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California – The Golden State

California – The Golden State



Hunter S. Thompson Tried to Get Paid in Cocaine at My Tequila Bar


As one of only two official tequila ambassadors for the Mexican government, 69-year-old Tomas Estes is credited with introducing Europe to agave spirits. Shaped by an adolescence spent motorcycling shirtless and drinking with Beatniks in 60s California, he opened his first bar in Amsterdam and today has a tequila brand, award-winning book on the spirit, and bars in Paris and London to his name. If you cut this guy open, he’d probably bleed tequila.

It all began when I was a teenager growing up in Los Angeles. My friends and I used to hop on over to Tijuana in Mexico and hit the bars. I digged the vibe there. I could do things that I couldn’t do back in the States.

That’s where my love for tequila started. We drank a lot of it. I remember this one bar in Ensenada, it was called Hussong’s and it’d been there since the 1800s. It was full of characters—sailors, rogues, adventurers. This was just after the Beat Generation in the 1960s and just before the hippy movement took off. They were exciting times, and it was a really great place to drink—people used to rock up on donkeys.

Down in Mexico and around California, I explored. This was the 60s, sexual freedom and liberation was beginning. Tijuana was like Sin City. And yeah, we got high, we drank tequila, we went to strip clubs. I carried a switch blade. I learned a lot about life in these years.

I used to just ride my bike in a pair of Levi jeans—no shirt—in the sun. All this helped me forge a career in the bar trade—uncovering the food, really understanding tequila and what it means to Mexico. And just life.

But also, I guess it’s fair to say that I went off the rails a bit and got into trouble back home. I ended up in jail five times—car theft, usually, but a bunch of other things too. I didn’t even keep the cars, I just drove them around a bit and left them.

Tijuana was like Sin City. And yeah, we got high, we drank tequila, we went to strip clubs. I carried a switch blade. All this helped me forge a career in the bar trade.

I got myself together by teaching—I won a scholarship to a university in southern California. I was a wrestler. Afterwards, I taught for a few years and, I think, for awhile, I was good. It was fulfilling. Imparting knowledge, discussing the world, studying life—all these things are so important.

But after a while I got a bit edgy and missed the scene. I needed something more—what is it that Yates said? “Education is not filling a bucket but lighting a fire.” To begin with, I knew I was lighting a fire. A few years in I felt that fire was gone, so I took a sabbatical and went to Europe.

When I found Amsterdam, I knew that’s where I wanted to live. It was so free, the culture was alive, and I saved up the money and opened my first bar there, Cafe Pacifico, in 1976. There wasn’t a Mexican restaurant in the city, there wasn’t tequila. I took it there and started a new fire.

It was a huge success. It was full of artists, musicians. There were drug dealers and characters. This was Amsterdam.

Cafe Pacifico was a very cool place. I remember Debbie Harry coming in. Everyone knew about it. One time, Queen picked up a platinum record award there. I met the Jacksons, Tina Turner and the Nike bosses used to sit at a table and drink tequila and eat (they probably did a few other things). Basically, it was inspiring to be there—creativity appeared at every turn.

After that, I came to London and opened another Pacifico. Back then, Covent Garden was just a void. You either drank in West London or in Soho—depending on how much money you had—but it took off. A day before I opened, a magazine asked to interview Hunter S. Thompson [there]. We had a full bar but hadn’t served a single drink.

When I found Amsterdam, I knew that’s where I wanted to live. I saved up the money and opened my first bar there in 1976. There wasn’t a Mexican restaurant in the city, there wasn’t tequila.

I remember him, he was everything you thought he’d be—petulant, temperamental. He seemed a bit violent but it was remarkable to meet the man, he had such presence. He also kept storming out of the room—apparently he was trying to negotiate his fee for the article in cocaine.

In the years since, tequila’s just grown and grown. It’s come up with London—the culture has transformed, Covent Garden is nothing like it used to be. Just as we’re finding new bars, people, experiences, we’re finding new agaves all the time.

