Archive for the ‘Amazing architecture’ Category

Astrology, Celestial rhythyms and a new Black Hole in the Jaipur Observatory of Mararajah Jai Sing II

February 29, 2016

Hugh Paxton’s Blog recommends the following to anybody visiting Jaipur. And anybody interested in Indian astrology. Or astronomy. Or travelling I India with a 12 year-old-daughter.

We begin!

(AD 1719) Maharajah Jai Singh II, annoyed by a pointless and heated discussion on astronomical calculations in the court of the Mughal emperor, Muhammad Singh, decided to educate everybody in the kingdom regarding astronomy.

“He then initiated an ambitious programme of observing celestial bodies with instruments of brass, constructed according to the Persian-Arabic school of astronomy.”*

While sitting in his Amber Place overlooking the dry and dusty hills of Jaipur he decided that he knew better. I’d like to think he hurled both his Persian-Arab astronomers over a cliff along with their brass and inaccuracies while twirling his Mughal moustache and dismissing his eunuchs and nine wives with an impatient flourish. But if he did there is no mention made of that.

He sourced local materials (bronze, clay, mortar) and then sent emissaries on exceptionally long journeys. Of interest was the late Turkish royal astronomer, Ulugh Beg of 15th century Samarkand, the then epitome of astronomical science. Greece, also of interest (the Maharaja stuck to Pisces, Gemini etc.), the British of particular fascination especially Newton (who could not be interested in Newton?), and there in Islam, in discrete but thinking Lebanon and Syrian households untroubled by the current vulgar hatreds and bestial imbecilities, there was more to learn.

What I really like about this whole thing is.everything! How good does this get! A Mughal Maharajah sending forth scholars by camel, horse, ship, on foot from his Amber Palace and when they all get back (assuming they haven’t been shot, fallen in love and decided to stay somewhere else, been offered a better job etc.) he decides to improve on everything and get it right!

Which he did. And here in Jaipur (and in four other cities) his massive sculptured instruments are still telling the time in a way Rolex can never hope to aspire to. World Heritage Site status has justifiably been bestowed!

So, yes, five of these grandiose planetariums exist (one in poor shape).

Delhi: “The Samrat Yantra is the most striking.It consists of an equinoctial dial – a triangular gnomon with the hypotenuse parallel to the earth’s axis. On either side of the gnomon is a quadrant of a circle parallel to the plane of the equator.The Sundial is used to measure the declination and other related coordinates of various celestial bodies.”

And so on. And so forth!

(AD 2016 – last week).

While visiting and marveling at the vision, curiosity, energy, and obstinacy of the late Jai Singh I also felt complete admiration for the man. He didn’t just build a series of fantastic but accurate observatories, he also envisioned the perfect city, built that, too. And forts. And palaces. All a bit scruffy now, over populated with swarms of domestic tourists taking selfies and foreign tourists succumbing to the temptation. But the tour guides of the astronomical areas take this endeavor seriously.

Which my beloved daughter didn’t. Thank Gawd he didn’t notice this yawn! Erin, Midi, myself – enthralled. Annabel, well who can blame her? A bunch of boring grownups milling around in the baking sun blathering about the tropics of Cancer and Capricorn and Greenwich Observatory and Jaipur Mean Time and angles of 27 degrees and fate and human destiny intertwined with forces incomprehensible and beyond control and precision mathematics and…who gives a damn fa chrissakes! “I’d rather be watching Teen Wolf! At least that’s realistic!”

The yawn was caught accidentally by my beloved wife. Glad it was. A new Black Hole might upset the celestial alignments! And I’d hate to see my daughter impaled on a 300 year old astrolabe by an angry contemporary Indian astrologer!


*With thanks to the Rajasthan Tourism people. Check Jantar Mantar. Get a govt guide. If you don’t you will have absolutely no idea what is going on. Expect him to be interesting and interested. Expect no patience. “Joking for later. Photos for later. Please jolly well listen.” And why not? There is mention made of a son et lumiere, a sound and light show conducted after dark. Well worth a look. If you value your life, make jokes later and don’t start snoring!

Brigitte’s Pick: Village in Afghanistan … Incredible!!

