The Nestlé Chocolate factory in Mexico City's Paseo Tollocan near Toluca has never been a site anyone went to see for its beauty. It is what is inside that has always interested chocolate-lovers.
That changed earlier this year when Michel Rojkind, the 38-year-old principal of Rojkind Arquitectos, decided that he was not satisfied with the original idea of just revamping the factory's viewing gallery.
He put together a team that came up with an entire museum, with a shop, a theatre, and direct access to the factory as well. The 300-meter-wide scarlet building cannot go unnoticed by anyone driving the entrance freeway to Toluca.
This is by far not the first chocolate museum in Mexico, the ancient home of chocolate. Neither is it the first sweet museum for the Switzerland-headquartered consumer-product behemoth Nestlé.
However, it is probably the first chocolate museum ever to be called both a piece of origami and a shipping container. The corrugated metal look gives it an air of impermanence and industrial clunk while the bright color and crazy shape evoke play and fun. What any of this has to do with chocolate, we are not exactly sure, but we almost managed to fold a KitKat wrapper to a similar shape. By Tuija Seipell
Here at TCH, we love riding bikes through the city. There's something immensely pleasing about sailing past scores of traffic with little more than a push of a pedal. And at the same time, you're burning the calories, and doing your bit to stay green. But there's one thing we hate about this simple mode of transport. People like nothing more than stealing them, damaging them, or driving buses into them. While your safe at work crunching the numbers, who's looking after your ride home?
Cue the bike dispensing machine. Brought to you courtesy of bikedispenser.com, a small firm from Amsterdam, the idea is to help facilitate bike rentals in urban areas. Cyclists pay a small fee to hire a bike, and then they can take it where they please. Once they've finished, they can return it either to that machine, or another one across town. And because they've been fitted with RFID tags, they won't all have been nicked before you can get one.
Now, if only they can do something about those van driver - By Matt Hussey
Forget your traditional definition of an amusement park, Wannado City leaves behind the cotton candy, the solicitors of large stuffed animals, the mindless entertainment and trash. Instead the “city”� has redefined child entertainment with aspirational activities, all of which are framed around the question: “What do you wanna do when you grow up?”�
Wannado City was crafted from the vision of Mexican-born Luis Javier Laresgoiti, who had a eureka moment while watching his daughter “play executive” on his business phone. Laresgoiti, with the backing of several major corporations has crafted a dream world where children are encouraged to take on an adult profession and see where it takes them. The park is located in Sawgrass Mills Mall in Southern Florida.
Each venue has its own concentration, such as the Motorola-sponsored M-Lab that focuses on innovation and invention. The M-Lab turns each visitor is given a white lab coat and transformed into an “M-Ventor.”� The children are encouraged to work together on a technology-based game to solve a difficult problem. Once they’ve solved the situation at hand, they’re greeted with a congratulatory “Mission Accomplished”� banner.
M-Lab however, goes far above and beyond the standard protocol for children’s playthings. The space was designed in collaboration with Motorola and Gensler, a self-proclaimed “global design, planning and strategic consulting firm.” The M-Lab lures passer-bys with its façade — clad in stark aluminum and panelite — which contrasts with the surrounding “quaint village” motif. Inside there are seven chambers, each meticulously designed depending on the room’s task at hand. The end result is a realistic series of rooms that embrace each child’s fantasy of becoming the next influential innovator. By L. Harper
We’ve been running into amazing walls recently (not literally, of course, or at least not physically) and this is giving us reassurance that “contractor beige” is not the only wall colour imaginable or acceptable. So, you can imagine the grins on our faces when we discovered E-Glue. The 3 month old French based company started by designers who create super-fun wall adhesives for kids rooms. The creative duo create all the illustrations and hand-make all the products. They ship worldwide but we see no reason to spoil the kids with such extravagance. We are ordering some for the office. By Tuija Seipel
T-O 12 is a new nightclub on Stuttgart's notorious 'party mile,' Theodor Heuss-Strasse. Like the street, the club is also named after the late Theodor Heuss, a fun-loving, dashing man and the first person elected for a full term as the President of the Federal Republic of Germany. Clubbers call the joint either Theo (T O sounds just like Theo in German) or Theo Zwulf (=Theo 12 in German).
To create the three-story club, the owners hired two Stuttgart-based firms: Architecture and communications firm Ippolito Fleiz Group, and graphic designers i-d buero. The result is a sleekly mysterious, pitch-dark space with white furnishings and massive black-and-white murals. The all-black walls, ceilings and floors together with the huge mirrors and tiny light spots produce an effect that is vertigo-inducing and fun. Theo would approve. By Tuija Seipell
The most fabulous example of a hotel combining drama, surprise, luxury and comfort is hiding in the heart of the historical, artistic and night-club haven of Montmartre in Paris. Opened in June 2007, the restored aristocratic mansion The Hotel Particulier de Montmartre has definitely decided to grow up. The two masterminds behind the project are Morgane Rousseau and Frederic Comtet who with the help of Mathieu Paillard have managed to mix art and comfort brilliantly in their unusual hotel.
The owners commissioned well known artists, designers, sculptors and architects to create an intimate five-room enclave of exceptional atmosphere and charm.
One of the distinctive rooms is the 'vegetable room' designed by New York-born, Paris-based contemporary artist Martine Aballca. With her interpretation, she wishes to evoke hanging gardens, trees and the play of sunlight and shadow. The other artists involved in creating one of the compact private suites are photo artist Natacha Lesueur (room theme: Curtain of hair), painter Philippe Mayaux (Window), fashion and textile curator Olivier Saillard (Poems and hats) and illustrator and creative director Pierre Fichefeux (Tree with ears).
Finland-born Mats Haglund of Chanel, Colette and Paul & Joe boutique fame, created the private living room. He used the personality of the proprietors as his starting point and furnished the salon with originals of classics by Arne Jacobsen, Mies van der Rohe and Alvar Aalto.
From every window, residents can view the luscious and intimate garden created by Louis Banech, one of the landscape designers responsible for revitalizing the world-renown Tuileries Gardens.
With that much artistic and design cache, The Hotel Particulier de Montmartre will not have difficulty attracting a clientele. But to get there, you must leave the nightclubs of Montmartre, start thinking like former Montmartre residents Salvador Dali, Claude Monet, Pablo Picasso and Vincent van Gogh, and locate the secret alleyway between l'avenue Junot and la rue Lepic. Continue to the Sorcerer's Stone and pray that the iron gates will open for you. By Tuija Seipell
Underwater scooters? Sounds a bit like James Bond-meets-Finding Nemo. But despite its name, this Scuba Doo is no cartoon. The brainchild of Aussie scuba-diving specialists ScubaDoo International, the funky ScubaDoo will revolutionise scuba diving as it slips coolly beneath the waves from a launching pad, allowing the rider to cruise the reef at a speed of 2.5 knots without tanks, weights or mask, and with head and shoulders dry and safe in a clear, fitted dome. The secret to the ScubaDoo's easy mobility is an external compressor, attached to the scooter by a cable which floats above the scooter on the ocean surface. At A$22,700 (US$17,000 approx) it' not a cheap thrill, but expect diving centres and hire operators to charge approx. $130 for a 15-minute scoot through the depths. - Lisa Evans