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Tesla has a New Competitor

Tesla has a new competitor, and it’s not from BMW or General Motors. It’s from Australian university students, whose electric Sunswift eVe set a new world record for fastest average speed—more than 60mph—over 500 kilometers (310 miles) on a single battery charge, on July 23. That’s a big deal: Range is the biggest issue holding back the widespread adoption of EVs, and this record shows the car can drive hundreds of miles at a reasonable highway speed. It stomped on the old record, a mere 45 mph, and drove farther than even the Tesla Model S, the current king of EVs, can go on a full charge.  Read more at Wired.


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Language of the Unheard

The Pine Ridge Reservation is home to the Oglala Sioux, a people with one of the most fascinating, controversial, and difficult histories ever told. From the infamous Wounded Knee Massacre to a present day unemployment rate of 80%, the residents of Pine Ridge have many stories that have gone unheard.

“Language of the Unheard” has been accepted to 11 film festivals around the world Including the 2012 Cannes Short Film Corner and Big Sky Documentary Festival. It was named Best Student Documentary at the Cannes Film Festival American Pavilion’s Emerging Filmmakers Showcase and honored with the South Dakota Significance Award at the South Dakota Film Festival. The Director of Photography, Travis LaBella, was named a winner of the 2012 American Society of Cinematographer’s Student Heritage Award in the Documentary category.

Directed by Jacqueline Reyno & Matthew Litwiller
Produced by Jacqueline Reyno, Matthew Litwiller, Travis LaBella
Cinematography by Travis LaBella
Edited by Andrew Dapolite
Music by Doug Kaplan

Language of the Unheard from Language of the Unheard on Vimeo.

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‘Zootopia’ Denmark’s Cage-free Zoo

He’s designed apartment blocks in the shape of mountains and a power station with a ski-slope on the roof. He’s made museums that erupt from the ground with cartoonish glee, and proposed a viewing tower like a gigantic spiralling lollipop. Now the Danish architectural wunderkind, Bjarke Ingels, has reinvented the zoo – by making humans the ones that are captive.

His plan for the Givskud “Zootopia”, a 1960s zoological park in southern Denmark, is a world where animals roam free, liberated from cages and tanks, while visitors observe them hidden from view, buried beneath the ground or obscured inside piles of logs. It is like a live Truman Show for animals, a 300-acre stage set wilderness in which the roaming beasts should never even know you are there, carefully concealed behind the scenes.

“Architects’ greatest and most important task is to … make sure that our cities offer a generous framework for different people – from different backgrounds, economy, gender, culture, education and age – so they can live together in harmony,” says the Bjarke Ingels Group, aka BIG. “Nowhere is this challenge more acrimonious than in a zoo.”

Floating pods … visitors will come face to face with animals, touring the park in mirrored capsules.
Image: BIG

The architects propose to reduce the acrimony by banishing the human captors beneath the carpet – in some cases quite literally. Visitors will be able to observe lions from a bunker buried beneath a hill and peep at pandas through a bamboo screen. They will look at bears from a little house hidden in a stack of tree-trunks, and gawp at giraffes through holes cut into a hillside.

“Instead of copying the architecture from the various continents by doing vernacular architecture, we propose to integrate and hide the buildings as much as possible in the landscape,” say the architects – keen to avoid the usual Disneyish approach of Sumatran temples to see the tigers and Chinese pagodas to view the pandas, by doing away with buildings all together.

The scheme also flips the traditional model of endless swaths of public concourse surrounding mean little enclosures. Instead, it will channel visitors into a central circular piazza, conceived as a sort of a base camp, from which they then venture into the wilds, exploring the three themed continents along snaking routes. Floating along a winding river through Asia, cycling across the African savannah, or flying above America, visitors will be housed in little mirrored pods, under the slightly strange assumption that animals won’t be able to see shiny metallic blobs trundling through their territories.

Looking at the renderings, it is all too tempting to imagine it ending up like a feral version of the Hunger Games, as elephants eye up the shiny capsules for a game of throw and catch between their trunks, while monkeys make mischief with the cable-car. But the architects have a higher goal, that by liberating the beasts, we might learn from their ways. “Who knows,” say BIG, “perhaps a rhino can teach us something about how we live – or could live in the future?” They could surely also do that by being left alone in the wild. But as long as zoos continue to exist, BIG’s model shows how architects can help them improve, by barely being there at all.

Source: The Guardian

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