The most exciting thing in the drinks industry coming out of Mexico right now is finding these little communities making their own liquor. OK, sometimes they get ripped off, but usually people are true to the spirit and true to the people. And that’s amazing.

These isolated villages are producing incredible tequila and mezcal, and every one of them is unique and extraordinary. And it’s great for the locals and strong for the economy.

Since opening Cafe Pacifico, I’ve had around 17 restaurants in total. And I’ve brought these odd and new drinks to each one.

Today, I’ve just got one in Paris, and a few bars here [London]. London is incredibly diverse and there’s a thirst for agave spirits right now—at El Nivel, we’ve got variations like raicilla, which is more acidic, almost vinegar-like.

And there’s sotal, which isn’t actually from the agave plant, but it’s medicinal in flavour and works well in cocktails. Each one has its own aroma and makeup.

This love for the drink isn’t just in the States and not just in Europe—it’s global. We’re all drinking it. And we’ve all got so much more to learn.

There’ll always be slammers, limes, shooters, but sipping proper, authentic, lovingly made tequila is something special.

Most people are only beginning to drink it properly. There’ll always be slammers, limes, shooters, but sipping proper, authentic, lovingly made tequila is something special. There’s no taste like it—something to savour.

I love the fascination for agave right now, it’s the drink of 2015 and I think we haven’t peaked yet. There’ll hopefully be another three or four years left of interest, this hype, before the world moves onto something else.

But agave spirits will always be here.


The new era of organized cybercrime

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During the murder trial of the contentious Jamaican dancehall artist known as Vybz Kartel—still ongoing—a critical piece of evidence vanished. Kartel and his associates had been charged with conspiring to kill Clive “Lizard” Williams, and prosecutors had obtained a compact disc of allegedly damning cellphone records, including text messages. Then it disappeared.

Losing that data wasn’t the only technological misstep for the legal team. Inspector Warren Williams, head of the Jamaica Constabulary Force’s cybercrime unit, gave a PowerPoint presentation intended to establish, via GPS location, where Kartel and any accomplices were in Kingston when exchanging these messages. Instead, he misidentified the relevant buildings on his own map.

There was also corruption in the air: It came out that a co-defendant’s cellphone was used while in police custody. For all the of the simplicity of the crime and punishment, there was a lot of sophisticated gadgetry involved—the kind that both enhances and vastly complicates our lives. Criminals and cops alike have been forced, as ever, to adapt to a virtual landscape, develop cutting-edge techniques, and reassess their potential allies.

All this ought to make us wonder if the term “organized crime” needs an updated definition in the Internet age. More and more, the Web is the very vector of criminal cooperation, as well as the means by which illegal enterprise is brought down.

As 2013 drew to a close, the British Bankers Association revealed a stunning statistic: “Traditional” bank robberies—those that tend to involve duffel bags and the threat of deadly force—had dropped 90 percent in the last 10 years. The trend was the same in the U.S., where the FBI recorded 3,870 robberies in 2012, the lowest figure going back several decades.

Increasingly sophisticated deterrents and alarm systems had certainly played a role in the diminishing of violent theft, but the trend also coincided with the rise of cybercrime targeting financial services. Indeed, hackers had begun to drain bigger bank accounts while taking far fewer risks.

“Instead of guns and masks, they [use] laptops and malware,” said Loretta E. Lynch, U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York, on the topic of a historic $45 million ATM scam.

“We certainly have much more diverse organized crime in the U.S. than in the past, much more transnational, much more linked to computers,” noted Louise Shelley, director of the Terrorism, Transnational Crime and Corruption Center at George Mason University.

But given that the two styles of robbery call for vastly different skill sets, one has to wonder: Are the same people getting rich? Or has the Internet completely altered the landscape for illegal enterprise? As with most tectonic shifts in the history of crime, it’s been a messy transition.

