Bjarke Ingels Group Unveils a 3D-Printed Simulated Mars Habitat, and Other News

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Mars Dune Alpha by Bjarke Ingels Group and ICON

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Bjarke Ingels Group unveils a simulated Mars habitat 3D printed by ICON for NASA missions.

The construction technologies developer ICON recently announced Mars Dune Alpha, a 3D-printed habitat designed by Bjarke Ingels Group that will aid in long-duration missions for NASA’s Crew Health and Performance Exploration Analog program. Built by ICON’s Vulcan construction system, the 1,700-square-foot structure is located at Houston’s Johnson Space Center and will host a crew for Mars surface mission simulations that will support crew health and performance while living on Mars during extended missions. “This is the highest-fidelity simulated habitat ever constructed by humans,” Jason Ballard, co-founder and CEO of ICON, said in a statement. “Mars Dune Alpha is intended to serve a very specific purpose—to prepare humans to live on another planet. We wanted to develop the most faithful analog possible to aid in humanity’s dream to expand into the stars.” 

New findings suggest the pandemic-induced e-commerce boom may be slowing down.

The rapid growth in online shopping during the pandemic may be slowing down. Though e-commerce was arguably the pandemic’s biggest fashion trend, disappointing quarterly revenue figures from Amazon may signal an end to the era’s propitious growth—likely a result of eased restrictions and a population more willing to patronize bricks-and-mortar stores after lockdown. Despite the slowed growth, online retail sales are still outpacing brick-and-mortar by a wide margin. Still, the slowdown creates uncertainty for upcoming fashion IPOs such as Rent the Runway and Warby Parker that seek to capitalize on the boom times. 

Museum of Image and Sound in Rio de Janeiro. Photography by Paul Clemence

After five years, a museum by Diller Scofidio + Renfro may resume construction in Rio.

The Museum of Image and Sound in Rio de Janeiro has been sitting at 70 percent completion since 2016 after the Brazilian government mandated that funds raised by the Roberto Marinho Foundation for the project be returned to the state’s national culture fund. According to a statement released last month, however, construction may soon resume on the museum, which was initially unveiled by architects Diller Scofidio + Renfro in 2009. “Inspired by the curves of the neighborhood’s promenade, the museum will become another tourist spot on one of the world’s most famous postcards,” the statement reads. “This work is one more of the actions and projects for the recovery of tourism and the universalization of culture. Rio de Janeiro needs to return to the role of protagonist that it has always had.” If all goes according to schedule, completion is expected for December 2022. 

Marina Abramović’s latest installation takes visitors on a journey through her life story. 

If Marina Abramović were to bury a time capsule, she’d reportedly include Rose of Jericho, Starry Night, and essays by Susan Sontag. That’s the premise for a new installation that traces the performance art pioneer’s life story through an immersive experience that’s opening in London next month. Called “Traces” and held at the old Truman Brewery, the installation comprises five rooms each inspired by an object or idea that has left a resounding influence on her work. It marks the culmination of Abramović’s year-long partnership with WeTransfer’s editorial arm WePresent, which “has always been willing to look at new interpretations of my work and passions,” the artist said in a statement. The show runs from September 10–12; advance tickets are required for entry and will be available for purchase starting August 18.

iPhone 8 family

New legislation will require that smartphones be made easier for third parties to repair.

Smartphone season is rapidly approaching, meaning that faster and sleeker models will soon be available for consumers. If new legislation from the U.S. government succeeds, future smartphones will also need to be designed to be repaired more easily by third parties. Companies such as Apple have been criticized for imposing restrictions on independent device repair shops—known as “right to repair”—and making it difficult for these businesses to access their devices through the use of non-removable memory and special glue. This often makes the price to fix a smartphone “close to, if not more than, replacing it all together—a strategy that encourages people to buy new devices rather than fixing them,” Pedro Pacheco, a senior director at market research firm Gartner, told CNN Business. “Manufacturers will need to make design choices to keep the cost down to repair devices.” 

To combat the housing crisis, Portland legalizes ADUs and other infill developments.

The United States is currently fighting a housing crisis that only seems to be getting worse as prices soar and the supply in major metropolitan regions fails to keep pace with demand. To combat this, Portland, Oregon, recently overturned a century-old ban on different types of homes, loosening restrictions on the construction of accessory dwelling units, infill developments, and higher-density properties. It follows nearly a decade of advocacy from housing groups and developers, who cite a projected population group within the city of a quarter million people by 2035. Opponents of the legislation, meanwhile, argue that the legislation paves the way for the demolition of affordable housing for replacement with more expensive rental units.

COS Bolzano. Photography by Stefan Giftthaler

Today’s attractive distractions:

This razor-sharp data viz shows how well vaccines slow the spread of Covid-19.

Archaeologists discover the world’s oldest coin mint in a 2,800-year-old foundry.

In case you haven’t noticed, bored ape avatars are quickly taking over Twitter.

COS’s new store in Bolzano reflects 18th-century frescoes with mirrored plinths.

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