Meet Animaris Rhinoceros, a new species of behemoth created by Dutch scientist turned artist Theo Jansen. This intriguing beast is a walking sculpture—one of several that Jansen, dedicated to breeding wind-powered artificial life, has brought to life. Jansen is usually seen on the beaches of the Netherlands with the huge skeletal plastic creatures he calls “strandbeest”, but the Rhinoceros is a 2-tonne transporter intended to cross the tundra. It requires an initial boost to set it in motion, then the wind carries it along. There’s room inside it to sleep! Anyone for a cool desert drive?
The Florence Institute of Design, a new international school in the historic Italian city, will welcome students from across the world when its first session begins on 19 January 2009. Focused on international students, it will provide masters and undergraduate programmes in interior design, graphic design and architecture, underlining the foundations of Italian design as well as modern technologies. Architect Marc DiDomenico is the founder and creative director of the institute. For more information, visit ‘www.florence-institute.com’. (Gretchen Ferrao)
Porotherm is not just another brick in the wall. Produced by Austrian company Wienerberger, this environment-friendly, perforated-clay building block comes in various shapes, both load-bearing and non load-bearing. The company claims tests in earthquake-prone regions have shown walls built from Porotherm are 10 times stronger. Non load-bearing Porotherm blocks are 60-70% lighter than solid concrete blocks. The load-bearing variety lets you erect a ground-plus-three building without a concrete frame. The large-sized and lightweight blocks cut construction time and cost by 15%. For details, visit ‘www.wienerberger.in’. (Deepa Nair)
A cross between a giant puzzle and a Persian rug, Katrin Sonnleitner’s PuzzlePerser is an interesting floor covering. Described as a modular floor covering, it is made up of 1,225 rubber pieces—which can be rearranged in a variety of patterns.
Sonnleitner’s work is known to focus on movement, a concept that hopes to encourage users to get comfortable within their environments and personalize their spaces. Other quirky pieces include a couple of clever storage concepts: The intriguing Möbelette, a storage unit that takes its shape from whatever is stored in it, and the Immöbel, which plays with our perceptions of space and order. See more at ‘www.katrin-sonnleitner.com’.