Prohibition is widely considered the catalyst that allowed the American mafia to evolve from a petty, murderous gang into a semi-corporate entity with an established hierarchy of leadership and division of labor. The mafia’s business model took root in the public consciousness and flowered throughout the 1960s and 1970s. Even as bloody internal warfare rocked such institutions in the early 1980s and led to a major federal crackdown, criminal conglomerates were becoming transnational, coordinating activities on a global scale. The Internet, then, would appear to offer opportunities for further unchecked expansion.

In the virtual world of cyberspace, though, it appears that the DNA of organized crime will have to mutate once again.

Reading about the cases of old-style bosses like Boston’s James “Whitey” Bulger, the inspiration for Jack Nicholson’s fictional mobster in The Departed, you might guess that the “traditional” forms of organized crime (dealing in protection money and other forms of extortion that rely upon face-to-face interaction and geographic boundaries) have all but crumbled before a more fluid underground economy. In a certain sense, you’d be right:

These dons tend to sound nostalgic for the days of massive analog scams. The biggest mob bust of the past few years ensnared 127 players on charges of homicide, arson, and loan-sharking. Meanwhile, your conventional pusher couldn’t hope to compete with the Deep Web black market Silk Road—but wasn’t that bazaar, with its anonymizing defenses and reported hit-job conspiracies, itself an example of “organized crime”?

It hardly helps that the term is so difficult to define. Would we consider the gangs pulled together by John Dillinger or Bonnie and Clyde “organized”? Perhaps that kind of loose, joyride-inflected camaraderie in a criminal enterprise is a better analogy for the scene we encounter on the Internet today, with its shifting alliances and adrenaline-junkie black hats. We still see many of the hallmarks of organized crime in online syndicates:

The elimination of rivals, traitors, and spies is a concern subordinate to the creation of wealth at the expense of various victims. Mercenaries and middlemen abound, selling their services to the highest bidder. Hackers are sometimes “flipped” and made to give testimony against their colleagues.

The vanishing of “territory,” however, means that the recognized families of the mafia no longer have a home base to defend or define themselves by. Muscle and physical threats are less essential, and schemes take fewer conspirators to arrange.

As globalization called for cooperation between syndicates and thus the emergence of a broader, flatter management structure, so too does the digital frontier demand a fresh approach. At the outset, that means acquiring the talent necessary to make cybercrime lucrative—however possible. Infosec Institute relayed reports that Mexican drug cartels have even forcibly recruited and kidnapped computer programmers.

“But,” Louise Shelley told the Daily Dot via email, “for over two decades, narcotics traffickers from Colombia have used the service of experienced computer specialists to encrypt their communications.” Similarly, she wrote, the cartel-affiliated, Los Angeles-based organization M-13, known to be involved in human trafficking, is using the Internet to get jobs done efficiently and quietly. You can kill and terrorize all you want, but money is becoming more virtual daily.

“Individuals who are not tech-savvy are losing out on organized crime in the U.S.,” she declared.

Ethnic solidarity remains a theme as organized crime seeps into cyberspace. A bank fraud and identity theft ring in California, for example, was the work of several men associated with the Armenian Power crime syndicate, two of whom were incarcerated and operating via cellphones smuggled into their prison (once again, turf is beside the point). More and more common, however, are confederacies assembled in far-flung regions.

Just skim some of the FBI’s big cybercrime cases: One press release touts the arrest of “10 individuals from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Macedonia, New Zealand, Peru, the United Kingdom, and the United States.” The porous, frictionless Web results in bedfellows you may not have predicted half a century ago.

Of all the existing mafias, Russia’s have surely gotten the early lead in cybercrime, operating in poorly policed .su domains. “There is a segmentation of the market,” Shelley explained. “Some of the most lucrative transnational crimes, such as selling counterfeit pharmaceuticals online, are done by Russian organized crime groups.”

Last month, an Arizona man named David Camez was convicted for his role in the Carder.su identity theft syndicate, but he was just a small-time buyer of counterfeit IDs. The actual empire was run by Russian Roman Zolotarev—according to the testimony of former Secret Service agent Michael Adams, who went undercover to infiltrate the market—a mastermind who remains comfortably beyond extradition.

