Tag Archives: outdoors

Greening City

High Line nyc via house and gardening addicts

New York City’s High Line park is 2.3 km of landscaped public space that floats above the city on the old High Line tracks. Last time I was in New York we spent most of an afternoon exploring the park; it was a fabulous way to explore the city and it was amazing to see all the different people using the park, from wandering tourists to locals on their lunch breaks.

Today’s post is all about how people have managed to carve out a little piece of nature even in the busiest metropolises. As you will see it doesn’t just take a green thumb but also a willingness to think unconventionally.

Yuyuan Gardens in Shanghai via tripify

One of the most majestic urban gardens is surely Yuyuan Gardens in Shanghai. Created during the Ming Dynasty, strolling through the lush plant life and beautiful classic Chinese buildings is like stepping back in time. If you’re there see if you can spot the many sculptures, some of mythical creatures, as you make your way through the gardens many hidden spots.

Greenwall in MadridGreen Wall in Madrid via Treehugger

The Green Wall designed by Patrick Blanc is an extraordinary sight; it is almost as if you are looking at an optical illusion. The four story high garden can be found at the Caixa Forum, an arts and cultural space in the old industrial sector of Madrid.  The wall is home to 15,000 plants, proving that you don’t need to have a traditional large plot of land to create a greener city.

Brooklyn GrangeBrooklyn Grange via inhabitat

The Brooklyn Grange is the world’s largest rooftop farm, featuring 40,000 square feet of growing space for delicious produce. What I find most fascinating about large scale urban projects like this one is the vision of the people involved. To look at a concrete rooftop and see a thriving farm is amazing. Wouldn’t it be incredible if every city could have farms hidden in the sky?

Namba ParksNamba Parks in Osaka via daily tonic

In the densely populated city of Osaka there is little room for greenery, which makes spaces like Namba Parks so essential. The eight level garden is nestled between office and apartment buildings and the Namba train station.  The garden is fully integrated into its urban surroundings, providing an oasis from the chaos of city life.

BerlinPrinzessinnengarten, Berlin

The Prinzessinngarten in Berlin is a community garden built on a vacant lot that provides a place of solace, good food and community for numerous families and citizens in the city. Similar to other city parks, like The South Central Farm in L.A., the Prinzessingarten has had to fight for it’s survival, but those who love the park are working hard to ensure the garden is kept intact.

Nanyang Technological Institute in Singapore via freshome

The rooftop garden on the School of Art, Design and Media at the Nanyang Technical Institute in Singapore is a perfect marriage of architecture and garden design. The gently sloping roof is the perfect place for students to study, take breaks or look for inspiration. The result is a gorgeous building that shows that nature and progress can coexist.

These are just a few of the examples of urban gardening. Does your city have a public greenspace you’d like to tell us about? If you don’t think your city has enough of the green stuff then get planting. As you can see, rooftops, abandoned lots, and even walls can be places to grow.

Happy Friday Everyone!

Posted in Culture | Tagged , , ,

Playful Design

crochet playground

As if I needed another reason to wish I was in New York right now, the MOMAs Century of the Child: Growing by Design exhibit is in full swing and oh how I wish I could be there to check it out.  Nowadays, incredible design has infiltrated the playroom and the playground, and parents and children alike are choosing high-end designer toys and furniture in lieu of boring plastic alternatives, but this is not a new phenomenon. Designers have been creating for children for ages because it allows them to unleash their inner child, and because they know that great design enriches us all. In honour of the Century of the Child exhibit I thought we could have a look at how playful design has been incorporated into the creation of schools and playspaces. Not only are these spaces beautifully designed, they also help foster a child’s natural curiosity and love of learning.

crochet playground view 2crochet playground 3Crochet Playground by Toshiko Horiuchi MacAdam via playscapes

This crochet playspace created by Toshiko Horiuchi MacAdam is pure inspiration. Not only is it remarkable to look at, I imagine it would also be tremendous fun to play in.  The incredible playgrounds Toshiko creates are made out of miles of yarn and much of the work is done by hand. To see more of these beautiful playgrounds head here.

Swedish Open SchoolSwedish Open School via Apartment Therapy

Swedish Open School 2Swedish Open School via apartment therapy

Often, design for children takes into account philosophies on education and child development, as is the case with the open schools movement in Sweden. The open school is one that does away with walled classrooms in favour of open spaces where children can interact with others of various ages, and learn independently. The Telfonplan School pictured above is modern and airy, a far cry from any of the boxy schools I’ve ever encountered.

