Eiffel Tower ‘to be turned into green jungle’
The Eiffel Tower could be transformed into a giant green “jungle” covered in 600,000 plants as part of an environmental scheme.
By Peter Allen
In a controversial plan that could change the Paris skyline, £65m pounds could reportedly be spent on making the Eiffel Tower the most “ecologically correct” tourist attraction in the world.
But many have already expressed outrage that the world famous Iron Lady, which attracts 7 million visitors a year, could be altered beyond recognition.
Ginger, an engineering company which specialises in ecological projects, is behind the scheme, estimated to be completed within two years. The firm is adamant that the rebranded tower will become a “green lung” for the whole of Paris.
It would see the 1,063ft tower turn into a flagship of ecotourism, introducing thousands of baskets of plants, as well as a state-of-the-art irrigation system made up of 12 tonnes of rubber tubing.
Ginger estimates that it will give off 84.2 tonnes of CO2 and absorb 87.8 tonnes, making it “carbon positive”.
A spokesman for Ginger said: “The project was confidential but the schedule indicated by Le Figaro is right.” It would see seedlings being grown at nurseries around Paris until June next year, and then hung around the tower on hemp poles attached to the structure until June 2013.
But SETE on Wednesday expressed “incredulity” at the project, with a spokesman saying the first they had heard of it was “in this morning’s Figaro”.
The controversy deepened when Jean-Bernard Bros, Paris’s tourism chief, said he was “not associated in any manner whatsoever to a proposed revegetation of the monument”.
Visitors queuing up to visit the global icon on Wednesday said they were “absolutely astonished” at the plans.
“The whole point of the Eiffel Tower is that it is an engineering masterpiece,” said Anil Singh, who was visiting with his wife and two children from Delhi, India.
“We have come to see the wrought iron – if we wanted to see a hanging garden we would go somewhere else.”
Laurent Martin, who has lived in Paris all his life, added: “It is typical of the ridiculous green schemes which are introduced everywhere nowadays.
“This is an example of a city which is prepared to waste money at a time when nobody can afford it. It is quite scandalous.”
The tower was built in 1889 by Gustave Eiffel, and was originally the entrance arch to that year’s Universal Exposition – a world fair celebrating French engineering.
At first it was criticised as a blot on the landscape. But it was soon revered as a striking piece of modern structural art, and is now the most popular tourist attraction in the world with an entrance fee.
It is by far the most prominent symbol of Paris, and indeed of French culture, featuring in countless films, documentaries, photographs and paintings.
Eiffel originally had a permit to allow his tower to stand for 20 years, but it avoided being demolished after becoming a valuable communication beacon during the First World War.
Wildomar closes down another park
By Yazmin Alvarez
The city’s second park to close down is in the process of being fenced off. Fresh cement was holding up newly placed posts. But an error in building material left Windsong open to parkgoers for one more afternoon.
Wildomar City Manager Frank Oviedo said the fence material that was to go up was something similar to that of a wrought iron fence. However, after inspecting the material Tuesday as it was being installed, the fence material was not as durable as expected. “At least it gives us one more day,” said Luopa.
The decision to shut down the city’s parks, Heritage Regency, Windsong and Marna O’Brien was announced during a June 29 City Council meeting and came after a court ruling last year that nixed a $28 annual tax on residential parcels that paid for park maintenance. That eventually led to the June 7 election on Measure D. Had the measure passed, it would have imposed a maximum $28 annual parcel tax on property owners to fund a new Community Facilities District, paying for maintenance of the three parks and other public recreation sites.
The new fence, which is expected to be put in Wednesday, is a coated chain-link fence similar to what is already installed along the backend of the park. The more durable fence is an attempt to keep vandals out.
Windsong Park closure Wildomar closes down another park
But the park has already seen its first act of vandalism even before the fence installation has been complete.
The posts that were cemented in Monday were pushed over and had to be reset early Tuesday.
While graffiti and vandalism within Wildomar has been an existing problem, Oviedo said more of it has been seen since the loss of parks funding.
“Without the resources there to keep up the maintenance, the parks are left empty and unattended. The fences go up to secure it,” he said. “People need to start taking responsibility for their community. I eat breath and live to make this a better community. When things like this happen, it’s just very frustrating.”
“I’m really going to miss it,” said Luopa, who has lived across the street from the neighborhood park since 1998. “It just really makes me mad that they have to close down the parks. What about the kids, what will they have? They deserve to have a childhood.”
Luopa was among those who voted for the measure. She said her grandchildren and great grandchildren play at the park when they visit. She see’s mother’s walk their children to the park and caretakers take some of the elderly residents around the park track for some exercise.
“The park is used,” she said. “What’s $28 from residents to keep it open? I would gladly pay $40.”