May 28, 2015

Hugh Paxton’s Blog agrees with Brigitte on this one. Incredible, indeed! Also highly creative and very cozy! I’ve seen troglodyte dwellings in Turkey and have heard that 30 million Chinese live in caves (I haven’t actually seen them doing it) but when it comes to world class excavations these Afghans are serious contenders for the cup!

Thanks for sharing this, Brigitte!


Subject: FW: Village in Afghanistan … Incredible!!

Village in Afghanistan … Can you believe it??

And you wonder why they can’t find Osama Bin Laden?

Brigitte’s Pick: Fantastic Engineering Photos

August 12, 2013

Hugh Paxton’s Blog thanks correspondent Brigitte for this bunch. Definitely food for thought (especially the chocolate thingumabob and the stove). Would be architects read on. A lot of ideas out there. Not all of them good ones!

Best from Hugh in Bangkok with a super-typhoon now muttering about its arrival. Who needs fireworks? The skies over Bangkok are on fire with lightning and the booming of thunder sounds like …booming thunder! That has brought all its friends along for a boom-a-long! The power will go out in a minute or two. Any engineers out there short of ideas, how about designing a candle holder that glows in the dark and enables you to find the candles after all is dark and the candles have vanished as usual just when you need them? Merely a thought! Over to Brigitte. She begins with a church!

Subject: FW: Fantastic Engineering Photos

A church in Norway

The Hands vintage sofa

A masterpiece made from wood,amazing bathtub design ..

Seaside Deck, Hawaii

I want this tree house !

Beds for three.

Dream Stove – this is amazing !

DoubleBack – VW’s Sliding Extension Camper Van !

Compact office

Mercedes-Benz BIOME concept car. Do you want this car

This smart-board will simultaneously serve as your cutting board, display your recipes,

provide step-by-step directions and weigh your ingredients out for you.

After you wash it, it will even tell you if it has been cleaned enough to avoid

cross-contamination or food poisoning. Wow!

Bowl of chocolate.- Is this the ultimate in baking craft????

A perfect setup for a hard gamer ! If you and I could afford this for computer games

What an idea! Modern coffee/teapot serving
designed by a Turkish Design Studio Altera Tasarim.

Product website :

Solar Powered Simple Transparent Touch Screen Pocket Calculator
For purchase and detail specifications please visit:

That’s cool ! Creativity at its best in Interior Decor

16th Avenue tiled mosaic steps, San Fran-USA

Hanging Beds in a Forest Resort !

Creative library chair – All in One.

25 percent of Denmark is now powered exclusively by wind.

Tree top suspension bridges in Vancouver, BC Canada..

Visitors move from tree to tree at a height of 30 meters.

Perfect ! An aesthetic creative garden pond

One of the most beautiful sights of London

Waterflow : Ladybower Reservoir In Derbyshire, England

World’s Largest Solar Powered Ship.-U.K.

Great Britain: Dumfries House: a Sleeping Beauty brought back to life by the Prince of Wales – Telegraph

April 21, 2013

Hugh Paxton Blog is a British royalist, a great fan of Prince Charles and his environmental and social initiatives. The link is to a story that bangs every nail very gently on the head and makes Britain a country I will continue to love. The Telegraph ran the story and it has every ingredient required to encourage and lift the spirit. I think that’s enough intro. Check the link.

To: Hugh
Subject: Dumfries House: a Sleeping Beauty brought back to life by the Prince of Wales – Telegraph -brought-back-to-life-by-the-Prince-of-Wales.html

Brigitte’s Pick: Dealing with the burdens of life

November 16, 2012

Dealing with the burdens of life:

1. Accept the fact that some days you’re the pigeon – and some days you’re the statue.

2. Always keep your words soft and sweet – just in case you have to eat them.

3. Always read stuff that will make you look good if you die in the middle of it.

4. Drive carefully – it’s not just cars that can be recalled by their Maker.

5. If you can’t be kind, at least have the decency to be vague.

6. If you lend someone $20 and never see that person again, it was probably worth it.

7. It may be that your sole purpose in life is simply to serve as a warning to others.

8. Never buy a car you can’t push.

9. Never put both feet in your mouth at the same time, because then you won’t have a leg to stand on.

10. Nobody cares if you can’t dance well. Just get up and dance.

11. Since it’s the early worm that gets eaten by the bird, sleep late.

12. The second mouse gets the cheese.

13. When everything’s coming your way, you’re in the wrong lane.

14. Birthdays are good for you. The more you have, the longer you live.

15. You may be only one person in the world, but you may also be the world to one person.

16. Some mistakes are too much fun to make only once.

17. We could learn a lot from crayons. Some are sharp, some are pretty and some are dull. Some have weird names and all are different colours – but they all have to live in the same box.

