And finally…

A (sometimes) light hearted look at the weird and wonderful world of construction

And finally… Radio station offers free bacon butties to construction workers

bacon-egg-and-cheese-2834906_960_720Builders across London will be getting more free bacon butties thanks to a local radio station.

Fix Radio, a station for tradespeople and builders in the city, is to resume its Fix Radio Bacon Butty Tour from January.

The inaugural tour earlier this year lasted 40 days and saw 15,000 hot bacon butties given out to workers on London building sites in return for allowing their radios to be retuned to Fix Radio.

Since its launch in April, Fix Radio has amassed an estimated audience of 25,000 listeners and has announced new big-name sponsorship partners including building merchant Travis Perkins and sealant company CT1, who are co-sponsoring Kicking Off, the daily lunchtime sports and music show presented by Radio veteran Paul Burrell, who is also the announcer for Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium.

Other high-profile brands on Fix Radio include Bosch, Osmo, Dr Martens, Tuff Waterproofing, victoriaplum.com, Grundfos, Chandlers Building Supplies and the Federation of Master Builders as well as partnerships with Kier, Canary Wharf Contractors and Shaylor Group, who stream the radio station directly into their staff canteens.

And finally… Bus blocks live feed of stadium demolition

Georgia_DomeA live broadcast of the demolition of a stadium in the United States was ruined when a bus pulled up and blocked the view.

The Georgia Dome stadium in Atlanta was razed to the ground yesterday and the Weather Channel set up a camera to catch the historic 80,000-seat arena’s final moments.

Unfortunately, with the camera set up on the opposite side of a busy street, a city bus driver had other ideas, stopping directly in front of the stadium to watch the show, thereby blocking the view of the live feed.

The cameraman can be heard swearing at the bus, exclaiming “get out of the way, bus!” as the crowd blessed with full sight of the demolition cheers. By the time the bus departs, all that is left is a dust cloud, and a very unhappy cameraman.

The famous stadium has hosted two Superbowls and the 1996 Olympics and was, until Monday, home to the Atlanta Falcons.

It has been replaced by the Mercedes-Benz stadium, which opened in August.

And finally… Construction firm treats workers to healthy breakfasts, wi-fi and alcohol-free beer

beerForget pies and pasties, construction workers at a Salford development are enjoying healthy nosh, relaxing in an alcohol-free beer garden or designated rest rooms with wide screen TVS and free wi-fi.

The free breakfasts and lunch is being put on by Domis, billionaire Fred Done’s construction company which employs 150 people.

They are on site at Done’s £90m development at Blackfriars, where construction is currently taking place to build 380 luxury flats and townhouses.

The ‘VIP treatment’ is aimed to keep staff on site, especially when it rains, while also attracting top talent.

Domis managing director Lee McCarren told Manchester Evening News: “Society has changed and the building industry needs to change with it.

“We provide free Wi-fi so our people can check their emails and go online during rest periods in the designated rest rooms which are modern and always spotlessly clean. We have the best facilities in the industry; we’ve gone for a Formula One approach and it is working for everyone.

“The subsidised food, including healthy options, which surprisingly many of our fellas choose , keep staff on site longer. We also have drying rooms and showers and first rate medical facilities. We even provide free breakfasts on Saturday mornings.”

Semi professional rugby league player, Danny Price, who works as a steel fitter and plays for Widnes-based Championship team North Wales Crusaders, says the canteen is great as it helps him maintain his match day weight of 13 and a half stone.

Danny, 24, said: “You need plenty of food when you’re doing manual work outdoors but it’s a case of having a balanced diet and everything in moderation. You do need hot, nourishing food because it is hard work outside in all elements so decent food to keep you going is vital. I’m always attempting with difficulty to persuade my work mates to think about what they eat. This is easily the best site I’ve ever worked on.”

The 150-strong workforce will increase to more than 450 during the development that is on target to be completed in November 2019.

The project funded by Fred Done, built by Domis with Salford-based developers Salboy will include a cinema, launderette, reception area and gymnasium.

And finally… Party game company trumps Mexico border wall plan with land acquisition

Trump border wallCards Against Humanity, the self-dubbed “party game for horrible people”, has purchased a plot of land on the US-Mexico border in an effort to protest the development of President Trump’s wall.