Nevertheless, the case was a watershed moment, as it marked the first use of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, or RICO, in a U.S. prosecution of cybercrime. The federal law was enacted in 1970 and designed to benefit law enforcement agencies going after mob families. In Camez’s case, rather than argue his guilt, lawyers stressed the question of whether Carder.su met the same legal/criminal criteria as the mafia—which, apparently, it does.

Similar struggles to reconcile organized crime and cybercrime are common in the heavily wired nation of India. A unit devoted to online crime in the city of Jaipur, for example, has come under fire for electing to pursue only those reports that indicate organized gang activity.

Back in 2002, the North Carolina Journal of Law & Technology published an essay titled “Organized Cybercrime? How Cyberspace May Affect the Structure of Criminal Relationships.” This was before there was much in the way of cybercrime to study, as author Susan W. Brenner, now a distinguished professor of law and technology at the University of Dayton School of Law, readily admitted. Nevertheless, she was able to put her finger on a future problem in the fight against the type of computer fraud that features an ensemble cast:

“Specifically, instead of assuming stable configurations that persist for years, online criminal organization may incorporate the ‘swarming’ model, in which individuals coalesce for a limited period of time in order to conduct a specifically defined task or set of tasks and, having succeeded, go their separate ways. If cybercrime adopts this organizational model, law enforcement’s task will become much more difficult; in the real-world, the stability and consistency of organized criminal groups gives law enforcement a fixed target upon which to focus its efforts. Police concentrate on identifying a permanent group of participants who engage in a set of routine illicit activities.”

That swarming behavior will sound familiar to anyone who has read about a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack orchestrated by the hacktivist collective Anonymous, in which multiple people attempt suspend a service by overwhelming it with external communications requests. If it’s not necessarily an effective means of making money, it’s still a useful method of collaboration toward a number of ends that range from mischievous to catastrophic. (Indeed, it often appears as if the greatest difference between real-world criminals and online outlaws is that the profit motive cannot be taken for granted. There is just as often an ideological point to be made, or a reputation to be earned, or a thrill to be extracted.)

In any case, the bonds forged between cybercriminals are those of convenience, not blood and mutual obligation. In 2011, Brenner identified the exact sort of legal pothole that she had predicted nine years prior, quoting from a case in which the five defendants, employees of Western Express International, had used the company as a front for the trading of stolen data and the laundering of cybercriminals’ money. The excerpt comes from the majority opinion of the Supreme Court—Appellate Division, which was considering whether New York’s Organized Crime Control Act, a state-specific RICO-like law, should be brought to bear:

[T]he nature of this organization, as indicated by the evidence presented to the grand jury, constitutes a ‘criminal enterprise’ having an ‘ascertainable structure’ as contemplated by the OCCA. … [T]he structure of Vassilenko’s enterprise … differs greatly from the way in which the word ‘structure’ is ordinarily used in the context of organized crime. The ‘structure’ at issue here is, essentially, a web site; there is no social club or office, no hierarchy of appointed positions.

“In other words,” Brenner explained, “it didn’t look like the kind of Mafia family the OCCA and RICO were designed to pursue.” And yet three judges opted to allow an indictment on that basis, helping to set the stage for David Camez’s RICO conviction two years later. The dissenting pair of judges argued that the “defendants’ combined activities, undertaken for their individual benefit, without any chain of command, profit sharing, or continuity of criminal purpose beyond the scope of the criminal incidents alleged in the indictment” were “insufficient to show they engaged in the type of criminal enterprise covered by the statute.” Vadim Vassilenko, ringleader of the ad hoc Western Express gang, in early 2013 pleaded guilty to a handful of money laundering charges, as well as a scheme to defraud and conspiracy in the fifth degree, a misdemeanor.

