Design Wire June 2022

As a notable step toward a future in which electric vehicles are the norm, AIRSTREAM has developed a prototype called the ESTREAM, an electric, solar-powered trailer that functions as a two-wheeled car that can be parked remotely with an iPad or phone. Recognizing the strain that trailers put on the already short driving range of electric vehicles, the eStream was designed with batteries and two motors to propel itself behind a car. This drive-along trailer system is managed by a tow hitch fit with a sensor that measures the forces between the vehicle and the eStream, constantly making adjustments so that there is no push or pull. Outfitted with 900 watts of solar panels on the roof, the eStream can also be plugged in to fully charge in as little as 30 minutes, and it uses regenerative braking to recharge each time the vehicle stops. Although it is several years away from being on the market for consumer use, the eStream provides a glimpse into how easy it will be to live and travel off the grid in the future.

After undergoing a year of renovations, a boutique hotel in Brunswick called THE FEDERAL has opened in the location of the former Captain Daniel Stone Inn. Managed by Portland-based group PRINCIPAL HOSPITALITY, and named after the Federalist era and architectural style in which the original building was erected, the Federal features 30 rooms designed and styled by ANNIE KILADJIAN, founder of Portland interior design company ANNIE K DESIGNS. A short walk from Bowdoin college, the hotel will likely be a draw for visitors to both Portland and the midcoast. Attached to the hotel, Steve and Michelle Corry, the owners of Petite Jacqueline and former Portland restaurant Five Fifty-Five (which closed in 2020 after 17 years in business) have just opened 555 NORTH, a farm-to-table restaurant that features a horseshoe-shaped bar, an open fireplace, and seats for up to 140 guests.

Belgian design and manufacturing company HULASOL has developed a dual-functional sun umbrella and futuristic outdoor light, eponymously named the HULASOL. Set on a broad base equipped with wheels for easy movement, the Hulasol has an aerodynamic parasol shape that measures nearly nine feet in diameter and is meant to emulate the curves of the sun and moon. Going from day to night, the lamp is controlled by a smartphone app to set the mood for any evening get-together, and can be programmed with automated schedules. When folded up for storage, the sun umbrella/lamp compresses down much like a normal umbrella, and it comes with a cover for easy storage and protection from the elements.

In an effort to provide a circular material to replace the thermosetting plastic used in electrical sockets and switches around the world, SOUHAÏB GHANMI, a graduate of ÉCAL, the Lausanne University of Art and Design in Switzerland, has debuted the ELOS RANGE, a series of outlets and light switches made from powdered animal bones. Inspired by bone’s electric- and thermal-insulating properties, Ghanmi is hoping to reduce yearly bone waste created by slaughterhouses. Bone powder and a bio-based binding agent are molded into shapes that resemble various parts of the skeleton—such as the cross section of a femur or the head of a thigh bone that rotates like a hip joint. The sockets are designed to be crushed into powder and made into something new at the end of the product’s life.

Met with initially mixed reviews due to its somewhat intense appearance, British technology giant DYSON has released its first wearable product, a set of noise-canceling headphones with a removable plastic visor that wraps around the front of the face. Called the DYSON ZONE, it is meant to be worn in urban environments, where the headphones tune out noise pollution with three listening levels (isolation, conversation, and transparency) while the visor filters out allergens, gasses, and dust frequently encountered in cities. Featuring four air-purification levels (low, medium, high, and auto), the technology in the visor is the same as that found in the company’s popular household air purifiers. Compressors in the earpieces spin to pull in fresh air that is then moved through double-layered filters made with potassium-enriched carbon to trap pollutants. Fresh, clean air comes out of the mesh filter and is then channeled down to the wearer’s mouth and nose. While the first prototypes for this product were developed six years ago purely to provide relief from air pollution, the design has altered over the past two years to create space for a face mask to be worn underneath it. Now in its final stages of development, the Dyson Zone will be available for general consumers in fall of 2022.

With the intention of creating a public space that functions as a venue for major cultural events, London architecture firm STUDIO SEILERN ARCHITECTS has designed a trio of 20-meter-high colonnades around the GOUNA FESTIVAL PLAZA in the Red Sea resort town of El Gouna, Egypt. The first stage in the development of the GOUNA CONFERENCE AND CULTURE CENTER, the plaza is surrounded by a moat, creating an otherworldly experience for visitors as they arrive at and depart from the three artificial islands. In the next two stages of the project, a concert hall and conference center will be built, where events such as the EL GOUNA FILM FESTIVAL and the EL GOUNA INTERNATIONAL SQUASH OPEN can be held. Made from glass-reinforced concrete, the staggered columns of the colonnade are sand colored and softened on the interior, contrasting the smooth white exterior. Harkening to ancient Egyptian structures and Moorish influences (such as the use of the arch), the experience of walking through the cathedral-like structure is meant to invoke awe and reflection.
Photo: Paul Riddle

Construction on the WOODVILLE TRAINING SITE, a 5,400-square-foot training facility for members of the MAINE ARMY NATIONAL GUARD, is underway in Penobscot County. The site will provide an in-state practice range for soldiers who previously had to travel to Massachusetts, Vermont, and Nova Scotia. Although the project started in 2013, development for the site began in earnest over the past two years, during which creating infrastructure was balanced with conserving and protecting over 1,000 acres of wetlands that sustain multiple endangered species. This has earned the project a SECRETARY OF THE ARMY ENVIRONMENTAL AWARD FOR NATURAL RESOURCES CONSERVATION in the “under 10,000 acre installation” award category. With the intention of creating soldier training opportunities related to the project, the Maine National Guard has used small-scale project funding, while the majority of the work, including roadwork, culvert placement, and the construction of four multipurpose buildings, has been done in-house by army engineers and soldiers alike.

Thanks to a 1.9-million-dollar grant from the FEDERAL TRANSIT ADMINISTRATION, the GREATER PORTLAND TRANSIT DISTRICT—also known as METRO—has begun to update its fleet of BREEZ buses that travel between Portland and Brunswick with stops in Yarmouth and Freeport. Paid through the GRANTS FOR BUSES AND BUS FACILITIES PROGRAM, the funding will allow METRO to purchase four heavy-duty, 35-foot electric buses outfitted with emission controls, taking the first step toward the organization’s goal of operating a zero-emissions fleet by 2040. Launched in 2017, the Breez bus service between these four southern Maine towns provides public transportation in areas previously unreachable without a personal vehicle, and to date has exceeded expected ridership by 60 percent.

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