PLACES : UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND
A team from the University of Maryland has earned one of 20 coveted spots in the international U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon 2011. The Solar Decathlon challenges schools of architecture to design, build and operate solar-powered houses that are affordable, energy-efficient and attractive. The houses will be transported to Washington, D.C., for display on the National Mall in October 2011.
PLACES : PAHO MANN, NANCY LEVINSON
Earth Day 2010 — today — marks the 40th anniversary of the celebration, widely recognized as sparking the contemporary environmental movement. Back in 1970, of course, we had a long way to go: much of what now seems mundane was then new. A case in point is curbside recycling — all those blue and green bins in which we sort and toss this and that — which began in California in the early '70s. But what happens to the stuff after it's hauled away? The Public Art Program of Phoenix, Arizona, posed that question, and one result is photographer Paho Mann's project at the city's new solid waste transfer station. Here we present a slideshow of his photos of carefully categorized and assembled pieces of post-consumer detritus. Mann's project highlights the sheer volume of things we throw out — another reminder that we've still got a long way to go.
OBSERVATORY : MICHAEL BIERUT
For the past three years, Francois Robert has spent hundreds of hours arranging the bones of a single human skeleton into a series of striking iconic shapes, creating a photographic series he calls "Stop the Violence." The results are beautiful and haunting.
PLACES : MEENA KADRI
Bus rapid transit — pioneered decades ago, most famously in Curitiba, Brazil — isn't as sexy or telegenic as light rail, yet it might be the more promising alternative to the car, with some researchers
arguing that BRT systems are not only cheaper but also more efficient than rail networks. Here New Zealand-based design writer Meena Kadri reports on Janmarg — the People's Way — the new BRT system in Ahmedabad, India, a system that manages to mix transit innovation and traditional culture, and even offers yoga classes to the drivers.
CHANGE OBSERVER : JANE MARGOLIES
With much fanfare, the Swedish division of Volkswagen recently announced the outcome of its Fun Theory innovation challenge. The announcement took place at a real news conference, held in an actual Volkswagen showroom in Stockholm, with the grand-prize winner, American Kevin Richardson, receiving a bona fide check in the amount of about $3,500 for his proposal to reward drivers who stick to the speed limit by giving them a chance to win a lottery jackpot. The press event was the latest chapter in Volkswagen's Fun Theory campaign, launched this past fall to encourage consumers to associate the company's BlueMotion turbo-diesel vehicles with the idea of enjoyment — with almost all of the campaign taking place not in the "real world" but the virtual realm of the internet.
CHANGE OBSERVER: PROJECT ARCHIVE
Report on the Chulha stove designed by Philips to reduce indoor air pollution in developing countries.
PLACES ARCHIVE: WINTER 1995
A tour of Splendid China, the "world's largest miniature scenic spot.