Tag Archives: architecture

This Man Is Able to Reproduce Meticulously Accurate Cityscapes After A Single Fly-Over (Video)

They call him the human camera.

Stephen Wiltshire was born in London in 1974. As a child, Stephen was a mute. At the age of three he was diagnosed as autistic, and in that same year his father died in a motorcycle accident.

At five he was sent to the Queensmill School for the autistic in London. The instructors there discovered that Stephen had an intense passion for art. Even as a child, his skill and attention to detail was exceptional.

A drawing Stephen did of St. Paul’s Cathedral when he was 9. Click to enlarge (Courtesy of the Stephen Wiltshire Gallery)

They used this passion to help teach him to talk. Stephen was a mute, and avoided communication with others as much as possible.

So his instructors at Queensmill would take away his art supplies when he wasn’t using them so that he was forced to communicate with them when he wanted to draw again. He started with just sounds, but eventually he said his first word: “paper”.

He learned to speak fully at the age of nine. By that time, his passion for art was already extremely developed. His favorite subjects were American cars (he’s said to have an encyclopedic knowledge of them) and the buildings of London.

A young Stephen Wiltshire thoroughly enjoying a catalog of architecture. Click to enlarge (Courtesy of the Stephen Wiltshire Gallery)

During his time at Queensmill, Stephen’s instructors discovered that he had an extraordinary gift: he was able to reproduce extremely intricate sketches after seeing an image only once.

As an adult, Stephen used this skill to jump-start his career as an architectural artist by flying over massive cities and then reproducing huge, elaborate sketches of the cities, down to the number of windows in each building and the clothes on clothing lines.

I’ve gathered a few videos showcasing his mind-blowing talent. Enjoy!

Stephen draws New York City for UBS’s “We Will Not Rest” campaign in 2011:

Stephen draws Rome after flying over it for the first time:

Stephen draws Singapore after a helicopter fly-over (time-lapse):

Stephen takes on his largest ever panoramic drawing: a nearly 360 degree image of Tokyo:

Stephen is what is known as an autistic savant. Autistic savants have damage to the left anterior lobe of the brain, which plays a key role in processing sensory input and forming memories.

Because of this, they are able to access lower-level information like the extremely intricate details of buildings in Stephen’s works of art.

This information actually exists in all of our brains, but it’s normally unavailable to our conscious awareness because our brains classify this information as superfluous or non-essential.

However, studies and controversial experiments have proved that we can tap into these same talents by using transcranial magnetic stimulation: temporarily shutting down parts of the left anterior lobe using magnets.

Check out the video below to see how it effected creativity and other brain functions in the fascinating video below:

To view more of Stephen’s work and learn more about his life, you can visit his website, The Stephen Wiltshire Gallery.


Count Dracula’s Castle Just Went Up For Sale. Take A Tour and Learn About Its Dark History

Bran Castle, a 12th century Romanian fortress, is most famous for being the home of the fictional character Count Dracula. Its current owners, now in their 70s, have put the castle on the market for a reported $80 million.

Check out some pictures below (click an image to enlarge).

Over the years, the castle has housed Saxons, Hungarians, Teutonic Knights and possibly even Vlad the Impaler (the inspiration for Dracula), who is thought to have been imprisoned there sometime during the 15th century.

The castle eventually ended up back in the hands of its royal heirs, but it was seized by the oppressive Ceausescu regime when they took power in 1948 and gave the royal family 24 hours to leave the country. After the regime fell in 2006, the castle was returned to its remaining heirs.

The current owners are looking for a buyer who will continue their mission of maintaining and growing, “the largest and most significant attraction in Romania.” The castle attracts around 560,000 visitors per year.

Read more from The Telegraph here.


Move Over Dubai! Saudi Arabia’s Kingdom Tower Will Dwarf the Burj Khalifa By Over 500 Feet

Next week, Saudi Arabia will begin work on a new skyscraper in the city of Jeddah. When completed, the Kingdom Tower will be the world’s tallest building by far at 3,280 feet (that’s a full kilometer, by the way).The Burj Khalifa is the current record-holder at 2,716 feet (827m).

Click image to enlarge

Kingdom Tower will have 200 floors and will require 5.7 million cubic feet of concrete and 80,000 tons of steel for construction. Because of it s size, it foundation will have to be sunk a full 200 feet underground. The price tag for all this: $1.23 billion.