While the company said it has no expectations the venture will stop construction, it does think it is a funny way to protest the wall and perhaps cause delays.

Compounding this land purchase is this year’s holiday season marketing campaign: for $15 buyers get six “America saving surprises.” Among these surprises are a map of the land plot just purchased and new cards for the game.

The firm said: “It’s 2017, and the government is being run by a toilet. We have no choice: Cards Against Humanity is going to save America.

“There’s no time for questions—now is the time to act. You give us $15, and we’ll send six America-saving surprises right to your doorstep. It will be fun, it will be weird, and if you voted for Trump, you might want to sit this one out.”

This is not the first time Cards Against Humanity has made an open political statement. This past summer the company launched its “Cards Against Humanity For Her.” The box was pink and, in support of women, the asking price was $5 higher than it normal but the profits made were donated to Emily’s List, a political action committee that strives to put more women into political positions.

And finally… Study reveals importance of street names in determining Scottish identity

Street names word cloudPeople living in Scottish areas with street names commemorating Britain, such as “Queen”, “Royal”, “Regent”, or “London” are less likely to define themselves as Scottish only, new research from the University of St Andrews has revealed.

The finding, by Dr Daniel Oto-Peralías, is part of new research focusing on what street names have to tell us about our culture and identity.

Dr Oto-Peralías, of the School of Management at the University of St Andrews, compared the street names of Scottish Westminster parliamentary constituencies with a recent population census asking people to identify their national identity. In areas with a lower number of such union-themed street names, people were more likely to describe themselves as having a “Scottish identity only”.

The study, published in the Journal of Economic Geography, also shows that religion remains a salient topic with the word “church” featuring in the top four of the ranking of most frequent British street names. The research also found that people in areas with a high percentage of religious-related street names, such as “church” or “chapel”, were more likely to identify as Christian.

Dr Oto-Peralías said: “Street names are cultural markers of a town and its history, and can be used as a rich source of information to create socio-cultural indicators at the regional and local level. With the help of data software with text analysis capabilities, it is feasible to analyse hundreds of thousands of street names to extract themes and trends capturing the culture and history of the population.”

Many topics can be studied using street-name data, for instance, gender inequality. The data indicate that the street map is strongly biased toward men, reflecting a history of marginalisation of women in the public sphere.

For the Spanish case, analysed in depth by Dr Oto-Peralías, the percentage of streets named after men, over the total named after men and women, is 83.1%. If streets named after religious figures are removed, the percentage increases to 86.8%, which is a value close to that found in other studies that focus on specific European cities.

Dr Oto-Peralías added: “This large bias naturally generates controversy and indeed there are some social movements fighting for more gender equality in street names. This is an important issue because street names have strong symbolic power and can contribute to the perpetuation of those social and cultural values contained in them.”

And finally… Bill Gates plans to build his own city

arizona-1966570_960_720The richest man in the world has announced his intent to create his very own “smart city” in the United States.

Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates plans invest $80 million (£61m) to buy 40 square miles of land just 45 minutes west of Phoenix to build around 80,000 residential units and thousands of acres of commercial and industrial buildings and schools.

Set to be called Belmont, the futuristic city will devote roughly 3,800 of the 24,800 acres to office, commercial, and retail space, while 470 acres will be set aside for public schools.

“Belmont will create a forward-thinking community with a communication and infrastructure spine that embraces cutting-edge technology, designed around high-speed digital networks, data centres, new manufacturing technologies and distribution models, autonomous vehicles and autonomous logistics hubs,” said Belmont Partners, one of Bill Gates’ investment firms.

“Comparable in square miles and projected population to Tempe, Arizona, Belmont will transform a raw, blank slate into a purpose-built edge city built around a flexible infrastructure model.”

Belmont Partners expects its development to feature all the trappings of a futuristic city: high-speed internet embedded in the built environment, accommodations for self-driving cars (such as traffic lights that communicate with one another to minimise congestion), and smarter manufacturing technology.

It isn’t yet known when construction will begin.

And finally… Architects invited to design shelters for homeless cats

Architects and designers in the US were invited to design, build and donate functional and one-of-a-kind outdoor dwellings for cats as part of an animal awareness initiative.

Architects for Animals® “Giving Shelter” exhibit, held by LA-based non-profit FixNation, saw participating architectural and design firms, as well as individual architects and designers, design build and donate creative outdoor shelters that provide animals with refuge from the elements.

