India's Supreme Court Demands That the Taj Mahal Be Restored or Demolished

iStock
iStock

The Taj Mahal is one of the most recognizable monuments on Earth, but over the years it's started to look less like its old self. Smog and insect droppings are staining the once pure-white marble exterior an unseemly shade of yellow. Now, The Art Newspaper reports that India's Supreme Court has set an ultimatum: It's threatening to shut down or demolish the building if it's not restored to its former glory.

Agra, the town where the Taj Mahal is located, has a notorious pollution problem. Automobile traffic, factory smoke, and the open burning of municipal waste have all contributed to the landmark's increasing discoloration. Insects and acid rain also pose a threat to the facade, which is already crumbling away in some parts.

India's highest court now says the country's central government must seek foreign assistance to restore the UNESCO World Heritage Site if it's to remain open. Agra's state of Uttar Pradesh has taken some steps to reduce pollution in recent years, such us banning the burning of cow dung, which produces heavy brown carbon. In 2015, India's Supreme Court ordered all wood-burning crematoriums near the Taj Mahal to be swapped for electric ones.

But the measures haven't done enough to preserve the building. A committee led by the Indian Institute of Technology in Kanpu reportedly plans to investigate the exact sources of pollution in the area, a process that will take about four months. The Supreme Court plans check in on the status of site every day from July 31.

Air pollution isn't the only factor damaging the Taj Mahal. It was constructed near the Yamuna River in the 17th century, and as the water gradual dries up, the ground beneath the structure is shifting. If the trend continues it could lead to the building's total collapse.

[h/t The Art Newspaper]

Here's How Much it Would Cost to Build Hogwarts in Real Life

Warner Home Video
Warner Home Video

At some point, every Harry Potter fan has dreamed of going to Hogwarts. But a lack of magical ability isn't the only reason that the School of Witchcraft and Wizardry will have to remain in the realm of fantasy. Even recreating the physical structure would be nearly impossible in real life ... unless you're a billionaire looking to burn a lot of cash.

​BigRentz, an online marketplace for renting construction equipment, recently calculated the costs of building various fictional locations, such as Batman's Bat Cave, The Wall from Game of Thrones, and you guessed it—Hogwarts. And it turns out, magical castles are even more expensive than you might think.

According to the company's calculations, the castle itself would cost $169,740,000. Built in the style of Windsor Castle, Hogwarts stretches over 414,000 square feet. The Great Hall, which measures 5800 square feet, would alone cost a whopping $870,000.

Moving beyond the castle walls, the eight greenhouses would cost $175,000, and Hagrid's hut would come in at $400,000. Building the Quidditch pitch would cost another $1,031,980. And for the One-Eyed Witch Passage running between Hogwarts and Honeydukes? A full $2,490,000.

In total, BigRentz calculates that Hogwarts's construction bill would come to a whopping $174.5 million. And that's just construction costs. The cost of furnishing, supplying, and running the school—where tuition is free—would add significantly to that figure.

New LEGO Sets Let You Recreate the Iconic Skylines of San Francisco and Paris

In 2016, LEGO began releasing architecture-themed sets that let toy-loving designers recreate the world’s most famous skylines in their own homes, beginning with re-creations of New York, Venice, and Berlin. And now, the company is adding Paris and San Francisco to the mix, according to Archinect.

The new LEGO Architecture kit for Paris will feature the Eiffel Tower and Arc de Triomphe (both already available as stand-alone skyscraper kits) as well as the Louvre, the Tour Montparnasse, and other famous buildings. The LEGO San Francisco kit features the Golden Gate Bridge, the Transamerica Pyramid, Coit Tower, 555 California (formerly the Bank of America Center), Alcatraz Island, and the new Salesforce Tower, which recently became the city’s tallest building.

LEGO sets of the Paris and San Francisco skylines
LEGO

No doubt residents of both cities will have some gripes about which buildings were included and which were nixed from the kits. The Tour Montparnasse, in particular, was so deeply loathed upon its completion in the 1970s that the city of Paris promptly imposed a strict height restriction on buildings taller than 11 stories. Meanwhile, many San Francisco residents are still adjusting to the sight of the Salesforce Tower, which opened in 2018—it has been called “an atrocious spectacle,” its height described as “really offensive.”

You can check out all the kits from LEGO’s Architecture line here. Keep an eye out for the San Francisco and Paris versions starting early next year.

[h/t Architect]

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