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31/07/2011

Ksar of Ait-Ben-Haddou, Aït Benhaddou (Ath Benhadu, آيت بن حدّو‎), Souss-Massa-Draâ, Asif Ounila, Maroc (Morocco)


Aït Benhaddou (Berber: Ath Benhadu, Arabic: آيت بن حدّو‎) is a 'fortified city', or ksar, along the former caravan route between the Sahara and Marrakech in present-day Morocco. It is situated in Souss-Massa-Draâ on a hill along the Ounila River and has some beautiful examples of kasbahs, which unfortunately sustain damage during each rainstorm. Most of the town's inhabitants now live in a more modern village at the other side of the river; however, ten families still live within the ksar.
Aït Benhaddou has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1987 and several films have been shot there, including Lawrence of Arabia (1962), The Man Who Would Be King (film) (1975), The Message (film) (1976), Jesus of Nazareth (1977), Time Bandits (1981), The Jewel of the Nile (1985), The Living Daylights (1987), The Last Temptation of Christ (1988), The Sheltering Sky (1990), Kundun (1997), The Mummy (1999), Gladiator (2000), Alexander (2004).
You can see more photos looking at my Morocco Flickr portfolio.

29/07/2011

OXO Tower (Oxo Wharf Tower), London


This is a photo of the OXO Tower, a building with a prominent tower on the south bank of the River Thames in London. The building currently has a set of bijou arts and crafts shops on the ground and first floors. A well-known restaurant is located on the 8th floor (OXO's Restaurant, Bar & Brasserie), which is the roof top level of the main building and the spectacular 250-foot terrace offers breathtaking views of the city.
The building was originally constructed as a power station for the Post Office, built towards the end of the 19th century. It was subsequently acquired by the Liebig Extract of Meat Company, manufacturers of Oxo beef stock cubes, for conversion into a cold store. The building was largely rebuilt to an Art Deco design by company architect Albert Moore between 1928 and 1929. Much of the original power station was demolished, but the river facing facade was retained and extended. Liebig wanted to include a tower featuring illuminated signs advertising the name of their product. When permission for the advertisements was refused, the tower was built with four sets of three vertically-aligned windows, each of which "coincidentally" happened to be in the shapes of a circle, a cross and a circle. Liebig and the building were eventually purchased by the Vestey Group. In the late 1970s and into the 1980s there were several proposals to demolish the building and develop it and the adjacent Coin Street site, but these were met with strong local opposition and two planning inquiries were held. In the 1990s the tower was refurbished to a design by Liftschutz Davidson to include housing, a restaurant, shops and exhibition space. The tower won the Royal Fine Art Commission / BSkyB Building of the Year Award for Urban Regeneration in 1997, the RIBA Award for Architecture also in 1997, the Brick Development Association Award 1997, Civic Trust Award 1998 and The Waterfront Center USA Honor Award 2000.

27/07/2011

Williamsburg Bridge, New York City


This is a photo of the Williamsburg Bridge, a suspension bridge in New York City across the East River connecting the Lower East Side of Manhattan at Delancey Street with the Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn at Broadway. Construction on the bridge, the second to cross this river, began in 1896,and the bridge opened on December 19, 1903. At the time it was constructed, the Williamsburg Bridge set the record for the longest suspension bridge span on Earth. The record fell in 1924, when the Bear Mountain Bridge was completed.
It is an unconventional structure, as suspension bridges go; though the main span hangs from cables in the usual manner, the side spans leading to the approaches are supported by trusswork, drawing no support from the cables above. The main span of the bridge is 490 m long. The entire bridge is 2,227 m long between cable anchor terminals, and the deck is 36 m wide. The height at the center of the bridge is 41 m and each tower is 102 m; these measurements taken from the river's surface at high water mark.
This bridge and the Manhattan Bridge are the only suspension bridges in New York City that still carry both automobile and rail traffic. In addition to this two-track rail line, connecting the New York City Subway's BMT Nassau Street Line and BMT Jamaica Line, there were once two sets of trolley tracks.
The bridge has been under reconstruction since the 1980s, largely to repair damage caused by decades of deferred maintenance. The bridge was completely shut down to motor vehicle traffic and subway trains on April 12, 1988 after inspectors discovered severe corrosion in a floor beam. The cast iron stairway on the Manhattan side, and the steep ramp from Driggs Avenue on the Williamsburg side to the footwalks, were replaced to allow handicapped access in the 1990s.
A celebration was held on June 22, 2003 to mark the 100th anniversary of the bridge and the area surrounding Continental Army Plaza was filled with musical performers, exhibits on the history of the bridge, and street vendors. Dignitaries marched across the bridge carrying the 45-star American flag used in a game of capture the flag played by workers after the placement of the final cable in June 1902. A truck-sized birthday cake was specially made for the event by Domino Sugar, which had a factory on the East River waterfront near the bridge.
The Williamsburg Bridge was designated as a National Historic Civil Engineering Landmark by the American Society of Civil Engineers in 2009.

