Wooden Wasp

Holy gorgeous!

In 2001 Portuguese carpenter Carlos Alberto was inspired to create his second all-wooden motorbike. After seven years of work, trials & tribulations, the Vespa Daniela was born.

Crafted using rosewood, ebony, beech, satin-wood, Brazilian cherry, tacula, panga-panga, sucupira, and sycamore, this reworking of the Italian design icon is one-of-a-kind.

No word on whether Piaggio has reached out to Alberto for a limited edition series, but consider it suggested.

[via Design Bureau h/t Shao]

Arts and Punishment

Smooth slabs of flecked marble. Slate gray walls. Arched ceilings. Ax murderers?

The recently opened Dostoevsky Station in the Moscow subway has all of that, and more.

One of a series of metro stations named after Russian literary heroes, Dostoevskaya features murals that depict scenes from his famous novels such as Brothers Karamazov, The Idiot and Crime and Punishment, as well as a stern portrait of Fyodor himself.

The wall art is austere, featuring black and white silhouettes of the books’ characters in action: a man is raising a gun to his head. Another holds an ax above his, waiting to bring it down on a women nearby. Continue reading Arts and Punishment

Hide Your Cars

Above ground, the people live. Below, the cars.

The parking robots are coming.

Over the past decade, automated parking systems have become quite common in Europe and Asia, where land use constraints are tighter and many areas more congested than the US.

Automated parking systems can fit up to 20 cars in the footprint that would traditionally house just four.

The number of automobiles produced worldwide may actually be on the decline, but we still crank out over 50 million cars each year.

Along with the new trend of “bright flight“, American city developers are feeling the capacity crunch, and auto-auto-lots have begun to appear here as well.

Although the first of these facilities — built in Hoboken, NJ in 2006 — was plagued by technical glitches and failures (little things, like dropping an unoccupied Cadillac 6 stories…), the technology has advanced quite a bit since then. Working automated lots are in use in Washington DC and New York City, with more planned for other locations.

The fourth automated lot in the country — and the first in Philadelphia — has just opened below ground at 1706 Rittenhouse Square Street.

Garage entrance

The compact, underground lot was crucial in getting the luxury, single-residence-per-floor tower approved and built. The small space, just off of Rittenhouse Square behind the Curtis Institute, had been a surface parking lot owned by Philly-based Parkway Corporation for the past several decades.

Parkway teamed with Scannapieco Development Corp and asked Cope Linder Architects to come up with a design that would maximize potential of the parcel. The group’s plan was to fit into the historic neighborhood and keep the tower’s footprint relatively small and set-back by incorporating an underground automated garage.

1706 Rittenhouse’s is the most advanced model on the market, designed by German manufacturer Wohr, who have been building automated garages since the 1970s. “It’s run by incredibly sophisticated software,” said Cope Linder partner David Ertz.

Koi pond & garden, instead of a surface lot

As residents of the building swipe a fob past a reader next to the elevator, the garage robot searches out their car, slides its pallet onto a lift, moves over to the entrance and raises the selected car to ground level, facing the street. A rep from Quality Elevator, in charge of maintaining the system, estimated the time it takes the car to arrive at 60 seconds or less. “It’s really just a big elevator,” he said. [6ABC has a video of the process]

The parking lot, like the rest of the tower’s design, is understated. The limestone facade that echos design cues of the older buildings on the small alleyway transitions to concrete on the upper floors, and is so minimal it’s in danger of being boring. But the 360-degree windows on each level and the attractive curbside koi pond and garden make up for it.

And they certainly look better than a gaggle of automobiles, sunning on the surface.

Pleasing Pedals

This one zipped around the gadget, gear, gizmo and design blogs faster than Lance Armstrong on steroids.

A limited edition of 250 Cannondale OnBikes are now available.

The erstwhile high-end bicycle manufacturer went for clean lines and unorthodox profiles for this $6,150 transportation statement.

From the Cannondale website:

Form meets function: Every millimeter of the onBike has been thoughtfully crafted to create a work of art. Ride it and then hang it on the wall. It’s a masterpiece on the road and the gallery.

Available only in black (matte), the cycle’s drive and gears are whisked out of sight, enclosed in a sleek billet-carved sheath that becomes part of the structural frame and connects the rear wheel.

All of the brake cables are also enclosed, and run down the front wheel on a single side, counter-balancing the chain case.

The casing around the drivetrain should keep out dirt, avert misalignment and provide better performance over time.

Perhaps we could get a bicycle loan for this one?

[h/t @aleiter via Gizmodo]

Spydey Sense

Seen parked on the sidewalk of a small city side street, a red Can-am Spyder Roadster is a head-turner.

In fact, the product website for this 2008 entry into the recreational vehicle market doesn’t even showcase it very well. This hybrid of a motorcycle and a convertible looks much more impressive in person.

With its “Y-frame” and three wheels, the vehicle is more agile than a car, but much safer than a traditional bike, with anti-lock brakes and traction and stability control. With an average rating of 35 miles per gallon and a small parking footprint, it could be an environmentally friendly alternative for auto commuters. Prices range from $16,000 to $26,000.

Today, the manufacturer, BRP — Bombardier Recreational Products — is better known for the Sea-Doo, one of the most popular brands of wave runners, but they’ve been making innovative vehicles for almost a century.

In the 1930s Canadian Joseph-Armand Bombardier patented the first caterpillar track snowmobile, and in later years helped turn snowmobiling into a whole new adventure sport.

The company has since made a name for itself with flashy motor-vehicle products. Some motorcycle enthusiasts decry the Spyder’s unusual handling, but are, however, enthused about its “style and grace.” These wheels are perfect for cruisin’ down city streets or beachfront boulevards.

You can take a Can-am Spyder out for a spin at a dealer or at a tour event; find one near you with BRP’s handy online map/schedule.


The first mini-farthing bicycle has made its way to market.

The YikeBike is an electronic powered transportation device that folds up to fit in a backpack.


Weighing less than 22lbs (10kg), it’s designed to go wherever bicycles do, plus some. Fold it, pick it up and hop on a bus, or even into a taxi.

YikeBikes can handle short curbs and bumps and have a tight turning radius.

yikebike3You sit upright, and grasp the handlebars by your sides, instead of leaning forward.

Combined with the anti-skid brakes and speed that is electronically restricted to around 12mph (20kph), YikeBikes claims this makes for a much safer ride.

None have shipped yet, though you can put down a €100 deposit to reserve one. When production nears, you’ll learn the full price, estimated to be between €3,500-€3,900 ($5-6,000).

Overall design is based on the penny-farthings, the Victorian hi-wheels that were the first actually efficient bicycles.

The YikeBike is motor-powered only, but the New Zealand-based company is looking for others to license designs to create a pedal-assist version, as well as a small size meant for kids.

They also postulate about future mini-farthing highways: light suspended roadways traversing a city; a kind of private public transit system, where the bikes could be freed to go much faster.

Hey, it’s good to dream. All in all, sounds better and more flexible than the Segway, and much better than Mr. Garrison’s IT.

[Via print edition of Time Magazine. I knew print was good for something.]