But her real frustration is that the park will once again be an eyesore in the community. It was closed off once before already and she said she waited five years for it to reopen. Now, history is repeating itself, she said.
The city’s largest and final park to remain open is Marna O’Brien. It is used by Little League and Pop Warner teams. It remains open and is currently maintained by Friends of Wildomar Parks.
Windsong, the small neighborhood park off Prairie Road near William Collier Elementary, didn’t receive the same attention from Wildomar residents.
“There just wasn’t the community support needed to keep it open,” said Wildomar Community Services Director Paula Willette.
“We have to call this closure permanent,” Willette said. “There’s no foreseeable funding for that park.”
Willette said the only way the park would be reopened is if residents came forward and showed interest.
“But I don’t see council bringing it up at any time. Plus we’re not getting phone calls from residents demanding it to stay open. There are no overwhelming calls and it’s a little disheartening.”
Vigeland Museum revitalized
Tucked away on the south side of Oslo’s famed Frogner Park is a large historic building that in many ways made the park itself possible. The Vigeland Museum, named for the artist behind the park’s enormous collection of sculptures, is where Gustav Vigeland lived and worked for nearly two decades. It reopened earlier this year and a visit can make a tour of the park much more meaningful.
There actually are two historic homes and museums on the park’s south side, both of which led to creation of the park, and this guide already has visited the Oslo City Museum (Bymuseet) and Frogner Hovedgård. Now visitors are welcome once again at the Vigeland Museum across the street, after a major if somewhat unnoticeable renovation. It included installation of a new roof and restoration of plumbing and electrical systems that mostly dated back to the building’s construction in the early 1920s. The need for basic refurbishment was acute.
“Sometimes we had to have buckets standing on the floors of the exhibition rooms, because the roof was leaking,” museum conservator Guri Skuggen told newspaper Aftenposten earlier this year. Now the roof’s new copper gleams in the late autumn sunshine, and the exhibition areas are shined up as well, without any jarring, major changes.
“We actually tried to make the changes as unnoticeable as possible,” Skuggen said. That’s in part because the building itself is in the process of becoming fredet (preserved and protected), so major change was decidedly not on the agenda. The priority was instead to keep the building and its inventory, considered a prime example of Norwegian neo-classicism from the 1920s, as intact as possible.
It was built to be a new studio and home for Gustav Vigeland, who already had a contract to create the fountain that’s a highlight of the Vigeland Park within the Frogner Park. Vigeland, whose production was enormous, had outgrown another city-owned property where he’d been living and working. The city offered him new accommodation and reimbursement for all his materials, and Vigeland moved into his large new quarters in 1924, next to the site of the sculpture park that kept growing in size and scope.
On Sunday, museum officials hosted they called a “great activity day,” opening up Vigeland’s living quarters as well as exhibition rooms and even a place where children could make Christmas cards and ornaments. The residential portion is otherwise only open by special appointment. More about it in a later story, with photos.
The museum itself, with its permanent collections and changing exhibitions, documents Vigeland’s life and work processes and offers insight into the enormity of his project. Plaster models of his famous statues also place them in a whole new light, allowing closer inspection especially of Vigeland’s famous Monolith, arguably the highlight of the Frogner Park. It was carved from one single piece of granite (hence its name) and contains 120 figures, created over a 14-year period from 1929 to 1944. Vigeland, who died in 1943, didn’t live to see its completion.
His models for it, divided into three separate plaster entities inside the museum, offer a different perspective on the Monolith and allow closer inspection at eye-level without having to battle the elements of bad weather or glaring sunshine. While it’s great to see the Monolith outdoors in the park, a look at its models inside the museum is highly recommended. Printed brochures in both Norwegian and English also explain how the massive sculpture was made.
Models of many of the granite groups placed around the Monolith are also on exhibit, along with the model of the fountain and many other works in the park, including his bronze, marble and wrought iron statues, fences, gates and light fixtures.
The museum also contains many works not connected to the park, including sculptures of famous and not-so-famous Norwegians of his time, from his housemaid to Frithjof Nansen. Vigeland also made woodcuts and drawings.
A special exhibit featuring the works of 29 scuptors is also running at the museum through February 5. It’s a cooperation between Norway’s national scultors’ association (Norsk Billedhoggerforening) and the museum, and aims to portray various industrial and artistic processes.
In the summer the museum hosts classical concerts in its large atrium. At this time of year, it provides an excellent way to explore the life and work of one of Norway’s most famous artists, while staying warm and dry.
Thousands dress up, celebrate the start of the holiday season in downtown Fayetteville
By Chick Jacobs
Ebenezer Scrooge handled his role as Victorian celebrity with the proper curmudgeonly disdain. But even that snarling sourpuss could find little to complain about Friday as more than 10,000 people gathered to officially welcome the Christmas season downtown.