26/07/2011

Párisi Udvar Gallery (Parisian Arcade), Budapest

These photos were taken at Párisi Udvar Gallery in Budapest.
Parisian Arcade (Párisi udvar) is one of the most impressive buildings the Hungarian capital is so famous for. The name of the building Párisi udvar comes from the Paris Street next to the building. Built between 1909 and 1913 on the plot that used to be one of the most expensive ones at that time, the building was commissioned by Central City Savings Bank which wanted to have a serious façade without excessive ornamentation.The tender was won by German-born architect Henrik Schmahl who also designed numerous buildings and villas in Budapest, including Urania Cinema. The dimly lit interior passageway with its impressive glass dome offers the atmosphere of Oriental bazaar. Except, you don’t find many (open) shops here, for some reason the arcade is not popular with shop owners these days.


25/07/2011

Millennium Dome (The O2), London


This is a photo of the The Millennium Dome, colloquially referred to simply as The Dome, the original name of a large dome-shaped building, originally used to house the Millennium Experience, a major exhibition celebrating the beginning of the third millennium. Located on the Greenwich Peninsula in South East London, England, the exhibition was open to the public from 1 January - 31 December 2000. The project and exhibition was the subject of considerable political controversy as it failed to attract the number of visitors anticipated, with recurring financial problems. All of the original exhibition and associated complex has since been demolished. The dome still exists, and it is now a key exterior feature of The O2. The Prime Meridian passes the western edge.
The architect was Richard Rogers. The building structure was engineered by Buro Happold, and the entire roof structure weighs less than the air contained within the building. Although referred to as a dome, it is not strictly one as it is not self-supporting, but is a mast-supported, dome-shaped cable network. For this reason, it has been disparagingly referred to as the Millennium Tent. The dome is the largest of its type in the world. Externally, it appears as a large white marquee with twelve 100 m-high yellow support towers, one for each month of the year, or each hour of the clock face, representing the role played by Greenwich Mean Time. In plan view it is circular, 365 m in diameter — one metre for each day of the year — with scalloped edges. It has become one of the United Kingdom's most recognisable landmarks. It can easily be seen on aerial photographs of London. The canopy is made of PTFE-coated glass fibre fabric, a durable and weather-resistant plastic, and is 52 m high in the middle - one metre for each week of the year. Its symmetry is interrupted by a hole through which a ventilation shaft from the Blackwall Tunnel rises.

24/07/2011

Piment Rouge (Red Hot Chili Pepper !)


This photo was taken on a market in Laos.
---
« Des fruits qu’on fait sécher au soleil, miam, ça à l’air rudement bon. »
« Fruits??? Good to eat?? »
« Yes sahib!! »
« Au feu!!!! »
« Ai mangé un de ces machins et c’est comme si j’avais avalé tout un volcan en ordre de marche »
« Mais…capitaine, c’est du piment rouge, du poivre… »

