Wonder Wednesday

Woah, this is mindbendingly nifty and cool.  A 3 sided piano!  Sort of… check this out, it’s a 360 video, so you can use your finger/mouse to move the view around, or move your phone (or if you’re in a VR rig, just look around):

A wonderful blend of planning and choreography coupled with musical and mathematical harmonies to create spiraling cycles of music and people and  time.   The making-of video is equally fascinating to watch:

Very cool stuff.  Love the creativity and technical oomph that brought it all together!

Philosophy Tuesday

There is a difference between mental health, and mental illness.

Our bodies can be in poor health without an actual illness or pathogen acting up on us.  Poor eating, stress, lack of sleep, overwork, exhaustion, rough environmental conditions, all of these can sap us of our vitality and wellbeing, leaving us weakened.

There’s nothing “wrong” to treat.  We’re just weakened.

So too it is with our mental (to which I am encompassing whole wide realm of mental/emotional/’spiritual’) health.  It is very possible to be in a weakened mental health state without a physical/brain impingement acting up on us.  Stress, environment, lack of sleep, social atmospheres, interactions, exposure, messaging, stories, all of these can sap us of our mental vitality and wellbeing, leaving us weakened.

It is, perhaps, an apt description for one of the ways Buddhism describes the term Dukkha, or dis-ease.

And when we are weakened, we are, in all manners of ways, not going to perform our best.  Our thoughts, feelings, judgments, decisions, and actions are all going to be impaired.  We can act out in ways we truly don’t want to, be rash, get into arguments, make logic errors, buy the wrong things, say terrible things, make poor choices, overreact, get into accidents, be violent, all manners of ways and actions that are far from the noble truths of our authentic desires.

It is vitally important to know this difference between mental illness and mental health.  Because when we focus only on the former, and get into binary “have/don’t have” mental illness thinking, we can greatly miss that which affects us and millions like us.  We can take what’s so and think it is the norm.  We can dismiss our own troubles and unwellness, rendering ourselves susceptible to the fallout of the unwellness while blinding us to the steps we can take to lead ourselves back to health.

Most importantly, without holding this difference out in front of us we can miss all the influences that are making us all unwell, and so miss having the conversations and taking the actions necessary to lead our collective selves back towards wellness and even strength.

And within a community, that strength is what we want.  When those in our community are well, we are well.  It is a foundation that supports individual lives, with greater freedom, peace, and peace of mind.


Architecture Monday

This is a lovely little office/guest house/pavilion in the Netherlands.  It’s ringed with glass, built of warm wood, and has a striking roof made of raked bands that create strong shadow lines.

Inside is open and filled with yet more warm wood, with its own striking feature in the fashion of a ceiling that shoots upwards to capture as much volume as possible.  Nicely, this ceiling also creates a subtle division of the space below into that of “room” and of “circulation” that rings the entire pavilion.

Truth be told though, I think I’m most in love with this bedroom.  Though maybe it’d be better to call it a sleeping pod – just big enough for a bed, but shooting up towards a skylight to create a quiet and magical space for slumber.

To me, it feels like a nice blend of Scandinavian and Japanese motifs.   Finely crafted, it manages to be both serene and expressive at the same time.   Nicely done.

Tiny Office Pavilion Vught by studio PROTOTYPE

Philosophy Tuesday

It is often best

to not think about those things

about ourselves

that aren’t the way we’d want them to be

that don’t work out the way we’d want them to

that we don’t like acting in that particular way

that we don’t want going in that predictable, particular way

that can, in hindsight, seem nasty, petty, and even weird

and that lead to outcomes that we don’t actually want

all those things

best not to think of them as BAD

or, even more commonly,

to view ourselves as BAD

and most certainly WRONG

but rather

to think about our faults and foibles


they are UNPRODUCTIVE ways of BEING

that when they arise

hijack everything

and lead us down those paths

that we’d really rather not go down

because if we are BAD

what else can we be?

judge, jury, and executioner

we’ve committed ourselves

to a prison of blame

and a continuation of BADNESS

but if we have ways of BEING


then it’s a different story

ways of BEING

are eminently examinable


and a domain of creation

that which triggers us

into those realms of predictability


blank slates can be created

and by stepping into

a new way of BEING

new realms of POSSIBILITY open up

for new accesses

new actions

and new outcomes

owning our future

and walking the paths

towards who we truly want to be

and to what we truly want

Architecture Monday

This is a project close to my hometown, in Toronto, a new Student Learning Centre for Ryerson University, designed by Zeidler Partnership and (one of my favs) Snøhetta.

