Architecture Monday

I have always liked the humble yet enticing Ottawa Train Station. Simple in concept, it evokes the lofty expanses of the train stations of old while in no way copying their form. A very deep space truss system is held aloft by beefy columns, enclosed by much glazing that brings light deep within. A circular and somewhat sculptural ramp at the far end provides access to the rather mundane platforms outside. And that’s it. The space within is otherwise left open.

What has been placed in that space is, unfortunately, rather uninspired and underwhelming, and the aforementioned platforms are also rather pedestrian. However, the simple gesture and language of the structure itself still speaks volumes, and provides a nice point of arrival and departure to those who are willing to take it in.

Philosophy Tuesday

This is a philosophical statement. It is intended to spark thinking and examining.

“As a matter of fact, we all create every single day. Literally. We literally create every single day for ourselves, through our cultural belief systems and perspectives, by manifesting our particular view of the world we actually create our world with every thought.”

— Kermit the Frog @ TED

Architecture Monday

You have a wharf. You have an old gantry, upon which a crane used to run. Used to run – now it is but a giant chunk of concrete, two parallel beams of immense size riding above the water. What do you do?

Adaptive reuse!

click for project info

How about placing a delicate 3-story tall glass box atop that muscular form, connecting all with passageways and platforms? Yes, please. Thus was born the Kraanspoor on the former NDSM shipyard in Amsterdam. 135k square feet of office and amenities. A luminous extrusion that amazingly does not sit on the concrete, but instead floats ten feet above it. Brise soeils create a rhythm on the outside. From within, the space opens explosively outward.

Wonderfully done. A reinvigorating of a disused waterfront, the ingenious use of already-created foundation (avoiding the waste of demolition), and a simple elegant building. A triple shot of excellence.

I am published!

If I may engage in a bit of shameless self promotion for a moment… my book is out! After a number of years of hard work, I hold in my hands Volume 1 of the Northern Shaolin Kung Fu series that I am co-writing with my Sifu.

Exhibit A: My Hands

I may be a bit biased*, but this is a Kung Fu book you want to add to your collection, whether you are a practitioner of Northern Shaolin or not. There is a tonne of great information within, including core principles and concepts of body structure and efficiency, the fundamentals of the art, a discussion on the three fundamental skills of any martial art (and for most physical arts), the seasons of training, the mindset of practice, illustrations of the two introductory hand forms, and exploration of the four basic weapons, from their history and lore to their use. It’s chock full of good stuff!

You can order your own copy here:

You can also supplement this with Sifu’s other great books on Hung Gar, Ha Say Fu Hung Gar, and Iron Palm

I am giddy and nervous and excited all at the same time that the book is now out. It’s a labour of love, and I’ve released it into the wild. I hope it illuminates and teaches, and I hope that my passion for the art and for sharing the art comes through its pages.

Onward to writing Volume 2!

* – Ok, natch, I’m very biased, given I’m the author…

Philosophy Tuesday

This is a philosophical statement. It is intended to spark thinking and examining.

I have invited several times on this blog to consider people, and ourselves, to be far more complex than we often give credit for. That we avoid siloing people into very narrow groups/fields/identities and relating to them only that way.* That we avoid over simplification. If nothing else, our identity of identities makes it so.

We are all rich in delightful complexity.

However, in one of those Niels Bohr moments, we humans are also decidedly simple in our primal wants and urges.

Indeed, we are verily united in this way.

We want to be related, and loved, and part of a greater whole.

We want to be fulfilled, and joyous.

We want to create, to make a difference, to be generous.

We want to dance, both metaphorically and literally.

We want to live as long as we can to experience as much as we can, especially to live those above wants.

In so many ways, we are all very much the same at our core.

As one world traveller I once read put it:

“I’ve been all around this world, in cultures and countries far and wide, and I’ve found that, beyond my expectations, beyond my reasonings, for better or for worse, we are all the same in our desires for life.”

There’s no mystery there.

It’s who we, I, you, all, are.


* – I was having a conversation today exploring how the first question by some people about a new potential hire at their company is what school they went to, and the degree to which that impacts how they view, how they treat, how they welcome (or don’t), and how they distribute tasks to that new hire when they arrive…

Architecture Monday



A friend of mine just moved into a delightful house that exemplifies how wonderful well disciplined design can be and how well it can achieve and create such a wonderful space, all while remaining very humble and use everyday materials and methods.

It does not take marble to make good architecture.

The house is constructed of simple post-and-lintel type construction, using cement board on the outside and stained wood, coupled with glass. So. Much. Glass. Glass that surrounds and envelops and illuminates and lets in the views and vegetation and animals and air and life.


Well-defined proportions and the repetitive elements work together to make the space feel very comfortable and inviting. The layout is simple – it is almost all one room – and I’d say it has a touch of the traditional tatami-style aesthetic to it.


Little touches seal the deal, such as the operable vents along the edges to let the air flow through, and the clerestory lighting that, while at first blush may not seem necessary given the rest of the glass, drives light deep within along the ceiling, really letting the inside glow like a lantern and floating the ceiling plane.

Simple and elegant and a wonderful space to be and live in.

Philosophy Tuesday

I have quite the flair for the dramatic, in the “always gotta be a bit of show biz” kind of way.

As I told a friend once as we got into a car for a road trip, “If I yell out “ohgodohgodwe’reallgoingtodie” we’re not actually going to die, I’m just being silly and dramatic.”

Clearly, I can ham it up quite well.

In many ways this is great and fun and funny. It’s playful. It works.


I wonder if it has a downside as well.

When I want to be serious, express my concerns or views, or when attempting to share honest communication about my feelings, thoughts, who I am… all those things that are essential to communication and our relatedness in the world… Does it make it easy to dismiss what I’m saying, or, moreover, me?

For I doubt very much that, in those moments, the flair goes away, certainly not entirely.

I wonder how it lands for others?

Ordinarily, I would consider that this kind of dramaticness would be quite likely inauthentic, covering up for something. But I think here, for me, there is a good deal of authenticity in it. It has become a self expression for me: gregarious, big, zany, full of passion and gusto.

And yet…

There’s something I’m missing here, something on how to be and how to communicate in those moments. Something about what is my authentic expression. Something about how to share in a way that creates connection and understanding.

It is something I am in an inquiry about.

(and I do wonder if this post in of itself will sound dramatic and thus overblown and empty…)