23/07/2011

The keffiyeh (كوفية‎), Candid Street Portrait


The Keffiyeh also known as a (ya)shmagh, ghutrah, or mashadah, is a traditional headdress for Arab men made of a square of cloth (“scarf”), usually cotton, folded and wrapped in various styles around the head. It is commonly found in arid climate areas to provide protection from direct sun exposure, as well as for occasional use in protecting the mouth and eyes from blown dust and sand. Its distinctive woven check pattern originated in an ancient Mesopotamian representation of either fishing nets or ears of grain. Many Palestinian keffiyeh are a mix of cotton and wool, which lets them dry quickly and keep the wearer’s head warm. The keffiyeh is usually folded in half, into a triangle, and the fold is worn across the forehead. Often, the keffiyeh is held in place by a rope circlet, called an agal. Some wearers wrap the keffiyeh into a turban, while others wear it loosely draped around the back and shoulders. Sometimes a taqiyah is worn underneath the keffiyeh, and, in the past, it has also been wrapped around the rim of the fez. The keffiyeh is almost always of white cotton cloth, but many have a checkered pattern in red or black stitched into them. The plain, white keffiyeh is most popular in the Gulf states, almost excluding any other style in Kuwait and Bahrain.
The black-and-white keffiyeh is a symbol of Palestinian heritage. The red-and-white keffiyeh is worn throughout these regions as well as in Somalia, but is most strongly associated with Jordan, where it is known as shmagh mhadab. The Jordanian keffiyeh has cotton decorative strings on the sides. It is believed that the bigger these strings, the more value it has and the higher a person’s status. It has been used by Bedouins throughout the centuries and was used as a symbol of honour and tribal identification.
The keffiyeh, especially the all-white version, can also be called a ġutrah, particularly in Saudi Arabia, Oman and Bahrain (where the skullcap is confusingly called keffiyeh), but is also known in some areas as shmagh or ḥaṭṭah.
Traditionally worn by Palestinian peasants, the keffiyeh became a symbol of Palestinian nationalism during the Arab revolt of the 1930s. Its prominence increased in the 1960 with the beginning of the Palestinian resistance movement and its adoption by Arafat. The keffiyeh would later become a trademark symbol of Palestinian politician Yasser Arafat, who was rarely seen without a distinctively-arranged black-and-white scarf. Arafat would wear his keffiyeh in semi-traditional manner, around the head and wrapped by an agal, but he also wore a similarly patterned piece of cloth in the neckline of his military fatigues. Early on, he had made it his personal trademark to drape the scarf over his right shoulder only, arranging it in the rough shape of a triangle, so resembling the outlines of the territory claimed by Palestine. This manner of wearing the keffiyeh in turn became a symbol of Arafat as a person and political leader, and it has not been imitated by other Palestinian leaders.

21/07/2011

The Monument of Victor Emmanuel II (Monumento Nazionale a Vittorio Emanuele II), Rome, Italy


This is a photo of the Monumento Nazionale a Vittorio Emanuele II (National Monument of Victor Emmanuel II) or Altare della Patria (Altar of the Fatherland) or "Il Vittoriano", a monument to honour Victor Emmanuel, the first king of a unified Italy, located in Rome, Italy. It occupies a site between the Piazza Venezia and the Capitoline Hill. The monument was designed by Giuseppe Sacconi in 1885; sculpture for it was parceled out to established sculptors all over Italy. It was inaugurated in 1911 and completed in 1935. The monument, "chopped with terrible brutality into the immensely complicated fabric of the hill", is built of pure white marble from Botticino, Brescia, and features majestic stairways, tall Corinthian columns, fountains, a huge equestrian sculpture of Victor Emmanuel and two statues of the goddess Victoria riding on quadrigas. The structure is 135 m wide and 70 m high. If the quadrigae and winged victories are included, the height is to 81 m. The base of the structure houses the museum of Italian Reunification.

20/07/2011

33 Fournier Street, Spitalfields, Tower Hamlets, London


This photo was taken in Fournier Street, formerly Church Street, is a street of 18th century houses in Spitalfields, in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets. It runs between Commercial Street and Brick Lane.
Fournier Street was the last to be built on the Wood-Michell estate in Spitalfields, London. The houses mainly date from the 1720s and together form one of the most important and best preserved collections of early Georgian domestic town-houses in Britain. Built for French Huguenot master silk-weavers and mercers, the houses of Fournier Street were fitted out with fine wooden panelling and elaborate joinery such as carved staircases, fireplaces and highly detailed door-cases by the master craftsmen of the day.

18/07/2011

Design Museum, London


This is a photo of the London Design Museum a museum, by the River Thames near Tower Bridge in central London, England. The museum covers product, industrial, graphic, fashion and architectural design. It was founded in 1989 and claims to be the first museum of modern design. The museum is currently housed in a former 1940s banana warehouse on the south bank of the River Thames in the Shad Thames area in London. The conversion of this warehouse altered it beyond recognition to resemble a building in the International Modernist style of the 1930s. This was funded by many companies, designers and benefactors. The museum was principally designed by the Conran group, with exhibitions over two floors, and a "Design Museum Tank" exhibition space out by the water front. Terence Conran aided in this conversion, as it was his concept to create such a museum of Modern Design. A large scale sculpture titled Head of Invention by Sir Eduardo Paolozzi was installed in the area between the Museum and the Thames.
You can also visit the London Design Museum website to learn more.