Just because the FBI and the U.S. Attorneys can now paint cybercrime, however imperfectly, as organized crime, we needn’t anticipate the disappearance of traditional mafias or the rise of purely digital cartels. In fact, the most notable push to monopolize the illegal drug market on Silk Road severely backfired. Nod, a notorious dealer, attempted to collude with other cocaine distributors on Silk Road to set prices even higher, but competitors chose instead to leak the documents in an effort to tarnish his reputation.

It’s far more likely that the crimes of the future will assume a shape that’s difficult for us to imagine at the moment. The Internet has developed a new set of specialized tools that make running an illegal operation easier than ever before: The digital cryptocurrency Bitcoin can be used to launder dirty profits, malware can remotely seize control of devices, and anonymizing browsers like Tor have been a boon to the dissemination of child pornography, now largely accomplished online.

But none of that matters when you don’t have access or expertise. Organized crime has always meant having your fingers in lots of different pies, so it’s natural that the Web would appear a new and fruitful frontier to be divided up, using as many parallel scams as possible. To accomplish that, old-school syndicates will need highly educated recruits. You can spot the generational chasm on the other side of the law, too: South Africa’s police can’t keep up with cutting-edge scams, and in the U.S., we’re grooming college kids to be masters of IT security.

Mobsters who resist the Web now occupy the place of gangs that refused to start bootlegging when Prohibition created a black market in 1920. Whether you get into the industry or not, it will soon change everything about the way business is done, so you may as well stick a foot out for a toehold. When Brenners published her 2002 article, she acknowledged “the perception that cybercrime is perpetrated by hackers, who are loners, and are therefore not inclined to engage in group criminality; and the fact that, to date, most documented cybercrime reveals that a majority of incidents involve individuals, not groups.”

Twelve years on, plenty of lone wolves still stalk the digital plains, and some are married to their isolation. Others are bound to form packs.

Lucid Stead installation by Phillip K Smith III gives illusion of invisibility to a desert cabin

American artist Phillip K Smith III has added mirrors to the walls of a desert shack in California to create the illusion that you can see right through the building. Entitled Lucid Stead, the installation was created by Phillip K Smith III on a 70-year-old wooden residence within the California High Desert in Joshua Tree.

How the designers of mountain bivouacs are hitting new heights

Architects are being drawn to the challenges of creating outdoor sanctuaries for surviving extreme conditions

Count Henry Russell-Killough, the “hermit of the Pyrenees”, was not an everyday 19th-century man. From the 1860s onwards, the principal representative of the Irish branch of the house of Russell relinquished civilisation, instead taking up in the vast, barren expanse of the Pyrenees. According to A Arnold, writing in The Wide World Magazine in 1900, the count worshipped the peaks “as a lover might a mistress”.

Throughout the 1880s he dug seven caves in the side of Vignemale, the highest peak in the French Pyrenees, in which he hosted legendary banquets. On quieter nights the count would climb to the summit with a sheepskin body bag. There, after burying himself under rocks and earth with only his head sticking out, he would remain until dawn, frost gathering on his beard.

Russell-Killough is broadly accredited with the invention of the bivouac, or mountain shelter, in extreme, inhospitable places. Bivouacking — derived from the German words for “night watch” — sprang up with the sport of mountaineering in the late 1800s as climbers found they needed to sleep sometimes on their way to the summit.

Refuge Vallot on Mont Blanc in the French Alps

Refuge Vallot on Mont Blanc in the French Alps

A “bivvy” can be a mere bag in the Russell-Killough model. It can be a tent suspended from a cliff face or a tree, or an improvised structure made from branches and leaves. It can also be a hut, traditionally made from wood or metal. In all its forms it represents shelter, a refuge from the elements — a symbol of the most basic provision of architecture.

In The White Spider (1959), an account of the harrowing first ascent of the north face of the Eiger in 1938 — then the most dangerous face in the Alps — mountaineer Heinrich Harrer describes a bivouac near the summit that would be central to the expedition’s success.

