Wall Street Journal publishes the ultimate #firstworldproblems article in a trend piece examining this summer's hottest pool accessory in the Hamptons: Inflatable swans. "With its simple color scheme and quirky profile," the blow-up pool swan has, well, positively blown up on far east end of Long Island but, as is typical with America's most storied summer colony, not everyone is happy. Referring to the swans as "foul" and "only one step above a garden gnome," interior designer Jeffrey Bilhuber laments: "They're everywhere. It's swan hell in the Hamptons. Somebody needs to get out a sharp penknife and start liberating us."

Bloomberg predicts that the humble solar panel is poised to be the next "granite countertop for homebuilders." Not too shabby, not too shabby at all. With six of the top ten U.S. homebuilders installing photovoltaic arrays as a standard feature of new homes,  Jim Petersen, CEO of mega roofing/solar contractor PetersenDean, gives a taste of what's to come: "In the next six months, homebuilders in California and the expensive-energy states will be going solar as a standard, and just incorporating it into the cost of the house like any other feature."

Architizer wrangles up an assortment of stunning contemporary cabins ideal for "appraising autumnal foliage."

Designboom admires Pierluigi Bonomo's Energy Box, a cross-laminated timber-clad, earthquake-resistant passive house in L'Aquila, Italy, erected over the skeleton of a home that was leveled by a sizable 2009 tremor. "The environmentally efficient building puts minimal demand on natural resources due to cleverly integrated renewable energy systems. Thermal protection in the winter is provided by larch planks on the exterior cladding, high levels of daylight filter through large slits in the south-side — increasing solar gain in the winter, sliding screens also allow ventilation through the building and solar protection in summer."

The Los Angeles Times steps inside Desert Two, a gorgeous part-prefab Palm Springs abode built in just a little under five months. Speedy construction aside, I think I could pretty much live right in that front yard pool ... or the backyard shower and bathtub.

The Atlantic Cities examines the "nefarious ways sprawl begets sprawl"in an always provocative guest post from the NRDC's Kaid Benfield. Under Benfield's microscope this time around? Loudoun County, Va. 

Wall Street Journal details the setbacks and challenges experienced by environmental lawyer/vintner/overachiever/son of a legendary patent-holder Eric Lemelson who recently completed a spendy ($2 million), plus-sized (3,500-square-feet), and super-efficient (energy bills are less than $50 a year) Oregon home that boasts not one but three international green building certifications: LEED Platinum (U.S.), Passivhaus (U.S./Germany), and Minergie-P-Eco (Switzerland). 

Co.Design picks the brain of the always-genius industrial designer/humanitarian Yves Behar with a look at his sleek revamped SodaStream design.

Matt Hickman ( @mattyhick ) writes about design, architecture and the intersection between the natural world and the built environment.

Sprawl, solar panels and inflatable swans (Weekend link clump]
How sprawl has impacted Loudoun County,, solar panels replace granite countertops as a homebuilder staple and outrage over inflatable swans in the Hamptons.