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Welcome to the Instagram blog! See how Instagrammers are capturing and sharing the world's moments through photo and video features, user spotlights, tips and news from Instagram HQ.

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xu bing, art, Architecture, cathedral, phoenix, sculpture, photography, Instagram, Art Thursday,

Xu Bing’s Phoenix at St. John the Divine

To see more photos from Xu Bing’s Phoenix at The Cathedral Church of Saint John the Divine, explore the St. John the Divine location page and browse the #xubing hashtag.

For the duration of 2014, the artist Xu Bing’s Phoenix—a pair of majestic, glittering sculptures made of refuse and debris—can be viewed at The Cathedral Church of Saint John the Divine in New York City. “My Phoenix uses the lowliest materials of labor to adorn itself with beauty and self-respect,” Xu says.

Before coming to St. John the Divine, the work has been displayed in venues such as the Today Art Museum in Beijing and the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (@massmoca). Soaring amongst the carved wood and stained glass of the cathedral, the sculptures take on a sacred quality. “It creates a unique visual and spiritual landscape for the public,” Xu says, “a landscape that I believe is capable of transporting us to an entirely new place. The splendor that underlies the phoenixes and the splendor that underlies the cathedral shine off of one another, creating a space of massive tension that moves every one of us.”

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Architecture, roofline_envelope, geof newsum, hashtag highlight, User Feature, Instagram,

Flipping Perspectives with @slowjam98 and #roofline_envelope

For more from Geof’s creative series, browse the #roofline_envelope hashtag and follow @slowjam98 on Instagram.

Phoenix, Arizona, Instagrammer Geof Newsum (@slowjam98) first downloaded Instagram to follow his wife, Ayanah (@ayanah), but after the two attended a local InstaMeet, Geof was inspired by the community to tap more deeply into his creative interests.

While on a lunch break one day, Geof snapped a photo of the roof of a nearby building. “After flipping the photo, it struck me that it looked like an envelope,” he explains. With that, the #roofline_envelope hashtag was born. “I came up with the tag and got stuck on the idea, posting two more that week. I’m now at 41 and counting.”

Since starting the series, Geof has watched it spread throughout the community and continue to pick up steam. As for where he wants to take it next, he says, “I’ve been wanting to create a special series based on endangered historic homes in Phoenix. I love the stories found in local architecture.”

Want to try out taking a #roofline_envelope of your own? Geof has some tips to share:

"Start with a gable wall—a flat wall under a pitched roof. Make sure there aren’t any wires or branches breaking the line of the roof. Take a second to position yourself dead center. When composing the shot, get linear elements from the roofline to perfectly meet the corners of the image." From there, rotate the image 180º and you’re ready to go!

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design, Architecture, Location Feature, Free Spirit Spheres, instagram,

A Stay Among the Treetops in the Free Spirit Spheres

To see more photos from these unique tree houses, explore the Free Spirit Spheres location page.

Suspended among the lush trees of Vancouver Island’s rainforest are some of the world’s most unique hotel accommodations. The Free Spirit Spheres are a family of perfectly round wood and fiberglass tree houses that grant visitors a bird’s-eye view of their picturesque surroundings.

The floating pods, whose design and construction draw heavily from that of sailboats, have interiors as visually striking as their alien exteriors. Each sphere is carefully balanced between three trees and is accessible only by a rope staircase and bridge.

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Architecture, landscape, location feature, namibia, Kolmanskop,

Exploring Kolmanskop, a Ghost Town in the Namib Desert

To view more photos and videos from the ghost town in the Namib desert, browse the Kolmanskop location page.

Since its abandonment in 1954, the once-booming mining town of Kolmanskop has gradually succumbed to the sands of the Namib Desert. The small town near the coast of Namibia was built in the style of a German village following the discovery of diamonds in 1908, and at its height Kolmanskop boasted a hospital, casino and theater.

Today, the town’s decayed European architecture stands in stark contrast to its sandy surroundings, making it a picturesque destination for adventurous Instagrammers.

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User Feature, Architecture, south of france, chateau de gudanes, french architecture, france,

Bringing the Stately @cheateaugudanes Back to Life

For more photos and videos from the restoration of the chateau as it progresses, follow @chateaugudanes on Instagram.

When Australian couple Karina and Craig Waters began the search for a French cottage, they had little idea of the adventure they would ultimately find: restoring the regal Chateau de Gudanes (@chateaugudanes).

As they embarked on their venture in French real estate, the options they turned up were disheartening—so much so that they nearly abandoned the dream. After their son stumbled upon an online listing for a large abandoned chateau in the Pyrénées, however, they ventured back to France.

"We had no idea where the Pyrénées were geographically," Karina explains. "We drove from Paris to Toulouse then headed towards the Midi-Pyrénées. By the time we drove past fields of sunflowers, towards snow capped mountains linking earth to heaven and then entered the little village and saw the chateau tucked gently in a glorious valley, we were speechless. We made an offer a couple of days later."

At long last, they had found Chateau de Gudanes, a stately home and grounds that dated back to the 13th century before being reconstructed by famed French architect Ange-Jacques Gabriel as a lavish home for the Marquis Louis Gaspard de Sales.

The dilapidated chateau required substantial work after years of disuse—an undertaking Karina and her family have embraced wholeheartedly. With nearly 100 rooms including a central chapel and a newly discovered underground chamber beneath the basement, the challenges of structural renovation form a constant process around which Karina has developed an eager community on Instagram. “I make a coffee, post a photo and then hours later from the other side of the world, I receive a comment from someone saying, ‘This is the best part of my day, making a coffee and seeing what the photo is for today.’ I love being here onsite, sharing what I love, experiencing it and knowing that someone else feels the same way.”