“We managed to drive a single piton into a tiny crevice in the rock,” he writes. “We bent it downwards in a hoop, till the ring was touching the rock . . .  First we hung all our belongings on it and, after that, ourselves.” The climbers fashioned a seat out of rope slings and dangled 4,000ft above the snowfields at the base of the precipice. “It is absolutely no exaggeration to say that we all felt quite well and indeed comfortable,” Harrer adds. They brewed a cup of tea.

Ofis’s bivouac on Skuta, Slovenia

Ofis’s bivouac on Skuta, Slovenia

For decades climbing was a pastime for gentlemen and wayfarers but in recent years, with the invention of state-of-the-art climbing equipment, handheld GPS tracking technology and a 21st-century strain of voracious wanderlust, it has become a lucrative and thriving business.

Out on the mountain, though, things can quickly unravel. In April, two French climbers, a father and a son, were forced to abandon their ascent of Mont Blanc because of bad weather. They took shelter in Refuge Vallot, a bivouac hut located at 4,362 metres that can sleep 12 climbers. The pair rationed their food until rescuers arrived three days later.

To scale mountains you need courage, stamina and skill. For architects, too, mountains present a host of challenges. Charlotte Perriand was one of the first illustrious architects to engage seriously with the bivouac. Born in 1903, Perriand spent her childhood between Paris and her grandparents’ home in the mountainous region of Savoie, before becoming one of the most influential designers of the early modernist movement.

In 1937, following a tenure at Le Corbusier’s studio, Perriand collaborated with André Tournon on the Shelter Bivouac, an 8 sq metre refuge for six people on Mont Joly. Inspired by the vernacular architecture of Savoie, the structure was prefabricated and built around a tubular steel frame.

Perriand used aluminium components because they were lightweight and easy to transport yet robust. To mitigate the cramped conditions, the beds were removable and functioned as benches in the day, while cubic stools doubled as storage.

Leapfactory’s Gervasutti Hut on Mont Blanc

Leapfactory’s Gervasutti Hut on Mont Blanc

The challenges associated with building in harsh climates continue to interest architects. David Garcia, founder of Map Architects, based in Copenhagen, researches habitation in extreme environments; places such as the Arctic, the Alps, the Amazon rainforest and the desert. Garcia’s approach is highly technical so as to “build on new sites with a higher level of specificity”.

In the Arctic he shot lasers into the night air to map ice particles that are invisible to the naked eye but which accumulate in buildings. Map designed a tent to withstand environments where the temperature fluctuation is high, as it is in the mountains. When the temperature outside the tent drops, the fabric contracts, trapping the heat inside.

“I think what’s interesting is that when you are in these [extreme] contexts it’s much easier to lose your frame of reference and it becomes obvious you can’t build like you would everywhere else,” says Garcia. “When you move to these regions, which we probably will be doing more and more as the population grows and places become more accessible, we will be invading these new contexts. We have to try to do it in the least aggressive manner.”

The extreme environment tent designed by Map Architects

The extreme environment tent designed by Map Architects

Not all strive for harmony. Last year Leapfactory, a practice based in Turin, unveiled the Gervasutti Hut in a rocky region in the upper Fréboudze Glacier on the Italian side of Mont Blanc. The modular structure, which resembles the body of a toy tin plane, replaced a 60-year-old timber bivouac and was opposed locally for its “futuristic” appearance.

Painted red and silver, it is, by design, a beacon to be seen for miles. Leap describes it as “new alpine accommodation”. Unlike most bivouacs, which offer few modern comforts, the Gervasutti hut is a roomy 30 sq metres, has a kitchen, solar power and internet connection, as well as a big round window to appreciate the Val Ferret.

For Hanif Kara, a structural engineer and co-founder of AKT II in London, mountain shelters are interesting because they pose difficult questions, such as: “Can we find a way to build on mountains without taking people up there?” Traditionally, the materials for mountain shelters would be strapped to the backs of donkeys or carried up on foot. The modern equivalent is the helicopter, which is less time-consuming but comes at a price.