Leimondo NurseryLeimondo Nursery School via dezeen

Leimondo Japanese Nursery SchoolLeimondo Nursery School via dezeen

This open concept Japanese nursery school is the work of architects Hirotani Yoshihiro and Ishida Yusaku for Archvision Hirotani Studios. The design allows natural light to come in through skylights, and a sense of openness and interconnectedness is created by artful cutouts in the walls between rooms. I only wish I could see this space full of toys and children playing, without which the space is beautiful but a tad sterile.

Ecole Maternelle PajolEcole Maternelle Pajol images via Palatre et Leclare Architectes

Ecole Maternelle Pajol interiorimages via Palatre et Leclare Architectes

I think any child would love to go to a school that looks as joyful and colourful as this Parisian kindergarten. Architects Palatre et Leclare converted an old school from the 1940’s into a rainbow-hued place to learn and play. I wish all schools could look like this.  For more pics of this phenomenal project go here.

crochet aligator playgroundCrochet Alligator Playground by olek via designboom

crochet alligator playground by olek, seen upcloseCrochet Alligator Playground by olek via designboom

Here’s another example of a crocheted playspace; this one is in Sao Paulo and it is the creation of Polish street artist olek. An original alligator playground sculpture, designed by Marcia Maria Benevento, was covered over the course of the week in crochet for the SESC Arts Show 2012. My crochet hand gets tired just thinking about all the work this must have taken.

That’s a wrap for our look at design for children’s spaces. If you’re in New York be sure to check out the Century of the Child exhibit, and let me know how it went. The show runs until November 5th.

Happy Friday Everyone!

Posted in Culture, Design | Tagged , ,

Crazy Corn Mazes

Image from Knight News

Fall is starting to pick up in the northern hemisphere, with days getting shorter, the air getting crisper, and leaves just beginning to slowly fade into the colors of the season. With Halloween just around the corner, fall activities are coming to the forefront as well.

Harvest-related activities are usually the norm for the season, especially in areas that are more rural or that are closer to rural areas. Farms open up their fields for hay rides, pumpkin patch picking, and apple picking. And then there is the corn maze.

Corn is one of the largest crops in the American continent, especially in the United States. It has a significant cultural and historical value to the lands as well, as seen in its association with the traditions and symbolism of the Native American peoples. Today corn is still a ubiquitous part of the American landscape, be it geographically or culturally.

Corn mazes are exactly what you might assume. Fields of corn are cut for harvest, and in this process, the fields are cut to create a maze from one end of the field to the other as part of a tourist attraction or fall harvest activity for the farm.

There are some people that have taken this simple harvest season task to new heights however, and have made wildly intricate and outrageous maze designs out of their corn fields, seen fully only through aerial photographs. Some farms create these mazes every year, hoping to attract visitors and tourists.

Here are some amazing corn maze designs.

Treinen Farm corn maze with complex-additives of da Vinci Vitruvian Man part cyborg steampunk medicine and math

Image courtesy Treinen Farm

Treinen Farm in Lodi, Wisconsin created a variation of Da Vinci’s Vitruvian man, adding symbols and design creating an overall steampunk look. If you look closely, the figure is holding a ray gun in its left hand!

QR code corn maze

Courtesy the Kraay Family Farm

The Kraay family’s farm in Lacombe, Alberta, is home to what the Guiness Book of World Records certified this year as the world’s largest QR code. The maze code opens the farm’s website, where people can learn more about the mazes and see past designs.


Image courtesy Ricky Carioti / The Washington Post

To coincide with the US Elections this year, Summer’s Farm in Frederick, MD, reminds airborne travelers to the Capitol Area to exercise their right to vote.  the Maze shows both presidential candidates for this year, Barack Obama and Mitt Romney.

Image courtesy Mike’s Maze

Mike’s Maze, in Sunderland, Massachusetts, has some of the most intricate maze designs I’ve found, including this one of Charles Darwin. The maze is exquisitely trimmed almost in an art-nouveau style poster, complete with some golden finches.

And speaking of Art, Mike’s Maze has also done past designs featuring icons of art history, including the Mona Lisa and Andy Warhol’s Campbell soup can.

Image courtesy Mike's Maze

Unfortunately, to fully enjoy these corn maze designs one has to rely on photographs, but perhaps in the future, there will hopefully be an aerial tour of amazing corn mazes! For the meantime, we can revel in the feats their creators have achieved, and literally, get quite lost in their ingenuity and creative prowess.

Posted in Culture, Design | Tagged ,

Five ‘Welcome Autumn’ Party Ideas

image via celebrations at home

The Autumnal Equinox is this Saturday, September 22nd and it marks the first day of fall. The onset of a new season is the perfect time to gather friends and family together, so why not throw a welcome fall party complete with apples, pumpkins, campfires, hearty food or anything else that reminds you of this time of year.  Here are five party ideas for getting together and celebrating this magical season.

