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Design Documentary History

A Massive Chainmail Shelter Prevents a Renowned Scottish Mansion from Dissolving in the Rain

February 7, 2022

Grace Ebert

The coastal town of Helensburgh is located in one of the wettest regions of Scotland, averaging more than 190 days and 63 inches of rainfall each year, and it’s also the site of an architectural masterpiece by famed designer Charles Rennie Mackintosh. Built in 1904, “Hill House” is a modern construction with a focus on light and texture, and its facade is made of gray Portland cement rather than a more traditional and hardier substance like lime.

While the material was innovative at the time, it hasn’t endured the wet conditions of its surroundings and has started to deteriorate and crumble as it soaks up moisture from the air and ground—the National Trust of Scotland, which manages the home, describes it as “dissolving like an aspirin in a glass of water.” To dry out the facade and hopefully preserve it for generations to come, the trust commissioned a giant, greenhouse-like box to sit over top.

English YouTuber and educator Tom Scott visits the porous covering, which at 32.4 million steel rings is the largest sheet of chainmail in the world, in a short documentary that reveals how the uniquely designed mesh structure has become a landmark of sustainability and innovative conservation in its own right. He discusses the unusual reasons for a permeable wall, the ways the chainmail offers the proper amount of ventilation without sacrificing protection, and how the multi-story walkways allow for otherwise impossible views of the “Hill House” roof and upper floors. Join Scott on his tour above to see the enclosure up-close, and in case you missed it, make sure to watch his trip to this mountain of mannequins.

 

 

 



Animation

40 Animators Around the Globe 'Pass the Ball' in a Collaborative Rube Goldberg-Esque Sequence

January 28, 2022

Grace Ebert

Forty months in the making, “Pass the Ball” is a delightful and eccentric example of the creative possibilities of collaboration. The animated compilation, which was conceptualized and organized by Nathan Boey, centers on a small red orb that shapeshifts, bounces across the frame, crashes into other objects, and ultimately, flies through a diverse assortment of three-second clips. Each scenario was created by one of 40 animators around the world, who, as the title suggests, “pass the ball” to the next person, resulting in a varied display of styles and techniques from stop-motion to digital. Watch the full sequence above, and find the list of collaborators on Vimeo. You also might enjoy this 3D animation of 100 characters and a mashup of Olympic jumps and tucks.

 

 

 



Photography

Arresting Photos Document the Polar Bears Occupying an Abandoned Weather Station in Russia

January 25, 2022

Grace Ebert

All images © Dmitry Kokh, shared with permission

Set against a backdrop of dried grass, rusted tanks, and debris, a photo series by Dmitry Kokh centers on a small group of polar bears that had taken over an abandoned meteorological station last fall. The dilapidated structures are located between Russia and Alaska on Kolyuchin Island in the Chukchi Sea, a remote tundra the Moscow-based photographer visited on a 1,200-mile expedition in September 2021. “We expected to meet (the polar bears) mostly on Wrangel Island, famous all around the world for being home for many bears. Not this year, as we found out later—maybe because of the very cold summer,” he writes.

Russians built the weather center on Kolyuchin in 1932 before retiring it in the 90s, and it now sits unoccupied along with the rest of the area, which is devoid of residential life. When Kokh and his companions passed the island that’s just 2.8 miles at its longest stretch, they saw the white animals moving through the vacated buildings. The site’s chipping paint, exposed support beams, and generally worn features make the resulting images appear almost post-apocalyptic as the photographer captures the bears wandering the rundown property, poking their heads through the windows, and lounging on the grass.

Kokh’s shot of a bear resting its front legs on a window sill won a National Geographic-organized contest last year, and he also filmed a short video of his visit, which you can watch below. Shop prints of the series on his site, and follow him on Instagram for more wildlife photos.

 

 

 



Craft

Two Elaborately Armored Origami Knights Arise from a Single Sheet of Paper

January 21, 2022

Grace Ebert

All images © Juho Könkkölä, shared with permission

Origami marvel Juho Könkkölä continues to amaze us with his troop of intricately folded warriors of his own design. Following an elaborately armored samurai and sword-and-shield-toting knight, the Finnish artist just released his latest work featuring two characters as they prepare for a fight. Similar to his previous pieces, Könkkölä used a single sheet of 95 x 95 centimeter Wenzhou paper with wet and dry origami techniques—watch his entire process in the timelapse below—to fold the dueling figures. The finished work, which stands 25 x 20 x 20 centimeters, took more than two years to design and 100-plus hours to complete.

 

 

 



Art

Sculptural Kinetic Lifeforms by Choe U-Ram Sway and Flutter in Hypnotic Motion

January 20, 2022

Grace Ebert

With assistance from embedded CPU motors, Seoul-based artist Choe U-Ram (previously) mimics the lithe movements of animals and plants with his mesmerizing kinetic sculptures. The large-scale pieces are often suspended from the ceiling and illuminated by LED lights that cast glimmering reflections on the metallic components.

Included in his most recent works is the frayed, Tyvek-coated sculpture titled “One,” which imitates the lifecycle of a flower as it opens to a bright, full bloom before retreating to a smaller, darker form associated with decay. “Orbis” and “Song of the Sun” conjure more animalistic motions that evoke long fins gliding through the water and flapping wings, respectively, although the latter’s petal-like elements produce shadows that fill the gallery space with silhouettes of thick foliage.

Watch more of the artist’s sculptural creatures in action on his site and YouTube.

 

 

 



Animation

'The House' Is a Mysterious Animated Trilogy Following Three Generations of Stop-Motion Characters

January 14, 2022

Grace Ebert

A destitute family, an uneasy property developer, and an unrealistic landlady clinging to the past all find themselves grappling with control when they inhabit The House. The mysterious dwelling is the titular character of Netflix’s new three-part series that brings some of the most promising names of stop-motion animation to the major television platform.

Created at Nexus Studios, the dark comedy is a collaboration between Emma de Swaef and Marc Roels (previously), Niki Lindroth von Bahr, and Paloma Baeza, who each created a different segment of the story. The first part, set in the 1800s, features de Swaef and Roels’s pudgy, woolen characters, the second zeroes in on Lindroth von Bahr’s anxious rat in a present-day nightmare of cockroaches and hospital visits, and the final ventures to the near future with Baeza’s cats experiencing a post-climate crisis world. “The House is a collection of cinematic stories that are intelligent, witty, inquisitive, warm, and yet packed with offbeat humor,” Nexus co-founder Charlotte Bavasso said.

Ahead of its release today on Netflix, Short of The Week went behind-the-scenes with the animators and producers involved in the surreal trilogy, and get a tease of what’s to come in the trailer below.

 

 

 

A Colossal

Highlight

Sailing Ship Kite