Nevada bathroom door painted with toilet terms

Open the Door to a Livelier Lavatory Lexicon

Nevada bathroom door painted with toilet termsWhen nature calls, what do you call it, that place you go for going? If you go to the place pictured here, you can choose your preferred term from a nice assortment of colorful toilet terms. Gender-neutral, too! I spotted this outdoor restroom at the rear of a restaurant in historic Boulder City, Nevada. It was so amusing I was able put aside any nagging concerns about sanitation and cleanliness.

And filed under Didn’t Know That! … apparently Shi-Shi is Hawaiian slang, pronounced “shee shee” and meaning “to pass urine or use the bathroom.”

revolution water cycle video thumbnail

Pop-ups, Paper Cuts and the Water Cycle

revolution water cycle video thumbnailYet another graphic interpretation of the water cycle? Yes, but this one’s truly special. Revolution is a stop-motion animated pop-up book by Chris Turner, Helen Friel and Jess Deacon that illustrates the familiar travels of a water drop with an uncommon aesthetic approach.

It’s a short one minute and forty-five seconds in length, but long on the tenacity and skill needed to create it – see for yourself on the companion “Making of Revolution” video. (My hands felt sticky just watching it!)

 

An Eye-Pooping Infographic on Water and Sanitation Challenges

The poo poo problem continues unabated, and here’s a genuinely crappy infographic for all you visual learners out there! I’ll bet this was the assignment of a lifetime for some lucky graphic designer, and a review of the associated facts won’t hurt the rest of us either.

This fab graphic was submitted by Tony Shin and comes hardwired to some SEO scheme related to online nursing programs, but never mind, I still love it and consider it a fair trade to share such an awesome, informative graphic! Enjoy, but first let me highlight some personal favorite details:

microbes water and sanitation

We're wastewater BFFs! Despite their deadly nature and bad attitude, these fellows still look pretty cute!

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On Paper, City Water Looks Lovely

re:vision magazine waterA wonderful take on urban water from graphic artist Chad Hagen, created for issue #1 of online magazine Re:Vision. (See the accompanying article citing forward-thinking water management in several U.S. cities.)

For reasons I can’t quite explain, this is visually mesmerizing to me…perhaps it’s the motion, the flow, the movement? Or, because like water, it is both simple and complex, depending on how you look at it?

water illustration by chad hagen

Public Art and the Beauty of Sewage Treatment

Most of us have a love-hate relationship with mandatory public art funding. Sometimes the results are seriously wonderful and sometimes they’re seriously silly…money well-spent, or money mis-spent.

Wooden walkway, mountains and outfall: Image of the San Jose/Santa Clara Water Pollution control plant by photographer-in-residence Robert Dawson (Robert Dawson via mercurynews.com)

This public art project in my view is seriously wonderful. Noted environmental photographer Robert Dawson has spent the past year as the “photographer-in-residence” at the San Jose/Santa Clara sewage treatment plant, a $65,000 project made possible by a city public art ordinance which sets aside 1% funding of selected capital improvement projects for public art.

This is a fantastic proposition as this plant, one of the largest such facilities in California, serves 1.5 million people who’d probably like to have a look at they’ve paid for, as well as what they will be paying for over the next couple decades as the facility embarks on a major 15-year renovation.

A strange conundrum for those who must convince the public to fund large water projects is the fact that most of the infrastructure is invisible to the public (until a pipe bursts). Out of sight, out of mind. Public art is a wonderful way to illustrate that there’s a lot more involved in this process after the dirty water goes down one’s drain.

Many believe that what’s needed to fix crumbling water infrastructure is more money and more engineering. For starters, I think we could use more artists.

Read more about this project and view more photos at mercurynews.com, via Aquafornia
See more of Robert Dawson’s portfolio, which includes the fantastic Global Water Project and Water in the West.

World’s Best Swimming Pool for Dry Climates

Now this is a sweet swimming pool for a parched landscape because it uses absolutely no water at all! In fact, it’s a dreamy, creative illusion!