Whole Grain Pumpkin Pancakes with Apple Maple Compote via honey and jam

Relaxed Backyard Brunch

Move your table out to the backyard and host a casual brunch in the open air; mismatched chairs, dishes and decor will keep the mood relaxed, or you could even throw a blanket down and have a picnic brunch. These whole grain pumpkin pancakes would be a hearty way to fill up before a day of apple picking or an afternoon hike.

image via karas party ideas

Sweets and Cider

This is a great idea for a party where you will be entertaining plenty of kids; set up a sweets and cider buffet and let your guests help themselves. Make some savoury appetizers to keep grownups happy and decorate simply with branches or white pumpkins.

image via mochatini

image via house & home

Host an Elegant Outdoor Dinner Party

Take advantage of all the fall harvest goodness by throwing an outdoor dinner soiree. Set a table amongst the leaves in your backyard and use colours of the season such as red, orange, gold and green to inspire decorations.

When the sun starts to go down set a few of these gourd votives on the table to keep the party going. They are surprisingly easy to make, you can find all the directions here. A row of these would look beautiful lining a walkway as well.

Personalized Roasting Forks from Design Mom

Campfire Smore Party

Squeeze in one last campfire before it is too chilly outside, and while you’re at it why not throw a smores party?  Even though the graham cracker, chocolate, and marshmallow combo is a classic you can try experimenting with dried fruits, different kinds of cookies, or varieties of chocolate.  Provide a stack of wool blankets to keep guests cozy.

liquid apple pie via teroforma

Fig Old Fashioned via the kitchn

Festive Fall Cocktail Party

Stay warm during those chilly autumn nights by having a few friends over for a fall-themed cocktail party. Offer a selection of cocktails in flavours like apple, fig, or pumpkin. Appetizers can be simple and rustic like crusty bread, dips and olives or try spicy flavours to pair with spiced drinks.

Do you have any fall traditions or will you be making a new one this year?

Happy Friday Everyone!

Posted in Culture | Tagged , ,

Gone Glamping

When summer comes, many Canadians are inspired to leave the city and get reacquainted with nature. For the majority of us, this probably means a trip to the cottage but those looking for a more rustic and “authentic” experience go camping.

Outdoor canopied bed allows you to enjoy nature and a comfortable sleep(Photo: Luxury Vacation Source)

I must admit, I love the idea of camping more than the actual practice. I’m happy to be out in the woods and I relish the opportunity to take a break from television and the internet but I miss my comfy bed and real toilets.

Glamping Tent at Fireside Resort at Jackson Hole Campgrounds(Photo: Fireside Resort at Jackson Hole Campground)

Thankfully, enterprising individuals have discovered that many people feel this way and created what is known as glamourous camping, frequently referred to as “glamping.” Sites like Go Glamping and Glamping Girl advertise resorts around the world that boast lavishly appointed tents and campers in which you can spend your nature vacation.

SUJAN Luxury HotelsSujan Luxury Hotels outdoor dining experience(Photos: SUJÁN Luxury Hotels)

If you enjoy the idea of luxurious living in the great outdoors but want to avoid communing with strangers, there are many options for a personal glamping experience.

The Bubble Tent(Photo: Daily Mail)

Putting the mod in mod cons is the Bubble Tent. The sphere is air-conditioned and large enough to fit a king size bed or any other furniture you might require in the wilderness. The front door locks to protect your belongings but you will have to pick a private campsite to avoid prying eyes, as I’m sure anyone who came across this would want to peek inside the see-through walls!

The Opera Camping Vehicle(Photo: Been Seen)

The Dutch company YSIN developed the Opera in 2006 as an affordable option for campers interested in comfort. It looks like a typical trailer until it is unfolded and the graceful canvas roof is revealed. If you haven’t already guessed, this model’s name is taken from the Sydney Opera House which inspired its design.

The Opera, an inside look(Photo: Been Seen)

While small, this unit is completely tricked out with all the necessary amenities. There is a bed that can be set up as two singles or a double. The small kitchen has a refrigerator and sink (there is also an outdoor grill and prep station included). The bathroom features a toilet and a sink with a handle that pulls out to provide an outdoor shower. While not as luxurious as some of the glamping resorts, the manufacturers of the Opera have included upgraded finishes including teak flooring. I think I could be quite comfortable in this!

Dining room at the Clayoquot WIlderness Resort(Photo: Clayoquot Wilderness Resort)

The next time I head out into the wild, I’m not going to be roughing it- I’m going glamping!

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