Archive for the ‘Daily’ Category

h1

Architecture Monday

October 7, 2019

Well, since I turned on the BIG tap last week, I might as well open the floodgates… because there was no way I was going to Denmark and not visit as many of their projects as I could.  And visit many of them I did!  I was especially excited to experience this one, for it was one of the first architecture posts I shared on this blog:  The Maritime Museum of Denmark.

To give a brief recap of what makes this building so amazing is that it is built not exactly inside of, or around, or even over a historic dry dock, but in a way that it becomes a part of it.  Leaving the existing and impressively thick concrete walls of the former “bathtub for ships” in place, the museum wraps around it underground while also crisscrossing the dock’s open-air empty space through a series of ramps and bridges.  In this way you can walk right up and experience it, with nothing needing to be built near it that could hide it.  The main path to Kronborg, the Hamlet Castle is even a bridge that crosses right over it.

 

Inside, the museum unfolds in a continuous series of ramps through exhibition spaces that both flank the outside of the drydock as well, as noted before, ramping diagonally through the void.  (As an aside, the exhibits were well done as well!)

I love (and this is probably no surprise at this point) all the great texture and patina that comes with the re-use of something old like this, with many moments of what becomes rich decoration when ensconced in or traversed by the new architecture.  Or how something like the stepped base of the dry dock is used as bonus seating.

As a bonus, the graphic design for the museum is excellent.  Check out the admission/entry tag, where the flap you use to slip it onto your shirt is a match for the building itself!

Superbly done.  I was giddy to visit and the architecture did not disappoint.  That the museum component was also made for a splendid day.  Definitively check it out if you’re in the area.

The Maritime Museum of Denmark by BIG Architects.

h1

#cdnpoli

October 6, 2019

Hello my fellow Canadians!  As we travel towards the polls on October the 21st (you are intending to cast a vote, oui?), once again I would like to bring my experience as a current expat to bear and provide some perspective on one of our national political parties, namely the Conservative Party of Canada.  Living as I am right now in a country that, at a federal level, has been pursuing many of the policies of the Conservative Party (or, perhaps more appropriate to say, the Conservative Party has been all to happy to crib from and adopt the policies from down here), I have a close(r) view of the impacts and end results of these policies.

To which should be our focus.  Like all elections, this one is about policy.  It is not about popularity or pageantry, it is about the theories and temperament of governance, the passing of bills, the direction of our laws, the shaping of our systems, and, most importantly, the results thereof.

And the results of the policies and politics favoured by the Conservative party (and their Republican role models) are not great.  In so many ways and by so many measures they have not brought and do not bring what is best for the country, its lands, or most of its people. Read the rest of this entry ?

h1

Wonder Wednesday

October 2, 2019

A happy otter for us all!

by pointedfox

h1

Philosophy Tuesday

October 1, 2019

Let’s dive deeper into the Storytelling post from Sunday, for there’s a lot of good stuff to explore that goes way beyond the stories we find on the printed page, stage, screen, or even those shared around the campfire.  We can take the concept and begin to examine the ever-present stories and narrators that surround us every day, including the most important – the ones in our head.

Simply put, many of the things around us that we take for granted open up and take on whole new meanings when we look at the framework that surround them rather than the thing itself.

This is especially potent to dovetail it with the conversation about systems and on the notion of the path(s) of least resistance.  These systems, be they writ large or the very personal, are mostly never derived in a vacuum; instead they come about, evolve, and are kept in place by notions and narrations.  So too is the same that keeps them in place, reliably producing the same outcome over and over again, even and especially when that outcome is, to one degree or another, deleterious.

This is also a great concept to fortify against false dichotomies.  “It can only be this or this” is not only missing the vast possibilities of both our capacity but also the variations of the universe, but it is also weaponizing a tightly woven narrative that forcibly limits the conditions as to make a binary outcome inevitable.

I’ve long been fond of noting, “We talk about the economy like it’s gravity.”  That is, we talk about it like it is a, or maybe the, fundamental physical force in the universe over which we have no choice but to do its bidding.  Except, when look through a telescope at the cosmos, or when we look through a microscope at the micros, we find no evidence of “the economy” shaping things.  It is the narrative that creates the container we’re in and that turns it into “This is the way it goes; this is the way it has to go.”

As ever, little is truly inherent.  Contexts, however, can make it seem like so.  By bringing mindfulness, inquisitiveness, and a little literary wonder we can read beyond the lines to see the author’s hand at work, freeing us to see things more broadly and more clearly.  Whether in determining who we know ourselves to be as an individual, or who we know ourselves to be as a society, or as a species, the constraints melt away and we’re open, ready to write our more perfect future.*

 

* Which, of course, in turn we can, at a later time, revisit and see the additional “author’s hands” that were perhaps invisible to us at the time, letting us once again go beyond to write an even more perfect future… and on, and on, and so on.

h1

Architecture Monday

September 30, 2019

I found myself a bit miffed in that moment.  We’d walked from downtown Copenhagen and were now standing in front of the ski slope, and yet it was closed.  Gah!  Wait a minute you say… ski slope?  In flat Copenhagen?  In summer?  And you’re surprised?  Well, yes… for this ski slope is on top of a power plant.  Oh, ok… wait, what?

