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OOW
A quick postscript to our previous post on the Out of Water Project: you can now browse the website that's been set up for the exhibition and its forthcoming book version. Just a few of the projects have been uploaded, though we're assuming more will be online in the coming months.

Liquid Wrap


If you know of a case study or a technology for collection, conversion and distribution of water sources in arid climates — or if you have a project of your own — and want it to be considered for inclusion in the book, send an email to info @ oowproject dot com.

Meanwhile, this week is World Water Week.
Lidos in Space
Speaking of swimming pools, here's an illustration of what an orbiting, low-gravity swimming pool might look like.

Space Swimming Pool


The pool itself is a large cylindrical drum rotating slowly about its main axis. Due to this rotation, the water is pressed against the sides.

Because of the lack of natural buoyancy, terrestrially-taught swimmers might struggle a bit when trying to keep their heads above water. But at least here, starting with a hard kick, one could take off from the “bottom” and then do a slow flying series of loop-de-loops before diving into a floating water blob for a couple of laps before again reverse-diving into the “ceiling.”

This is where the sea is the sky is the sea.

Yet Another Proposal for an Aquatics Complex for the Chicago 2016 Summer Olympic Games Bid
Chicago 2016 Summer Olympic Games


The shipping industry is in a crisis, reports Der Spiegel. The brutal downturn in global trade has left many container ships idling in ports around the world and will soon be accompanied by newer ships placed on order during an economic boom that seemed unending. With this much glut in the market, no doubt rental rates are dropping precipitously. When some of the shipping companies go bankrupt, perhaps anyone would then be able to afford to buy (not just rent one) a Panamax or post-Panamax vessels at bargain basement prices.

But then what will you do with it? You'd offer it, of course, to the Chicago Olympic Organizing Committee (that is, if Il Duce gets his wish) for conversion into their Aquatics Complex. Park it right in the middle of Lake Michigan; cleanse it of its toxic fuel, lead pipes and other hazardous materials; gut it; and then install all the necessary accoutrements of an Olympic natatorium.

Not enough space? Simply purchase a second vessel and a third one for good measure; they'll be similarly dirt cheap, we're sure of it. And then solder one to the port side of your first purchase and the other to the starboard side: two aisles and a central nave.

Instead of competing in outhouses built where Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux would have been violently gang raped, Michael Phelps will swim his last laps inside a floating, inverted St. Peter's.


A Proposal for an Aquatics Complex for the Chicago 2016 Summer Olympic Games Bid
Soil Maps of Africa
Soil Maps of Africa


GlobalSoilMap.net is a project started by a consortium of soil scientists to create a digital soil survey map of the entire world. It's a wildly fantastic undertaking, one which aims to provide an easily accessible tool to address nothing less than the most challenging global issues of our time: food security, climate change, environmental degradation, water scarcity and threatened biodiversity.

As avowed addicts of soil maps, we couldn't resist posting some of the gorgeous maps from the site. The maps we have selected, however, are the fading, dusty, conventional kinds — probably those saved from disintegration in some corner filing cabinets of some windowless office of some civil servant and then scanned and archived to help produce the next generation maps.

Specifically, we chose the ones of Africa, because these beautiful abstractions of geology often mask less beguiling ground conditions. In the case of Zimbabwe, its soil maps provide an illustrative history lesson on its colonial past (white farmers settled on the most productive polygons while black farmers were gerrymandered to less productive tendrils and globules) and also on its post-colonial hangover (those same polygons, tendrils and globules are the sites of violent land redistributions under Mugabe). In the case of Ethiopia and Sudan: famine, drought-induced genocide and harrowing stories of displacement.

Soil Maps of Africa


Soil Maps of Africa


Soil Maps of Africa


Soil Maps of Africa


Soil Maps of Africa


Soil Maps of Africa


Once finished, the digital soil maps will be freely available and web-accessible.
101 Plum Islands
Plum Island


If the U.S. Department of Homeland Security leaves its labs on Plum Island — “America's first line of defense against foreign animal diseases” — for swankier digs on the mainland where researchers would be able to handle the most dangerous animal pathogens, what would you do with the abandoned island?

An editor for Nature offered up some suggestions, including using the site for a “future museum on Craig Venter and his synthetic life form” and an “organic plum farm,” of course. But maybe instead of giving it to Craig Venter, the government deeds the buildings and the entire island to Richard Pell for his PostNatural History Museum.

Geoff, Mette and Mark's intensive design studio on Cockatoo Island ended a couple of weeks ago, with the next one in 2011 (or so we hear), so perhaps in the interim they'll island hop to Plum Island next summer (or post-abandonment). How would students respond to this particular island, once described as a “ticking biological time bomb” located so close to so many major population centers? What projects would they confect after rambling about the place where outbreaks of three infectious diseases (for instance, the West Nile virus in 1999) were alleged to have started; where wild animals are killed on sight but a habitat for several bird species is nevertheless supported; and where the serial killer Hannibal Lecter would have enjoyed a brief respite from his incarceration but one which he sneeringly rejected?

Detached physically and conceptually from the everyday and the larger landscapes in so many ways — away from the “mainland” way of doing things and into the avant-garde realms of Dr. Moreau and Dr. No and even into the off-grid DIYs of Giligan's castaway mates and still yet into the seemingly supradimensional fantascapes of Ricardo Montalban and Tattoo: what wildly experimental terrains will they terraform?


Ebola Island
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