Archive for the ‘Architecture’ Tag

House in the desert   Leave a comment


A couple and their two teenage daughters decided to get away from it all.  They were living in the Los Angeles area and got fed up with the fast pace, noise and crazy traffic.  Husband and wife are both professionals in television and commute back to L.A. a few days a week.  But their home is now located dab smack in the barren desert of Death Valley, California. 

There are no neighbours for over 20 miles.  The nearest town is 35 miles away.  They are out there with the coyotes and eagles.  Complete isolation.  Strangely enough, it does look quite peaceful, yet invigorating.  After all, they are out there with nature in its most pure state.





The house derives most of its power from solar panels.  Water is provided from a natural spring nearby.


The desert sun keeps the house perpetually bright.

No swimming pool, but a little hot tub to cool off during the day, or warm up at night.

















Posted November 20, 2016 by markosun in Uncategorized

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Moscow, megacity with tens of thousands of apartment buildings   1 comment


Since 1924, five-year plans provided national economic and urban development that was aimed at providing equal services for all. Muscovites primarily live in flats in multistorey buildings. Moscow’s population has tripled during the last 70 years and, in spite of massive municipal housing construction, there are still some people who live in shared flats, or in outdated or dilapidated buildings.





The Soviet policy of providing housing for every citizen and his or her family, and the rapid growth of the Muscovite population in these times, also led to the construction of large, monotonous housing blocks, which can often be differentiated by age, sturdiness of construction, or ‘style’ according to the neighborhood and the materials used. Most of these date from the post-Stalin era and the styles are often named after the leader then in power (Brezhnev, Khrushchev, etc.). They are usually badly maintained.

Although the city still has some five-story apartment buildings constructed before the mid-1960s, more recent apartment buildings are usually at least 9 floors tall, and have elevators. It is estimated that Moscow has over twice as many elevators as New York City and four times as many as Chicago. Moslift, one of the city’s major elevator operating companies, has about 1500 elevator mechanics on call, to release residents trapped in elevators.





Moscow as seen from the International Space Station





Moscow  is the capital city and the most populous federal subject of Russia. The city is a major political, economic, cultural and scientific center in Russia and in Europe. According to Forbes 2011, Moscow has the largest community of billionaires in the world.  Moscow is the northernmost megacity on Earth, the second (after Istanbul) most populous city in Europe, and the 6th largest city proper in the world. It’s also the largest city in Russia with a population, according to the 2010 Census, of 11,503,501.  By its territorial expansion on July 1, 2012 southwest into the Moscow Oblast, the capital increased its area 2.5 times; from about 1,000 square kilometers (390 sq mi) up to 2,500 square kilometers (970 sq mi), and gained additional population of 230,000 people.




Posted November 5, 2016 by markosun in Uncategorized

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New York City tiny micro-apartments   1 comment


To live in New York City, and especially Manhattan, is very expensive.  And space is money.  An average 600-700 square foot apartment in the city costs roughly $4,000 a month.  Therefore to create affordable housing for people who don’t make $100,000 a year mayor Bloomberg is putting forth a plan to create micro-apartments.

(Reuters) – Could apartments in New York City get any smaller? Mayor Michael Bloomberg hopes so.

On Monday he announced a competition for architects to submit designs for apartments measuring just 275 to 300 square feet (25.5 to 28 square meters) to address the shortage of homes suitable and affordable for the city’s growing population of one- and two-person households.

“People from all over the world want to live in New York City, and we must develop a new, scalable housing model that is safe, affordable and innovative to meet their needs,” the mayor said in a statement announcing the “adAPT NYC” competition.

Bloomberg said the city plans to waive zoning requirements at a city-owned lot in the Kips Bay neighborhood of Manhattan to allow the construction of a building filled with the “micro-units.”

They will be about four times the size of a typical prison cell and about one-fortieth the size of the mayor’s Upper East Side townhouse.

Officials say there are about 1.8 million one- and two-person households in New York City, but only about a million studio and one-bedroom apartments – a sign, they say, that the city’s housing stock has not kept up with its changing demographics.

Young, single New Yorkers in particular can find it hard to find an affordable apartment as demand outstrips supply.


Floor plan of a micro-apartment


The mayor is calling for proposals over the next two months for a building containing about 80 micro-units, all of which must have kitchens and bathrooms.

Ideally, they should also have “substantial access to light and air to create a sense of openness,” according to the competition announcement.

The apartments, once built, will be sold or rented on the open market. The city will not be subsidizing the project. If successful, the pilot project could help usher in a loosening of the city’s zoning laws regarding minimum housing size.

Under New York City’s zoning regulations, the average apartment size in a new building must be at least 400 square feet (37 square meters), although there are exceptions to the rule.

The mayor said the project is part of his plan to create or preserve 165,000 affordable homes in the city by 2014.

Although the new apartments will be cozy in realtor-speak, they are unlikely to break any size records. One couple paid $150,000 for a 175-square-foot (16-square-meter) studio in Manhattan in 2009, according to the New York Post.