“It’s been a gorgeous day, and people have responded wonderfully,” said Deborah Martin-Mintz, the executive director of the Arts Council of Fayetteville/Cumberland County. “People want to get out and enjoy the weather, and get into the spirit of the season.”
The 12th annual Dickens Holiday drew people looking for a brief break from leftover turkey sandwiches and the mind-numbing mobs of Black Friday. For one evening in downtown Fayetteville, they could share the street with characters straight out of a Victorian setting.
That included Queen Victoria herself, who officially opened the holiday season from the balcony of the Market House.
OK, so it wasn’t really the queen, any more than the real Ebenezer Scrooge and Jacob Marley grudgingly posed with passersby. And that wasn’t really Elvis Presley performing for fans in The Shops at 214 Hay Street. But for one evening, it was fun to pretend.
“It’s been a busy day, a lot busier than usual,” said Aneta Brewer, who owns The Burlap and Poppy Shoppe on Hay Street. “We’ve had a lot of people who’ve come in browsing.
“It may not be as hectic as Black Friday, but I think it’s a lot more enjoyable,” Brewer said.
The sounds and sights of a long-ago Christmas echoed down the side streets, from the clip-clop of horse hooves carrying passengers to the Coventry Carolers and the rhythmic rumbling of a Tuba Christmas inside Hay Street United Methodist Church.
On every corner, street vendors offered spiced cider and gingerbread cookies along with handmade arts and crafts.
Wrought iron artist Jason Thomas of Gray’s Creek hammered on a century-old anvil, delighting spectators as he created art from iron.
“I couldn’t do some of the more intricate stuff here,” he said, nodding to ornate ironwork he was offering for sale. “But a lot of the kids, they’ve never seen someone work on an anvil before.”
The stars of the event were characters plucked from Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol.” Bob Crachit and Tiny Tim blessed everyone within earshot, but like a bad-guy wrestler, everyone wanted to be seen with Scrooge.
“Bah! Humbug!” was the usual response from Scrooge, known in the real world as George Quigley. But inevitably he’d stop long enough for a photo, his shock of white hair and red-and-white nightshirt making a daring fashion statement.
Shortly after sunset, a lone bagpiper played “Oh Come, All Ye Faithful,” and thousands of people lit their candles and strolled down Hay Street. The crowd stood three streets deep as local dignitaries, then Queen Victoria herself, welcomed the holiday season.
Following a crowd countdown, the street was flooded with Christmas lights and a cascade of fireworks.
The one-day event was originally intended to draw people downtown in 2000 to see how redevelopment had changed the city’s center. About 1,000 people attended that first year.
Now, the number has swelled more than 10-fold.
“It’s built every year, Martin-Mintz said. “Now it’s an event people look forward to. They want to bring their children and share the experience.”
Taylor Morrison’s new model at Mediterra piques interest
Taylor Morrison has unveiled the Corciano model home at Mediterra. With 3,017 square feet under air, the Corciano features a library, two guest bedrooms, and three-and-a-half baths.
The Corciano villa model home draws inspiration from the Mediterranean regions of Europe. With a side-entry, two-car garage and tropical landscaping, the curb appeal of this exceptional home is enhanced with stonework accents, a tile roof, architectural detailing and a dramatic arched entry just beyond the wrought iron gates of the front courtyard.
The interior reveals an open floor plan centered around a private courtyard featuring double-door entries to the formal dining room and built-in bar for entertaining. A chef’s kitchen with oversized pantry overlooks the great room, where two walls of sliding glass doors lend a sense of spaciousness and give easy access to a screened loggia.
The master suite is tucked away in a quiet corner to take advantage of the views and includes his-and-her walk-in closets and a master bath with dual sinks and separate tub and shower.
The Corciano model is located in Cabreo, a cul-de-sac neighborhood of 39 single-family villas built exclusively by Taylor Morrison. Three available floor plans provide options starting at 2,868 square feet, and all feature private courtyards and regional-inspired architecture.
The Corciano model is priced starting at $587,900, depending on homesite.
Mediterra offers two golf courses designed by Tom Fazio and a Golf Learning Center. The 25,000-square-foot clubhouse offers fine and casual dining, while a private sports club gives residents the opportunity to play tennis, work out at the fitness center, or relax by the pool and spa.
With only 950 homes, Mediterra covers 1,700 acres, with 1,000 of those acres reserved for preserves, lakes, parks and open space. Eight miles of trails and pathways link three themed parks.
Mediterra’s Beach Club provides a private setting along the Gulf of Mexico complete with catered refreshments, an elevated swimming pool with sun deck, and personalized beach services.