Archive for the ‘Daily’ Category

h1

Philosophy Tuesday

December 4, 2018

“When we try to pick out anything by itself,

we find it hitched to everything else in the universe.”

— John Muir

h1

Architecture Monday

December 3, 2018

Ok, there is a lot of similarity in the house below and the amazing work by Ando I shared a couple of weeks ago… but the scales are vastly different.  Here, a tight three-house compound in northern Beijing with non-existent yards was reimagined into a single home.  Keeping and upgrading the existing house along the north side of the compound, new additions were added along the west and south sides to create a U-shaped arrangement that creates a generous courtyard.

I’ll admit, I can be a sucker for exposed brick (especially in adaptive reuse scenarios), and this project has them in spades.  But there are a lot of other great details as well:  the exposed log-structured roof in the renovated old house, the patio and rock garden in the courtyard, the expansive windows and rotating screens, and the LED light strip that illuminates the intricacies and texture of the old tile roof at night.  With the generous windows throughout, the house feels continuous even though it’s wrapped around a courtyard; the courtyard becomes just another room to look through.

Like with the Ando design, it’s a very interesting mix of old and new, both factually and figuratively.  There’s a historic ruggedness in the brick and tiles and iron-grey railings and window frames, accented by the smooth concrete and crafted wood paneling.

I especially like this bonus moment where the courtyard opens a vista that allows the profile of the house next door to mirror that of the mountain ridge in the background.

Overall it’s good stuff.  Not a total adaptive reuse, but still a partial one that makes most of what was there before.

Backyard by CCDI

h1

Sunday Funny

December 2, 2018

h1

The poison chronicles

November 29, 2018

“The lack of regulation meant that companies could pretty much put whatever they wanted into food with no fear of being held accountable. “[Food] wasn’t safety tested, because there were no rules requiring that,” says Blum. “It wasn’t labeled because there were no rules requiring that anyone tell you what was in your food. And it wasn’t illegal even if you killed someone.”

Companies were adding copper to vegetables to make them look greener and 20 Mule Team Borax to butter as a preservative—assuming it was butter and not beef tallow or ground-up cow stomach dyed to look like butter. Spices contained things like ground coconut shells, charred rope, brick dust, even floor sweepings. Honey was often little more than dyed corn syrup. The phrase “a muddy cup of coffee” might date back to this era, when ground coffee typically contained dyed sawdust, tree bark, or charred bone, and fake coffee beans were made out of wax and dirt. “I’m especially bitter about this, because I love coffee,” says Blum.

Dairy suppliers were among the worst offenders, adding pureed calf brains to milk to make it look more like rich cream, thinning the milk with water and gelatin, and then adding dyes, chalk, or plaster dust to correct the color. Worst of all, they added formaldehyde—then widely used as an embalming fluid to slow the decomposition of corpses—to milk as a preservative. (The additives were given innocuous names like Rosaline and Preservaline.) Hundreds of children were sickened, and many died, from the tainted milk. Formaldehyde was also used as a preservative in meat.

That was the driving force behind Wiley’s radical “Poison Squad” project. (He actually referred to it as “hygienic table trials”; journalists gave it the more colorful moniker.)  He recruited several young men to be his guinea pigs—all of whom signed waivers—and provided them with three healthy square meals a day. The catch: half of them also were given capsules containing borax, salicylic acid, or formaldehyde. Wiley started with the borax, thinking it would be the safest additive, and was alarmed at how quickly his squad members sickened.

The results convinced Wiley that federal regulation was necessary to protect American citizens from the dangerous and fraudulent practices of food suppliers. Naturally, industry leaders pushed back against Wiley’s proposed legislation. The National Association of Food Manufacturers formed around this time, along with chemical industry manufacturing associations, as companies pooled their resources to oppose the ominous specter of government regulation. They even instituted a smear campaign against Wiley. One trade journal called him “the man who is doing all he can to destroy American business.”

With Roosevelt’s support, Congress finally passed the Meat Inspection Act and the Pure Food and Drug Act in 1906.”

— excerpt from this great article at arstechinca

It’s amazing to me that this was just over a hundred years ago.  That until then you had to spend time and effort and worry to check every thing and even with that work could never know for sure if what you were getting was what you thought you were getting and you or others could easily be sickened or maimed or die.

It’s also a great story about the scientific method, of curiosity, of rigour, of courage in the face of opposition, and a commitment to your fellow human beings.

Definitively makes me want to read the book about Dr Wiley.

 

h1

Wonder Wednesday

November 28, 2018

An amazing time-lapse video of a rocket launch as viewed from the International Space Station…

h1

Philosophy Tuesday

November 27, 2018

Competition. Crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentation of their friends! Ace that test, make the cheerleading team, win the championship, land that big contract, bankrupt your peers, make the most money, get the most awards, and look the best on Facebook! Winning, yeah, competition is all about singular winning, with everyone else worthy of scorn and ridicule. Get yours or get nothing.

At least, right from the get-go, that’s how competition is presented to us.

Thing is, that wasn’t really the original meaning for the word. The Latin root from which we get compete, competere, instead means “strive in common; strive after something in company with or together.”

To compete does not require turning everything into a zero-sum equation.

As William McDonough put it: “It means the way Olympic athletes train with each other. They get fit together, and then they compete. The Williams sisters compete – one wins Wimbledon. So we’ve been looking at the idea of competition as a way of cooperating in order to get fit together.”

Inside this broader view of competition, we leave less destruction in our wake. We begin to truly play games – games that enliven us without all the extra layers of significance we’ve piled on. We empower ourselves and those around us, leading to even better games and better conclusions. We get to be supported and grow together. And we gain freedom from unnecessary stress, consternation, and mental duress*.

Best of all, we get to have way more fun.

 

* Which, amusingly, all work to hinder our performance in the game. We feel worse, do worse, and suffer more under the outcome!

h1

Architecture Monday

November 26, 2018

I love it when companies recognize good design makes for a better running enterprise, especially for building types that, over the past century or so, have been considered “utilitarian” and thus “unnecessary” or “wasteful” to spend any effort in making them places that treat their worker’s right.

And so, behold!  A fishing facility of docks and warehouses and processing and offices all high up in the rugged northern part of Norway.

It’s a fun mix of colour and forms and graphics that support both easy wayfinding as well as creating a great backdrop in the dark nights of winter.  Large windows let the surrounding landscape (or the northern lights) fill the employee areas.  The varied forms create an abundance of interesting places while hiding tonnes of little nautical hints throughout, all capped by the dramatic flying bar that houses the offices and other amenities.

Good stuff.  A well-crafted complex that improves operations while/by honouring its employees.  A delight nestled into a rugged landscape. Well done.

Holmen Industrial Area designed by the great team at Snøhetta.