The shelters were put on display to the public and  then donated to organisations who work with needy animals.

Los Angeles is home to one of the nation’s largest populations of homeless felines, an estimated one to three million cats.

Participating design firms this year included Abramson Teiger Architects; d3architecture; ES-EN-EM; HLW; HKS; HOK; Perkins + Will; Knowhow Shop; Kollin Altomare Architects; RNL now Stantec; Standard Architecture | Design; and a collaborative project from Formation Association, Terremoto Landscape and Arktura.

“This year’s cat shelters were extraordinarily creative, and the designers put a great deal of time and thought into how cats would actually interact with the shelters,” says FixNation’s co-founder and executive director Karn Myers. “They are truly works of art with a practical application, and all the shelters are showcased in our online auction as well.”

  • Abramson Teiger Architects – White Jack

1. AbramsonTeiger1_photo credit MeghanBobPhotography The White Jack started with the idea of a small object blown up and simplified. The form allows the cat to climb through it like a habitat. In its final form, the White Jack is like a piece of interactive art where the cat becomes part of the art.

Photo credit:  Meghan Bob Photography

  • Abramson Teiger Architects – Ball of Twine

2. AbramsonTeiger2_photo credit MeghanBobPhotographyThe Ball of Twine was a play on scale, as normally the cat is much larger than the twine and can bat around the ball with his paws. In this design, there still is some free twine to play with and the cat is inside the ball.

Photo credit:  Meghan Bob Photography

  • CallisonRTKL

3. CallisonRTKL_photo credit MeghanBobPhotographyMost times when cats are placed in a new space they feel guarded and unsure of their surroundings; they look for a quiet nook to hide and feel secure. Our cat structure was inspired by the safe havens of a cathedral. Our modern interpretation showcases contemporary geometric patterns and stained-glass windows. A soft carpeted ramp from one end leads to a perch for cats to look out into their surroundings while still being sheltered. Below the ramp is another safe space that can be entered through several archways; this is a great spot for cats who want to feel more hidden. Our structure provides safe hideouts for cats while still getting to observe the space around them.

Photo credit:  Meghan Bob Photography

  • d3architecture

4. d3Architecture_photo credit MeghanBobPhotographyd3architecture designed a cat shelter reflecting the environment and personalities of feral cats, using materials found on the streets and in the alleys (discarded HVAC equipment) creating a wild array of tunnels and passageways. But at the center, is a tranquil space for these cats to shed their desperate lives. The shelter is 6’ x 6’ x 6’ and constructed of steel and wood.

Photo credit:  Meghan Bob Photography

  • ES-EN-EM – Meow Miaow

5. ES-EN-EM_photo credit MeghanBobPhotographyBoth pragmatic and poetic, Meow-Miaow is an origami-inspired cat shelter made for indoor and outdoor use that provides a comforting, private and protective space for one or multiple cats. It is constructed using exterior grade plywood with a custom tinted exterior grade spar urethane finish and aluminum piano hinges attached with 3m VHB tape. The shelter is assembled flat and folded into shape creating a rigid monocoque structure that is as much a piece of furniture as it is a home for cats.

Photo credit:  Meghan Bob Photography

  • A collaborative project from Formation Association, Terremoto Landscape and Arktura – Flora-Gato

6. formation association, Terremoto Landscape and Arktura_photo credit MeghanBobPhotographyFlora-Gato is a biomorphic trellis providing shelter to cats and informal seating to human volunteers serving the feral cat population.

The trellis structure takes an organic form while also suggesting the function a pouffe or an ottoman.  Its exoskeleton is comprised of recycled and fiberized plastic, formed into ribs which are water-absorptive and serve as an ideal armature for planting.

Populating the trellis, Spanish Moss, an epiphytic plant drawing water from the moistened exoskeleton, assists in both shading and evaporative cooling for cats seeking shelter in the den-like interior, while the densely spaced Korean Grass plugs act as a thermal mass further regulating interior temperature.

Whether as shelter or seating, Flora-Gato exists in a state of hybridity, negotiating between flora and fauna, natural and synthetic, offering shelter to felines living in the inter-species urbanism of an ascendant Anthropocene.

