December 4, 2010

Beyblade spinning tops are all the rage again

Filed under: General by Branko Collin @ 1:36 pm

Shopkeepers in the Netherlands claim they were caught completely by surprise by the sudden increase in demand for Beyblades. It has been 10 years since the spinning tops from Hasbro last were playground hits, the print edition of daily Parool reported on Wednesday.

Beyblades are used in ‘battles’, where tops are launched from a platform (see photo) into an arena. The top that stays up the longest wins.

A possible explanation of the revival may be that Disney channel has started to broadcast the accompanying (and eponymous) manga series again, though at ungodly early hours. Disney’s Vincent Berends thinks that ‘schoolyard talk’ may explain the success.

Earlier this year Jeugdjournaal reported that Beyblades had become the rage again in Japan. There the hype was carefully manufactured.

(Photo by Cielo de la Paz, some rights reserved)

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November 24, 2010

Permanent play street in part of Potgieterstraat

Filed under: Automobiles,Bicycles by Branko Collin @ 4:00 pm

We saw this huge on-street playground under construction at the Potgieterstraat in Amsterdam yesterday. It is basically taking over the space where the road was.

This used to be a one-way street for cars, with a two-way bike path and a smaller playground. The neighbourhood wanted more room for children to play and so the decision was made (PDF) to ban cars from this part of the Potgieterstraat altogether. You can still bike through it though.

I did some Googling. Play streets have been a feature of Belgian cities since the 1970s, and have also been introduced to London and New York. In all those cases the play streets aren’t permanent fixtures, and cars are never completely banned from the street.

In a way this Amsterdam variant isn’t that much different. Bicycle streets are fairly common here, something I only really started to appreciate when Google Streetview came around, and I noticed that I could not get views for many streets in Amsterdam simply because the Streetview car wasn’t allowed to go there. Bicycles are kept separate from the playground though.

Illustration: the old situation, as seen from the other side.

Furthermore: Orangemaster points out to me that the De Genestetstraat has been a play street for two years. It took a prolonged legal battle for the borough to push this one through—perhaps that is why the Google Streetview car was able to take pictures there.

(Source second photo: Google Streetview)

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April 11, 2009

From sewage processor to amusement park

Filed under: Architecture by Branko Collin @ 1:12 pm

Amsterdam wants to repurpose the abandoned sewage processing towers on Zeeburgereiland, an island that now connects the new island neighbourhood of IJburg with the city centre. One of the towers will become the Annie M. G. Schmidt house, named after the children’s book and musical song writing icon (1911-1995) who once famously said: don’t erect a statue for me, I’d rather you remember me with a playground.

The proposed giraffe in the image is likely to be a slide, after Schmidt’s song Dikkertje Dap (lyrics), in which a small kid uses a giraffe’s long neck as a slide. The new destination for the three towers was announced this week by Amsterdam city planning councilman and former student union leader Maarten van Poelgeest, writes Arch Daily.

Other planned uses for the buildings are “a theatre, a restaurant, an exhibition space, and shops,” writes Fast Company. Architects Arons and Gelauff are the culprits.

Source images: Arons & Gauluff, Google Street View respectively.

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