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Wonder Wednesday

November 22, 2017

And now from the other side of the Pacific… the Tokyo Disney Resort monorail!

Taken a couple of weeks ago outside of DisneySea! Love the Mickey-shaped windows:

 

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Philosophy Tuesday

November 21, 2017

Sometimes, making art is easy.

Sometimes, making art is really difficult.

Sometimes, our best work will come into being with ease.

Sometimes, our even bester work takes more than blood, sweat, and tears.

They are both art.

They both end up beautiful.

Neither one is the ‘right’ way.

Neither one is the ‘wrong’ way.

It is just art.

It’s how art goes.

And here’s the thing,

Living life?

It’s an art.

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Architecture Monday

November 20, 2017

I’ve recently returned from a vacation to Japan that was very heavily aimed towards architectural visiting.  And indeed, I saw some absolutely incredible architecture, including some that expanded my understanding of what space can be and how it can feel.  Spaces that (actually) literally stopped me in my tracks and had me go “whaawwwaaahhaoaaa, what’s going on here?”  Good stuff, for sure, and I’ll share much of it in the weeks ahead!

Tonight I want to start with something a little more on the sedate end, but nonetheless is still delicious examples of finely crafted experiences:  a pair of buildings that form a community centre at the heart of the town of Honmura.

The larger building is the one that first catches your eye, with its tall and sensuous weathered cypress roof.  The building is also nestled within moss-covered earth berms, and right away you notice that the rise and angle of these colourful berms smoothly merges into that of the building’s roof.  The roof itself sports a prow that juts out on two sides and forming a hollow that extends right through, creating a passage that allows light and air to flow into the giant hall that’s within.

The centre was closed when I wandered by, so I could only peak inside.  Yet, that little peak was enough to see how the white underside of the roof allows the light from the prow and the light from the windows along the base of the roof (at the end of the berms) to blend and suffuse the space in an even glow of daylight.

Through the magic of internet photos, it’s also nifty to see that what looked like a simple stage from my vantage point is actually beefier and forms a divider of sorts, creating a tatami-filled back area of the hall that overlooks the lovely garden I saw being tended.

I’m really taken by the second building though, because while at first glance it seems to be a simple building with a very tall roof, it’s actually an assemblage of buildings, each with their own roofs underneath this larger, common, roof.

This is quickly revealed as you walk under the canopy and look up to see the oculus hovering above.  There’s this nice multi-layered effect going on here.  Along the perimeter, the thin and richly coloured support for the canopy stands with regularity before the much lighter coloured and faces of the individual buildings within, which are irregularly arranged along the edge and punctuated by the walkways that travel under the canopy.  Inside, each building’s roof is played off the canopy, with vertically oriented weathered grey smooth and tightly placed boards contrasting  with the horizontally oriented slats of the fresh cut canopy above.

The sub-buildings all feature sliding glass screen walls, allowing the entire area to open and become one, even while each finely crafted unit remains separate in their framing.  Even in the wet and cooler months, this little covered village can remain cozy and open for visitors to meander about within.

Stupendously done, on both counts.  And a joy that, while they may share the idea of a prominent roof, they’re both executed quite differently to allow them to fulfill their aims in the most expressive manner.  A bit of inventiveness that really comes together in clean and precise lines, making them a joy to be in.  Nice work

Naoshima Community Centre by Hiroshi Sambuichi

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Brief Hiatus…

October 29, 2017

Hi everyone!  Out for a bit, back in a couple of weeks!

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Wonder Wednesday

October 25, 2017

Lovely little (Canadian) lynx!

(find a whole load of cute photos from the chance encounter by Tim Newton)

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Philosophy Tuesday

October 24, 2017

Halloween is just around the corner, a time of costumes.  A time quite loved for that very fact, the one day everyone is allowed* to put on a costume and play.

Though… it’s not the only time of costumes.  In truth, don’t we kinda wear costumes every day?

In many ways, I’d assert, we do.

Natch, they are quite the different kind of costume than that of a ghoul, an anime character, your fishtank, or of a sexy [insert profession/noun here]**.  But they are costumes nonetheless.  They are the costumes we wear to reinforce the role we want or feel the need to play, and they are the costumes we wear to project a (specific) message to the world.

