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Wars, refugees and inner turmoil: The defining images from this year’s World Press Photo contest

The annual contest showcases the best work of photojournalists around the world.

“Right now I see the world marching towards the edge of an abyss,” said João Silva, a jury member for the World Press Photo Contest. “This is a man who has clearly reached a breaking point and his statement is to assassinate someone who he really blames, a country that he blames, for what is going on elsewhere in the region. I feel that what is happening in Europe, what is happening in America, what is happening in the Far East, Middle East, Syria, and this image to me talks of it.”

Silva was referring to the winning image taken by photographer Burhan Ozbilici in December, a chilling portrait clicked seconds after the assassination of the Russian ambassador to Turkey, Andrei Karlov. The image shows the gunman, later identified as an off-duty Turkish policeman named Mevlut Mert Altintas, shouting with one arm raised above his head and a gun in the other. “It is the face of hatred,” Silva added.

World Press Photo of the Year | An Assassination in Turkey: Mevlut Mert Altintas shouts after shooting Andrei Karlov, the Russian ambassador to Turkey, at an art gallery in Ankara, Turkey, in December 2016. (AP Photo/Burhan Ozbilici).
World Press Photo of the Year | An Assassination in Turkey: Mevlut Mert Altintas shouts after shooting Andrei Karlov, the Russian ambassador to Turkey, at an art gallery in Ankara, Turkey, in December 2016. (AP Photo/Burhan Ozbilici).

The assassination took place after several days of protests in Turkey, over the Russian involvement in the Syrian civil war and the battle over Aleppo. “Every time it came on the screen you almost had to move back, because it’s such an explosive image and we really felt that it epitomises the definition of what the World Press Photo of the Year is, and what it means,” said Mary F Calvert, another member of the jury.

The World Press Photo Contest rewards photographers for their work in the field of visual journalism. Contestants submit their work as a standalone picture, or in the form of stories and are judged in terms of their accurate and visually compelling insights about the world.

Daily Life, second prize (singles) | Sweat Makes Champions: Four students of a gymnastics school in Xuzhou, China, do toe-pressure training for 30 minutes in the afternoon. (Tiejun Wang, China)
Daily Life, second prize (singles) | Sweat Makes Champions: Four students of a gymnastics school in Xuzhou, China, do toe-pressure training for 30 minutes in the afternoon. (Tiejun Wang, China)

Photographers Mathieu Willcocks from UK, and Abd Doumani and Ameer Alhalbi from Syria have captured the many faces of the refugee and migrant crises from around the world. While Willcocks trained his lens on the the central Mediterranean migration route, between the coasts of Libya and Italy, Doumani and Alhalbi shot moving images of the destruction in the Syrian cities of Damascus and Aleppo.

Spot News, third prize (stories) | Mediterranean Migration: Libyan fishermen throw a life jacket at a rubber boat full of migrants, November 2016. (Mathieu Willcocks)
Spot News, third prize (stories) | Mediterranean Migration: Libyan fishermen throw a life jacket at a rubber boat full of migrants, November 2016. (Mathieu Willcocks)

The pictures are compelling because they speak to our most basic need – the struggle for survival. In photograph after photograph, the humans featured as subjects struggle to survive hunger, weakening bodies, drowning or bombs raining from the sky in the place they once called home.

Spot News, second prize (stories) | Rescued from the Rubble: Syrian men carrying babies make their way through the rubble of destroyed buildings following a reported airstrike on the rebel-held Salihin neighborhood of Aleppo. Airstrikes have killed dozens in rebel-held parts of Syria as the opposition considers whether to join a US-Russia truce deal due to take effect on September 12. (Ameer Alhalbi for Agence France-Presse)
Spot News, second prize (stories) | Rescued from the Rubble: Syrian men carrying babies make their way through the rubble of destroyed buildings following a reported airstrike on the rebel-held Salihin neighborhood of Aleppo. Airstrikes have killed dozens in rebel-held parts of Syria as the opposition considers whether to join a US-Russia truce deal due to take effect on September 12. (Ameer Alhalbi for Agence France-Presse)
Spot News, second prize (singles) | Medics Assist a Wounded Girl: A Syrian girl cries out as a wounded child lies next to her at a makeshift hospital. She had been injured in reported government airstrikes on the rebel-held town of Douma, east of Damascus, Syria, September 2016. (Abd Doumani for Agence France-Presse)
Spot News, second prize (singles) | Medics Assist a Wounded Girl: A Syrian girl cries out as a wounded child lies next to her at a makeshift hospital. She had been injured in reported government airstrikes on the rebel-held town of Douma, east of Damascus, Syria, September 2016. (Abd Doumani for Agence France-Presse)

