Blog Posts

Symphony of landscape and architecture: Buddha statue at Makomanai Takino Cemetery

Jessica Mairs, writing for Dezeen:

Japanese architect Tadao Ando has concealed a huge stone statue of the buddha within a hill covered in lavender plants at the Makomanai Takino Cemetery in Sapporo.

The top of the statue’s head just crests through a circular well at the centre of the verdant mound, which is carpeted in 150,000 of the purple-flowering plants.

Visitors must pass through a 40-metre tunnel to get to the foot of the 13.5-metre-tall statue.

Made up of arches of folded concrete, the tunnel is dimly lit to create a “womb-like” atmosphere, while the opening at the centre is naturally lit and surrounded by concertinaed concrete walls that narrow towards the sky.

The vegetation provides a seasonally appropriate backdrop for the statue, changing from green in spring to purple in summer and finally white in winter, when the mound is heaped in snow.

Some people might argue this is “manicured” landscape but all good designs respond to its context, and it works exceptionally here.

The drone footage is useful for an aerial overview, but the real beauty lies in the journey on foot – from the first glimpse of (the tip of) the statue to the grand reveal.

Weekly Vision: August 06, 2017

The Weekly Vision is a collection of stories that are worth consuming as whole, or just not worth the time editing. You’ll find out either way.

1) How Apple developed new Bluetooth Low Energy Audio tech to stream audio directly from iOS devices to hearing aids and cochlear implants

2) How Jony Ive masterminded Apple’s new headquarters

3) The first reviews of the Tesla Model 3

4) Messi v Ronaldo: Everything you need to know

5) Apparently, we can buy happiness

Samsung’s upcoming Galaxy Note renders the fingerprint sensor even more unusable

Richard Lawler, writing for Dezeen:

While the Galaxy Note 8 won’t launch until August 23rd, noted leaker Evan Blass aka EVLeaks has just posted a full render of the device in its Midnight Black color.

It also shows a rear fingerprint sensor in roughly the same spot as on the Galaxy S8 — a place that makes it tough to access and easy to smudge your camera’s lens.

While I’m aware that phones are designed well in advance of the final launch but considering the Galaxy S8’s fingerprint sensor placement was a major design flaw, it’s hard not to critique Samsung for rushing all bases to tweak that one component to an acceptable level. Irony is, with the dual-camera setup the sensor has shifted even more to the side (of a 6.3-inch device), making it harder to reach, especially for right-handed people.

But hey, it is symmetrically sound.

Hong Kong’s densely packed high-rises captured from a drone

Hong Kong’s intense urban landscape has attracted many photographic essays but now with the help of new technology, architect Mariana Bisti shows the high rises of the city through a fascinating lens:

The city’s structural formations and functions encapsulate the spirit of its past, present and future, speak of its monstrosities and its miracles, uproot the official Chinese discourse and reveal a wealth of contradictions that constitute HK as one of the most attractive and mesmerizing dystopias on earth.

Apple discontinues the iPod nano and iPod shuffle

Chris Welch, writing for The Verge:

The last of the traditional iPods that lacked internet connectivity are gone. Apple has quietly taken down the websites for both the iPod nano and iPod shuffle today. An Apple spokesperson confirmed to The Verge that both products have met their end and are now officially discontinued.

“Today, we are simplifying our iPod lineup with two models of iPod touch now with double the capacity starting at just $199 and we are discontinuing the iPod shuffle and iPod nano,” the spokesperson said by email. 

It’s taken 10 years for the iPhone to completely cannibalise the classic iPod line-up. Say what you want about Apple but credit where it’s due – they are willing to look beyond their current success and aren’t afraid to (potentially) disrupt it.

The iPhone Plus killed the iPad Mini, the iPad itself (Pro included) reduces the reliance on traditional PCs, and Apple is already — allegedly — looking at the next frontier in technology- autonomous vehicles. This reminds me of Mike Markkula’s discussions with Steve Jobs (in 1985) on the then future of what Apple should be:

“Lasting companies know how to reinvent themselves. Hewlett-Packard had done that repeatedly; it started as an instrument company, then became a calculator company, then a computer company. Apple has been sidelined by Microsoft in the PC business. You’ve got to reinvent the company to do some other thing, like other consumer products or devices. You’ve got to be like a butterfly and have a metamorphosis.”

Weekly Vision: July 30, 2017

The Weekly Vision is a collection of stories that are worth consuming as whole, or just not worth the time editing. You’ll find out either way.

1. Wall Street has begun to think about Apple in a new way

2. A visit to the Glashütte Original [one of the most prestigious German watchmakers] manufactory. If you like this, this video series is worth a watch as well.

3. Apollo Robbins: The art of misdirection (video)

4. YouTube stars are blurring the lines between content and ads

5. Michael Lewis: “People waste years trying not to waste hours”

The President’s nine minutes of doubt

John Gruber, with an insight into why Trump’s tweets yesterday (here and here) weren’t just controversial for the subject itself:

There are all sorts of reasons to be furious about these tweets. But one that’s been largely overlooked is that 9-minute gap.

BuzzFeed reports:

At the Pentagon, the first of the three tweets raised fears that the president was getting ready to announce strikes on North Korea or some other military action. Many said they were left in suspense for nine minutes, the time between the first and second tweet. Only after the second tweet did military officials receive the news the president was announcing a personnel change on Twitter.

Suspecting that Trump was using Twitter to announce military action against North Korea was a perfectly reasonable conclusion by the Pentagon. It also would have been a perfectly reasonable conclusion by North Korea. The policy decision is terrible, the lack of any consultation with the Pentagon is terrible, but the way that it was made, starting with a belligerent tweet without follow-up for nearly 10 minutes, is jaw-droppingly dangerous.

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