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The interior and exterior of wind tunnels have unusual design requirements that often make them accidental architectural masterpieces.Wind tunnels range from the miniature wooden box that the Wright brothers used, to the gigantic full scale tunnel at NASA Ames in Silicon Valley which drains the power supply for the entire Bay Area, and tests actual planes and space craft. Air speeds within them can reach tens of times the speed of sound, requiring super heated air.All in all, they are definitely object to go ooh about.

Spectacular Wind Tunnels

Gym equipment has a habit of making people look stupid, like that weird guy on TV with the pony tail and the abs machine. These machines are the zenith of fitness absurdity – teaching you to swim on dry land, anywhere. Handy if you are an Olympic swimmer holed up in a hotel room, waiting to be airlifted into Beijing when the smog clears.

12 dry land swimming machines

This is a list of the worlds most beautiful airport terminals, based upon architectural merit rather than crude size, high tech bravado or structural gymnastics. For that reason the beautifully simple Dalaman terminal in Turkey makes the list, for example, but the design compromised Heathrow Terminal Five, does not. Vote for your faves.

most beautiful airport terminals

It is no accident that very few production gull-wing door cars have ever been built. It is a design gimmick that looks superficially interesting but is highly impractical. Most gull wing cars are concept designs, and the company that made the most famous of all, the De Lorean DMC 12, went bankrupt. The Mercedes 300 SL is a lone example of a wonderful looking gull wing car, but even that was deemed dangerous, and nicknamed ‘the widowmaker’.The gull wing’s marginally less impractical sister, the scissor door, has actually become a signature feature for Lamborghini. How fitting that a symbol of bad design should represent a, once great, car producer that has reduced itself to churning out expensive kitsch, since the mid 80s.Somewhere in between a scissor and a gull wing are the doors on the cheaper Toyota Sera, which is a car that looks like someone’s grandmother trying to be cool.Vote for your very worst.

bad design gull wing cars

Cutaway drawings are a standard way of revealing the inner complexity of machines, and they are an art form unto themselves. Occasionally cutaways are real, however, as with this collection of cars which have been literally sliced apart to show their innards.

12 real life cutaway cars

Toilet design says a lot about a culture. In the US public toilet cubicles typically have a quarter inch gap which allows people to see in, although a pissoir, which is a partially open air urinal is almost unknown. The reason for this irony is possibly prudery. The gaps are to prevent impropriety, but the enclosed toilets are because of a general American shyness about toilet matters. A small gap allows monitoring a large one encourages voyeurism. Political correctness due to the fact that pissoirs can normally only be used by men is undoubtedly also part of the reason, although recently funnel based womens pissoirs have been developed.Pissoirs first became widespread in France but exist throughout the world, from Scandinavia to Australia. They fell out of fashion in the late 20th century, but have seen something of a revival, with ultra modern versions being built in places like Berlin. Britain, which shares anglo-saxon prudishness with America has recently relaxed its taboo against open air urinals, due to the problem of binge drinking and subsequent al fresco urination. In the south of England, cylindrical pissoirs which are hidden during the day, telescope out of the ground at night, for the relief of marauding drunken hordes.

pissoir designs

Pininfarina made their name as stylists of classic Ferraris. They continued their distinctive design tradition through other exotic sports car brands to ordinary sedans and, since the 80′s, household product deign. Some of the latter products are hit-or-miss, but at their best there is no other company quite like them.Andrea Pininfarina, the grandson of Battista ‘Pinin’ Farina, the auto design company’s founder, and the current CEO was killed today. Trajically and ironically he was hit by a car while driving a Vespa scooter.

classic pininfarina designs

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WTF is That? #5

May 1st, 2009 #link

wtf is that

What is this unfamiliar object? As always there is a clue in the question. Answers in the comments



12 Responses to “WTF is That? #5”

  1. spliffer Says:

    It’s a model of an abattoir after a swine flu cull.

  2. jeremy Says:

    Its the under frame for an Elizabethan dress.

  3. Rich Says:

    its an upside down model used to design some famous church or cathedral

  4. admin Says:

    @Rich – yes.

    Does anyone know which one? The shapes formed are catenary arches which when inverted would create a very efficient structures following optimum stress lines.

    Despite the simplicity of the method, this is a rather sophisticated structural approach – far more so than gothic cathedrals which are often surprisingly structurally inelegant.

  5. rob Says:

    It’s Gaudi model for the structure of the La Sagrada Familia in Barcelona. Strings with weights – when inverted – becomes the model for the structure.

  6. admin Says:

    @Rob Spot on. The ‘unfamiliar’ item is indeed an inverted model of Sagrada Familia, Gaudi’s unfinished masterpiece in Barcelona.

  7. scott Says:

    not to split hairs, but i believe that’s gaudi’s catenary arch model for the unfinished cathedral at colonia guell outside of barcelona. the appearances of the two churches’ designs are similar in some respects, and gaudi DID use this method of representation for both, but the sagrada familia has more pronounced, elongated towers (whereas the ones on the church at colonia guell were to have a more conical appearance)

  8. admin Says:

    @Scott. Looks like you’re right. The model is in the basement of Sagrada Familia but is of the Colonia Guell .

    http://www.gaudidesigner.com/uk/colonia-guell-old-photograph-of-the-model-for-the-guell-colonias-study-realised-by-edouard-goetz_366.html

  9. Val Hallan Says:

    It looks like the ballast bag array for a Japanese WWII transcontinental balloon bomb. I saw one at the US Air Force Museum many years ago.

  10. kreatiiv Says:

    unfinished for now…. to watch them work inside the cathedral using the traditional stone cutting techniques is absolutely amazing…. maybe one day they will actually finish it :)

  11. Gina Says:

    It’s a model used by Gaudi to create the towers and archs of the Church of La Colonia Guell of Barcelona (in Catalonia).
    Is based on the museum of La Sagrada Familia where it explain how Gaudi created his buildings :)

  12. robert Says:

    it appears to be part of a “fly gallery”, the system of ropes and counterweights to suspend various theatrical scene elements backstage, hmmm.