Tag Archives: London

An Underground WWII Bomb Shelter in London Has Been Converted Into the World’s Largest Subterranean Hydroponic Farm

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Over 100 feet below the bustling streets of London is a cavernous, abandoned space. Originally built to serve as a bomb shelter during World War II, it was designed to house and protect the lives of nearly 8,000 people. The space remained abandoned for close to 70 years until entrepreneurs Richard Ballard and Steven Dring decided to turn it into the world’s first subterranean farm called Growing Underground. And surprisingly, where the sun doesn’t shine turns out to be an ideal setting for a garden.

The vertically stacked hydroponic beds are best for growing small, leafy greens that have a short growth cycle like watercress, Thai basil and Japanese mizuna. And with a state-of-the-art computer controlling temperature, lighting and nutrients the subterranean farm can deliver consistent produce without sunlight (or pesticides!) and with 70% less water than conventional farms, hence the company’s parent name: Zero Carbon Food.

With the help of chef Michel Roux, the operation is now partnering with local restaurants to deliver farm-to-table produce in under 4 hours. Once fully operational, it’s estimated Growing Underground will be able to produce between 11,000-44,000 pounds of crops annually. (via Bloomberg)

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A Cloud of 100,000 Illuminated Balloons Suspended Inside Covent Garden by Charles Pétillion


French artist and photographer Charles Pétillion has just unveiled a cumulus cloud composed of 100,000 white balloons illuminated from the inside at London’s Covent Garden. Titled ‘Heartbeat,’ the installation was created as part of the upcoming London Design Festival and stretches the length of the South Hall ceiling of the Market Building. Pétillion is known for his use of white balloons to fill unusual spaces, a photographic series he refers to as Invasions. This is by far his largest installation to date and his first public art piece. He shares about Heartbeat:

The balloon invasions I create are metaphors. Their goal is to change the way in which we see the things we live alongside each day without really noticing them. With Heartbeat I wanted to represent the Market Building as the beating heart of this area – connecting its past with the present day to allow visitors to re-examine its role at the heart of London’s life.

Each balloon has its own dimensions and yet is part of a giant but fragile composition that creates a floating cloud above the energy of the market below. This fragility is represented by contrasting materials and also the whiteness of the balloons that move and pulse appearing as alive and vibrant as the area itself.

The installation will be on view through September 27, 2015, and you can watch a timelapse video of its construction and an interview with Pétillion below. (via Designboom)








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A Visit Inside One of the Only Hand-crafted Globe Studios in the World

Long gone are the days when our first instinct is to migrate to a spinning globe to track the destinations around us or find a specific country. Now we have the power to digitally zoom in and out of the entire earth, utilizing mapping tools like Google Earth. The romanticism tied to these newer forms however, does not match the art of the ancient globe, the earliest dating back to the mid-2nd century B.C. Nowadays globes are either modern and massively produced, or antiquated models unsuited for casual browsing.

Frustrated by this lack of quality options when trying to find a globe as a present, Peter Bellerby started Bellerby & Co. Globemakers in order to produce globes that exist somewhere in-between the two options. “I did this as a direct result of looking, searching for a globe for my father for his 80th birthday, and I couldn’t find anything,” said Bellerby. “Initially my plan was to make one for him and maybe one for me if I had the budget.”

After spending tens of thousands of dollars more than he had originally predicted on the process, he decided to use what he’d learned to set up a company in 2008, eventually moving into their current location in Stoke Newington, London. The company employs a small team of makers that fastidiously work in an open environment with large windows, nestled between test sheets of watercolor paints and hanging strips of paper twirling from clothes pins. To master the process of applying paper to the sphere globes (called “goring”) can take up to a year or more.

“It’s been something that’s been an incredible challenge. The whole design process, the whole way of making anything using a sphere at its base, at its centerpiece is fraught with different problems and issues because you are multiplying every error by pi,” said Bellerby.

Bellerby & Co. Globemakers’ globes have been featured in Hollywood movies and BBC productions as well as used in installations by established artists. The company has also had support from the Royal Geographic Society and was able to host their first ever globe exhibition in 2012. To see more images of the daily life at the Bellerby & Co. studio, visit the company’s Instagram or their blog. (via My Modern Met)







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Futuristic Views of London Shot From a Helicopter at Night by Vincent Laforet


Earlier this month, photographer Vincent Laforet spent two hours in a helicopter at 6,000 feet above London to capture these surprisingly futuristic aerial views of the sprawling metropolis. The photographer’s approach to image processing and perspective creates electrified cityscapes that look like something right out of a scene from Tron or Blade Runner. But perhaps the most significant aspect of the shots is the attention to color and light. Laforet discusses this a bit on Storehouse:

Big Ben is a wonderful example of the different types of lights and their color temperatures due to the older yellow (sodium vapor) and the green (fluorescent) mixed in with magenta (fluorescent) and white daylight balanced LED lights. I find this to be one of the most fascinating aspects of this AIR project: had we shot it just a few years ago, you’d have see much more monochromatic (mostly yellow) lighting throughout the cities … It would simply not be the same and not nearly as visually appealing.

This new series of London photos is part of an ongoing project and soon-to-be book by called Air, featuring similar aerial photos of Las Vegas, Los Angeles, New York, and San Francisco. Laforet will continue to travel around Europe over the next few weeks with stops in Paris and Berlin. You can see many more photos and read a detailed account of the London photoshoot on Storehouse. The entire Air Series in Europe is sponsored by G-Technology. (via Sploid)







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Towering Animals by ‘Irony & Boe’ Stalk the Streets of London


Hot on the heels of yesterday’s post about an enormous dog mural by Smates in Belgium, here’s another great collection of humongous animals by UK duo Irony & Boe (aka. Whoam Irony and Placee Boe). The pair have collaborated on several large pieces in London over the last year including this wacky chihuahua that appeared on Chrisp Street in East London about a month ago. (via ordinatissimum chaos, Inspiring City)









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Artist Stocks the Shelves of a London Corner Store with 4,000 Hand-Stitched Felt Products


British artist Lucy Sparrow has converted an entire abandoned corner shop in Bethnal Green, east London, into a temporary art exhibition titled The Corner Shop featuring 4,000 hand-sewn felt products. Chips, magazines, candy, frozen dinners, and even the cash register have been faithfully rendered in fabric, a process that took Sparrow about seven months to complete and began with a successful plea for help on Kickstarter. The shop is open to visitors every day this month, and almost all of the items are available for purchase online. (via My Modern Met, Laughing Squid, The Jealous Curator)








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888,246 Ceramic Poppies Surround the Tower of London to Commemorate WWI

Historic Royal Palaces

To commemorate the centennial of Britain’s involvement in the First World War, ceramic artist Paul Cummins and stage designer Tom Piper conceived of a staggering installation of ceramic poppies planted in the famous dry moat around the Tower of London. Titled “Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red,” the final work will consist of 888,246 red ceramic flowers—each representing a British or Colonial military fatality—that flow through grounds around the tower.

Volunteers began placing the poppies several weeks ago and the process will continue through the summer until a final flower is symbolically planted on November 11th. You can read more about the project over on the Historic Royal Palaces website, and see the volunteers’ progress by following the #TowerPoppies hashtag on Twitter.

Historic Royal Palaces

Historic Royal Palaces

Historic Royal Palaces

Massimo Usai

Massimo Usai

Massimo Usai

Historic Royal Palaces

Historic Royal Palaces / Massimo Usai

Historic Royal Palaces

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