Architecture Monday

The interesting thing about a lot of infrastructure is that what it supports is often very heavy compared to more ‘typical’ commercial or residential uses.  Which is why adaptive reuse of them is often easy from a structural perspective, since almost always the load is lightened compared to what they were used for in the past.

In this case, this isn’t so much a full adaptive reuse as a re-adaptive-reuse, for this water tower already sported several uses in between its support columns (water being so heavy, any extra weight by these floors and uses was negligible).  But what had been only archives has been converted into student housing in a rather neat way, by having the apartments bust out from between the beefy columns.  These extendy bits not only add floor space but, more importantly, catch light and views, making the small apartments feel expansive and cool.  A trio of communal spaces spiral up the tower, complete with three balconies that catch the morning, noon, and evening sun.

Very slick idea, creating interesting and enlivening spaces for living out of an existing robust icon.  Brilliant idea.

Jaegersborg Water Tower revamped by Dorte Mandrup

The Aurora RPG Engine – Part 12 Redux

So… when I first posted this Part 12 about further probabilities and the “amazing niftiness” of Aurora being bidirectional… I goofed.  Embarrassingly so, and doubly embarrassing for someone who has rolled many a D&D character under good ol’ 4d6 drop lowest.  I very much led myself astray, and I think it was because I became heavily enamoured with the idea/hope that the system was bidirectional, which led me to not examine my probability assumptions.  Mea culpa.

Having finally realized my error, I’ve gone back and crunched the numbers.  Here are the proper, actual, honest, expanding probabilities tables, hidden rolls, and discoveries.

Postscript 2 – Further Probabilities

First, the possibilities for each MoS:

Then the chances of getting at least MoS of X:

Here’s the average MoS expected on a success (if you succeed, this is the average MoS you can expect):

Postscript 3 – Hidden Rolls and Discoveries

Unfortunately, as the above shows, the system is not, in fact, bidirectional.  But some number crunching can get us a little bit of the way there, at least in equivalency.  Here’s a re-written version:

Typically, the difficulty of a task is handled by adjusting the base dice pool.  This allows the player to viscerally feel their chances and properly size up the situation, thus letting them make appropriate choices (and fully RP it out).  However, there are certain instances where it might be more desirable to not “give away” the difficulty of a task to the player and to have them roll blind.  In certain campaign and genre styles – such as one where the characters are expected to be over their heads or one where it is a grim and failure-heavy milieu – this may apply to most of the tests/rolls.  For others, this may be saved for more uncommon circumstances where the level of tension is heightened by explicitly being uncertain and not in the know.

Blind rolling can also be useful for areas like perception, discerning realities, intuition, investigations, and similar, where the GM may not want to tip their hand that something is there (by specifying there is a penalty).  It can be used such that the overall margin of success determines the amount or exactness of the information gained or discovered.  Star Trek Adventures does a version of this for many types of searching, sensor, and similar tests, giving a basic amount of information on a success and allowing the player to spend Momentum (their version of MoS) to give additional and more exacting details and information.  Under Aurora terms, an MoS of 0 would give the base level of information, while an MoS of 1 would reveal something more obscure and an MoS of 3 might divulge everything.

To set an equivalent MoS for a Blind Test, use the following equivalency table:

(Note that these equivalency values change and drop if a character’s dice pool is very high when compared to the MoS required.  For example, a character who has a pool of 7½d and needs an MoS of 3 only actually suffers an equivalent difficulty of -1d instead of the -2d indicated on the chart above.  This is unlikely to have a major impact in most scenarios, but if a character’s pool is large and gauging against a low MoS equivalency, consider stepping up the required MoS by one if you’re finding characters succeeding more often than expected and appropriate for the campaign.)

Postscript – Breaking the Core Mechanic | Index | Postscript – MoS Counting

Philosophy Tuesday

I’ve spoken many a time about apologies and the amazing power they can have.  .  But I’m not sure I’ve ever succinctly highlighted the very important distinction that there exists between an apology and an excuse.  They are so much not the same thing!

An excuse not only doesn’t take any ownership it actually and actively denies both ownership and self-agency.  In some ways it’s even a subtle DARVO, at the very least implying the upset ought to be ratcheted down so your apology can be minimal.  More often it goes full bore and implies other party is in the wrong for even being upset with you.

It is not the stuff of a genuine apology.

If moving to make a genuine apology, including an excuse (or, worse, multiple excuses) is even less productive than trying to include an explanation in the apology.  At least an explanation can indicate some desire to do better in the future, in a kind of “hey, I know that caused this and hopefully I will know better in the future” kind of way.*  An excuse however demonstrates no empathy, no care, no concern, and no chance in heck anything’ll be different in the future.  It’s pure avoidance and blame throwing.

So an important pair of distinctions to be mindful of!  As we often have few good role models when it comes to apologies**  we default/resort to that what we have seen and know, which is usually explanations and excuses.  As opposed to acknowledging what we’ve done, really getting the impact of what we’ve done, genuinely indicating we recognize it and regret it, apologizing without reservation, and taking what we get.


