Which is the world’s most vertical city?

You might think of Hong Kong, given its famous skyscraper skyline, but by different measures of verticality other cities come out on top Looking out from sky100, Hong Kongs highest observation deck on the 100th floor of the citys tallest building, the 494-metre-high International Commerce Centre, you get a 360-degree view of one of the worlds most famous skylines an urban jungle framed by mountains and the gleaming Victoria harbour, with endless clusters of high-rise buildings packed so closely together they resemble a game of Tetris. Its little wonder a city of such visible density has more skyscrapers than anywhere else in the world. According to the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH), Hong Kong has 355 buildings …

Devendra Banharts cultural highlights

The musician on his favourite neighbourhood gallery, Cate Le Bons incredible new album and a heroic meditation podcast 1. AppWeCroak This app looks quite cute with its frog icon, but five times a day it puts a banner on your phone saying: Dont forget, youre going to die. When I first saw it, I thought it was going to be dark and intense and a source of anxiety, but what it actually serves to do is disengage me from identifying with my ego and the source of tremendous stress that is this entire existence. It helps me realise that the things that Im concerned about are pretty much insignificant. And if you click on the app, you get a quote …

David Chipperfield’s Berlin temple: ‘Like ascending to the realm of the gods’

Twenty years in the making, this dazzling synthesis of the classical and modern takes Museum Island to new heights Friedrich Wilhelm IV described his vision for James Simon Gallery stands as a 134m (120m) Parthenon-on-Spree, forming a handsome new entrance to one of the worlds most important repositories of cultural treasures. We were quite nervous, says Chipperfield, standing in the lofty new ticketing lobby, where stripes of sunlight flood in between the row of slender white columns outside. The challenge was how to create something that was of its context and also of our time, in this incredibly sensitive location. He had good reason to be anxious. His first design, unveiled in 2006, was slammed by German critics as grossly …

Punk hellraiser Lydia Lunch: ‘I’m chronically misunderstood but I get off on it’

The runaway, singer and counter-culture icon is hitting 60 and is as incendiary as ever, touring and raging against polluters and politicians in a rip-roaring book Lydia Lunch turned 60 this year, but age has done little to dim this counterculture icons lust for life. Decades after her start as the nihilist 16-year-old frontwoman of 1970s no-wave band Teenage Jesus and the Jerks, the New York-born apocalyptician is a revered veteran of the US underground: a writer, spoken-word performer, musician, actor and artist. Lunchs style is raw and incendiary, all sex and death and taboo-busting feminist rage. And in 2019, the sexagenarian is as unapologetic and active as ever still writing, touring, collaborating and performing. Lunch is in Colchester when …

Nico in Manchester: ‘She loved the architecture and the heroin’

She had been a top model, then sang with the Velvet Underground, and in 1981 Nico moved to Manchester. Her friends there share their touching, alarming memories of a true bohemian An imperious blond German ex-model with a voice once described as like a body falling through a window, Nico was already extraordinary by the time she leant her vocals to songs including Femme Fatale and All Tomorrows Parties on the Velvet Undergrounds classic first album, produced by Andy Warhol. Soon after that, she embarked on a solo career, and made records, such as The Marble Index, that were even darker, with despairing lyrics and a wheezing harmonium accompanying Nicos Teutonic tones. By this time, she was no longer blond …

Replay: Welp, We Might Be Getting a Final Fantasy XIV TV Show

Welcome to Replay, where you can catch up on a week's worth of videogame news in just a couple of minutes. This week, Sony is looking to make a Final Fantasy XIV show, and also, uh, there's Budweiser-related news? It's a weird one; strap in. Sony's Making Use of Their TV Division to Make a … Final Fantasy XIV Show? As we reported recently, Sony has opened up a wide-ranging TV division to develop, produce, and distribute television adaptations of their videogame properties and, presumably, the properties of their partners. Their first choice, though, is an odd one. As PC Gamer reports, Sony's working on a live-action television show about the massively multiplayer online role-playing game, Final Fantasy XIV. The …

Take me to the Boom Boom Room! Inside the risqu hotel for 24-hour party people

Americas raciest hotel chain has turned a boring British office block into an Austin Powers-style crash pad complete with retro reception, leftie library and rooftop baths. Groovy baby! When the clerks of Camdens highways department were issuing parking fines from their gloomy office in the 1970s, little can they have imagined that jet-setting hipsters would one day be supping cocktails in the public library below them before taking an al fresco dip up on the roof. Maligned for years as the concrete egg box of Euston Road, the Shawn Hausman, the Los Angeles-based designer behind the Standards flamboyant interiors, who started out creating film sets for live models in a vitrine behind the reception desk, part of an art installation …

Fans Are Better Than Tech at Organizing Information Online

Kudos to the fans. One of the nominees for the Hugo Awards this year is Archive of Our Own, a fanfiction archive containing nearly 5 million fanworks—about the size of the English Wikipedia, and several years younger. It's not just the fanfic, fanart, fanvids, and other fanworks, impressive as they are, that make Archive of Our Own worthy of one of the biggest honors in science fiction and fantasy. It's also the architecture of the site itself. At a time when we're trying to figure out how to make the internet livable for humans, without exploiting other humans in the process, AO3 (AO3, to its friends) offers something the rest of tech could learn from. Here's a problem that AO3 …

The skyscraper infinity pool sorry, but where’s the diving board?

