A One of a Kind “Double Arcades” in Downtown Cleveland

I have been to quite many arcades from my traveling. But never have I seen before two parallel arcades being connected together in the middle until I came to Cleveland again. This “H-shaped” tunnel space is very special because each of the two arcades is uniquely designed and the two look totally different from each other. It looks like someone has connected the two arcades that were built in different times, which could be what happened.

5th Street Arcades – 530 Euclid Ave, Cleveland

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The Fascinating Relics of the Old Superior Viaduct in Downtown Cleveland

Walking along the Superior Avenue across the Cuyahoga River, I discovered this mysterious Roman-antiquity-style-looking arched bridges running through the urban fabric. The great span of the giant arches and the sheer size of the bridge are simply engineering wonder. And looking at how this bridge interacts with the roads and building elements surrounding it is a feast to the eyes.

It turns out that this bridge is actually the former viaduct that carries automobiles to the other side of the river. I am so glad that part of it survived after the old bridge was replaced by the Detroit-Superior Bridge that was much higher for boats to pass through.

Old Superior Viaduct – Superior Viaduct “Street”, Cleveland

The “Upcycle Parts Shop” in St. Clair Superior Neighbourhood in Cleveland

This amazing little shop actually is a great example of local creative recycling plus artist studio workshop. You could bring in your excess materials of all kinds for re-sale or adaptive reuse for other artworks. Or you can simply drop in and work on your own projects on the community design table with this very nice cool local artist called David. The friendly atmosphere here welcomes anyone who has something to offer.

I have learned so much about local recycling but have not seen any real example of it that has a bit of creativity involved until I have been to this shop/studio. Thank you David!!

Upcycle Parts Shop – 6419 St Clair Ave, Cleveland

San Francisco on Steroid Part II

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looking at marin county from marina green in san francisco

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looking at kowloon peninsula from a high-rise in quarry bay in hong kong island

I truly wonder if building lots of buildings is the only key to grow a city; and if growing a city is always necessary. San Francisco doesn’t seem that bad after all.

San Francisco on Steroid

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When I was living in San Fran, I could really feel I was living in a city of hills and valleys. I was quite amazed that people decided to build a city on these hills. The longer I thought about that, I started to realise that I grew up in the North District in Hong Kong which is an area of hills too. But somehow I never really noticed the hills, why is that?

Well, in San Fran, I actually “see” the hills every day, but in Hong Kong, the hills are blocked by the super tall buildings. These buildings form layers of walls and totally block the view to the hills. You can totally understand that what I mean from the photo above taken from my window. I live on the 18th floor already and still I don’t see much of the hills! I guess there should be a height limit set for the buildings and the buildings should be placed on a grid so people can have a view when they look in between the buildings.

sheung shui, hong kong – jun 30, 2013

A Very Creative and Green Urinal Room

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Today I came across the coolest private “pee-only” room I have ever seen. In this little room, this whole system is installed on the back wall. It was shocking to me that the “sink” sits right on top of the “metal urinal”. After you finish your business down in the urinal, when you wash your hands, the water from hand-washing would run directly down to the urinal underneath to “flush” it. Amazing! This is a good design that recycles greywater immediately. I learned something really smart today.

organic tofu desert place and factory at ho sheung heng, sheung shui, hong kong – may 17, 2013

Crime Against Design – Hong Kong Subway Map vs London Subway Map

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hong kong subway map

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london subway map

The London underground (subway) map has always been praised as a masterpiece of graphic design. I used it myself many times in London and it did successfully instruct me how to get to where I need to be. It is not only pretty and colourful in a good way, it has also amazingly simplified a very complicated London’s underground system into a clear map that can be understood by any person with a reasonable working brain size.

There are many little tricks that help make this map so easy to work with. First, the map only shows you how you can use the tubes (underground) to get to your destination, it really doesn’t tell you the actual distance or real direction your destination is. It makes sense since you are using the tubes and not driving or walking. Second, every line is laid out at flat or at a 45 degree angle, and always at a 45 degree angle with a smooth transition between any two intersecting lines. Strangely, it does help people read the map better. I guess the normal brains still don’t believe a train can do a 90 degree turn yet. Third, the map uses this simple dot to tell you where is a station that you can get off or change to a different line. And if there two dots at the same station connected with a line (like a dog bone) that means you have a do a little walking to change line.

What about the subway map in Hong Kong? Darwin claimed that evolution happened to animals. I guess it happened to “things” too. While London subway started in the mid 19th century and the Hong Kong started in late 20th century, people may assume the subway map in Hong Kong would have well evolved into perfection. It is indeed very unfair to make such an assumption. The Chinese were still smoking opium 100 years ago and the British dumped Hong Kong in 1997. The Hong Kong subway so called MTR was returned to the hands of the ex-opium smokers and no wonder the subway map now ends up looking disastrous.

Alright, let’s take a look and fairly examine what crime has been done against good design in Hong Kong, the number 1-asian-world-class city. The first image shown on this blog are parts of the real thing that you will see when you are standing in the MTR. Well, this map is a total chaos for a first timer. First when there are 2 dots placed right next to each other, do the dots actually refer to the same station? Or are there 2 real stations for the same destination but each for a different line physically placed next to each other? Actually there is only 1 station with multiple floors “most of the time” where there are 2 dots.

Second, while some lines go side by side, and some are only 4 mm apart. So what’s the deal? Well silly foreigners, the 4 mm actually refers to a harbour about 5000 feet wide. So don’t even think you can get off one station on one side of the 4 mm and walk to the other side. The old MTR map did have some kind of relationship regarding distance and relative locations of where the stations were. But after the MTR system evolved into a much bigger system, they can’t handle the new design of the map and the map just fell apart.

Third, what is the difference between a short skinny black line and long skinny dash black line? Since I have been there, I can tell you the line means you can walk from one station to another. But why one is dashed and one is not? I guess because the dash black line looks better than a un-dash black line when it is kind of long, so why not?

Fourth, why are some line are cut off? Well, they are cut off because there is not enough wall space, LOL. Where do they go? Well, you will find out when you get there. Don’t expect to find a complete map on the train. If you don’t know where it takes you, you probably don’t live there and shouldn’t go there. Just go where the shoppings are! Other than these chaoses, I am not going to give a critique regarding the aesthetic of the map, I bet you know it yourself.

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hong kong subway map

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london subway map

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old london subway map

all photos from http://www.google.com