Archive for February, 2020

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Wonder Wednesday

February 12, 2020

by Maxime Daviron

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Philosophy Tuesday

February 11, 2020

Someone once shared with me the story about a woman who had long been a triathlete.  She did all the things a triathlete would do:  she trained diligently every day (often in the early morning), she traveled to and entered several races every year, she tracked her progress and adjusted things as needed, read magazines, bought all the clothes, had the sticker on her car, and on and on.  It was a big part of her life.  Being a triathlete was her thing!  She WAS a triathlete!  She told people she loved it.  And through all that she indeed did quite well at it.

One day though, doing the kind of philosophical work that unconceals our barriers and blind spots, she saw for herself what had her be so ambitious and so single-minded when it came to triathlons.  Many, many years ago, through circumstances that involved her father, she had made a decision:  “I will be a triathlete, and I will crush it.”  She also remembered that soon thereafter is when she began training, and how quickly it grew to the prominent (and priority) place it now held in her life.  How all encompassing it had become.

And, no doubt, that decision gave her drive, it gave her tenacity, and it pushed her onward when things were tough, whether in training, on the field, or in other areas of her life.  It was motivation, and, well, it motivated, always moving things forward as a powerful force in her life that helped her achieve a lot of results she liked.

But it gave her no freedom.  It wasn’t a possibility, it was a position, quickly forged into her identity with all the rigidness and protection that entailed.  She wasn’t in it for herself.  It may have originated from an initial desire, yes, but it became about her father, about those circumstances, about the world, and all about something that happened in her past.  Everything she did in that area came with a big dose of “in order to”, an ulterior (albeit hidden) motive.

And so, even though she was successful, there was little fulfillment in it all.

Years later, sitting in that workshop, the memory of that decision vivid.  But in that moment of clarity and insight, she put aside her decision.  She let it go, and in so doing, a clearing was created, inside of which a choice arose:  to swim/bike/run, or not to swim/bike/run.

She chose to be a triathlete.

Now, it may seem like there’s no switch there, or that it was the easy choice, but it was so much more than that.  Because for first time she, authentically, from a place of freedom, was choosing to be a triathlete.  In a way that was totally in line with who she wanted to be.  And inside of that choice, something amazing happened.  For the first time she began to enjoy the training, the competitions, and the whole world of being a triathlete both to a level that she never knew was possible, and in a way that she hadn’t realized before how much she hadn’t been enjoying it.  The lid had been blown off on her experience, and it was awesome.

To the outside observer, it may seem that nothing had changed.  But for her, the whole world shifted.  She was expressing herself fully through the act of the triathlon.  She gained fulfilment, passion, joy, excitement, elation.  And, as a sweet, sweet bonus, her performance rocketed to new heights almost instantly.  Unbridled, she soared, in both meanings of the word.

Mindfulness, ontological digging, and transformation are wonderful for those areas of our lives where something isn’t working or isn’t working as well as we’d like to.  But the impact they can have on those areas of life that are already going great can be even more exciting and amazing.  Not to mention definitively surprising!  After all, it was already good, how much better can it be?

Bucketloads better, it turns out.

Ready to reach for the stars?  Let’s go…

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Architecture Monday

February 10, 2020

Oh this is a fun one.  A tumble of baskets?  A series of stacked boxes?  A series of wood piles?  Or yes to all of the above, writ large to the size of a building.

A museum in the middle of a dense urban area, the interlocking wood cubes are both neat and also break down the building to both fit within the scale of the surrounding town.  At the same time, they also allow it and the site to bridge between different street heights via ramped stairway.  It’s definitively a playful composition, with the slats that make up the boxy forms sometimes tightly woven, sometimes spread apart to act as a sunscreen, sometimes extended to become railings for patios, and sometimes completely empty, making for a fancy portico hovering overhead.

Inside, the same language drills down the centre of the building as a twisty atrium, connecting the various gallery levels together and letting sun penetrate deeply throughout.  Starting tall on the first floor for large-scale works, the floors gradually get shorter as they rise through the building, creating more intimate spaces for smaller works of art.  All the while, that central shaft of wood acts as a friendly wayfinder.

A bright museum that invites all while integrating itself into the surrounding urban fabric.  Very nicely developed!

The Odunpazari Modern Art Museum by Kengo Kuma & Associates

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Wonder Wednesday

February 5, 2020

(This is totally where I want my next birthday party to be held…)

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Philosophy Tuesday

February 4, 2020

Our great desire and need to be known and heard and related

Often shows up to us as “attention being paid to me.”

And yet, so much of our life now is about that not happening.

Through phones interrupting interactions,

Or communication happening online,

Or through some game or thing,

There is always something mediating & hiding whether attention is being paid,

Or displacing the attention,

Or reducing it through memes and emojis and entirely common

(And thus non personal/attention giving)

Modes, means, and methods of communication.

And so we seek it, seek that attention, seek it hard.

And we desire and pursue fame,

Because we think famous people are payed attention.

And we desire and pursue the likes, hearts, reblogs, etc,

Because, gosh, wouldn’t that be grand.

So much attention!

Of course, and unfortunately,

It still wouldn’t be the attention of the type we seek.

We’d be left still wanting,

With a whole host of other, new, barriers and pitfalls.

As the saying goes,

“There’s no cheese down that tunnel.”

Fame, likes, and similar are all and the only the tools we see,

But they’re not the tools that will work.

There are other, more fruitful, ways to spend our energies,

To create the bonds and relations we want.

A chance to leave behind straitjacket systems & tools & their trap of currency,

And simply be present, pay attention, listen, and connect.

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Architecture Monday

February 3, 2020

Here’s a sweet pair of homes, built together by splitting a corner lot.  Almost the same, but not quite, the two play off each other to create two new units where only one might have otherwise stood.  Even better, they were built on a budget with high energy standards in mind and yet never skimped on design quality to satisfy either of those aims.

I love how their simple forms and simple materials work nicely together, with the vertical striations on the standing seem metal roof and wall panels pairing nicely with the deeply coloured horizontal wood boards.  The clean detailing wherever two surfaces meet lets the houses read like idyllic forms, sketches made real and resting lightly on the land.

Inside, the covered porch/portico under the pitched roof continues through the ample window to create a lofty living space.  I also really dig the large rolling barn doors that lead to the office and the bedrooms at the back of the house.  And with the kitchen pushed out into the wood-covered extension, the exposed rafters and roof ridge can continue back from the front room to lend the house a very expansive and bright feeling.

This is some good stuff going on here.  Two homes built with purpose and flair, showing that good design and “everyday typical housing” are not incompatible or impossible.  Nicely done.

Two Houses on Oak Hill Avenue by Studio 804.