16/07/2011

Mountains in Kaokoland, Namibia


This photo was taken in Kaokoland (also called Kaokoveld), an area in Northern Namibia, in the Kunene Region. It is one of the wildest and less populated areas in Namibia, with a population density of one person every 2 km², that is 1/4 of the national average. The most represented ethnic group is the Himba people, that accounts for about 5,000 of the overall 16,000 inhabitants of Kaokoland. The main settlement in Kaokoland is the city of Opuwo.
Kaokoland used to be a bantustan of South West Africa during the apartheid era. While it was intended to be a self-governing Himba homeland, an actual government was never established. Like other homelands in South West Africa, the Kaokoland bantustan was abolished in may 1989, at the beginning of the transition of Namibia towards independence. "Kaokoland" remained as an informal name for the geographic area.

14/07/2011

14 Juillet (Bastille Day), Tour Eiffel (Eiffel Tower), Paris, France


This is photo of the Eiffel Tower, the 19th century iron lattice tower located on the Champ de Mars in Paris, that has become both a global icon of France and one of the most recognizable structures in the world. The Eiffel Tower, which is the tallest building in Paris, is the single most visited paid monument in the world; millions of people ascend it every year. Named after its designer, engineer Gustave Eiffel, the tower was built as the entrance arch for the 1889 World's Fair.

12/07/2011

City Hall (Norman Foster) and Tower Bridge, London


This is a photo of London City Hall, the the headquarters of the Greater London Authority (GLA) which comprises the Mayor of London and London Assembly. It is located in Southwark, stands on the south bank of the River Thames near Tower Bridge (in the background). It was designed by Norman Foster and opened in July 2002, two years after the Greater London Authority was created.
The building has an unusual, bulbous shape, intended to reduce its surface area and thus improve energy efficiency. It has been compared variously to Darth Vader's helmet, a misshapen egg, a woodlouse and a motorcycle helmet. Former mayor Ken Livingstone referred to it as a "glass testicle", while the present mayor, Boris Johnson, has referred to it as "The Glass Gonad" and more politely as "The Onion". Its designers reportedly saw the building as a giant sphere hanging over the Thames, but opted for a more conventionally rooted building instead. It has no front or back in conventional terms but derives its shape from a modified sphere.
A 500-metre helical walkway, reminiscent of that in New York's Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, ascends the full height of the building. At the top of the ten-story building is an exhibition and meeting space called "London's Living Room", with an open viewing deck which is occasionally open to the public. The walkway provides views of the interior of the building, and is intended to symbolise transparency; a similar device was used by Foster in his design for the rebuilt Reichstag (parliament) in Germany.

09/07/2011

Château de Marqueyssac (Garden à la française), Vézac, Dordogne, France

These photos were taken at the Château de Marqueyssac, a 17th century chateau and gardens located at Vézac, in the Dordogne Department of France. The chateau was built at the end of the 17th century by Bertrand Vernet de Marqueyssac, Counselor to Louis XIV, on cliffs overlooking the Dordogne Valley. The original garden à la française was attributed to a pupil of André Le Nôtre, and featured terraces, alleys, and a kitchen garden surrounding the chateau. Between 1830 and 1840, Julien Bessières constructed a chapel and a grand alley one hundred meters long for horseback rides.
In the 1860s, the new owner, Julien de Cervel, began to plant thousands of boxwood trees - today there are over 150,000 - and had them carved in fantastic shapes, many in groups of rounded shapes like flocks of sheep. He also added linden trees, cypress trees, and stone pine from Italy, and introduced the cyclamen from Naples. Following the romantic style, he built rustic structures, redesigned the parterres, and laid out five kilometers of walks.
In the second half 20th century the house was not frequented occupied, and the gardens were not well maintained. Beginning in 1996, a new owner, Kleber Rossillon, restored the gardens to their old character, and added some new features, including an alley of santolina and rosemary, and, in the romantic spirit of the 19th century, a course of water descending from the belvedere and ending in a cascade. The gardens were opened to the public in 1996.
Since 1997, the gardens have been classified amongst the Notable Gardens of France by the Committee of Parks and Gardens of the Ministry of Culture.

You can also refer to another post on this blog with more photos of the gardens.

08/07/2011

Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York


This is a photo of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York. It opened its doors on October 21, 1959 and is one of the best-known museums in New York City and one of the 20th century's most important architectural landmarks. Designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, the museum––which is often called simply The Guggenheim––is the permanent home to a renowned collection of Impressionist, Post-Impressionist, early Modern, and contemporary art, and also features special exhibitions throughout the year. Located on the Upper East Side in New York City it is the second museum opened by the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation which was founded in 1937.
The distinctive building, Wright's last major work, instantly polarized architecture critics upon completion, though today it is widely revered. From the street, the building looks approximately like a white ribbon curled into a cylindrical stack, slightly wider at the top than the bottom. Its appearance is in sharp contrast to the more typically boxy Manhattan buildings that surround it, a fact relished by Wright who claimed that his museum would make the nearby Metropolitan Museum of Art "look like a Protestant barn."
Internally, the viewing gallery forms a gentle helical spiral from the main level up to the top of the building. Paintings are displayed along the walls of the spiral and also in exhibition space found at annex levels along the way.