Among the many winners was the photograph of a wild leopard in a human settlement in Mumbai, looking for its next meal. The image was taken by Indian wildlife photographer Nayan Khanolkar. “The leopard is on its nocturnal prowl in the adjacent human settlements in search of food, which in these areas is typically dogs or pigs,” reads the description. The image won the second prize in the “singles” nature category.

Nature, second prize (singles) | Big Cat in My Backyard: A wild leopard strolls through Sanjay Gandhi National Park, a protected area in the northern part of Mumbai, India, September 2016.  (Nayan Khanolkar)
Nature, second prize (singles) | Big Cat in My Backyard: A wild leopard strolls through Sanjay Gandhi National Park, a protected area in the northern part of Mumbai, India, September 2016. (Nayan Khanolkar)

Away from the violence and death, some photographers’ works endeavoured to bring forth a quieter, inner turmoil. Finnish photographer Markus Jokela has been photographing the small rural community of Table Rock in Nebraska, US, since 1992, and describes the town as “a place where nothing really happens and nothing ever changes”. His intimate portraits of the mundane draw viewers into the lives of his subjects – like Peyton Schaardt, a little girl coping with her mother’s death, or Kelly Freeman, whom the photographer follows as she prepares for her wedding.

Long-Term Projects, third prize | Table Rock, Nebraska: Peyton Schaardt, four months after her mother’s death, October 2013. (Markus Jokela for Helsingin Sanomat)
Long-Term Projects, third prize | Table Rock, Nebraska: Peyton Schaardt, four months after her mother’s death, October 2013. (Markus Jokela for Helsingin Sanomat)
Long-Term Projects, third prize | Table Rock, Nebraska: Kelly Freeman arrives at her wedding reception in Dubois, Kansas, October 2013. (Markus Jokela for Helsingin Sanomat)
Long-Term Projects, third prize | Table Rock, Nebraska: Kelly Freeman arrives at her wedding reception in Dubois, Kansas, October 2013. (Markus Jokela for Helsingin Sanomat)

In the ironically named series, Copacabana Palace, German photographer Peter Bauza travelled to Brazil and spent time photographing squatters at a series of condominiums which house more than 300 homeless families. Built more than 30 years ago, the construction on this complex was never finished.

Contemporary Issues, third prize (stories) | Copacabana Palace: A pastor, who also lives in the occupied buildings, explains all the construction problems. A couple of weeks ago, the hall floors from a building crashed down at night. Fortunately everybody was sleeping and nothing serious happened. Most of the buildings are exposed to corrosion, July 2015. (Peter Bauza)
Contemporary Issues, third prize (stories) | Copacabana Palace: A pastor, who also lives in the occupied buildings, explains all the construction problems. A couple of weeks ago, the hall floors from a building crashed down at night. Fortunately everybody was sleeping and nothing serious happened. Most of the buildings are exposed to corrosion, July 2015. (Peter Bauza)
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Modern home design trends that are radically changing living spaces in India

From structure to finishes, modern homes embody lifestyle.

Homes in India are evolving to become works of art as home owners look to express their taste and lifestyle through design. It’s no surprise that global home design platform Houzz saw over a million visitors every month from India, even before their services were locally available. Architects and homeowners are spending enormous time and effort over structural elements as well as interior features, to create beautiful and comfortable living spaces.

