If you're looking for a neat and painless way to introduce your kids (or lifelong city-dwelling friend who isn't positive that trees or flowers are real) to the animal kingdom, I suggest the transition from dinosaur pajamas and Jurassic Park marathons to the dinosaur's nearest modern relative: the bird. Even if you're not a big nature enthusiast yourself, birds are a good jumping off point because you don't really have to hang out with them so much as establish that you are not a cat who is going to eat them. "NeighBirds" (tiny groan) by Utoopic is an elegant modular birdhouse that promotes a close-knit bird community, if you so choose. The houses are easy to install almost anywhere, including branches, hooks, and walls, which means it's easy to do your part for the post-dinosaur dinosaur.
On the island of Koh Kood on the gulf of Thailand, this dreamy bamboo structure is a "children's activity and learning center" and part of the Six Senses Soneva Kiri eco-resport, designed by Dutch firm 24H Architecture. Right away, even the name "Koh Kood" draws up memories of childhood heroine and adventurer Pippi Longstocking, whose home base was Villa Villekula.
The spacious oasis is built from locally sourced and labored bamboo, and the structure is meant to instill young minds not only with art, music, and culture, but a deep appreciation for what it means to give and take from one's environment. The sloping roof and artful manipulation of the bamboo offer protection from the elements without isolation. Nearby, there are even satellite structures that give children the opportunity to pick their own vegetables and cook their own meals under the supervision of a dedicated chef.
This minimalistic Tea House, designed by A1 Architects, is located in Prague and based on the design of a traditional Japanese tea house. It is made entirely out of natural materials, and is the perfect spot to put on your Sunday best and whip out the Oolong. In the summer, you could not find a more soothing spot to watch upon nature while sipping some Jasmine Pearl. In the winter, watch the sun set over glistening snow as Chamomile keeps you warm. And for all those other months? Fear not, the jealousy of your friends is a year-round guarantee.
You loved playing with tracing paper when you were in school, but then you grew up, and now you can't exactly carry a roll of paper around in your Prada messenger bag. People on the subway would just not approve. You do however carry an iPad and that is why genius tracing app Morpholio happened. Originally designed for architects to display their ideas on the fly, the app spread to a wider creative group. Morpholio is the perfect addition for those of you who walk around the city, see buildings and think, "yeah, I could do better."
In Wolfsburg, Germany, the Porsche Pavilion, designed by Henn Architekten is the sleek new addition to the Autostadt, the visitor center of the Volkswagen Group. The Pavilion, like the luxurious sports car, boasts big curves and a smooth silhouette to protect the designer vehicle.
You might be confused when you walk down this entrance way at the Dilip Sanghvi House in Surat, because you'll find yourself at a large array of wooden slats, designed to be a door but look like a curtain. It was created by Indian Architecture firm Matharoo Associates, who crafted it out of Burma Teak and hid mechanisms within to allow for a curvy opening. Just don't go storming through in a huff and attempt to slam it, because your dramatic anger will be reduced to a graceful sway.
From Jackson Clements Burrows Architects, the Trojan House takes inspiration from the famous war story of the Trojan horse, and perhaps the Tardis? As they say, "it's bigger on the inside." The design cleverly works around residential development restrictions and allows the lucky family to maximize their yard space. And, like the fabled Trojan horse, the house's seamless skin allows for lots of privacy and mystery about what goes on indoors.
Wild and untamed tree branches grow out of tables in the museum cafe and store at the Archive of Galicia, part of the Galician City of Culture building in Spain. Designed by Estudio Nomada, the trees serve as table legs, space separators, structures and sculptures. The theme is one of stylized nature, reminding lunchers where their food comes from. The design won its creators the "International Restaurant and Bar Design" award in 2012. Now if these branches grew things like pears, apples and sandwiches, that would be even better. Check back in the Spring.
This nice, conventional building is the Festival Hall of the Tiroler Festspiele Erl, located in Austria alongside the "Passionsspielhaus" or "Passion Playhouse" next door. This piece of architectural geometry was brought into existence by Delugan Meissl Associated Architects, and is shaped this way to fit the topography of the landscape and contrast the white playhouse next to it.
The necessity of solitude in order to artists to unleash their inner thoughts is well documented throughout history: Virginia Woolf famously wrote, "A woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction." Franz Kafka, ever the dramatist, once wrote, "I need solitude for my writing; not 'like a hermit' - that wouldn't be enough - but like a dead man."
Well, perhaps we don't all need to be dead to get our creative juices flowing, but how about a beautifully isolated oceanside studio? On Fogo Island in Canada, the Saunders Architecture firm, in collaboration with the local Shorefast Foundation and Fogo Island Arts, has designed a series of six artists' studios, each aimed at inspiring its resident artists, and preserving this tiny island's traditions through arts and culture.