Design Dish: A city made of bubbles & a toxic underground village

Pritzker Prize to be Given in Beijing: With its explosive recent development, Beijing has become an appealing spot for the world’s most influential architects and designers. It’s no surprise then that the prestigious Pritzker Prize – sometimes referred to as the “Nobel Prize” of architecture – will be awarded in Beijing next year.

Ring of Light: Last weekend, rising design star Arnaud Lapierre installed, “Ring,” his first outdoor sculpture in the courtyard outside Paris’ Place Vendôme. Composed of stacked mirror pieces in a ciruclar formation, the structure reflects fragments of the surrounding sky, buildings and streets.

A Buried Toxic Village: A 1,700-year-old village in Alabama was recently uncovered near the site of a wastewater treatment plant. Using a peculiar “dye-tracing” technique (it basically looks like they spilled Nickelodeon GACK all over the place), excavators are figuring out the exact layout of the old village. Sure, it isn’t quite “design,” but it’s a pretty nifty way to learn more about pre-historic architecture.

E-Volo Personal Helicopter: Don’t act like this isn’t the coolest thing you’ve ever seen. The “E-Volo” is a prototype for a personal helicopter made up of dozens of tiny propellers, some rope and a bouncy ball. So, yeah, it’s still in the early stages (I think they have the same silver exercise ball at my gym), but I am SO ordering one if it ever goes into production.

Cloud Cities: Now on view at Berlin’s Hamburger Bahnof gallery, “Cloud Cities,” by Argentinian designer Tomas Saraceno, features suspended “bubble environments” – some filled with water or succulents – that exhibit-goers can sit on or play with at different locations throughout the hall. One large-scale dome can be entered via a temporary staircase—scary for claustrophobics, awesome for those of us who have always wanted to live in one of those weird pod cities that are always in sci-fi movies.