Architecture Monday

There’s something about this building that I just can’t stop loving.  It’s a museum about watchmaking, rendered exquisitely by BIG in a way that marries the intricacies of fine Swiss timepieces with the landscape and the fields from which they grew.

Sunk into a hill, the base plan is of a couple of interlocking spirals.  But it is the roofs above, canted and ramping, that really defines the building.  Covered in the same grass as the hill into which it is nestled, it is as if the ground itself pushed up to create this sculptural form, one that is as striking in the lush green of summer as it is in the white blanket of winter.

With the ground hovering above it, every wall is made of glass, both inside and out.  This makes for a rather kaleidoscopic experience travelling through the museum to view the exhibits, further amplified by the highly reflective polished metal ceiling (again, recalling the inner workings of a watch).  And among its outermost ring there is a working watchmaking lab, one that lacks nothing in terms of light, delight, and one heck of a view.

I’d totally be down to work in an office like that.  This is one of BIG’s earlier buildings, and it already shows off their inventive and exciting building that feels wonderful to be in.  Great stuff.

Musée Atelier Audemars Piguet / BIG + ATELIER BRÜCKNER + CCHE

Philosophy Tuesday

Watching the spectacular return of the Crew Dragon capsule over the weekend, reminded me of a few things I love about the space program.

First is the amazing appreciative and acknowledgement culture that exists within NASA.  Back when the ISS was under construction and a friend and I would watch it happening live, we would often joke with each other to say, “they’re thanking each other again.”  And they do thank each other, often and in self-effacing ways, always claiming that the other team or partners “had the hard jobs” and “made our tasks easy.”  It’s really great.  I spoke about it here under the vastly different context of movie credits, but in a way it is the same thing:  Everyone in the program knows, deeply, that they are part of a larger whole and that it takes everyone in that whole putting in maximum effort to pull off a successful mission.  Space is hard™, and things can go awry very quickly (and often have, with visibly disastrous consequences).  And so they value everyone’s contribution and, even more so, celebrate the amazing thing they are accomplishing by working together in a collaborative fashion.  They remove the “but” out of a phrase like “I am but a…”, and instead recognize that their role, and everyone’s role, is vital.  They take no one for granted and they acknowledge it and each other with profuse thank yous.

Second is that within the various space programs a glorious blend of newness and traditions.  For certain, space is the new, with sci-fi rockets and slick technology and exploration to be had and discovery to be made and so much learning.  But the whole thing is also coupled with deep, and fun, traditions, whether they be wholly enclosed within the space program, such as a traditional pre-launch meal (or peeing on the wheel of the transport vehicle), to something with even deeper roots, such as the ringing of the bell at the docking or departing of a ship.  Neither the new nor the old is better than the other, nor is one less or more necessary, both from a technical as well as a human standpoint.  And it is just that – as humans, we can and are often at our greatest when we synthesize the two, bringing forth that which empowers us and others and leaving behind that which does not and causes harm.  We exist in multitudes, and this is one of them.

And lastly is that multitude, that of the international, global, and humanistic endeavour that is slipping the surly bonds of earth, to dance among the stars and the glory of the universe we inhabit on our tiny blue mote of dust.

Architecture Monday

This may be a hotel, but the concept is an intriguing one that could be applied to high rise buildings of all types:  a porous and verdant shell with several open-air plazas that step their way up the building to reach a green and inhabitable roof.

With the mix of red aluminum, blue waters, wood decks, and, of course, all the trees and plants, it’s a colourful and striking building.  The location of the plazas switch sides as the building rises, so that the indoor parts and the outdoor parts aren’t just stacked repetitively all the way up.  And while there aren’t any there now, I could easily envision some wind turbines in the crown that could generate at least some of the building’s own energy.

Nifty stuff.  The Oasia Hotel by WOHA

Philosophy Tuesday

There’s an additional side to the quasi-Shakespearian quote,

“Resentment is a fire that burns with more light than heat.”

And it’s an important side!  And a side we rarely think about or engage with, despite, perhaps paradoxically, the impact it has on us.  Sure, as we spoke about already, we can look at the quote through the lens of being productive and what leads to better outcomes.  But the other side of it is what smacks us in the face every day: our experience of life within.

Because resentment, bitterness, malice, harshness, nastiness… well, turns out being in those states is just not pleasant.  For sure, we may get that little charge that comes from being righteous*, but overall?  It’s not great.

And it can be very hard to notice that!  Just as we cease to notice how cold the lake is after we’ve been swimming in it for a few minutes, the lousy experience of the moments spent in resentment and spite and anger just becomes the water we’re swimming in when we do it more and more, day in and day out.

Doubly unfortunate is that, when this becomes the water level we float on, even great moments are dampened.  When our baseline is a 1 or a 2, even an amazing +4 event only registers as a 6.  And the reverse is worse, for a terrible -4 event really sends us into the negative doldrums.  And when things are the status quo?  Well, we and our experience float along at that not-all-that-pleasant-or-nice-feeling of a 1 or a 2.

That lowly experience becomes invisible to such a degree that when we are able to give up those harsh, automatic, already, always, consistent ways of being and begin breaking out of it/them for the first time, many (myself included!) describe the feeling in this manner: “Suddenly I felt good in a way I didn’t even know was missing.  Or that even existed.  Or that was even possible.”

Best of all, when we stop draining our lake with resentment et al, and as we begin to float along at a 7 or 8, those +4 events push us high into the lovely double digits.  And those terrible -4 moments?**  Amusingly they can’t even push us down to the level of our previous baseline.

When we bring mindfulness to our practice and give up (as in consciously, willingly, workingly, and ongoingly) our resentment and harshness, we gain access not only to a newfound effectiveness in what we authentically desire, but also to an enhanced experience of life where we can rise up, shine with vitality, experience joy, experience love and relatedness, soar high, and set forth with gusto.

 

* Something that, as a recovering righteousoholic, I am well familiar with…

** Which, nicely, with practice in mindfulness and equanimity, what used to be a -4 event may only register as a -2 event, further keeping our experience from crashing down.  Which, triply nicely, also allows us to be more effective in resolving it more quickly!

Architecture Monday

A little serenity for us all tonight, in the form of a Reflection pavilion on the TEC campus in Mexico.

No surprise, the building is a series of lovely, quiet, and calming spaces.  It harnesses both the play of light and water, while it’s big concrete form acts as a frame towards the landscape beyond.

Nice and sweet.  Breathe in, breathe out, and recentre.

Reflection Space TEC by Taller de Arquitectura X / Alberto Kalach