*  Though this kind of knowing rarely makes a difference

** This is a good one!

Architecture Monday

Habitat 67 always looks like a bit of a lark, like someone having fun with a 3D modelling program or concept art to create this replicating and interlocking set of cubes set in between two bodies of water.  And, in some ways, it is… though not quite a lark, but instead a master’s thesis project in Architecture.  A thesis project that, by a stroke of fortune, was built and today still stands as something quite unique.

Funnily, as I’ve been posting so much of the work of BIG architects, you can see their precedent (and likely inspiration) in Habitat 67 with their repeating forms and using the units around and below as landscaped garden terraces (though here, in the strong Montreal winters, many are covered in solariums).

Besides the crazy assemblage, it’s the cantilevered parts of the building that never ceases to catch the eye, the cubes seeming to be suspended in mid-air, again giving that impression of a 3D conceptual model stuck in mid-simulation, or one where the laws of physics has not yet been implemented.

Despite having some wear and tear, the complex is still going strong.

Delightfully I was leaving through some older architecture and design magazines and came across this cool article by the architect’s son, who lived in the complex in his youth.  It’s a nifty little bit of insight into something so iconic.  Worth a read!

Habitat 67 by Moshe Safdie

Philosophy Tuesday

There is great beauty in the simple* act of bearing witness.  To just be, and be there, for another in what they are going through in that moment.  Not to fix.  Not to provide advice.  Not to agree.  Not to negate.  Not to do something.  But to just be and acknowledge and honour the emotions and feelings and thoughts and to honour each other in our shared humanity.

In that there is also a great power in the simple act of bearing witness.  To allow what is there to pass, to open, to become a clearing, to allow love and beauty and empathy and verve and whole heartedness to arise once more.

It is a beautiful moment of generosity, of empathy, of connectedness, and of who we all are together.

(I was fortunate to be able to provide this once, to a lone person crying within a large crowd.  A few of us were drawn to them, crouching down and reaching out with a single hand, wordlessly lending our presence and our attention.  Bearing witness to and honouring their anguish, and in so doing honouring that for what or whom they were anguishing for.  As their storm subsided we began to leave, one by one, still silent, leaving with them as they returned to the present, serene and smiling.)


* Simple in that it consists only of being present and attentive and for the other.  Not-so-simple if we are not used to being present, or not facile with being vulnerable, or become distracted by our inner chatter or judgement or make it about ourselves or anything of that sort.  But when we practice mindfulness and work to transform and self-cultivate and remove our own baggage and barriers we are not only more available for ourselves but for others as well.

Architecture Monday

Alright, after our look at the exterior it’s time to head inside!

What’s immediately cool is that the inside speaks the same language as the outside, both in brick and in the sculptural concrete, with the addition of wood, and all embellished with the restrained but lovely arts & crafts-like detailing.

Plus some art on the windows…

…and this very cool light fixture that’s fully incorporated into the equally nice ceiling.

While basement multifaith chapel was redone more recently, its intimate wood vaults continue the tradition.  Check out the ribs as well as the base of the vaults, with sculptural layers, joints, and more to subtly ornament the structure and the space.  Plus the integrated light fixtures along the base that allow the vaults to glow and separate themselves from the walls all around.

Though now used less often for this purpose, this thesis defense room might be a bit intimidating… fortunately that glowing inverted dome of spiral pattern goodness might provide some levity.

The pièce de resistance is the dining hall.  Even coming up the stairs you know something cool is happening.  The space expands dramatically above you with the hall awaiting through a sculptural portal.

Once inside you’re treated to all its expansive and illuminated glory where all we’ve seen so far comes together in brick, concrete, and wood all within a multitude of sculptural forms and carved detailing.  Inspiring enough that it was featured in Star Trek: Discovery season 4 episode 4!

Such a gem of a building.  Engaging and welcoming, warmly crafted and articulated, and has a great spatial sense throughout.  A definite boon for those in residence… I know I would’ve loved living there while I was in university.  Great stuff!

Massey College by Ronald Thom

Wonder Wednesday

Did you know that the centre of the CN Tower is hollow?  In the middle of it’s three splaying legs is a hexagonal core; the same one that we can see continuing straight up above the first/lower observation pod to the base of the second/upper pod.  Which means is that this is an open shaft that runs from the ground to the base of said pod, roughly some 335m (1100′) high.  And it. Is. Most. Spectacular.  Looking so much like some giant science fiction construct, like a huge accelerator or the central spine of a space installation.  It’s awesome, in both senses of the word.

Unfortunately… that’s not entirely true anymore.  In 1997 the original location for the egress stairs (yep, the CN Tower has a set of fire escape stairs) was taken over to install an additional pair of elevators, and the stairs were moved from their outer perch to within the core.  I don’t think they take up the whole thing, but the amazing hexagonal vista is now a truncated one.

(Want to hear another amazing thing about this core and the tower as a whole?  This entire concrete structure was done using a moving slipform that slowly moved upwards about 6m per day, supported by the very structure it was building. Segments were removed from the slipform as it rose to create the tower’s iconic shape, including the final hexagonal shape that rises all the way to the base of the upper observation pod.  Amazingly it only took 4 months for it to reach that final height, and it was done so accurately that the whole thing is only 29mm off from being perfectly vertical.)