What We Love This Week, Volume CXXVI

Sun Rays Field Fog

Sunrise over the small mountain hamlet of Cemoro Lawang, Indonesia. Source: Twisted Sifter

Dazzling Aerial Photography From Around The World

Aerial Elephants Grass

Elephants in Botswana’s Okavango flood plain. Source: Twisted Sifter

The view from on high can be at once elegant and cluttered, clarifying and overwhelming. But, most often, the view from above is absolutely gorgeous. The annual National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest, ending June 30, attracts reams of striking images taken from vantage points you and I will probably never occupy. Perhaps chief among those images–both in terms of beauty and uniqueness–are those taken from the sky. Yes, you and I may never hover above the plains of Africa or the mountains of Indonesia, but the arresting photographs at Twisted Sifter come quite close to bringing us there.

Great Barrier Reef Aerial

The Great Barrier Reef near Hamilton Island. Source: Twisted Sifter

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Façadism: Proof That Compromise Does (Or Doesn’t) Work

Facadism Valparaiso Chile

Fusing together modern and classical styles, this building in Valparaiso, Chile serves as an apt example of “façadism,” or the practice where a building’s façade is designed or constructed separately from the rest of the building.

Pending your tastes, façadism exemplifies the rewards of compromise (an existing space can be developed without sacrificing its historical elements) or proof that compromise doesn’t work (façadism tries to bring together two distinctive styles into one building and thus produces little more than visual confusion). In any case, the CSAV headquarters–featured above–in Valparaiso’s Sotomayor Plaza is sure to generate strong opinions.

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The Weird And Wonderful Houses Of Pablo Neruda

Neruda Homes Chascona Eyes

A row of eyes watches over La Chascona, a house designed for an affair. Source: Flickr

The Chilean poet Pablo Neruda was infatuated with being unusual. He would only use green pens to draft his poems, and he even gave himself his own name. His parents had chosen to call him Ricardo Eliezer Neftali Reyes y Basoalto, but Ricardo Reyes re-christened himself as Pablo Neruda as a teenager.

In his Nobel Prize acceptance speech, Neruda said, “I did not learn from books any recipe for writing a poem.” The same holds true for designing his homes. Full of strange collections of shells, beetles, colored glass, and mementos of life on the sea, Neruda’s three spectacular houses – Isla Negra, La Sebastiana, and La Chascona – are profoundly odd. They are as original as his silky verse.

Isla Negra

Neruda Houses Arches Isla

Archways leading around the back of Isla Negra and offering a glimpse of Neruda’s collection of colored glass. Source: Flickr

The author of Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair, The Book of Questions, The Captain’s Verses, and dozens of other books spent his twenties as a diplomat. His posts included Burma, Sri Lanka, Singapore, and Spain. When he returned to Chile at the age of thirty-three, he wanted a home where he could write. He found it on the Pacific coast, south of Valparaiso in central Chile.

Neruda Homes Isla Negra

Isla Negra, Neruda’s beloved home on the Chilean coast. Source: Flickr

Neruda called his coastal chateau Isla Negra. It isn’t on an island, and the house is painted blue, but Neruda gave the place this name because of its black rocks and because, for him, it was an isle of isolated calm. He lived there, off and on, from 1937 until his death in 1973.

Neruda Street Sign

This street sign leads to Isla Negra. Source: Flickr

Set on a sandy knoll on the edge of the ocean, Isla Negra reflects Neruda’s devotion to the deep. The house itself is designed as ship, with narrow passageways and wood-plank floors. Sails, tusks, ships-in-bottles, shells, and artifacts from the poet’s world travels brim from the shelves and nooks of each room. Neruda collected ship figureheads, and these carved wooden women, mermaids, and sirens appear throughout the sprawling home. When he entertained guests, he would call himself the “Captain” and sometimes even dressed in costume.

Cut Out Figures

All of Neruda’s homes had weird cutouts like these at Isla Negra. Source: Flickr

Neruda also kept a private bar at Isla Negra. Decorated with the same nautical knickknacks as the rest of the house, the bar has another distinguishing feature. When a friend died, Neruda would carve his name into the support beams above the bar. Visitors to the house today can see seventeen names scratched into the wood.

Neruda Homes Captains Bar

Neruda’s “captain’s bar” at Isla Negra. Source: Wikimedia Commons

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