of production of their infamous cola drink. It was initially sold as a patent medicine for five cents a glass at soda fountains, which were popular in the United States at the time due to the belief that carbonated water was good for the health, the bottled product came later.  The taste was always the same but not the bottling, which kept developing as time passed . This is a brief look on the evolution of the Coca Cola bottle design. The 1899: The original Coca-Cola bottle didn’t have anything in common with the one… Read more »

Downtown Cairo – What Can Really Be Done

A Dream in the heart of Cairo, Egypt – Ramsis Park. Downtown Cairo has been the urban center of the city since late 19th century, when the district was designed and built. It was once home to the prosperous and elite of late 19th and early 20th century. Also, it is the home of both Egyptian parliaments, a number of government buildings, including judicial ministry and interior affairs, the American university’s old campus, Cairo Train Station (Ramsis Station) and Mogama’a El Tahrir government building situated in the notorious Tahrir Square lately known for being the iconic spot of the uprising in Egypt…. Read more »

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