There’s a housing boom in North Dakota—for birds. Beginning architecture students at North Dakota State University have created birdhouses in the manner of award-winning architects as part of a design competition. Featuring environmentally friendly materials where possible, each house caters to a specific species—be it a tree swallow or a northern flicker. “One of the things [the students] really enjoy about [the project] is designing and building something that a creature can actually occupy,” says Joan Vorderbruggen, an assistant professor, Architecture & Landscape Architecture who oversees the project—now in its third year—along with her architect husband Darryl Booker.!--/end tags-->
From the time New York City’s High Line Park opened in June 2009, it’s caused a stir. In a city that can feel packed with people, any new nook for trees is a blessing. This park in particular was a reminder of how an aging urban space—in this case, former freight train tracks—could be reused and recycled into something new. Two new proposals for NYC could provide more inspiration.!--/end tags-->
At once the sculptor and the sculpture, a beak can tell a
lot about a bird and its place in the world—as well as ours. In "Pecking Order" (Audubon Magazine, January-February 2011), writer Peter Friederici and photographer Joel Sartore probe the science behind bird beaks.
"Finches with their hefty seed-crackers; warblers with their forceps made slender for extracting small insects hidden among leaves and stems; raptors with their curved hooks for tearing; shorebirds with their probes, straight or curved, which help them extract foods buried on a beach or mudflat. Novice birders quickly learn that the wild diversity of bird beaks is among the most reliable means of quickly determining to what family, and often even what species, a bird belongs. When you’re faced with the bewildering array of avian life in a fall marsh or spring woodlot, that certitude is a comfort, something solid to rest on. But it’s a bit misleading, too. Birds’ beaks are, in fact, always changing..."!--/end tags-->
It might sound like a character dreamed up by Dr. Seuss, but Google is banking that the Schweeb could help transform the way we get around. Pairing a recumbent bubble bicycle and monorail, the Schweeb is among the five winners—out of 150,000 submissions—of Google’s Project 10^100, a call for ideas that could change the world. The goliath dot-com is awarding the Schweeb’s creators $1 million to test it in an urban setting. (Until then, anyone wanting to give it a go will have to hop over to New Zealand, where the Schweeb is an amusement park ride at the Agroventures Park in Rotorua.)