Philosophy Tuesday

There’s a big… not exactly sure what to call it, perhaps movement, perhaps idea, perhaps something else, but a big whatever over the past decade about “embracing failure.”  That is, being willing to fail and fail and even fail again to get somewhere and to create something awesome.  It’s not new, of course – IDEO (the famous industrial design company) had their own version of it several decades ago that went: “Fail often to succeed early.”

And, for certain, developing an empowering context around failure, being resilient, and adopting a growth mindset are all very powerful things.  Highly encouraged!

But there’s another side to this, especially in the context this new-found expression of Failure Embracement™ that is espoused within the business or start-up or millionaire or celebrity circles.  Where their success, sold as being born of perseverance in the face of failure, is not so much celebrated as it is held aloft as a measure of superiority and lorded over those who “played it safe.” (And, therefore, deserve to be poor/under duress/a loser/etc.)

And that side is this:  Failure embracement mostly works only when and/or if you can safely fail.

In many areas of life, it can be much easier to fail (nor will it necessarily even feel like a failure) when you have a safety net or support system to fall back on if the risky moves don’t pan out, whether that be financially, emotionally, physically, or what have you.  Building that company in your garage only works a) if you have access to a garage b) have the means to support yourself during that time and c) the means to recover and change course before things become dire.

To ignore otherwise can lead one to dismiss the role fortune has in all of our lives.  And to use it in a haughty way to tout yourself and/or to use it as a cudgel against others is definitively leading away from humility.

Architecture Monday

Is it gauche of me to post two BIG designs in a row?  Feh, no matter, for I will use this to illustrate the ways they employ similar forms and ideas in responsive and different ways, and with a different language of materials.  Behold, the appropriately named 79&Park (it’s next to a park, you see…)


Another of their “landform courtyard” style buildings, this one places the emphasis on wood and windows, with large vertical forms stacked upwards, each unit distinguishing itself with its own arrangement of fenestration.  The result delivers order without rigidity, and variety without becoming a jumble.

Of course, the big moves still ring true here, with the stepped sections of the building responding to the aforementioned park while providing for both the courtyard as well as the sweet green rooftop gardens (complete with trees!).  This arrangement also allows the units the most out of those giant windows, with plenty of avenue for light and views outward.

The killer is that this isn’t likely considered highly unusual or “grand luxury.”  If my impression of the country when I visited was correct, this level of design is not that uncommon nor reserved for the hyper-well to do.  It’s a recognition that quality of life affects us all, and why shouldn’t we strive for areas that shout, “this is a spot for living and living well!”

79&Park by BIG Architects.

Philosophy Tuesday

“I don’t think of the arts as competitive at all, I really don’t.

It was such a relief to get out of a world where it was that kind of base competition, zero-sum competition.

The arts are… it’s personal.  You’re just trying to actualize yourself and make the best art you can, and someone else’s victory isn’t your defeat, the way it is in sports.”

Richard Linklater

Architecture Monday

If you looked at this and thought, “That looks like a BIG building,” well, you wouldn’t be wrong.  One part 8 House, one part Mountain House, with the addition of a striking gesture towards the water.

Starting with a simple courtyard square shape, the building angles itself down on one end while angling upward on the other, allowing it to open itself towards the city while also embracing the water on the other.  Really embracing, as the water flows into the courtyard for easy access.  And really open, as a public path from the city rises up and circles the whole building along a green roof.

Unfortunately, there’s no interior shots I can find yet, so no idea what it’s like in those units with the giant angled windows that overhang the water…

Though I joked at the start about being able to recognize it, really there’s no knock against them to engage their well-tested features in new ways to create another neat and enlivening place to live.

Sluishuis by BIG and Barcode Architects.

Wonder Wednesday

There is this amazing scene at the end of Drive My car.  It won’t necessarily spoil anything to watch it now, so even if you haven’t seen it go for it (and then I totally recommend watching the whole thing!).  The setup here that of a “play within a movie” and within the plot it’s got this interesting conceit, that of that each (in-film) actor speaks their native language for their lines.  This scene is the final one of Uncle Vanya, and the (in-film) actress here does her bit in Korean sign language:

Just so deliciously powerful.  The (actual) actor and her acting is amazing, but her performance in how she harnesses the sign language to deliver it, signing both personally but also involving the other actor is brilliant.  All heightened by the expressive and nuanced sign language itself.  Absolutely wonderful.  (As is the rest, see the film!)

Philosophy Tuesday

This seems like a very appropriate time to discuss motivated, a priori, and presumptive reasoning.

Because they are the very antithesis of reasoning.  Rather than start at the wide field to narrow to a conclusion, they instead begin with the desired conclusion or outcome already determined and use the illusion and language of reasoning to justify themselves, irrespective of what the complete picture may actually say.

In a way I’ve touched on this before when I noted that we are rationalizing rather than rational creatures.  Motivated reasoning is this writ large:  we start with our “truth” and then rationalize our conclusion.

But it also engages so many other of our biases and foibles.  MR lets us bring out the big guns, like cherry-picking, confirmation bias, or our ultimate weapon, that of simply being dismissive.  We even get to be creative, by making up whole new goals, tests, causes, doctrines, laws, interpretations, “truths”, and more, whatever’s needed to create a pathway from here to that desired outcome.

(And you better believe that these are independent pathways – a rationale pathway to create one desired outcome can be quickly twisted or discarded when creating a different rational pathway when ensuring another desired outcome.)

In the end, that predetermined conclusion is, well, concluded, all while cloaked behind supposedly coherent and good faith deduction.

This, like all our foibles, is quite a universal ability that comes with being human.  And, again like nearly all of our foibles, we are often not even aware of it.**  That is where the practice of being mindful comes in, to recognize and acknowledge our desires and find the balance so that we include them in our deliberations and thus avoid being hijacked by them.

** On the other hand, some are fully aware of their motivated reasoning and just don’t care.  They willingly bear false witness to further their aims, trying to hoodwink everyone into missing their actual intent and harm(s).

Architecture Monday

Oh I dig this apartment building in Winnipeg.  Looking much like something that would be at home in the Nordic countries, it takes a roughish site and elevates (pun intended) itself to create some nifty living spaces.

A floating donut of weathered steel and glass would not be a pretty fair description of the building.  Supported by slender concrete pilotis, the hovering drum also sports a central aerial courtyard that gives access to the units.  Impaled by the stair and elevator access, it’s a neat sculptural entry to one’s house.

The units themselves are interesting.  No surprise, they are wedge shaped, and they place the more utility functions near the entrance, allowing the rest of the space to expand outward towards the fully glazed exterior wall.  Unit type A is seriously… interesting, with the free-standing tub you have to pass by whenever you enter or leave.  It can be enclosed by movable partitions, so it can still become a private bathing area, but it is certainly genre-breaking and subverts what we would consider “normal”!

As a final crown, the building takes advantage of the stair/elevator core to perch a glass box of a penthouse with a full 360 degrees of view.

I dig it.  Something out of the ordinary, creating great living conditions on a marginal site, enlivening the city as well as those who inhabit it.  Sweet design!

62M Apartments by 5468796 Architects (who also worked on this storage/gateway I posted about a while back, also in weathered steel)