M.R. Sreenivasulu-Pen Refill Landmarks-India-Sydney Harbor Bridge-10Photo via M.R. Sreenivasulu

This may not be the way Bangalore software professional M.R. Sreenivasulu intended to become famous, but his miniature architectural models, constructed from thousands of plastic pen refills, have become so famous, his version of the Taj Mahal made it to the India Book of Records for “A Structure by Most Used Pen Refills” in 2012. In fact, he’s been building model landmarks since 2007, collecting pen refills as part of a “Say No to Plastic” campaign he launched. In total, he’s used eight kilograms of pen refills to build the Eiffel Tower, Big Ben, Leaning Tower of Pisa, the Space Needle from Seattle, Sydney Harbor Bridge, Charminar in India, and the Gateway of India.


Today, Le Corbusier’s legacy conjures up both images of Modernist villas, like the iconic Villa Savoye, and large, idealistic housing projects. On a far different scale, and far lesser known is an apartment building Boulogne-Billancourt, just outside the west side of Paris designed and built by Le Corbusier and his cousin Pierre Jeanneret between 1931 and 1934. The top two floors were Le Corbusier’s own apartment and studio in which he painted daily throughout his life. The apartment building is oriented east-west and overlooks on one side the Stade Jean Bouin (home of Parisian rugby team Stade Francais) and on the other side Roland Garros (the French Open, as it’s known around the world).



At Untapped Cities, the recent terrorist attacks that occurred in Paris hit extremely close to home. As the city recovers, it is important to remember Paris’ vibrant and sometimes tragic history so we can appreciate the city’s ongoing strength and vitality. While the New York Times recently featured vintage photographs of the blocks in the Paris attacks, Vincent Mahé’s new book, 750 Years in Paris, published by Nobrow Press, brings to live the City of Lights’ many triumphs and trials through architectural illustrations. Dating back to as early to 1265 and ending in 2015, Mahé focuses on a single block in the to highlight the historical events and time periods that have shaped this magical city.


1 WTC-Paris Terrorist Attacks-Lights-France-NYC-World Trade Center-20151 World Trade Center via EarthCam

Here at Untapped Cities, we have strong ties to both New York City and Paris. As the founder of Untapped Cities, I was born in New York but lived in Paris in 2010, and my husband Augustin Pasquet, who manages partnerships and advertising for Untapped Cities, moved to New York City from Paris in 2012. Many of our contributors live in Paris and for many years we ran a subsite, Untapped Paris as well. This year, part of our team spent all of April and May living and working in Paris, and a large portion of August.

There is a kinship between New York City and Paris – so different physically, even culturally, but similar in spirit. When I was married, I thought long and hard about whether to change my last name. In the end, I kept both, and I’m glad because today I also feel French. It is with sadness that I see what people are willing to do to the places that so many call home, places that have such rich history and culture, whether New York City or Paris, or elsewhere. But we cannot succumb to fear. Cities like New York City and Paris must continue to be melting pots, to welcome the world to its doorsteps and to invite them in – porte ouverte.


EIffel Tower climb-Kingston-Paris-Untapped CitiesA precarious view of Paris from the Eiffel Tower

As one of the world’s most famous landmarks, the Eiffel Tower is always under heavy security. However, City Lab recently posted a video of a British urban climber and his friend successfully climbing the its framework at night-without getting into too much trouble.

Their adventure is exciting and makes you hold your breath at the sight of them precariously climbing the beams without any kind of harness or support (if you’re not one for heights, maybe you should pass this one).


Grenoble-Short Story-Poetry Vending Machine-FranceGIF via Inverse

Standard American vending machines sell items like chips, candy, gum and soda. In New York City, we’ve found five quirky ATMs that sell more unusual things such as bike parts and Sprinkle Cupcakes. But no vending machine in the U.S. has yet produced anything as radical or progressive as those recently installed in the French city of Grenoble, which dispense poetry and short stories for free to readers.