Wonder Wednesday

When I visited the Amager Bakke, the power plant + ski hill (no, really!) in Copenhagen, besides the ski slope not being open yet (we unfortunately visited just a scant month or so before completion), there was this other odd thing they were adding to the side of the building.  I didn’t realize what it was at the time, but turns out it’s a giant climbing wall.  And I do mean giant.  The building is tall enough for a ski slope… so this thing is 85 meters (280 feet) tall!  It’s so tall it’s a 4 pitch lead/sport climb only, and requires a multi-pitch certification just to climb it’s 4 lanes (8 routes total).  Amazing.

Check out more, including route topos, videos, and more at https://www.dbkk.dk/amagernordvaeg/vaeggen and https://www.copenhill.dk/en/aktiviteter/klatring

Philosophy Tuesday

“What do you define as success?” This a question sometimes gets posed in conversations with people of note or, perhaps somewhat bizarrely, in job interviews.  However, leaving aside the second one especially, and taking it on in a mindfulness context, this can be one of those laser focused questions that cuts through our everyday autopilot to prompt some actual reflection and thinking.

Because when we look at it, we often discover that we’ve never really chosen it for ourselves.  Often, we find we’re just living into the default view and measurements about success and what success is that we inherited from our context (including our upbringing, community, colleagues, etc).  Or if we did choose, we may have accidentally slipped back into those typical contexts after we’d suffered a setback or two while in pursuit of our desires.

So in giving it some reflection and thought, it’s common to notice that what we’ve been pursuing under those default contexts – often some variety of money, and/or status or fame, and/or control and/or some material items and/or some family/social unit or activity – isn’t actually aligned with what we truly want, such as love, connection, peace of mind, fulfillment, joy, excitement, making a difference, aliveness, beauty, gusto, wonder…

And sure, money and the like may provide some pathways towards that which we truly want.  But even beyond the long-held truth that money can’t buy happiness, when we focus on those reductive measures of success like money we can very much forget what we’re actually aiming for.  We get stuck on the default treadmill, aiming for the tool rather than the thing we want to create.  To bring back a quote from an earlier post, “It’s easy to confuse what is important with what is easy to measure.”

Which is also why when we attain those default measures of success, they rarely leave us fulfilled or satisfied.  And, rather nefariously, because we’re absentmindedly stuck on the treadmill pursuing those default measures, we fall into another pitfall of, to quote yet another previous post (one of the earliest!), “I gotta get a bigger hammer!”  In other words, we surmise that if these haven’t brought satisfaction yet (and everyone is saying they should), it must be because we haven’t gotten enough of “it” yet.

So we stay on that treadmill, our eyes firmly off the real prize.

Which brings us back to that laser-guided question we can ask ourselves “What do I define as success?”  With mindfulness and care and creation we get to choose that which will leave us delighted, radiant, and fulfilled.  And then we can align ourselves and our activities towards attaining that, including right-sizing our focus (or whether we choose to engage with them at all) on those default measures of success.

And with this clarity of success, we empower ourselves and those around us towards living the lives we want.

(And if we need a good starting point in designing our measures of success, Ben Zander’s “shining eyes” is a great foundation.)

Architecture Monday

A fun little folly tonight, in the form of the Smile.  A temporary pavilion at the London Design Festival back in 2016.  Made of cross-laminated wood as a double cantilever structure, it seems to rest, precariously balanced, in the middle of the courtyard.  As a folly it’s akin mostly to spatial art, inhabited purely for the experience and joy it brings.

The Smile by Alison Brooks Architects

Architecture Monday

There’s something quite appealing to me about the “simplicity” in this house design, with its solid, board-formed concrete base topped with an airy wood top that’s entirely ringed with windows.

Though the base is created in concrete, there’s plenty of openings, some with a perforated concrete screen, and similarly though the upper story is all windows, each has a shutter as well.  The mix of the concrete base, wood mid, and steel roof all are well proportioned and pair well into a most pleasing combination.

Oh, and it’s got a two-story courtyard down its centre, because apparently I am very much on a courtyard kick right now…

Unfortunately there aren’t too many photos of the inside that show the gamut of different spaces that the plans hint at, so we have to let our imaginations fill out what’s just offscreen.

On the whole, solid work!

House on Lake Zell by Steiner Architecture f/f

Philosophy Tuesday

Transformation is a bit like folding space (in the science fiction faster-than-light travel kind of way).  It isn’t about changing something, it isn’t about shifting our views, it isn’t about moving things around.  Instead, it’s about opening up and broadening our (accidentally already limited) view to wide new vistas, and then creating a new way of being to live into.

Note that, in that moment, our circumstances don’t change.  We’re still the same person and we’re in the same situation and we have the same trials and tribulations and conditions and events and all of that ahead of us.

But, because we have shifted our view and, more importantly, who we are being, not only does our experience of life change – Actually, let’s pause here for a moment, because to be honest that is really important!  Our experience of life is in some ways everything, our experience of life is what we’re here for!

Getting back to it, not only does our experience of life change, but so to do our capabilities change.*  We approach things differently.  Our options expand.  Our agency and confidence grow.

While we face the same circumstances, everything feels and even seems different.  We step into paths that might never have even occurred to us before.  We travel towards those things in life which we all want.

Which in turn boosts our experience of life even more.  Joy, love, fulfilment, comfort, security, and peace of mind, all available to bask in.

 

* Our capacity doesn’t change… it already was pretty darn unlimited, we just had erected barriers in front of it.  With those barriers gone we can do the work needed to step into and develop our capabilities.

Architecture Monday

There’s a couple of reasons to love this former power plant in the heart of London.  The first is the building itself, majestic, assertive, and positively iconic in all of its art deco glory (especially so from its use on the cover of a Pink Floyd album).

Sweet design with sweet detailing, and a great reminder that even industrial buildings warrant great design for those who both work within and live around it.

The second is the amazing mixed-use adaptive reuse of the building that was recently completed.  Retail and office spaces use most of the space within, including the cavernous turbine and boiler halls, while residential lines the periphery and, with a remarkable flair, as new glass and steel boxes set delicately atop the existing brick base.  Well-proportioned and taking cues from the existing conditions, the new apartments compliment the original design very well.  A trio of linear gardens join also the residences atop the building.

Even the old control rooms were given a chance to join in the fun, handsomely restored to their glory.

Reading up on the history, after the station was decommissioned there were some unfortunate twists and turns and false starts that resulted in a long dormancy and the whole thing falling into disrepair.  It’s fortunate and great to see this new form come to fruition, restoring the landmark design while also providing a great mixed-use addition to the neighborhood.  And it’s adaptive reuse, so you know I have to love it.  Great stuff.

The Battersea Power Station, originally by Giles Gilbert Scott, and one of the largest brick buildings in the world.  He also designed the Bankside power station, also the site of an amazing adaptive reuse into the Tate Modern art gallery!  Adaptive reuse design led by WilkinsonEyre (more pictures, videos, and historical photos at their site — and check out the jaw-droppingly interesting Chimney Lift, an elevating glass room the size of the inside of the chimney that emerges to give 360 views, wow).