Check out some concept images of the Kingdom Tower (click an image to enlarge):

The consultants for the building, Advanced Construction Technology Services, had a couple of issues to figure out for the massive building. First, it’s going to be near the coast, so they’ve had to test out different concretes to find one that’s unaffected by the saltwater.

Also, with a building of that size, you have to worry about strong winds. Here’s Gordon Gill of Adrian Smith + Gorgon Gill Architecture, the architecture firm who designed the building, explaining how they dealt with that:

“Because [the building] changes shape every few floors, the wind loads go round the building and won’t be as extreme as on a really solid block.”

The Kingdom Tower might just be the tip of the iceberg. Sang Dae Kim, the director of the Council on Tall Buildings, thinks we might be able to build even higher:

“At this point in time we can build a tower that is one kilometer, maybe two kilometers. Any higher than that and we will have to do a lot of homework,”

he told Construction Weekly in an interview recently. Read more from CNN here.

6 of The Most Breathtaking Yet Terrifying Bridges You Could Ever Cross (Pictures)

Click any of the images to enlarge them.

1. Capilano Suspension Bridge- North Vancouver, Canada

Height: 70m (230ft); Length: 137m (449ft)- This simple suspension bridge crosses the Capilano River in the Canadian province of British Columbia.

2. Hanging Bridge of Ghasa- Kushma, Nepal

Height: 70m (443ft); Length: 137m (1,128ft)- This bridge was created in the hopes of easing some of the congestion that was being caused by shepherds constantly moving their animals up and down the narrow mountain roads.

3. Aiguille du Midi Bridge- Mont Blanc, French Alps

This bridge isn’t actually all that long.. once you get up there that is. See it’s at the very top of Mont Blanc which is 3,842m (12,605ft) tall, so you have to take a vertical cable car built in 1955 which still holds the record for highest vertical ascent for a cable car. Once you get up to the bridge, the view is straight down for a mind-numbing 1,035m– that’s almost 2/3 of a mile!

4. Trift Bridge- Gadmen, Switzerland

Height: 100m (328ft); Length: 170m (558ft)- This simple suspension bridge is the longest pedestrian-only bridge in the Swiss Alps. It was built in 2004 to re-connect hikers with a remote hut made inaccessible by a retreating glacier.

5. Daedunsan Mountain Suspension Bridge- South Korea

This bridge is part of an intense hike up the mountain which also includes a number of precarious red steps. It spans 50m (164ft) and looks out over an 81m (266ft) gorge between to mountain peaks.

6. Canopy Walkway Bridge- Kakum National Park, Ghana

Height: 40m (130ft); Length: 330m (1,080ft)- The Walkway is actually a series of seven bridges made of wire rope, aluminium ladders, wooden planks, and a system of netting, it allows visitors to view the tropical rainforest canopy from an awe-inspiring perspective.


This Cube Made Entirely of One Way Mirrors Will Have Your Brain Doing Flips

Recently, the design collective known as Numen for Use created a 3-D cube made entirely of one way mirrors. They also designed the cube to be inflatable, allowing it to expand and contract when air is pushed in or sucked out.

Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge

The cube, known as the N-Light Membrane, is visually mind-blowing to say the least. Check out these videos of it being expanded and contracted.

Read more about the project here.


What Are Earthships and Why Do They Look So Cool?? (Picture Gallery)

According to earthship.com, earthships are,

the epitome of sustainable design and construction. No part of sustainable living has been ignored in this ingenious building.”

The term was popularized (and trademarked) by Mike Reynolds, an architect who is the leading pioneer in the field. Check out some pictures of some of the coolest earthships already in existence (click an image to enlarge):

Earthships are built using 6 fundamental design principles:

  1. All heating and cooling uses natural thermal or solar energy;
  2. Electricity is independently generated using solar or wind power, with excess stored in batteries for later;
  3. ALL water must be collected naturally (through rain, snow melt, etc.) and used 4 times;
  4. ALL water is recycled, with sewage water being treated on-site and reused as gray water for the flushing of toilets for example, and other used water (like from washing dishes and clothes) re-used for things like small-scale food production;
  5. All materials must either be naturally available locally or recycled (earth-filled tires, for example, are a popular material);
  6. Food is produced organically using recycled water with the goal of reducing or completely eliminating reliance on supermarkets

For more, check out earthship.com.