Virginia-based master gardener and talented painter Patty Butters created this trompe l’oeil panorama on top of an existing concrete pad that had seen better days. Nice touch, too, with the inflatable chaises, where guests can relax and float away on a fantasy. I’m sorry that my photos don’t do justice to the “pool’s” realism…during my visit to her wonderful garden, I did not realize the pool was an illusion until I was about 8 feet from its “edge.”  How cool..conceptually-speaking!

trompe loeil painted swimming pool

trompe loiel swimming pool

Trompe loeil painted swimming pool

trompe loeil painted swimming pool

Power Toilets: Because we’re all the same inside (the restroom)

This proves even the most powerful people can’t feel secure anywhere! Working from secret photos taken of what must be one of the world’s most closely-guarded loos, the Danish group SUPERFLEX has created the installation Power Toilets, which lets us envision the movements of global movers and shakers. We can see that the decor is quite minimalist; surprising (or maybe not!)

From the SUPERFLEX website,

Power Toilets is a copy of the toilets used by the members of the UN Security Council in the UN Headquarter, New York. The UN building was the result of the collaborative efforts of a multinational team of leading architects. When completed in 1952, it stood as a symbol of unity after the Second World War and has since hosted many historic aspirations, speeches, debates and gatherings of world leaders.

Based on photos taken secretly, the interior of the Power Toilets is identical in detail to that of the sanitary facilities at one of the most secure buildings in the world. Bathers and canoeists at the Park van Luna are now free to use the same toilets as the world’s most powerful leaders. The interior design is typical to the 1950’s including a lot of marble, steel and the iconic American Standard appliances. The exterior has a neutral nondescript shape like it was cut out of the UN-building in New York and moved intact to this new development in Noord-Holland.

power toilets public art by SUPERFLEX: urinals

power toilets public art by superflex washbasins, sinks

Aqua in Chicago: 82 Stories of Inspiration

Aqua Building Chicago Illinois

Aqua Building, Chicago, Illinois

While visiting Chicago recently, my hotel was right next door to the much-praised new Aqua building…and really, I just couldn’t get enough of staring up at it’s unusual form.

The 82-story, mixed-used building was designed by Jeanne Gang, principal and founder of Studio Gang Architects. It is her first skyscraper project and the largest project ever awarded to an American firm headed by a woman. Good start, Jeanne! Gang has cited the striated limestone outcroppings that are a common topographic feature of the Great Lakes region as inspiration for the sculptural, undulating slabs that give the building its exciting, water-inspired design.

Fake Ice: Now That’s Cool!

artificial ice vintage postcard

This charming little postcard from cardcow.com made me smile, especially the sight of the gaggle of children so excited to see the arrival of their “Pure Artificial Ice.”

Silly people, don’t you know there’s no such thing as fake ice? What? There is?! While it wasn’t delivered by the Standard Fuel and Ice Company, synthetic ice has actually around since the 1960s as a real ice alternative for skating. Unlike genuine ice, the fake stuff doesn’t require cold weather or refrigeration equipment. It requires… just one word… plastics!

The first application of plastic ice substitute for ice skating was in the 1960s using materials developed by DuPont in the early 1950s. Today, the technology is still in use from big rinks down to the garages of the hockey-obsessed.

synthetic ice

SuperGlide Plastic Ice via globalsyntheticice.com

What’s a Fountain Without Water?

That’s the subject of a personal photo project I’ve been working on this past month. In Kansas City, Missouri (the urban counterpart to my suburban Shangri-la) 47 public fountains will be turned on April 6th, the city’s annual “Fountain Day.”

kansas city mo dry muse of missouri fountain

In Kansas City, MO: The Muse of Missouri, dry.

In 2009, severe budget problems drove city officials to threaten that that the fountains would remain dry due to lack of funds. Political grandstanding, maybe, but the citizenry greeted the proposal harshly and vocally. This year there were no such attacks on the fountains, although other basic city services will see budget cuts and/or rate increases (including water).

What’s a fountain without water? It’s not like a wallet without money; it’s more like a soul without joy.

(If you can’t view the slideshow below (Internet Explorer users, probably talkin’ about YOU) visit the full set on my Flickr page.)


Created with Admarket’s flickrSLiDR.