It is meant to be a boundary-busting punch for the sky. But this design for a rooftop London pool is just another high-rise ego gimmick In 1924, swimming pool designerno apparent means of escape, as if the digital people are in some kind of sublime prison cell for the super rich. We are assured there is in fact a way in and out, courtesy of a rotating spiral staircase which rises from the pool floor, and that this is an entirely buildable proposition that includes an inbuilt anemometer to vary the water level and access to the pool. Underwater swimming … how the pool could look Photograph: Compass Pools The designer, Alex Kemsley, said, the building started life as a …

Unbuilt Tokyo: ‘depthscrapers’ and a million-person pyramid

Had the creators of the underground skyscraper had their way, the Japanese capital might have looked very different indeed Protected by cylindrical walls of reinforced concrete, the steel and glass depthscrapers extend hundreds of metres underground. Only a single floor of each inverted 35-storey skyscraper is visible at ground level. Giant mirrors mounted directly above the central wells reflect sunlight to the apartments below. Prismatic glass ensures even light throughout the day, while fresh, conditioned air is pumped down from the surface. The whole structure, in case of an earthquake, will vibrate together, resisting any crushing strain, declared a 1931 edition of Everyday Science and Mechanics that called the design the product of the best engineering brains of Japan. The …

Use your illusion: the magic supergroup that tricked the world

They have left millions boggled with their graceful card acts, great escapes and audacious stunts. But can The Illusionists make magics fusty reputation vanish? Our instinct when watching magicians is to focus on the hands, in the vain hope we may spot their secrets. But to really understand an acts style, look at the eyes. Take three of Yu Ho-jJames More, the Showman, favours a frowning sideways glance, as if even he is perplexed by how he manages to escape from among other scenarios a rack of fiery daggers. And Frenchman the Unforgettable Weyne, whom we see stretching his hands through a steel wall, has eyes that flash with childlike wonder at his audacious stunts. When I meet the three …

Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge and the Art of Worldbuilding

When Disney acquired Lucasfilm from Star Wars creator George Lucas for $4 billion in 2012, many fans had the same thought: Disney's got to make a theme park set in the galaxy far, far away. It's the peanut-butter-in-chocolate of worldbuilding: The creative minds at Lucasfilm know how to build cinematic universes; Disney's Imagineering team knows how to construct fantastical lands IRL. If the Mouse House didn't build Star Wars worlds at its theme parks, it would be a huge missed opportunity. Today, nearly seven years later, the first of those worlds opened its doors. Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge is now a fully functioning "land" at Disney's Anaheim park. Its twin will open at the company's Florida resort later this year. …

Italy’s new ruins: heritage sites being lost to neglect and looting

Overgrown and weathered, many historical monuments are disappearing as public funds for culture fail to match modern Italys inheritance Legend has it that the grotto hidden among the craggy cliffs on San Marco hill in Sutera in the heart of Sicily holds a treasure chest full of gold coins. In order to find it, three men must dream simultaneously about the precise place to dig. Treasure or no treasure, the grotto itself is an archaeological gem, its walls adorned with a multi-coloured Byzantine-esque 16th-century fresco depicting Jesus, the Virgin Mary and Saints Paulinus, Luke, Mark and Matthew. One of the first mountain oratories in the world, it was built by Basilian monks in the 9th century. But time has weathered …

The art deco pub, the library and Poldark manor: Britains architectural gems at risk

As Save Britains Heritage campaign highlights historic buildings that could be lost to the nation, Cornish estate owners vow to take action For viewers of a certain age it is instantly recognisable. Botallack Manor, on the Penwith peninsula in western Cornwall, doubled as Nampara, the home of Ross Poldark and his family, in the original 1970s Poldark television series. Today, the Grade II-listed house, built in the 17th century and boasting spectacular views of the has enjoyed a new lease of life, the same cannot be said for the house. For the past five years it has lain empty and in an increasing state of neglect, so much so that it has been included in the latest (30th) edition of …

Hedonism, sex and fear why the Weimar republic is in vogue

From Fritz Lang to Brecht, 1920s German culture is being celebrated in print and on stage perhaps because it has clear echoes today It was one of the most febrile and fascinating periods in the 20th century. A time when cultural creativity and technical innovation walked hand in hand with political uncertainty, growing inequality and storm clouds gathering on the horizon. Small wonder, then, that 100 years later, the Weimar republic is being celebrated in film and literature, music and art. Next month sees the conclusion of the BFIs well-received Weimar programme, Weimar Berlin: Bittersweet Metropolis, a series of concerts, cabaret, films and talks, culminating in September at the Royal Festival Hall with The Partys Over, which includes a performance …

Now kids, help us to kill Bin Laden! The dark side of Washington’s spy museum

The bugged shoes and poison brollies are fun and fascinating. But why are the sections about state-sponsored torture and assassination so uncritical? Sitting in a glass case, standing out against a backdrop of deep red, theres axe that still bears a rust mark, the consequence of a bloody fingerprint left on it decades ago. One day in 1940, this axe was hidden inside Ramn Mercaders suit jacket, suspended by a string, as he walked into the office of Leon Trotsky, the Russian revolutionary living in exile in Mexico, having been sentenced to death as an enemy of the people in his home country. Mercader slipped behind Trotskys desk and brought the axe down with tremendous force, penetrating two-and-three-quarter inches into …