“My interest was to find a way of building with fewer resources, keeping construction economical but also [to build] with speed,” says Kara.

Tommy Caldwell and his portaledge camp on El Capitán’s Dawn Wall, California

Tommy Caldwell and his portaledge camp on El Capitán’s Dawn Wall, California

Together with Ljubljana-based Ofis Architects and the Harvard Graduate School of Design, Kara designed a bivouac — known as a “bivak” in Slovenia — on Skuta, the third-highest peak in the country’s Kamnik Alps. The structure’s interconnected terraced modules are composed of a steel frame with timber panelling.

Kara used computer modelling to ensure the structure can withstand avalanches in terms of the impact force — when the snow hits the structure — and the static pressure, or the weight of the snow as it builds up on top. Eight “anchors” or very deep screws help to keep the hut in place.

“We’re looking at ways of using automated machinery to build in harsh environments — drones to transport and ‘crabots’, a mixture between a crane and a robot, that you can remotely operate to construct for you,” says Kara.

Funding for the Skuta project fell short so helicopters, not drones, eventually airlifted the bivouac into place in August. Yet AKT II continues to investigate automated remote construction and hopes it can be applied to isolated regions in impoverished countries.

Ofis Architects, meanwhile, is building three other mountain shelters. “Bivaks in our county have a great tradition,” says co-founder Spela Videcnik.

“The oldest [such] shelter, built 120 years ago, is on the highest mountain in Slovenia. It’s a symbol of our country.”

Heinrich Harrer and fellow climber Fritz Kasparek during the first ascent of the Eiger’s north face, 1938

Heinrich Harrer and fellow climber Fritz Kasparek during the first ascent of the Eiger’s north face, 1938

A bivouac for Kanin mountain — set to be lifted into place as soon as a military helicopter can be spared from the refugee crisis on Slovenia’s borders — can sleep up to eight people and will service an area popular with extreme skiers.

The wholly wooden structure cladded in metal sheets will look “silver-ish”, says Videcnik, so that in winter it reflects the snow and in the summer it complements the rocky terrain. Metal grips will latch on to the mountain.

“It’s a structural challenge because in some ways it has to withstand really strong winds and on the other hand we don’t want it to destroy nature,” she says. “We treat the existing terrain as a holy thing that needs to stay intact.”

The Kanin bivak is both a nod to the vernacular architecture of Slovenia and something entirely modern. Here, traditional bivaks have few or no windows so as to conserve heat. In contrast almost an entire side of the new Kanin structure is glass. Ofis works with Guardian, a glass company in Luxembourg, to produce vast panes that can withstand intense wind.

“The glass we use is very thick, I would say almost bulletproof,” says Videcnik. “We wanted to make a big window with a big view of the sky and the scenery because for me it’s just about that: to enjoy being alone, up there and away from everyone.”

Photographs: PFRCF Collection/Alamy; Peter Wells/Alamy; Janez Martincic; Mattuzi Francesco; David Garcia; Corey Rich/ Aurora; Ullstein Bild/Getty Images

Disney Announces Star Wars-Themed Lands With Battle Ride + Millennium Falcon Mission

walt disney CEO bob iger announced at the D23 EXPO 2015 that star wars-themed lands will be coming to disneyland park in california and walt disney world resort in orlando, marking the company’s largest single-themed land expansions ever.

‘we are creating a jaw-dropping new world’, iger says — at 14-acres each, the massive parks will transport visitors to a never-before-seen planet, a remote trading port and one of the last stops before wild space, where star wars characters come to life.


these authentic experiences will have two new signature attractions: an adventure that puts guests in the middle of a climactic battle, and a ride that gives visitors the controls to one of the most recognizable ships in the galaxy — the millennium falcon — as they take on a customized secret mission.


the release of three conceptual visualizations give fans an early peek into the exciting world imagined for both disney and star wars enthusiasts.


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