18. A truly happy person is one who can enjoy the scenery on a detour.

19. Save the earth – It’s the only planet we know of with chocolate.

Brigitte’s Pick: Inside Google’s data center

October 23, 2012

Hugh Paxton’s Blog thought that GOOGLE was just something (a button) you pressed to find anything. Brigitte’s Pick has GOOGLED me a bit of an education! Click on, keep on GOOGLing, but while you do think of the following!

A Google data center in Council Bluffs, Iowa.

Google’s Douglas County data centre in Georgia is so large the firm provides Google branded bicycles for staff to get around on.

Here hundreds of fans funnel hot air from the server racks into a cooling unit to be recirculated in Oklahoma. The green lights are the server status LEDs reflecting from the front of the servers.

The Iowa campus network room, where routers and switches allow data centers to talk to each other. The fiber cables run along the yellow cable trays near the ceiling.

Even the water pipes reflect Google’s brand: These colorful pipes are responsible for carrying water in and out of an Oregon data center. The blue pipes supply cold water and the red pipes return the warm water back to be cooled.

In Hamina, Finland, Google chose to renovate an old paper mill to take advantage of the building’s infrastructure as well as its proximity to the Gulf of Finland’s cooling waters.

Google’s server farm in Douglas County, Iowa

The exterior of a Dulles, Oregon server farm

Denise Harwood, a Google Engineer, diagnoses an overheated CPU. For more than a decade, Google has built some of the world’s most efficient servers.

Each server rack has four switches, connected by a different coloured cable. Colours are kept the same throughout data centres so staff know which one to replace in case of failure.

Hadrian’s Wall and bathrooms worth fighting for

August 24, 2012

Hadrian’s Wall, a view of the Cawfields landscape

Roman Britain is still very visible, in our straight roads, our language and in the superb architectural achievement that is Hadrian’s Wall and its adjoining forts.  Recently my wife and I have made repeated visits to the great roman wall. Stretching from east to west, from Newcastle to Maryport, Hadrian’s Wall is one of Britain’s most popular long-distance walks, but it offers great opportunities for day trips too and is definitely something a visitor to the UK should include in their itinerary. Click on the image below to view the scene at a larger scale. The landscape is wild and lovely.

A panoramic view of Hadrian’s Wall

the author at the point where the Wall joins Housteads fort

The author (a self-confessed Britunculus) at the point where the Wall joins Housteads fort

The Roman forts of Chesters, Housesteads and Vindolanda all have their own distinct charms. Chesters and Vindolanda have good museums and Carlisle’s Tullie House Museum has a superb Roman exhibition. The overwhelming sense of the intelligent organisation of the Roman army facilities is profoundly impressive. They knew what they were doing and the excellent preservation of Roman remains, even of normally perishable organic materials such as letters and sandals gives us a very privileged insight into Roman frontier life.

Chesters Fort Bath house looking over The Tyne River

Chesters Fort Bath house looking over The Tyne River

The bathing facilities at Chesters are particularly nicely preserved, I think. Hot steam baths and dry Saunas were an essential luxury for the auxiliary legionaries in northern Britain, many of whom were used to warmer southern climes. The well-designed bathrooms at Chesters are nicely situated overlooking the River Tyne and both bathing (and using the lavatory) was a social affair. The underfloor heating would be something that the troops would look forward to very much between their stints of all weather sentry duty and sallies north to battle. Bathrooms to die for?  Well, certainly bathrooms to fight tooth and nail for!

