Architecture Monday

A simple and elegant insertion into a nationally protected ruin in the Danish countryside.  The 700 year old ruin projects into the water on a narrow peninsula, a rich mass of bricks and eroding solidity.

A new staircase wends its way with delicate precision within the confines of the walls, letting visitors ascend through the geological layers of brick to step out onto little bridge protrusions that hover in the already-existing openings, avoiding any damage to the existing structure. There, from upon high, all can observe the landscape from the vantage point of the building’s former occupants.

Wonderful piece of minimalistic work and exquisite detailing.  Kalø Slotsruin by MAP Architects.

Wonder Wednesday

It was 1993.  The Intel 486DX2 processor was the new hotness.  RAM was expensive.  VGA was the king with 256 colours max onscreen at any one time. And a demoscene group named Future Crew released Second Reality, a tour de force of visuals, music, and story/flow:

For a “demo”, all of the onscreen action had to be produced realtime, using stored bitmaps (rendered by home made pixel editors or raytracers), music sequencers, and vector graphics and other effects.  No movies and no prerecorded audio.  In the era of limited computing power, seeing what could be eked out of the hardware — often through tricks and hacks to bypass normal limitations — was a treat to behold.

And, I’d say, so too it remains a fun treat today, both for what it is and for it’s historical impressiveness.

Philosophy Tuesday

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

Community is a creation.

There is nothing automatic about community.  There is no critical mass where gathering enough bodies together causes a chain reaction and BOOM! community appears in a preordained way.  There is no community in the cosmos.  Communities are declared into existence.  Communities are a stating that “lo, here there will be community.”

From that great nothing, everything is shaped.

And it does not stop there.

Every minute, of every day, in every action and every reaction, we are continually creating and re-created our community(ies).  Community persists only through this continual renewal.  Who we are being and how we act every day in our lives forms a part of the creation called our community, in all of the communities we participate in:  our cities, our families, our workplaces, our friendship circles, our fandoms, our countries, our fellow commuters, the people in the elevator… all of our communities.

How we treat one another, what we value, how we nurture our tribe, how we regard others, and the results and outcomes and fallout of our daily lives all derive from that created community.

Here’s the thing… even without intention, we are still creating.

Many of our views and actions on community, and how we operate, how we interact, how we live, are inherited, uncritically, from those around us.  They come from what we’ve heard.   They come from what we’ve observed.  We read between the lines and make decisions.  We take it in and, like the good social animals we are, we mould ourselves to fit the context around us.

And so we know how the world works, we think/say, and we act accordingly.  Without even thinking about it.  And we recreate and reinforce that very same inherited world.

Even if it’s not the world we would want to create for ourselves.

Yet, if community is a creation, and it is being recreated all the time, and we are the actors of that creation… then something quite remarkable is possible.

It begins by taking direction of that creation.  It takes intent and action.  It takes a conscious effort.  It cannot be passive.  It takes engagement.  It takes wielding the extreme power given to us through these continual acts of creation.

We have a say.  We have a huge say over who we are, what ways of being we wish to nurture, and how we will act in our community(ies).  We have a say what community can be, through our speaking of “this is how it is”, through our leading by example, and through the vibes we give off.  Our creation becomes part of the context of others.

The great news about community being a creation, and always being created on a moment to moment basis, is that we’re already, largely, doing the work.  We’re even good at it.  We’ve been doing it for a long time.  Maybe we haven’t been aware of it, but we have been.

With intention, we can step up, reach out, engage broadly, and work to work to inspire and mold the types of communities that our central, authentic, selves truly want.

Architecture Monday

This one’s not done yet, but there’s something I like about this new fire station and training centre by Studio Gang to be built in Brooklyn.  There’s a playfulness to it as it nicely intertwines the functions of requirements of a training apparatus to create a fire station environment that is great for the firefighters working and stationed there.

Starting with a simple concrete cube, the facade is peeled back while taking the iconic and traditional “fire engine red” to unabashedly mark the voids and openings, announcing its tenants through the bold colour.  These voids within the cube are where this specialized company will practice their talents, and this continues inside, with a large central void lined with balconies, bridges, ladders, and stairs.

Nicely, all of the voids serve multiple purposes.  The exterior ones form terraces, gardens, and places of respite and relaxation while awaiting the next call.  Inside, the void lets hoses be hung to dry, and draws light and air deep into the building to improve the various living quarters and offices.  Together with the green roof  and solar water heating system, the building treats the environment with respect.

Overall, an inventive design that manages a whole host of programmatic requirements in a compact form that, through the specific accommodation of those very specific requirements, makes for a more pleasant building to be in for the firefighters.  That’s what architecture is all about.  Nicely done.

Philosophy Tuesday

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

You are whole and complete


You always have been


And you always will be


You may not experience it


And you may sometimes take actions that don’t reflect it


But it doesn’t change the truth of who and what you are


There are just barriers to your experiencing it


Welcome to the New Year


Whole and Complete

Architecture Monday

Landscape or building?  Or an abstracted landscape as a building?  Such is this community church in Knarvik, Norway.  Bold, sharp, dynamic forms that not only sit well within its surroundings, but engage them in terms of colour, shape, and playing with the rocky forms upon which it stands.

I love how the building articulates two different faces of wood.  On the exterior, the weathered and rough wood further ties the building’s forms into recalling the rugged surrounding mountains.   The heavily textured wood and strong vertical striations from the wood planks also provide scale and soften the bold forms, while also coupling beautifully with the equally tall and narrow windows.  This pattern even continues on the roof, completing the effect of a form chiseled out of a solid chunk of rock.  Inside,  the wood panelling keeps the same plank form, but the wood is more pristine, being much lighter and smoother to create a warm glowing box.

Delightfully, the expressive exterior carries fully within (really, it would have been seriously unfortunate if the sculptural forms were only skin deep), with spaces that shoot upward and outward, capturing grandeur and animating the rooms with a feel of elation.  The positioning of the recessed lights marry well with the tall slot-like windows, that in turn meet up with equally narrow clerestory windows to bathe the space in glow.  Quiet chapels, offices, and meeting rooms are located in the more sedate lower level, connected by a sculptural stair and auditorium-like seating that lets the two halves of the church operate as one.  By using the natural slope of the site, the lower level is left exposed on two sides, allowing the same narrow windows to provide plenty of light and avoid any basement effect.

Right from the concept sketch the ideas of the church ring through, a play of landscape and form to create a jewel of a space for the community.  It is a physical marker that speaks of place, while itself providing a great place to gather.  Very fine work.

Community Church Knarvik by Reiulf Ramstad Arkitekter