Posts tagged with "weird":

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Yes, there's a Museum of Barbed Wire in Lacrosse, Kansas showcasing 2,400 different varieties—and yes, it's legit

It’s hard to refrain from making barbed jokes about the Kansas Museum of Barbed Wire when it sounds like a half-hearted April Fool’s ruse, but yes, this place is actually real. Located in LaCrosse, Kansas, the museum enshrines over 2,400 barbed wire varieties on display boards, some patented, some homemade, to walk visitors through the storied history of the devil’s rope from a simple invention designed to protect a family vegetable patch to a game-changer in agriculture and territorial delineation. “Some say it was the six-gun that settled the west. Others know better,” the museum’s website proclaims rather hyperbolically. With the advent of spiked fencing, “the days of the open range were gone.” The Spilger Barbed Wire Collection, a lifetime collection by one man, displays the first successful attempt at creating barbed wire in a coffee mill using grindstone and “some farmer ingenuity.” There are attempts at barbed wire sculptures, including one coiled into the shape of a tornado, entitled Fear. Another featured exhibit is the Fence Mender, a life-size diorama of a cowboy repairing his broken fence line by moonlight. Run-ins with barbed wire produced all manner of cuts and injuries that created a whole line of dedicated medicines and ointments for treatment. Visitors can eyeball the bottles and ointment tins from the late 19th and early 20th century, testimony to the “medicinal wonders” of that era. For the riveted few who are interested in learning more about “one of the midwest’s most important contributions to America’s history,” the museum also boasts a theatre showing educational films, the Barbed Wire Hall of Fame, an archives room, and a research library, which is even equipped with study packs for school students to learn about “the transformation of the open prairie into America’s bread basket.”
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Will China Become a Design Dictatorship?

The days of China as a staging ground for progressive, even experimental, architecture may be numbered. High-profile projects by Rem Koolhaas, Zaha Hadid, Steven Holl, et al, while the delight of design aficionados around the world, haven't impressed Chinese President Xi Jinping—at least in a positive way. At a symposium on the arts held in Beijing at the end of last year, he made statements to the effect that "weird" buildings—an adjective that has not yet been codified—would not be welcome in the future. Government intrusion into architectural aesthetics is not, of course, without ugly precedent. Joseph Stalin—who was called "the father and friend of all Soviet architects" at the All-Union Congress in 1946—essentially conscripted architects to work for the state, forcing them to close their practices to deliver structures like the Seven Sisters, fortress-like buildings topped with Gothic-ish towers. (Un-fun fact: The project manager for these buildings was a KGB honcho, and the construction crews were composed of POWs and political prisoners.) Mies van der Rohe, in an act of cunning integrity, convinced the Third Reich of the importance of keeping the Bauhaus open, only to close the school himself in a statement of artistic principle. We wonder who among the contemporary architectural community might take such a stand—should the need arise—with regard to China.
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Prince Charles Is Slumming It?

Yesterday AN learned, via ArchNewsNow, that Prince Charles is planning a new town in India that draws its inspiration from the slums and informal settlements of Calcutta and Bangalore. While the Prince has long been a bete noire for modernists, his interest in vernacular, impromptu settlements is in line with modern architects like the members of Team 10 and Bernard Rudofsky. The Prince is no stranger to town building, having created a simulacrum of a medieval village at Poundbury. In India, the Prince's Foundation for the Built Environment plans to build 3000 homes--for an estimated 15,000 low income residents--interwoven with schools and small shops. "We have a great deal to learn about how complex ­systems can self-organize to ­create a harmonious whole," the Prince said in a statement, according to the Daily Mail. The Prince, widely admired for his work on sustainable agriculture, plans to include green features like rainwater collectors and natural ventilation.