Photo credit:  Meghan Bob Photography

  • HKS –  CAnT WE ALL GET ALONG

7. HKS_photo credit MeghanBobPhotographySunlight filters through the slats of my den

Birds chirping just beyond in their pen

I could lunge, I could expunge

Instead I will laze, within this fish-house in a daze

Can’t we all get along just today

Come back tomorrow for another foray!

Photo credit:  Meghan Bob Photography

  • HOK

8. HOK_photo credit MeghanBobPhotographyThis seven-chambered kitty shelter is uniquely shaped and provides both protection from the elements as well as a cozy home for multiple kitties. Materiality and safety were taken into strong consideration with the exterior being a warm faux wood finish that can handle any weather condition and the interior of soft felt and other materials for comfort. A circular back door allows the kitties to enter to exit from both the front and back.

Photo credit:  Meghan Bob Photography

  • Knowhow Shop

9. KnowHowShop_photo credit MeghanBobPhotographyIn the year since the Cat Exploration Program was initiated with the successful launch of the Lunar Cat Lander (to much fanfare and general purrs of contentment), the terrain has changed drastically. The unfortunate ascension of a petulant marmalade tabby has resulted in drastic cuts to all programs based in science. Worse, his penchant for climate change skepticism and bellicose rhetoric toward neighborhood possums threatens to turn the whole world into a proverbial litterbox!

Now Astrokitties of all stripes have cloistered themselves in defunded Lunar Lander modules and turned their attention earthward. They doggedly continue their work on the projects that will truly “Make America Great Again” (for cats), including indestructible peacock feathers, non-aggressive vacuum cleaners, and warm spots of sunshine that don’t keep moving around.

Photo credit:  Meghan Bob Photography

  • Kollin Altomare Architects – Cat’s Win! Cat’s Win!

10. Kollin Altomare Architects_photo credit MeghanBobPhotographyAs architects, we seek to address the design of any structure to provide shelter, provide experiences (good experiences) and inspire. We viewed the challenge of designing a cat shelter as an opportunity to provide a great shelter for a cat with different experiences within and showcase the inspiring “City Pride” of great US cities like Chicago and LA.

Our active and stimulating “shelter” was influenced by studying the normal interior environments that domestic cats prefer: natural surfaces that give them the ability to exercise and practice their clawing techniques; random surfaces and heights that allow them to share spaces; and protection from the elements or unfriendly visitors.

Our design concept was conceived by incorporating a shelter for homeless cats in an urban environment with one of the biggest icons in the city of Chicago, the “W”. We used the symmetry of the “W” to form the main structure which then suspends the “shelter” between the parallel planes of two halves of the “W”.

Having a place to call home, a sense of belonging and the feeling of victory over homelessness became the driving force for our shelter; Cat’s Win! Cat’s Win! became our catphrase, no pun intended. The CATS and the City both WIN!

Photo credit:  Meghan Bob Photography

  • Perkins + Will – UnFURled

11. Perkins + Will_photo credit MeghanBobPhotographyUnFURled is cat architecture designed to balance adaptability and graphic form. Built as an interchangeable and interacting kit-of-parts, the structure is scalable, malleable, and fun for you and your cat.

Photo credit:  Meghan Bob Photography

  • RNL now Stantec

12. RNL now Stantec_photo credit MeghanBobPhotographyDescription: Repetitive layering and weaving tie pieces into a three-dimensional object. Slender plywood arches across like a stretching feline and create a bounded but open space. The sculptural platform with soft faux fur offers different areas for rest and sleep. A single red thread weaves a combination of abstract triangular shapes into a shelter.

Photo credit:  Meghan Bob Photography

  • Standard Architecture | Design – Catosphere

los-angeles-architectural-community-designs-innovative-outdoor-shelters-homeless-cats-_The Catosphere is a concrete and wood pod, raised above grade on brass legs and fitted with a cat bed. The louvered wood walls can be open or closed depending on the weather.

The concrete’s high thermal mass gathers heat during the day and slowly releases it overnight. The movable wood louvers may be opened to allow a breeze to flow through or closed during cooler weather. Appealing to a cat’s desire for warmth, the Catosphere provides a secure shelter for a catnap.

Designed and built by Standard. The reclaimed wood for this shelter was generously provided by East Teak.

