Link About It: This Week’s Picks

Belgium's beautiful bike route, Australia's guerilla environmental group, Sweden's floating hotel and more from the web

Record-Setting NASA Astronaut Returns to Earth

Record-setting NASA astronaut Christina Koch has returned to her home planet after an incredible 328 days in orbit—the second-longest single trip into space by an American astronaut. During those 11 months among the stars, Koch took part in the first three all-woman spacewalks, “completed 5,248 orbits of the Earth and a journey of 139 million miles, roughly the equivalent of 291 trips to the moon and back.” Her mission will continue here on Earth though, as she will be observed and provide information pertaining to the effects on a woman during and after long-duration trips into the galaxy. Read more at NASA.

Sweden’s Floating Hotel, Arctic Bath

Resembling a bundle of logs, Sweden’s Arctic Bath hotel and spa floats on the Lule River in the country’s north, near Luleå. Designed by architects Bertil Harström and Johan Kauppi, the property offers a divine blend of luxury experiences and access to nature—with its open-air cold bath, bear-watching, hikes and other outdoor activities as well as saunas, massages and various treatments available indoors. Of the 12 guest rooms, some are on land and others are floating, but all are ideally situated underneath the Northern Lights during winter. See more at CNN.

“Living” Concrete Made From Bacteria

Developed by researchers at the University of Colorado, a new concrete alternative could provide a carbon-free option for buildings in remote places—where lugging traditional concrete ingredients proves difficult. Only two components—photosynthetic bacteria and gelatin—make up this “living” concrete. Due to its photosynthetic nature, it starts off green before drying into a brown hue. Perhaps most impressive of all, the concrete can regenerate: “When half of a brick is mixed with additional nutrients, sand, gelatin, and warm water, the bacteria in the original piece can grow into the added material. In seven days, the scientists had two bricks instead of one. They repeated the test several times to show that the bacterial bricks could be used for exponential brick reproduction, eventually creating eight bricks from the original,” according to Smithsonian Magazine. Learn more there.

Bushfire Brandalism Replaces Ads With Activism Posters

Australia’s Bushfire Brandalism collective uses guerrilla tactics to occupy high-traffic spots reserved for traditional advertising, replacing them with thoughtful protest posters pertaining to the government’s inaction regarding climate change and the country’s ongoing bushfires. The group (made up of 41 artists, including Stanislava Pinchuk, ghostpatrol, Leans, and Tom Gerrard) has successfully replaced 78 advertisements so far. As one member explains, “We do not accept that this situation is ‘business as usual.’ We are making these issues visible in our public spaces and in our media; areas monopolized by entities maintaining conservative climate denial agendas. If the newspapers won’t print the story, we will!” Poignant and purposeful, the work that Bushfire Brandalism is producing is also remarkably creative, thoughtful and attractive. See more at It’s Nice That.

Cycling Through the Trees of Limburg, Belgium’s Bike Route

1,200+ miles of well-paved bike path in Limburg, Belgium grant cyclists access to “an open-air museum, an arboretum, a nature reserve,” and more. Once riders pass through Bokrijk’s “Cycling Through Water” installation (a 650+ foot path stretching out through a pond), they’re greeted by a 19th-century castle. Further down, the route takes to the air: the aptly named “Cycling Through the Trees” leg, a recent addition to the trail, lifts riders 33 feet above ground, alongside the upper body of hundreds of conifer trees. Not only a wonderful experience for humans, the project has meant more protection of flora and fauna. Pieter Daenen of BuroLandschap (the landscape architecture firm that designed the route to exist in harmony with the surrounding nature) says, “We can already see that disappeared vegetation is returning and rare amphibians are multiplying.” See more at Architectural Digest.

Dead Sea Dates Successfully Grown From 2,000-Year-Old Seeds

Using 2,000-year-old seeds originally unearthed from a fortress in the Middle East and caves at the mouth of the Dead Sea, researchers at the Hadassah Medical Center have successfully grown new date palms. After soaking them in an activating solution, 34 seeds were plotted in precise, research-specific potting soil and then watched as they grew. Six seeds sprouted and each plant was carefully assessed. Research reveals—based on the pace of growth—that this ancient varietal grows far taller than modern-day date palms and that they have the ability to preserve their DNA over thousands of years. Though it may not be possible to revive the Judean date varietal entirely, it’s possible that hybrids could adopt some of the traits that made them so delectable. Read more at Science Magazine.

Animated David Shrigley Paintings in the Sketch App

London’s Sketch restaurant is sought out for more than its menu; its sci-fi, egg-shaped toilet pods and beloved David Shrigley paintings attract an audience, too. Now the Mayfair eatery has added an augmented reality element to the experience. The restaurant’s new app—developed by Hato—allows Shrigley’s artwork “to break free from its frames on the walls and invade your surroundings.” There are 15 Shrigley illustrations available (from flowers to creatures and handwritten copy) that can be used in videos or photos taken anywhere in the world. The app uses Real World 3D Tracking and Plane/Surface detection to place and animate. Sketch’s founder Mourad Mazouz says “We want the app to be an extension of the Sketch world which engages diners in a creative new way.” See all the animations at It’s Nice That.

Biodiversity Heritage Library’s Immense Free Image Archive

A collection of images, diagrams, sketches and research surveys believed to be “the world’s largest open access digital archive dedicated to life on Earth,” the Biodiversity Heritage Library is comprised of over 55 million pages of literature. The library (with ephemera dating back to the 15th century) has made over 150,000 illustrations from their collection available for free, high-resolution download. There are also a number of tools available, like “search features to find species by taxonomy and an option to monitor online conversations related to books and articles.” The library offers an immense look into history, art, nature (and all the ways they combine) for those looking to dive into the natural world. See a few of the illustrations at Colossal.

Mattel’s New Inclusive Barbie Dolls

Mattel is betting on “a multi-dimensional view of beauty” as they continue to make Barbies that are more diverse and inclusive. Their latest cast of characters includes Barbies with vitiligo, hair loss, prosthetic limbs (made in collaboration with young disability advocate Jordan Reeves), and various other attributes. In fact, Barbie is now available in “five body types, 22 skin tones, 76 hair styles, 94 hair colors, and 13 eye colors” thanks to an ongoing effort to have kids see themselves in the dolls they play with—hopefully strengthening their sense of belonging and self-worth. See more at The Independent.

Lisbon Triennale Surveys Ornament in Architecture

The theme for this year’s Lisbon Triennale—”The Poetics of Reason”—poses the question of whether or not ornament is integral to architecture. Positioning photographs and up-close sculptural renderings of classical Victorian structures and their decorations alongside an international assortment of patterns, prints, decorations and furniture, the curators encourage visitors to understand architecture and ornament as two separate entities. The former is rooted in reason, while the latter is an expression of culture and a reaction to changes in environment. Read and see more at designboom.

Link About It is our filtered look at the web, shared daily in Link and on social media, and rounded up every Saturday morning.