They are our broadcasting system.   Clothing choices, hairstyles, technology, brands, patterns of speech, mannerisms, the accessories we sport, and the vehicles we drive… all crafted and brought together to be our costume we put on (often every day) and go out into the world as “it”.

It’s a great mode of communication.  And when the costume comes from a place of authenticity, it can be a glorious self-expression.

When the costume comes from a hope of hiding, of identity, of shouting something we want to feel or be, when a costume is born of external concerns and of uncertainty and self-doubt, it can lead us places we don’t really want to go.  A costume can be the personal version of James Howard Kunstler’s description of the banal suburban home:  a television broadcasting 24 hours a day the message “I’m normal, I’m normal, I’m normal.”  A salve, but one that ultimately leaves no freedom or peace of mind.

As with many things in life, we often pick our costumes by accident.  We put them on without knowing it, we inherit them because it’s what we were surrounded by, we get into habits.  And often we get quite muddled in trying to figure out if we truly like something, if it is truly authentic… or if it is just our identities telling us we like it as a way of protecting itself.

It could be fun to add another layer to Halloween and use it as a chance to be mindful and examine all the costume choices we’ve made (and we make).  Sit back and take stock to see which of them truly serve us, and those we are instead caught in serving for.***  We can even fold in and take a lesson from children, who are wonderfully facile at putting on a costume and playing it to the hilt for twenty two and a half minutes, and, on a dime, change their outfits and get deep into playing something else.

Be clear, create and play on, reveling in the game of knowing we get to be in a costume of our choosing every day.

 

* That “play” and “costumes” are societally considered (still/by some/most) childish and weird and taboo and incompatible with being an adult is in of itself an interesting avenue to investigate the underpinnings of.  Equally interesting is the split in the mind of the avenues of play, such as sports and the surging acceptance of computer games, that are socially OK and are not thought of or siloed into the same category of what may be called play or playtime… ****

** The whole ‘sexy noun’ phenomenon is also a whole other post onto itself…

*** And for that latter group, seeing what’s there and getting onto the work of completing and transforming to create the liberation and possibilities we want.

**** Here’s a TED Radio Hour episode on play.

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Architecture Monday

October 23, 2017

Continuing on with my experience at the Monterrey Design Conference, another of the speakers was Sou Fujimoto, and it was another great lecture that got me thinking about things in new ways.  He started his presentation comparing how the forest and the city were, in certain, ways, quite similar.  That seemed almost preposterous as a starting point, but he drew it out nicely – in particular was that in the forest, there are layers upon layers that float overhead (leaves, branches, etc) to form a canopy, and much the same happens in the urban environment (electric lines, signs, awnings, etc).  Huh… cool, I can get that.  Consider my perception expanded!  And looking at his work as it was presented back to back to back, there was this recurring concept and design generator of the repeated, of layers, and of the individual(s) clustering together to create a whole.

House N is one example of how these concepts get expressed, through the idea of a box in a box in a box.  Noting how the traditional house in the neighborhood was pushed towards the back of the lot, with a front lawn or garden that was often, in many ways, unused, House N starts by encapsulating the yard in the first of its three, heavily pierced, sensuously smooth white boxes.  The many openings in the box let both light in and the trees and garden inside out, creating a small semi-private courtyard that nonetheless can still participate in the streetscape.

Inside this outer box, two more similar boxes (both white, both with many openings) form the house proper…

The net result is a highly intricate collection of planes and openings, forming the proverbial leaf canopy through which you can catch glimpses of other rooms, the garden, and the sky beyond.  As you move through the house, these views continually shift, as does the light throughout the day as the sun traces its path across the sky.

Paths within the house align with a porch and chairs in the courtyard.  It looks a bit sparse in these photos, but as the trees grow and the foliage becomes thicker, the play of random and green will really sing against the white and rectilinear background of the outer box.  At the other end, the Tatami room offers a similar serenity indoors.

It’s a nifty idea, with lots of playfulness and getting every ounce out of its tight lot.  Nice work.

House N by Sou Fujimoto