An Autonomous Podtel Opens in the Spanish Desert, and Other News

Our daily look at the world through the lens of design.

DistrictHive. Photography by Gonzalo Botet

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Far-Far-Flung: An Autonomous Podtel Opens in the Spanish Desert 

Billing itself as the world’s first autonomous hotel, DistrictHive’s solitary location atop a promontory in Granada’s Gorafe Desert is redefining the concept of off-the-grid luxury. The first of what will become a global “podtel colony” of eco-retreats powered by artificial intelligence, the Moho Arquitectos–designed transportable capsule is fully self-sufficient: it generates water from the air and electricity from solar energy, and has its own sewage management system that transforms waste into ashes, and grey waters into irrigation water. 

Upon check-in, guests control everything through a mobile app: entry, lighting, temperature, aroma, sound, TV, and the purchase of food and drink on demand. The mirrored structures are outfitted with sleek monochromatic interiors, communal spaces, multifunctional modular cabinets and shelves, and, most importantly, a stargazing deck with hammock—an idyllic spot to take in the dramatic scenes of the Sierra Nevada mountain range.

GRNDCNTRL. Photography by SFAP

PIG Design shapes a mysterious nightclub experience in the heart of Shanghai.

GRNDCNTRL, a new avant-garde spatial experience in Shanghai’s entertainment district, is subverting the city’s homogeneous nightclub aesthetic. Inspired by Greek theaters, the space features a retro-futuristic design that would feel right at home in Bladerunner, with a lift-style DJ stage, immersive lighting and shadowplay, and two halls focused on hip hop and techno.   

The Stockholm Furniture & Light Fair gets postponed to September due to Covid.

Thanks to a resurgence of Covid-19 cases spurred by the Omicron variant, art and design fairs are once again postponing their physical editions. The latest to follow suit is the Stockholm Furniture & Light Fair, which was originally scheduled for February but will not take place September 6–9, 2022. “We’re an international fair with exhibitors and visitors traveling here from all over the world, including our neighboring Scandinavian countries,” Hannah Nova Beatrice, project area manager for the fair and Stockholm Design Week, said in a statement. “We have great interest and engagement for the 2022 edition of the fair, but we need to move it forward due to the current situation in the world.” Stockholm Design Week, however, is scheduled to run as normal from February 7–13. 

Troubled electronics retailer Radioshack is returning as a cryptocurrency company.

Bankruptcy proceedings can’t stop Radioshack, the home electronics retailer that’s now returning as a cryptocurrency company. The Radioshack website now describes itself as “bringing cryptocurrency to the mainstream” by creating new features that allow everyone to more easily use decentralized finance. It currently appears that Radioshack will launch its own token and focus on swaps, which may yield high profits due to the high costs of trading fees. 

Santa Maria Goretti Church by Mario Cucinella Architects

Mario Cucinella Architects creates a serene monolithic church for an Italian town.

The concrete Santa Maria Goretti Church incorporates an illuminated cross-shaped entrance that serves as a beacon for locals of Mormanno, a hilltop town in southern Italy. “We wanted to create a contemporary building that expresses a strong sense of continuity as we felt for a church, in particular, this sense of connection was important,” says Cucinella, who derived the main auditorium’s clover-shaped form by reinterpreting Baroque churches in Calabria. “We looked at Baroque precedents in Italy, like San Carlo Valle Quattro Fontane by Borromini, and the way these embody ritual.” Inside, simple stone furniture can be rearranged depending on use, while folds of translucent fabric are hung from the 52-foot-tall ceilings to stunning effect.

Multiple exhibitors have pulled out of CES, putting the technology show in jeopardy. 

Rising Covid-19 cases have caused several major exhibitors to pull out of participating fully in the Consumer Electronics Show. So far, these companies include Meta, Twitter, Pinterest, and iHeartRadio, as well as major tech publications such as The Verge, CNET, Engaged, Gizmodo, and TechCrunch. The Consumer Technology Association has confirmed that it still plans to hold an in-person show despite the rapidly spreading Omicron variant: “At this point, we’re very much focused on having this show and doing it safely and putting the right protocols in place to ensure that people feel comfortable with it,” an executive told Adweek

Dsruptive Subdermals

An implantable microchip will open your Covid-19 vaccination status on a smartphone.

A Swedish company has created an implantable microchip capable of carrying the user’s vaccination information. When someone waves a smartphone above the area in your body where it’s implanted, the microchip triggers the phone to open up a PDF that purportedly makes your life easier instead of carrying around a flimsy index card. The microchip itself is tiny, measuring 14 millimeters long by 2 millimeters wide, and is coated in a material called “bioglass.” Its memory is guaranteed to keep working for 50 years.

Habitat for Humanity debuts the world’s first 3D-printed owner-occupied home.

Habitat for Humanity recently partnered with additive construction company Alquist to create a three-bedroom single-family home in Williamsburg, Virginia. Though the 1,200-square-foot home appears conventional to the naked eye, the structure is actually being billed as the organization’s first home to be built using a 3D printer. The home took 22 hours to print, reducing the standard construction schedule by four weeks. The home’s new owner, named April, worked more than 300 volunteer hours at the construction site or a local Habitat ReStore and will pay mortgage payments no more than 30 percent of her income. 

Today’s attractive distractions:

Hajime Sorayama transforms The Weeknd into one of his signature sexy robots.

The FDA approves the first-ever injectable PrEP medication that prevents HIV.

NASA-collected audio from Jupiter’s moon Ganymede sounds like dial-up internet.

Japan invents a lickable flatscreen television that imitates different food flavors.

All Stories