07/07/2011

Rice Fields & Limestone Hills, Vang Vieng, Laos


This photo was taken in Vang Vieng, a tourism-oriented town in Laos, located in Vientiane Province about four hours bus ride north of the capital. The town lies on the the Nam Song river. The most notable feature of the area is the karst hill landscape surrounding the town.
One of the main features of the town is a long, mostly unused, airfield runway parallel to the road. It was used during the Vietnam War by the Air America's planes (the airstrip was then called "Lima site 6").
The town started to grow in the 1980s, due to the influx of backpackers. The opportunity for hiking and the laid-back atmosphere attracted more and more visitors. The real attractions of the area are the scenery, the limestone hills and the numerous caves and caverns. Perhaps the most interesting is the Tham Phu Kham cave.

06/07/2011

Ben Youssef Madrasa, Marrakech, Morocco

This photo was taken in the Ben Youssef Madrasa, an Islamic college in Marrakech, Morocco, named after the amoravid sultan Ali ibn Yusuf (reigned 1106–1142), who expanded the city and its influence considerably. It is the largest Medrasa in all of Morocco.
The college was founded during the period of the Marinid (14th century) by the Marinid sultan Abu al-Hassan and allied to the neighbouring Ben Youssef Mosque. The building of the madrasa was re-constructed by the Saadian Sultan Abdallah al-Ghalib (1557–1574). In 1565 the works ordered by Abdallah al-Ghalib were finished, as confirmed by the inscription in the prayer room. Its 130 student dormitory cells cluster around a courtyard richly carved in cedar, marble and stucco. The carvings contain no representation of humans or animals as required by Islam, and consist entirely of inscriptions and geometric patterns. This madrasa was one of the largest theological colleges in North Africa and may have housed as many as 900 students. One of its best known teachers was Mohammed al-Ifrani (1670-1745).
Closed down in 1960, the building was refurbished and reopened to the public as an historical site in 1982.

05/07/2011

Digitalis Purpurea (Foxgloves)


Digitalis is a genus of about 20 species of herbaceous perennials, shrubs, and biennials that are commonly called foxgloves. This genus was traditionally placed in the figwort family Scrophulariaceae, but upon recent reviews of phylogenetic research, it has now been placed in the much enlarged family Plantaginaceae. This genus is native to western and south western Europe, western and central Asia, and northwestern Africa. The scientific name means "finger-like" and refers to the ease with which a flower of Digitalis purpurea can be fitted over a human fingertip. The flowers are produced on a tall spike, are tubular, and vary in colour with species, from purple to pink, white, and yellow. The best-known species is the "Common Foxglove", Digitalis purpurea. This is a biennal plant which is often grown as an ornamental plant due to its vivid flowers. These range in color from various purple tints through various shades of light gray, and to purely white. The flowers can also possess various marks and spottings.

04/07/2011

4th of July, Independence Day (Statue of Liberty)

This is a close-up photo of the Statue of Liberty. Bartholdi, its French designer, was initially uncertain of what to place in Liberty's left hand; he settled on a tabula ansata, a keystone-shaped tablet used to evoke the concept of law. Though Bartholdi greatly admired the United States Constitution, he chose to inscribe "JULY IV MDCCLXXVI" on the tablet, thus associating the date of the country's Declaration of Independence with the concept of liberty.

03/07/2011

Fog Horn's Warning Sign, St. Ann's Head Lighthouse, West Wales


This is a photo of the fog horn's warning Sign, at St. Ann's Head Lighthouse. The lighthouse is intended to guide ships around a number of rocky shoals that cause a hazard to shipping entering the Haven as well as Crow's rock. The current lighthouse was completed in 1841 (at which time it was known as "St. Ann's Low Light") and commissioned by John Knott, senior lighthouse keeper with Trinity House. The first lighthouse on this site was built in 1714. The present operational tower is 13 metres in height (42.7 feet) and is painted white.St. Ann's Head Lighthouse is a lighthouse that overlooks the entrance to the Milford Haven waterway, one of Britain's deep water harbours, from St. Ann's Head near Dales in West Wales.
The blockhouse which is the control tower carries the fog horn. The device for activating the foghorn is a pair of electronic eyes placed opposite one another: when they can't see each other a signal whizzes off to Harwich and the foghorn is activated automatically.