Posted October 30, 2016 by markosun in Uncategorized

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Tight Squeeze: Aircraft Carriers pass under the Golden Gate Bridge   Leave a comment


The modern American super carriers are big ships. They are 1,100 feet long and 250 feet high.  When the giant ships dock in San Francisco Bay they have to go under the Golden Gate Bridge and sometimes the Bay Bridge.  Clearance on both bridges at high tide is 220 feet. To clear the bridges the ships have to wait for extreme low tide. This allows just enough room for the mega ships to pass under. But just enough room, the top of the radar mast usually has 18 inches of clearance from the bottom of the bridges.








Suez Transit


Aircraft Carrier Passing Under Golden Gate Bridge


Passing under the Bay Bridge




Posted April 13, 2016 by markosun in Military

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Weird and Wacky Staircases   Leave a comment



And the undisputed champion of staircases. The 300 foot tall Taihang mountain staircase in China.




STAIRWAY TO HEAVEN From the bottom, it looks like the real life stairway to heaven. But tourism official in central China are hoping the 300ft high spiral staircase will give their visitor numbers a lift. The stairs were installed beside the Taihang Mountains, in Linzhou, Henan province, to give tourists an authentic feel for the high life. "Here the wind blows and batters them, the birds fly past them, the stairs creak. It is a lot more authentic than an elevator," explained one official. But they admit that the stairs aren't for everyone - and ask visitors to sign forms saying they have no heart or lung problems and are aged under 60. "If you got half way up and couldn't go any further, you might just have to stay there," joked one.

Posted March 2, 2016 by markosun in Uncategorized

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True North Square Will Be a Major Development in Downtown Winnipeg   Leave a comment

The giant power crane drill diggers are grinding up the ground at the True North Square construction site with reckless abandon. Huge drill bits 8 feet across pulverize the ground and whatever is below it, steel pipes, concrete, old sewers and possibly bison bones from centuries past. A very ambitious project is under construction in Winnipeg’s downtown. It’s even bigger and bolder than was first envisioned, and on Wednesday the “transformative” True North Square development in downtown Winnipeg took another giant step towards becoming a reality.

I’m not sure what the exact name is for these monster drills, but I call them power crane drill diggers (PCDD’s).




Another new wrinkle is the announcement that True North Square will now boast four high-rise towers instead of three. Also, that two of the towers, not just one, will have a large residential component. Not only will Sutton Place be building a 17-storey, 130-unit condominium tower next to its 27-storey hotel on the west side of Carlton Street, but the 24-storey second tower on the east side will also include 145 residential units, along with a mix of office and retail space.


But while there have been some significant changes to the plans that were unveiled last year, a number of other key elements remain unchanged. One is the inclusion of a large, public plaza/parkway which will stretch from the northwest corner of Graham and Hargrave to almost the corner of Carlton and St. Mary Avenue.

Another is the inclusion of a series of enclosed skywalks connecting the four towers and providing another weather-protected link between Cityplace and the RBC Convention Centre. Like the plaza, the skywalks will be considered part of the public domain, Ludlow said, although it hasn’t been determined yet whether portions of them will run through some of the privately-owned buildings in the development, such as the Sutton Place Hotel, or be built on the outside of them.

The previous plan


The change is that the long building at left centre will now be two taller buildings.



Posted February 24, 2016 by markosun in Uncategorized

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The Chinese government has issued a new directive banning “bizarre architecture”   Leave a comment


The Chinese government has issued a new directive banning “bizarre architecture”, and criticising some of the “oversized, xenocentric, weird” buildings in the country.

China has seen a number of architectural gems springing up in recent years, including one building shaped like a teapot and another that has been likened to a pair of trousers.

Under the new directive, buildings are to be “economical, functional, aesthetically pleasing” and “environmentally friendly”.

Here is a selection of the more adventurous buildings that have been developed.


The Guangzhou Circle was designed by Italian architect Joseph di Pasquale and opened in 2013. It is the world’s tallest circle-shaped building at 138m and stands on the banks of the Pearl River.


This teapot-shaped building in Wuxi, Jiangsu province, has perhaps the most outlandish design. It was originally designed as a sales office and now includes an exhibition centre.


copyright Prisma Bildagentur AG / Alamy Image caption The headquarters of China Central Television (CCTV) was named the Best Tall Building Worldwide from the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat in 2013, yet some have called it “big pants” due to its resemblance to a pair of trousers.


The Phoenix Towers in Wuhan are to be one kilometre tall and are scheduled to be completed in the next couple of years. Their exteriors will be covered in solar panels.


The Gate of the Orient was completed in 2014 in Suzhou, Jiangsu province. Like the CCTV building, it too has been compared to a pair of trousers.


The Sunrise East Kempinski Hotel is set near the Yanqi Lake in the Huairou District of Beijing.


Another dramatic looking hotel is the Sheraton Hot Spring Resort on Taihu Lake, Huzhou, which comes complete with rubber ducks.


