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Community / Public space

Air umbrellas, city-themed bikes and a Minecraft megacity

Some of the city stories we enjoyed elsewhere this week.

  • What have you spend the last two years doing? Really boring stuff, probably. Whatever it was, it definitely won’t have been as cool as what Duncan Parcells, art student and interactive design enthusiast, has been up to: he’s spend two whole years building a giant megacity using the video game Minecraft. This clip gives a tour of the city:

 (via SPLOID)

Parcell’s version of Minecraft required him to build structures block by block (he used 4.5 million) which makes the achievement all the more impressive – it’s not like he just laid out a bunch of pre-made skyscrapers, SimCity-style. 

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  •  A Chinese designer’s developed an “air umbrella”, which is basically a long rod that shoots out a rain-repelling circle of air:

The umbrella, the subject of an immensely successful Kickstarter campaign, will be marketed to city-dwellers for the simple reason that it only has a battery life of 15-30 minutes, so is more suitable for diving from office to taxi than for long, countryside walks. The other downside is that it propels high-speed water droplets from the air field’s edges onto passerby (a writer at Citylab delightfully said that it spits “like a furious camel”). The designer’s sympathetic response? “They will get wet in a rainy day if not taking umbrella anyway.” Serves them right.

  • An Oregon-based cycling charity challenged five designers to come up with city-specific designs for bikes. This Fast Company piece shows the results, including rain-removing wheel brushes for Seattle’s cyclists and retractable baskets for New York’s. Here’s the San Francisco bike, designed “so a cyclist can easily carry anything from groceries to a surfboard”: 

  • And finally: this New Statesman interview with the eccentric ex-mayor of Reykjavik, Jón Gnarr, who invented a joke party and then accidentally won the city’s 2010 elections. He’s now retired from politics (to his releief), and in the interview discusses decisionmaking, city politics and civic dress sense: 

[When Gnarr was elected] they asked me, “Do you have a suit?”… I said, “Yes, I have a suit.” “Do you have a tie?” I said, “Yes, I have a tie, but I don’t wear it because I consider it to be an arrow pointing at your penis.”


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