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location feature, cathedral park, st johns bridge, portland, Architecture,

Exploring Portland’s Cathedral Park

For more photos and videos from the park and its arches, explore the Cathedral Park and St. John’s Bridge location pages.

In the northernmost part of Portland, Oregon, the iconic St. John’s Bridge extends across the Willamette River. Though the bridge has become known for its green hue and distinctly pointed towers, the park underneath has also come to enjoy a fame of its own.

The bridge’s stylized architecture continues even into its soaring concrete supports, which resemble the arches of a Gothic cathedral. Taking its name from the supports, Cathedral Park opened in 1980—a stark change from what had nearly been a junkyard beneath the bridge a decade earlier.

Now, the park’s lush meadow spaces, proximity to the river and dramatic backdrops create a special draw for local and visiting Instagrammers, making the space a favorite for creative outings and InstaMeets.

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art thursday, Architecture, shigeru ban, cardboard cathedral,

Architecture with Heart: Exploring the Work of Shigeru Ban

For more photos and videos from Shigeru Ban’s structures around the world, explore the Centre Pompidou-Metz and Cardboard Cathedral location pages and browse the #shigeruban hashtag.

For modernist architect Shigeru Ban, the art of structural design isn’t just an exercise in aesthetics, but rather a means of solving important problems during humanitarian crises.

Though Ban stands as the mind behind iconic structures such as the Centre Pompidou-Metz in Lorraine, France, its his temporary structures that have perhaps garnered the most recognition, earning him this year’s Pritzker Architecture Prize, the most prestigious honor in the field of modern architecture.

In the wake of massive crises, Ban has lent his skills to designing temporary structures that bring both shelter and beauty to people in need. He has worked with the UN to design refugee shelters for displaced populations in countries like Turkey and Rwanda and has even built two temporary churches in cities shaken my natural disasters. After a powerful quake struck the city of Christchurch, New Zealand, in 2011 and severely damaged the city’s iconic 19th-century cathedral, Ban worked with local firm Warren and Mahoney to build the Cardboard Cathedral. The stunning, A-frame structure was made primarily out of cardboard tubing and paper, Ban predominant materials that are both cheaply accessible during times of crisis and are largely recyclable when the buildings come down.

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Ostankino Tower, location feature, Russia, Moscow, Architecture,

Floating Above Moscow in the Ostankino Tower (Останкинская телебашня)

To see more photos and videos from Moscow’s Ostankino Tower, explore the Останкинская телебашня location page.

Soaring 540 meters (1,772 feet) into the sky above Moscow, Russia, the Ostankino Tower (Останкинская телебашня) provides radio and television signal as well as an astounding view for those who venture to its top.

Completed in 1967 and named after Moscow’s Ostankino district, the tower was the world’s first freestanding structure to top 500 meters. Today, visitors can snap both panoramas of Moscow and the earth 360 meters (1,180 feet) below the tower’s glass-bottomed observation deck.

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tokyo skytree, User Feature, tips, Architecture,

Tokyo Skytree from @naomi0326’s Balcony

See more photos and videos of the Skytree by browsing the 東京スカイツリー (Tokyo Skytree) and 東京スカイツリー 天望デッキ location pages.

When Tokyo Instagrammer Naomi Nakazaki (@naomi0326) moved into her new apartment, she not only gained a new place to live, but also a fantastic view of the Tokyo Skytree right outside her balcony. It was not long before Naomi began to direct her passion for photography to the new landmark tower, taking snapshots of the Skytree at different times of the day to create a dynamic series. “I would try to wake up before dawn every morning and take pictures at daybreak,” she says. “I feel sleep deprived all of the time because of this.”

Naomi also likes the view at night when the Tokyo Skytree is lit up, but her favorite moment is when the lights go out every night at 11PM. “I like the softness and airiness of that moment,” she explains.

Want to capture a favorite landmark in your hometown? Here are some tips from Naomi:

  • Look out for the changes in the sky. One cloud can completely change the expression of the scene.
  • For something big like the Tokyo Skytree, try to capture the scene so that it looks high and wide within the square frame.
  • Aim for the perfect angle—when taking pictures on your phone, the slightest angle can hugely affect the colors you can capture.

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Location Feature, hearst castle, Architecture,

Exploring California’s Hearst Castle on Instagram

For more photos and videos from Hearst Castle, explore the Hearst Castle location page.

In 1919, media tycoon William Randolph Hearst commissioned architect Julia Morgan to design a home atop the 270,000 acres (1,093 square kilometers) of property he owned in the hills of San Simeon, California. Over the next 28 years, Morgan created one of the most ambitious architectural projects in American history: Hearst Castle.

The home, formally named La Cuesta Encantada (“The Enchanted Hill”), contains over 160 rooms and boasts tennis courts, a movie theater, an airfield and 127 acres (.5 square kilometers) of gardens. Most iconic, however, are the property’s two ornate pools—one indoor and one outdoor—that Morgan designed with Hearst’s love of Roman antiquity in mind. The outdoor Neptune Pool (rebuilt three times until it was perfect) features the façade from an actual temple imported from Italy, while the expansive indoor Roman Pool is decorated with a floor-to-ceiling mosaic made of glass and fused-gold tiles.

During its prime, the Castle also held the world’s largest private zoo. Though the zoo was dismantled after Hearst’s death in 1951, a sparse population of zebras can be seen roaming the grounds to this day.

Hearst Castle is now a state historic park and welcomes nearly one million visitors each year.