The great North American migration: a butterfly extravaganza

It is perhaps the quietest animal migration on earth, so quiet in fact that until the 1970s no one even knew it happened. Every fall monarch butterfly populations of the United States and southern Canada head south to overwintering sites in Mexico. They go in search of food and warmer climes, a migratory journey that can take these delicate creatures two months to complete. Some will have traveled 3,000 miles, a seemingly formidable task for such a small and delicate a creature as a butterfly.MonarchInMexicoThen, each March the next generations of monarchs return north, arriving home in July, having flown 50 to 100 miles every day for several weeks helped only by the wind and their fat reserves. It is the only butterfly known to perform such a migration, more likely seen in birds and larger animals, and although monarch butterflies can be found across the globe, the great North American migration is carried out by just one subspecies increasingly threatened by habitat loss and disease.MonarchMigrationMapThey roost in huge numbers climbing into the millions on oyamel fir trees in just a few special mountain sanctuaries such as Sierra Chincua outside of the town of Angangueo in central Mexico. Completely covering the trees, they have been known to break the branches of the oyamels with their combined weight, despite the fact each individual weighs less than a gram. Even more astonishingly, the butterflies arrive at the same trees generation after generation, somehow knowing their destination without ever having seen it for themselves.monarchPairBonSecourRefugeThe oyamel trees – also known as the sacred fir – create a microclimate which protects the butterflies from the worst of the weather, preventing temperatures rising too high or dropping too low, while clustering together also helps the creatures keep warm. To see the dark orange stained-glass patterning of the wings huddled among others on the trees, or the insects sweeping around the forest like the dropping leaves of fall is one of nature’s most astonishing spectacles.Metamorphosis MonarchOnNewEngland images: fws.gov

Metabolist architecture coming to South Brooklyn, inspired by eco-regeneration

Citiscape Consulting has just revealed the first-look renderings of their latest architectural venture, and it’s stunning. This tower which looks like it came straight out from a science fiction novel is going to be a long-term care facility in Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn.1508-Avenue-Z-from-East-15th-Avenue-design-by-Citiscape-Consulting-hero-1024x0-c-defaultThe design, which looks like a futuristic tower of cubes and hexagons, was inspired by an architectural movement from post-war Japan, called Metabolism. In Japan they called it “shinchintaisha”, a literal translation of metabolism in a biological sense. But for a country still struggling to make sense of the tragedies of war, the word meant something else. Regeneration. That from the ashes of yesterday, they will create living structures that are capable of organically growing and adapting as symbols of resilience…. So how will these ideas translate into a 16-storey medical structure?1508-Avenue-Z-design-by-Citiscape-Consulting-2 The building which will be located at 1508 Avenue Z, will have a crown of vegetation, and each of the building’s hexagonical shell will carefully integrate organic elements such as live plant walls and wood. Staying true to its green theme is a special rainwater capture system, making sure that the building’s plumbing and its greenery’s maintenance are low-cost and highly sustainable. Aside from that, the building will also have a CO2-cleaning organic material which seeks to help lessen air pollution. And finally, the structure will be equipped with sun-responsive panels designed to keep the building cool and comfortable for its inhabitants. Kisho-Kurokawa-Modular-Nakagin-Capsule-Tower-at-Airbnb-1-889x594When done, the building will dedicate more than 3000 square feet to its medical facilities, almost 4000 square feet for retail, and 42,000 square feet for residential units. 1508-Avenue-Z-facade-closeup-design-by-Citiscape-Consulting-768x1024What’s even more exciting is the fact that metabolist architecture seeks to create structures that are meant to change through time—something that grows. This is reminiscent of one of the most iconic works in the movement, the Nakagin Capsule Tower designed by the Japanese architect Kisho Kurakawa. It is a modular capsule building, which meant that each of the units, or rather, “capsules” of the building can be moved, removed, and changed. How will this concept work on this building, we wonder? Will it also be able to change its appearance and adapt accordingly? Only time will tell.

(h/t, images: archpaper.com, inhabitat.com, newyorkyimby.com)

Bathe in sound at Joshua Tree’s Integratron

The world is filled with many wondrous places that have a history we don’t yet fully understand. Locations such as Stonehenge and Easter Island draw people from all over the globe, all claiming to feel some sort of spiritual pull towards those places. While we may never know all the details of these ancient wonders, there are some newer spiritual locations whose history is very clear. That knowledge does little to deter those folks who feel as though they need a little magic in their lives. One such place is the Integratron, which can be found in a small town near Joshua Tree in California.static1.squarespace.comSeemingly stuck in the middle of nowhere, the Integratron is a dome shaped building that, at first glance, looks a whole lot like an observatory. Given the history of the building, it is perhaps no real surprise that it looks the way it does. There is an alien connection to this place, and while it is not used for such purposes nowadays, we do know the reasons why it was built.5205162597_b5e848d562_bThe history of the Integratron goes all the way back to the 1950’s, when former aircraft mechanic named George Van Tassel moved to the area with the intention of opening a small hotel. Shortly after moving there, George would spend a lot of time at Big Rock, a spiritual destination for Native Americans. It was during one of his moments of quiet solitude that Van Tassel claims he received messages form intelligent beings beyond the stars. The idea of the hotel was put on the back burner in favor of what was to become the Integratron.3860944225_d0c9b898f1_bGeorge hosted many successful UFO conventions in the area, the proceeds of which he used to build his masterpiece. More than just a simple building, George intended the Integratron to work like a massive battery that he claimed could recharge the cells in the human body. The main construction was finished in 1959, but George continued to make changes all the way up to 1973, which was when he passed. Rather than slipping into obscurity and falling into ruin, the Integratron continued to thrive, albeit under several different guises.6330619775_c48d33d7fd_bThe building was used for a variety of different purposes, and at one point came very close to being turned into a disco. Despite all the changes over the years, the Integratron has come full circle, and is now used for the purposes that Van Tassel initially intended. This is the place to go for a full body regeneration, which is delivered via sound baths. Essentially, you get to lay back and relax for an hour while the session leader created music through a series of different vessels.8772658209_afb3a3ff43_bThe acoustics of the building make this experience something quite magical. Several musicians have visited over the years, testing the sounds and sonics that the interior of the Integratron creates. The building is open to the public, so it’s certainly a place to visit if you feel as though your energy is waning and you need a little recharging.

8772657085_e3631e1117_b  Images: integratron.com