Let me back up.  The Amager Bakke, a waste-to-energy power plant in Copenhagen, was designed so that it forms a ski slope that is usable all year round, along with hiking trails, gardens, and an 85m tall climbing wall.  Turns out the reason I could not walk up its magnificent slope is because it was not yet complete – oops!  But it opens this coming weekend, and so in celebration tonight let’s visit this fantastical creation.

I’d known about the building before going to visit, of course (even if I was unaware that while it is in operation making power the rest of it wasn’t yet open).  What I didn’t realize was how prominent it is on the Copenhagen skyline.  From many places downtown you can see it in the distance, a shining oddity.  Given its visibility it’s great that so much work did go into making it something beautiful rather than something to be confronted with on the horizon.

Up close, the building is a marvel to behold.  Walking up to it was somewhat surreal, for much like my experience with La Grande Arche de la Defence it totally belies its scale until you get up close to it.  No mistake, this building is massive!  The spark for its design came when the architects studied the machinery that needed to be contained within and realized that you could arrange them in a way they could outline a wedge shaped building.  Copenhagen has plenty of cold in the winter, but no hills… why not use these requirements to make something fun for the city?

This is gimmick architecture par extraordinaire (and I don’t mean gimmick in a bad way here at all).   It’s a simple sculptural form, wrapped in a sinuous basket weave skin that gleams in the sunlight and with its white stack sailing upward as though hovering and only lightly tethered to the building.  A stack which, due to the cleanliness of the plant it mostly spits out water vapour, will be topped with a device that will blow out a ring of steam for every tonne of CO2 emitted.  It’s playful all around.

And little is more amusing than seeing the edge of a ski lift on top of a building!

Needless to say, I’m a fan.  This industrial endeavour was needed in the city, and there was no reason it couldn’t pull double duty and become not just a necessity but a boon, providing something great and new for the community while looking great at the same time.  Well done.

The Amager Bakke and Copenhill (the great name they’ve given to the ski slope!), by none other than BIG Architects.

h1

Storytelling Sunday

September 29, 2019

“It’s what the story required.”  “It’s what the character had to do.”  “It’s the only way it could have gone.”  “It needed to happen.”

If you’re experiences are like mine then you are likely familiar with these types of answers from authors/creators when you ask them about elements in their stories, be it about events, outcomes, or, most often, what the story is about or is trying to say.  I’ve asked numerous authors on numerous occasions these types of questions, and responses in this vein, have always puzzled me.

Because… aren’t you the author?  How is it that it must go his way?  That this is the only way?

As the author, you’re the creator of everything!  From the most basic premise to the context in which things unfurl to the impetus that starts the action to the characters that inhabit the story, and so forth.  It’s all invented.  Tweak one little thing and everything beyond cascades and unfurls in a whole other way (or ways).

Corey Doctorow recently wrote an article about this, and regardless of whether one fully likes where he takes it or the examples he gives the main useful takeaway for me remains shining the spotlight on those seemingly inviolable constraints that force a story down a particular path to a particular ending to see that they are inherently part of the creation.  There is no “must” there.  It’s all (a) setup.

Now, every story contains a series of constraints and contrivances.  I’m not arguing against that.  (Though, and this is in a completely different vein than our main conversation here, but if your story uses a whole flock of vast contrivances and coincidences to move things along then I humbly suggest your story still needs a lot of work.)  What irks me about this type of response is not the mundane or pure logic about things, but rather that the author most likely has made these choices to set up the “inevitable” for a reason, and even if those reasons are hidden from their view by not answering the question they are not taking, or willing to take, ownership of the reasons.

Out of that I begin to wonder if they are trying to hide behind the supposed “objectivity” of things.  That is, they know what their story is conveying or is trying to say, but they are not willing to proudly stand behind it to hold aloft the concepts and explain why they set things up that way (and, by extension, declare what they’re trying to say).

Natch, it is also possible that they don’t know or didn’t think about it, in which case, fine, but still I’d invite that the better answer is “Huh, I don’t know!  That’s interesting, let’s talk about it and see what comes up…”

This is starting to sound a bit rant-y, so let me wrangle things back to say what I myself am trying to create here:  an invitation to look at and engage with your work more fully and recognize there is no inevitable, and to not hide behind feigned neutrality and pure calculus.  If your story conjures something up and you are asked about it, see if it was your intention.  If so, stand behind it and say what your story is saying.  If not, how fascinating!  And use that to further develop your craft.

h1

Wonder Wednesday

September 25, 2019

In times like these, we all need a little bit of saw music in our lives…

Sweet tunes by the amazing Wintergatan!