whenever I’ve visited my friends’ lake house in the irish hills of michigan, there has never been a shortage of lakes and trees to be enjoyed. on one recent visit they took me on a walk through a very special place that I’d been wanting to see since hearing about it. at first impression it appears to be a beautiful, rolling, wide open natural space, but there is much more to it than first meets the eye.
once known as aiden lair, and now known as mccourtie park, it was formerly the 42-acre estate of herb mccourtie, a cement magnate. its trademark is its concrete bridges artistically handcrafted to resemble wooden structures. a visionary who loved architecture for art’s sake, mccourtie showed the versatility and beauty of the product he manufactured in 17 bridges that he commissioned to be created on his property using the 19th-century lost art of “el trabajo rustico” (the rustic work) in faux bois (imitation wood).
for more than 10 years, two mexican artists, george cardoso and ralph corona, created the bridges that span the creek on the property, as well as two concrete trees that cleverly hide the chimneys to his rathskeller. the bridges were individually created from wet mortar to resemble ropes and logs simulating native trees, such as oak, walnut, cherry, birch and beech. the intricate details include knots, insect holes, saw cuts, wood grain and even moss, lichen and beetle holes. an elaborate system of underground wires provided lights on and under some of the bridges. in addition, he created two huge pools, one for use as a swimming pool and the other as a fishing pond for his guests’ enjoyment.
throughout its history, the park has been the subject of rumors and legends. mccourtie’s rathskeller, which features a large bar, fieldstone fireplace, and vault, is rumored to have been a speakeasy during prohibition and a stopping point for al capone and other gangsters who bootlegged whiskey from chicago to detroit on U.S. 12.
it’s also been rumored that there are tunnels under the park property that served as stations for runaway southern slaves on the underground railroad. some people have reported sightings of a ghostly “lady in blue” strolling the grounds in old-fashioned clothing.
(a peek into the window of what used to be the ‘rathskeller’ – a bit creepy now)
in 1991, mccourtie park was named to the state register of historic sites by the michigan historical commission. the next year, it was added to the national register of historic places by the national park service.
“prohibition has made nothing but trouble.”
such a wonderful discovery made
when walking in a park near my daughter’s house
an illustrated storybook trail
with pages spread throughout the woods
placed there by the village and the local library
a perfect pairing.
“we tell stories in order to feel at home in the universe.”
— Roger Bingham, British science communicator, writer, public television producer and host
Time is important at an airport, with thousands of people running back and forth trying to get their plane on time. This is why most airports are full of clocks everywhere, helping to guide harried travelers. Schiphol Airport in the Netherlands is no exception, but it offers a twist: a giant clock that appears as if a man is busy painting it real time, minute by minute.
It appears as if a man is standing behind this giant airport clock, painting the hands in real time. The painter is actually a 12-hour-long recording, that gives a convincing illusion that a human is standing inside the translucent clock, busy at work as the hands go around. This creative timepiece is the latest work of Maarten Baas, a well-known Dutch artist and designer that has a series of similar live clock recordings.
The Schiphol Airport clock was created by Baas in 2016. The man inside the clock is wearing blue overalls and has a yellow rag in his pocket. This, together with his red bucket, is meant to be an homage to the famous Dutch artist Mondrian.
we say that time passes, time goes by, and time flows.
those are metaphors.
we also think of time as a medium in which we exist.
sources: atlas obscura, dutch design daily
‘los trompos,’ (spanish for spinning tops)
a giant spinning top art installation,
visits detroit’s beacon park from mexico city
the eight giant, colorful tops, designed by *héctor esrawe and ignacio cadena, are large enough for multiple people to sit or stand inside them, and visitors are welcome to take a spin. they were designed to facilitate play, celebrate culture, and bring people together to interact and connect. Los Trompos is an interactive piece that comes to life when people engage with it. the tops are based on the construction of the actual toy and reflect the work of mexican artisans, as well as mexican culture, art, and architecture.
“simply enjoy life and the great pleasures that come with it.”
* héctor esrawe is an industrial designer with a cross-disciplinary design atelier located in mexico city. ignacio cadena is the founder of cadena+asoc. concept design, a mexico-based interior design firm. the two often collaborate with each other, and together they won two interior design best of year awards in 2017