While the outside is all angular and kinda sculptural and opens to the street and creates access to lower level retail and has a nifty patterned glass enclosure, it’s the interior where the real meat of the design happens.

And it starts with, as this section shows, a decided avoiding of having every single floor be exactly the same height, or even be level at all.  Some floors are tall, some are more squat, and sometimes a level dips down or angles upward to encroach into the spaces above/below.  In this way, each floor – each given their own evocative name such as Garden, Sun, Beach, or Sky – is molded to what is needed to support its use.

The building really sings in the vertical, with levels and spaces opening into each other to create connections and a sense of connectedness, while stairs, hallways, and atriums serve dual purpose with impromptu meeting areas and amphitheatre seating.

Easily both my favourite as well as that of the students, the Beach level exemplifies this with flair.  Starting at a wood “deck”, a series of ramps (that double as seating) slope down beach-like towards a blue carpeted “pool” nestled against copious amounts of the fritted glass.  And, of course, there is plenty of beach furniture to be had, and to be re-arranged as the students would like and need to study, to collaborate, or just chill in the midst of their day.  (A far cry better than the rough and tumble tile-lined box with harsh steel furniture we had in our university centre…)

The other floors follow in various fashions.  The Garden and Sun levels seem only to match their colour scheme to their names, but the Sky level culminates with a roofline that soars upwards, casting views and light towards the, well, sky.

All in all, an nifty design.  If anyone goes to Ryerson please ping me, I’d really enjoy checking it out next time I’m back home.

The Ryerson University Student Learning Centre by Zeidler Partnership and Snøhetta.


Philosophy Tuesday

“In most of our human relationships,

we spend much of our time reassuring one another

that our costumes of identity are on straight.”

– Ram Dass

(I like this quote for that reminder of how easy it is not only for us to get caught up into the world of our own identities, but also into that of others… and how much that social construct and social contract (both between individuals but also the wider view of what’s “normal” within a society) invades into our interactions.  A reminder of how quickly we can become puppets playing out the typical game.  We project out into the world an identity, and then, once it gets accepted by the world/others, we need to spend all our time protecting, living up to, and maintaining that image of identity.  At the same time, others behave towards us based on that projected identity, keeping us further locked in (and, of course, we do the same in reverse — relating to others based on their identity costume).  Without specifically agreeing to it, we’ve decided to relate to each other as that (seemingly fixed) identity.  And then we get kinda trapped…)

(I also like this for it shines a light on just how much energy (one reason we can be so darn tired at the end of the day… it’s exhausting to protect something all day!) and creative juice this consumes.  The productivity it eliminates.  We’re less capable of self-expression not only because we’ve tied ourselves to our constructed identities, but also because there’s no time (or brain power) left to explore.  And it speaks to the excitement and expansiveness of what’s possible when we (collectively) let that go…)

Architecture Monday

This is a cool project, both because of the (rather wild!) result, but also where its expressive forms came from.  The client had access to a gaggle of century old douglas fir beams, all milled from a single tree, and all different lengths and overall sizes.  Rather than cut or otherwise finish any of those beams, the architect chose to use them as-is, warping the geometries of the house to accommodate them all.

And what a wonderful warped set of geometries it is, allowing for an expansive and hyper expressive set of rooms and spaces.  With its abundance of angular forms, it’s quite the playground where light and shadow can dance, both from the generous amounts of windows, but also from the suspended globes of light that create floating constellations of light at night.  An effect that is also carried through by piercing similarly random holes through doors and shutters.

I love how the kitchen counter becomes a table becomes a vertical library becomes a set of stairs that becomes the floor into the upper parts of the house.  There’s a plethora of little built-in touches like this throughout the house, and it, along with the unifying theme of those “hanging stars”, help provide a sense of unity and continuity inside what could otherwise seem like an arbitrary jumble of forms.

I think this is pretty rad, a super fun home to live in.  Very nicely done.

The 23.2 house by Omer Arbel Office

Bonus image!