Good for maintaining morale. The Romans were using renewable energy effectively about 2000 years ago. Their hypercaust underfloor heating systems were fueled with locally harvested biomass in the same way that some progressive northern British farmers are doing today (1).

underfloor heating at Chester's fort, Hadrian's Wall

underfloor heating at Chester’s fort, Hadrian’s Wall

For the modern visitor it’s fantastic to walk among the ruins and admire the sophistication of the Roman plumbing! In my case, I must confess it is especially interesting as I’ve been working on a website for Logic, a British plumbing and heating firm serving northern England and southern Scotland. It’s funny how history repeats itself and things return to fashion. Underfloor heating in retrofitted British homes today, and particularly in new builds is a growing part of Logic’s business and it’s tied in with the Greening of British home heating.

Underfloor heating is likely to become more prevalent with the widespread adoption of renewable heating technologies such as ground and air source heat pumps (2) because the all-round radiant heating delivers good comfort at lower working temperatures in well-insulated properties. Heat pumps work like a refrigerator in reverse, ambient energy  from air, ground or water source is condensed and used for home heating and hot water supply.

If you’re considering enjoying the same sort of warmth that was appreciated by the CO of The Second Cavalry Regiment of Asturians then getting underfloor heating installed might be a good idea! Use of a timed controller is recommended because it takes a while to warm up and retains heat for a while too.

Happily these days, we don’t have to fight to qualify for, or defend the luxury of underfloor heating. One word of warning though, you won’t want to wear shoes in any room with underfloor heating, so get used to looking a little bit shorter!

What does that matter? The Romans affectionately referred to us as “Little Britons” (Britunculi)

Logic designs and installs air,ground and water source heat pumps

Logic designs and installs air, ground and water source heat pumps that use electricity to harness natural ambient heat

Leonie’s View: Rio De Janeiro’s welcome sign for 2016 Olympics

June 26, 2012

Hugh Paxton’s Blog received this from Leonie on Brazil’s preparations for the next Olympics.



Rio’s Welcome Sign (2016 Olympics)

" Solar City Tower ", built atop the island of Cotonduba
will be the welcome symbol to the2016 Olympic Games
in Rio de Janeiro .

It will be seen by the game visitors and participants as
they arrive by air or water.

The tower captures solar energy. It will supply energy
for all of the Olympic city, as well as also for part of Rio ..

It pumps up water from the ocean to create what
appears like a water fall and this fall stimulates turbines
that produce energy during the night.

It will also hold the Olympic flame.

The Tower possesses an amphitheater, an auditorium, a cafeteria and
boutiques. Elevators lead to various observatories. It also has a
retractable platform for the practice of bungee jumping.
At the summit is an observation point to appreciate the scenery of the
land and ocean, as well as the water fall.

Solar City Tower will be the point of reference for the 2016 Olympic
Games in Rio de Janeiro .

How amazing is that?


Brigitte’s Pick: Best Duct Tape Story Ever….

June 18, 2012

Hugh Paxton’s Blog suggests that you never leave home without duct tape. And here is evidence to support this advice courtesy of our correspondent, Brigitte. An extraordinary story. But Brigitte specialises in locating extraordinary stories!

Let us begin!

During a private "fly-in" fishing excursion into the Alaskan wilderness, a chartered pilot and fishermen left a cooler

some bait in the plane while they went off fishing. A bear discovered it, and this is what he did to the plane to get to the food:

The pilot used his radio and had another pilot bring him 2 new tires,
3 cases of duct tape, and a supply of sheet plastic.
He patched the plane together and FLEW IT HOME!

Duct Tape? Never Leave Home Without It!!!!!!!

Brigitte’s Pick: The Amazing Structural Engineer without Hands

May 7, 2012

Hugh Paxton’s blog wants these guys to do my thatching. Clever birds! And no hands!



Structural engineer in action

Whether you’re a ‘bird person’ or not, this is stunning!!!

Not to detract from the sheer magic of it, but in practical terms, how MANY trips would a bird have to make

with that tiny little quantity of mud/clay it could carry? (and how far from the nest is the source?)

If you take the construction of a “circular bowl” in your stride as instinctive – how the heck does the bird come up

with the windbreak/entrance design that shields the eggs/chicks from the elements – and at what point in fashioning the bowl do they start to construct it?

Think you could build this? Without using your hands?

%d bloggers like this: