Archive for the ‘Daily’ Category

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Wonder Wednesday

January 16, 2019

Check out this amazing view of the space shuttle Endeavour breaking through the clouds during a launch in 2011!

(I swear it also looks like it was taken through a tilt-shift lens, which gives it that miniature look, but it might just be the unique perspective playing with our perception…)

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Philosophy Tuesday

January 15, 2019

There were many things that were amazing about my Sifu.  I learned so very much from him.  One of which he never taught me directly… he was simply an embodiment of it.

Sifu loved Kung Fu.  That may seem like an unnecessary statement – of course Sifu loved Kung Fu, you’d think.  After all, he practiced it diligently for so many years.  But this is not just some matter-of-fact thing.  Sifu loved Kung Fu for its own sake.  When Sifu practiced, he practiced because of that simple enjoyment.  There was no “in order to” behind it.

And that was the great insight, lesson, and wisdom he demonstrated.

Often times in our lives we take on something, practice something, or do something “in order to” accomplish, have, possess, or gain something else.  We don’t do it just for the pleasure, satisfaction, or pure difference it might make in the world.  We do it “in order to” get that other thing.

We train martial arts in order to feel manly or not scared.

We run marathons in order to look sexy and have something impressive to tell others.

We take a job in order to make money*, because we want money in order to feel powerful.

We buy something in order to distract us.

We like a particular band to fit in socially

We seek conflict in order to avoid loneliness.

Sometimes we undertake things because of some perceived flaw in ourselves.  Other times, we may not even be aware of the hidden purpose,**  the “in order to” remaining hidden from our view.  “I like it!” we think.  “It’s just what’s needed,” we add.  “I have no choice,” we finalize.

While these “in order to”s can be great motivators, pushing us with an intensity and persistence in our pursuit of that goal, they also rob us.  Rob us of freedom, rob us of satisfaction, rob us of joy.  Rob us of the experience of the moment.  And, most ironically (though you can probably guess), they also rob us of our performance.  They get in the very way of the thing we’re trying to get.  If anything starts to slip, we become frantic.  Small or large, any panic will stunt our game.

When we set aside our “in order to”s, new levels of growth and delight are available.  When we practice, do, or take on something for its own sake, we free ourselves to play and dance.  What we do becomes a self-expression, leaving us energized and fulfilled.

And In that space, we love it.

 

* As distinct from earning a living.

** Or we don’t want to admit it to ourselves…

 

 

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Architecture Monday

January 14, 2019

Sometimes, when you do well in school you get a gold star.  This particular school takes that notion in an almost literal way.

Shaped like a star, the layout of the school does a couple of cool things.  Each radiant point houses a grade levels or two, each sporting its own design character as well as age-appropriate sizing.  At the same time, grouping the shared and special functions by the centre creates the school unified and creates a strong communal point.  It at the same time allows for separate environments and scale that allow the students to relate to the building and feel safe within, while still allowing the school to be a unified whole through interactions and gatherings in the communal core.

And what a core!  The piece de resistance, the stair and open-air (and deconstructed) library and gallery seating and stage and who knows what else keeps the area alive and engaged with activity throughout the day while also being a powerful and ownable element in its own right.

The angled nature of each of the wings means that there’s no hallways per se; things are wide enough that the circulation can serve double duty as seminar and collaboration space.  And if that wasn’t enough, the place is littered with smaller rooms and nooks and all sorts of great spaces for students to gather and do work or just socialize.

Wait… is that… a nook with a literal PIT of LEGO?  (Well, I guess it is in Denmark)  Man… I love this school even more now.

As a bonus, check out those wicked and very fun conceptual drawings of the building!

Compared to many of the institutional and staid schools that abound, this is a design that aims to make an engaging and delightful place for the students and teachers who spend so many hours there.  Plus its design is geared towards natural ventilation, full of light, covered in solar panels, and aims outward towards playgrounds and parks and trails leading into the surrounding neighborhood.  Splendidly done.

Nordstjerneskolen (New City School) by Arkitema Architects

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Wonder Wednesday

January 9, 2019

The beauty of a polar bear…

… framed in the beauty of the setting sun.

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Philosophy Tuesday

January 8, 2019

“If we come here and say, “Well, I didn’t intend to cause global warming on the way here,” and we say, “That’s not part of my plan,” then we realize it’s part of our de facto plan, because it’s the thing that’s happening because we have no other plan.”

— William McDonough

I love this quote for how well it ties back into the notion of systems and the path of least resistance.

When we don’t make a plan, the system makes one for us.  And the easiest is to just do what the system says to do.  Because to us it feels like that’s just how things are; we’re surrounded by it.  Its reality.  And so we punch our ticket and get swept along.

That system, though, may itself have never been planned, and rather came together by either accident, happenstance, or, often, by the messy collision of several other (perhaps/likely themselves unplanned) systems.  It’s system-ception – systems begetting systems begetting systems.

Everything we do has an outcome, a result.  And when our de facto plan spits out outcomes, whether personal or global, that aren’t as fulfilling a result as we’d like, we can be very accurate when we note that it was unintentional.  Because they’re the result of actions taken with literally no intention – just automatic engagement.  We’ve slipped into the path of least resistance.

Oops!

But our systems are just systems.  Unlike the properties of physics, they don’t have a force in reality.  They may have arrived by happenstance, but we can tweak them.  Replace them.  Transform them.  We needn’t get caught up in blame or shame or fault.  We can step up with intention, create from first principles, and be mindful of and design towards all the desired outcomes.

Until our de facto plans line up with our intended ones.

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Architecture Monday

January 7, 2019

Let’s start 2019 off with a sweet adaptive reuse of an old powerhouse on the shores of the East River with views of the Brooklyn Bridge.  Can you say brick arches galore?

And how!  Leaving intact the exterior shell of the building, including its many, many metal shutters, the project’s new guts celebrate the aged solidity of all that brick.  To start, the newly carved open-air courtyard and pedestrian walkway connects the waterfront park to the city and turns those thick walls into an art object.  An object you can get up close and personal with through publicly accessible walkways and a roof terrace.  Want to see the park and the nearby Brookland Bridge?  Or the very cool carousel that’s just next door?  Those same terraces have you covered.

Going further upward, the new structure is rendered in glass and beefy steel, extending the feel of the building without mimicking the material or exact look.  By pulling back from the edges of the old walls, more terraces and green roofs are created while, again, celebrating the aged beauty of those rugged brick walls.

Inside, old structure and new are merged into an antithesis of a sterile office environment.  I especially love how they dealt with the windows, making a sealed structure while allowing the full depth of the wall to be felt through each opening from both inside and out (further enhanced on the outside by being framed with those shutters).

Even better?  This is right next to St Anne’s Warehouse, another adaptive reuse par excellence (featured here a couple of years ago).  Good stuff you’ve got going on there, Brooklyn!

Empire Stores, by S9 Architecture.

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Movie Thursday(s)

January 3, 2019

As with last year, I’m going to catch up here with a few capsule reviews of other movies I saw in 2018! Read the rest of this entry ?