Here’s a look at the top trends that are altering and enhancing home spaces in India.

Cantilevers. A cantilever is a rigid structural element like a beam or slab that protrudes horizontally out of the main structure of a building. The cantilevered structure almost seems to float on air. While small balconies of such type have existed for eons, construction technology has now enabled large cantilevers, that can even become large rooms. A cantilever allows for glass facades on multiple sides, bringing in more sunlight and garden views. It works wonderfully to enhance spectacular views especially in hill or seaside homes. The space below the cantilever can be transformed to a semi-covered garden, porch or a sit-out deck. Cantilevers also help conserve ground space, for lawns or backyards, while enabling more built-up area. Cantilevers need to be designed and constructed carefully else the structure could be unstable and lead to floor vibrations.

Butterfly roofs. Roofs don’t need to be flat - in fact roof design can completely alter the size and feel of the space inside. A butterfly roof is a dramatic roof arrangement shaped, as the name suggests, like a butterfly. It is an inverted version of the typical sloping roof - two roof surfaces slope downwards from opposing edges to join around the middle in the shape of a mild V. This creates more height inside the house and allows for high windows which let in more light. On the inside, the sloping ceiling can be covered in wood, aluminium or metal to make it look stylish. The butterfly roof is less common and is sure to add uniqueness to your home. Leading Indian architecture firms, Sameep Padora’s sP+a and Khosla Associates, have used this style to craft some stunning homes and commercial projects. The Butterfly roof was first used by Le Corbusier, the Swiss-French architect who later designed the city of Chandigarh, in his design of the Maison Errazuriz, a vacation house in Chile in 1930.

Butterfly roof and cantilever (Image credit: Design Milk on Flickr.com)
Butterfly roof and cantilever (Image credit: Design Milk on Flickr.com)

Skylights. Designing a home to allow natural light in is always preferred. However, spaces, surrounding environment and privacy issues don’t always allow for large enough windows. Skylights are essentially windows in the roof, though they can take a variety of forms. A well-positioned skylight can fill a room with natural light and make a huge difference to small rooms as well as large living areas. However, skylights must be intelligently designed to suit the climate and the room. Skylights facing north, if on a sloping roof, will bring in soft light, while a skylight on a flat roof will bring in sharp glare in the afternoons. In the Indian climate, a skylight will definitely reduce the need for artificial lighting but could also increase the need for air-conditioning during the warm months. Apart from this cleaning a skylight requires some effort. Nevertheless, a skylight is a very stylish addition to a home, and one that has huge practical value.

Staircases. Staircases are no longer just functional. In modern houses, staircases are being designed as aesthetic elements in themselves, sometimes even taking the centre-stage. While the form and material depend significantly on practical considerations, there are several trendy options. Floating staircases are hugely popular in modern, minimalist homes and add lightness to a normally heavy structure. Materials like glass, wood, metal and even coloured acrylic are being used in staircases. Additionally, spaces under staircases are being creatively used for storage or home accents.

Floating staircase (Image credit: Design Milk on Flickr.com)
Floating staircase (Image credit: Design Milk on Flickr.com)

Exposed Brick Walls. Brickwork is traditionally covered with plaster and painted. However, ‘exposed’ bricks, that is un-plastered masonry, is becoming popular in homes, restaurants and cafes. It adds a rustic and earthy feel. Exposed brick surfaces can be used in home interiors, on select walls or throughout, as well as exteriors. Exposed bricks need to be treated to be moisture proof. They are also prone to gathering dust and mould, making regular cleaning a must.

Cement work. Don’t underestimate cement and concrete when it comes to design potential. Exposed concrete interiors, like exposed brick, are becoming very popular. The design philosophy is ‘Less is more’ - the structure is simplistic and pops of colour are added through furniture and soft furnishings.

Exposed concrete wall (Image Credit: Getty Images)
Exposed concrete wall (Image Credit: Getty Images)

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This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of Birla Gold Premium Cement and not by the Scroll editorial team.