This Inner Mongolian city of Ordos is known as a ghost town due to the low population level, yet it boasts two architectural gems, the City Library (left) and the Ordos Museum.


Posted February 22, 2016 by markosun in Uncategorized

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German Teenager Makes Illegal Climb of The Great Pyramid of Giza   Leave a comment


A German teenager found himself in hot water with Egyptian authorities after being arrested for climbing the Great Pyramid of Giza.

Andrej Ciesielski scaled the legendary monument earlier this month in a daring daylight climb that amazingly only took him about 8 minutes to accomplish.

Despite being spotted by police during his ascent, Ciesielski continued to the top of the pyramid to savor the once-in-a-lifetime view and document his incredible feat.

Upon returning to ground level, the young man was arrested and could have faced up to three years in jail for the stunt.

He was eventually released after agreeing to let authorities delete the footage and photos from his climb.

Fortunately, Ciesielski had a way to recover the digital material and is now sharing the evidence of his awesome adventure with the world.  

One slip and it’s going to be a head-over-heels crash that could cause permanent damage.


Here are some photos of Russian adventurers who climbed the pyramid a few years ago.









After a hard day of pyramid climbing, go to the KFC and indulge in Goat Tongue and Jackass Testicle Stew.  Available only at Egyptian KFC outlets.



Posted January 31, 2016 by markosun in Uncategorized

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The New York City Supertall Building Construction Boom   Leave a comment


Not since the 1920’s and 1930’s has New York City seen such frenzied skyscraper construction.  Many of the ones going up will be the tallest in the city, supertall.  Lots of work for the Iron Workers, including the Quebec Mohawks.









3 World Trade Center



The Drake, 1,400 feet. Not the greatest looking design.





10 Hudson Yards, two more taller ones going up alongside this one. With a possible fourth.



Central Park Tower, 1,550 feet tall.

buildings11 central park tower


One of the more striking and innovative designs, is the super-exclusive 56 Leonard St. condos. First photo below is artists rendering of the completed building.



There will be 17,000 square feet (1,600 m2) of amenity spaces on the 9th and 10th floors, including a 75-foot pool, a 25-seat screening room, a private dining room, and a children’s playroom. The building will have seven elevators; owners will share a hallway with at most one other apartment. The developers also figured a generator on the ninth floor into the plans.

There will be eight full-floor apartments at the top, ranging from 5,200 to 6,400 square feet (480 to 590 m2), with 14-to-19-foot-high (4.3 to 5.8 m) ceilings.  In addition, the building will feature a double-height lobby sheathed in “gleaming” black granite.










Needs wheel barrows of money to move into this building.

It took a little more than a year, but Tribeca’s tallest residential tower, the Jenga-esque 56 Leonard Street, is now sold out. Its last two penthouses recently sold $17.7 million and $34.5 million respectively. The smaller of the two comes with four bedrooms, four and a half bathrooms, and overlooks the East River with views of the Manhattan and Brooklyn Bridges, and One World Trade Center. The bigger one comes with five bedrooms, five and a half bathrooms, floor-to-ceiling windows, and 700 square feet of outdoor space. Construction work on 56 Leonard Street began in 2007. It stands 60 stories tall, has 145 residences ranging in price from $3.5 million to $50 million, and has been designed by Pritzker Prize-winning Swiss architecture firm, Herzog and de Meuron. The building is scheduled to open next year.


buildings3 56 leonard


The top floors are staggered horizontally, a very innovative design.



Posted January 24, 2016 by markosun in Uncategorized

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Downtown Winnipeg Construction Update   Leave a comment

The construction happening in downtown Winnipeg is steady with a few big ideas hanging in the balance.  The two big proposed projects, True North Square and Skycity, still seem to have a lot of steam.  The near future will tell the tale if these projects get off the ground.

The Glass House condo building is rising fast.  Located across the street from the MTS Centre arena this building lives up to its name, floor to ceiling glass makes the building glimmer in the Winnipeg sunshine.

Glass House


glass nov 26 2015

glass nov 2015a

glass nov 2015x3

glass nov 2015x2

Rendering of completed building



D-Condo on Assiniboine Avenue

Early phase




Completed building



True North Square is an ambitious project put forward by the Winnipeg Jets ownership group True North Sports and Entertainment.  This would be a office, hotel and retail complex with a big square where sports fans could mingle and party.


true north

In the last week there has been activity on the proposed site. A construction worker referred to it as ‘Test Sockets’.  Checking the rock beds for info on what type of piles would be needed for big buildings. Something appears to be in the works.





That’s a drill bit!



The University of Winnipeg has a building under construction just behind the Art Gallery. It is residences and will be about 15 stories.

u of w

If Skycity gets built, it will be the tallest building in Winnipeg. Developers state it will be 540 feet tall with 43 floors.

downtown skycity2


Skycity far left



Posted December 1, 2015 by markosun in Uncategorized

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