Photo credit:  Meghan Bob Photography

And finally… ‘Coo Palace’ conversion plans approved

Coo PalaceA building constructed in rural Kirkcudbrightshire in the early 1900s, which was designed to look like a castle for a herd of 12 cows, is to be converted into holiday apartments under new plans.

The landmark building fell into serious disrepair and was placed on the Buildings at Risk register more than 25 years ago.

Dumfries and Galloway Council has now given the green light to bring the Coo Palace back into use after several decades.

The proposals will see 24 units created in total involving the conversion of the current building and construction of new properties.

The building was constructed for wealthy Manchester merchant James Brown who retired to south west Scotland in the late 19th Century.

Historic Environment Scotland welcomed the move to bring an “unusual and distinctive” site back into use but with a number of suggestions to amend the design.

The project was approved with a string of conditions attached.

And finally… Bloomberg opens mysterious Roman temple below new European HQ in London

A new visitor centre showcasing the archaeological remains of an ancient and mysterious temple to the Latin god Mithras has opened under Bloomberg’s new European headquarters in the heart of the City of London next to the Bank of England.

The London Mithraeum became an instant public sensation when it was first discovered by chance in 1954 on a World War II bomb site.

Up to 30,000 people per day queued to see the temple to Mithras before it was dismantled and reassembled 100 metres (330 ft) away from its original location so it could remain open to the public once post-war rebuilding on the site was complete.

Now, under the guidance of Foster and Partners, Bloomberg’s project has seen the ruins returned to their original site and restored, deep beneath the financial software, data, and media company’s vast new base.

Today visitors to the temple can descend through steep, black stone-lined stairs to seven metres below the City’s streets where nearly 2,000 years ago, when Londinium was founded by the Romans and the then smelly, but now long lost, river Walbrook once flowed marking the limits of the empire’s first settlement in Britain.

Bloomberg London

The temple to Mithras, the virile young god from the east, was built next to the Walbrook nearly 200 years after the first Romans came to England and a century after the mysterious cult of Mithras first appeared in Rome in the 1st century AD.

It had spread across the empire over the next 300 years, predominantly attracting merchants, imperial administrators and soldiers who worshipped him by the light of flaring torches in underground temples, where the blood of sacrificial animals soaked into the mud floor.

Meetings were held in the private, dark and windowless temples which were often constructed below ground.

The mythological scene of Mithras killing a bull within a cave, the ‘tauroctony’ was at the heart of the cult, and its full meaning is still subject of much speculation.

The reconstruction of his rites below Bloomberg’s building includes the soundtrack of shuffling sandaled feet, and voices chanting in Latin the names of the levels of initiates taken from graffiti on a temple in Rome.

The sounds accompany visitors as they descend deep below the modern financial giant’s sprawling new structure where they are confronted with more atmospheric audio, lights and misty haze to bring the ruin back to life.

Michael R. Bloomberg, Founder, Bloomberg LP said: “London has a long history as a crossroads for culture and business, and we are building on that tradition. As stewards of this ancient site and its artefacts, we have a responsibility to preserve and share its history. And as a company that is centred on communication – of data and information, news and analysis – we are thrilled to be part of a project that has provided so much new information about Roman London. We hope London Mithraeum Bloomberg SPACE will be enjoyed by generations to come.”

Bloomberg’s new site, which has taken seven years to build, occupies 3.2 acres and provides approximately 1.1 million square feet of sustainable office space, two new public spaces featuring specially commissioned works of art, a retail arcade that will reinstate an ancient Roman travel route, as well as the subterranean London Mithraeum Bloomberg SPACE itself.

And finally… Montreal honours Leonard Cohen with 11,000-square feet mural

Leonard Cohen MontrealA massive 11,000-square feet Leonard Cohen mural was inaugurated in downtown Montreal this week to mark the one-year anniversary of the singer’s death.

Artists El Mac, Gene Pendon and the MU collective based their work off a photograph that was originally taken by Lorca Cohen in 2008.

Co-founder of MU, Elizabeth-Ann Doyle, said: “Leonard Cohen represents Montreal. He is the ultimate Montrealer! He rallies us, he resembles us, in our quest for freedom, in our search of humanity, in our humour. Leonard Cohen is all of us! It’s Montreal!”

Leonard Cohen’s manager Robert Kory and Lorca Cohen were present at the unveiling of this larger-than-life work of art.