Architecture Monday

I think tonight is a great night to swing by a winery… and wait, it’s designed by Tom Kundig?  SIGN ME UP!

There’s an elegant simplicity to the layout here:  two bars, one that follows the slope of the land, the other that juts outward to hover above it, both clad in weathering steel that grounds it visually into the surrounding hillsides.  The sloping bar contains the functions of the winery while the other contains offices and hospitality bits.  Where they meet, a large covered portico shields entry both for visitors as well as for the grapes, entryways for where all the magic begins.

This straightforward arrangement is accentuated by highlighting the changes of elevation and playing up where the two bars interact.  This is accompanied in no small measure with the hallmark Kundig-style precision detailing that embraces the best of industrial craft.  And  absolutely, a precision deployment of theatricality (which is totally appropriate here).

I’ll raise a glass to that!  And now that’s at least two amazing wineries in BC by Olson Kundig Architects… all the more impetus for me to visit sometime.

Martin’s Lane Winery by Olson Kundig Architects

Art Thursday

Oh this is neat.  A new production starting up at the Princess of Wales theatre in Toronto in November (coming over from the UK) that’s creatively inventive and great for these socially distanced times.  Called “Blindness” it’s an auditory only sound installation, with the audience sitting on stage (spread apart, wearing masks) surrounded by simple colour changing lights.  I’m intrigued!  Unfortunately I’m not traveling home this year so I’ll miss it, but if you’re near Toronto this might just be the ticket.

https://www.blogto.com/arts/2020/10/torontos-princess-wales-theatre-reopening-sound-installation/

https://www.mirvish.com/shows/blindness

Blindness transfers to North America

 

Philosophy Tuesday

As it is, we are not ever, really, but a singular identity.  We are an identity of identities.  And, by default, we are attached to each one of them.

That doesn’t mean however that there is a minimum number of identities that make up our “complete” identity.  Nor is it impossible that we get particularly attached to a particular one or a subset of ones that the rest are rendered nearly superfluous.

All attachments are pathways towards misery and all manner of deleterious ways of being and acting.  But the intensity of our attachments can vary, and the stronger the attachment, the more greased the pathway becomes.

So it is that if we only adopt a few identities to form our full identity-self, or if we become so overwhelmingly attached to only a few, then those identities, and those attachments, become incredibly strong indeed.  And that is where our pitfalls open up mightily.

The reminder here, then, is this:

Diversify Your Identity/Identities

It is a prod to avoid wrapping ourselves up in a single flag and instead spread ourselves broadly, creating a rich and networked set of identities that supports and empowers us and those around us.  If one is challenged, then our auto-defense-weaponry isn’t as likely to explode with full force, for it isn’t the end of us – we’ve got other identities that will live on.  The attachment is less and our freedom is greater.

And if that identity gets challenged, and we see that it isn’t, in actuality, working for us and those around us?  How fascinating!  We can complete it, set it aside, and create anew.

 

(Also, it pays to remember this earlier reminder as well:  Avoid basing your identity on beliefs or things and instead base it on values or intentions.)

Architecture Monday

While the Voxman Music Building’s exterior is fine enough, it’s the spaces within where the project really shines, crafting some wonderful, inventive, and playful spaces that don’t neglect the other senses even as beautiful music is being made within them.

The main hall’s got this expressive ceiling that does triple duty of being a visual focus while also honing the acoustics and providing concealed lighting space.

And if you think I’m going to avoid mentioning the pipe organ on the back wall, well, not a chance!

Even better, there is an entire hall dedicated for pipe organ recitals!  The extra tall space, accented by the recessed wood “arches” and clerestory windows does a perfect job of drawing attention to the instrument of choice, which itself is nicely contrasted yet complemented by the white lattice over the sound-absorbing wall, the tracery paring well with the leaf motif on the light wood organ.

But for me the greatest of these three is the fiery red recital hall, not the least of which because it is both asymmetrical and angled in floor plan, but also for the unusual feature of the giant windows that extend outward from the building’s façade, casting strong light over the stage and bringing out the complex geometries of the wall acoustic treatments, whether red on the one side or deep wood on the other.

There’s lots of great details and design twists happening throughout the new building, where nearly every space has been considered as spaces for performances.  On the whole it’s a grand and exciting performance venue.

The Voxman Music Building by LMN Architects

Philosophy Tuesday

Two stonemasons are hard at work.

The first, when asked what they are doing, says, “I am chipping away at this stone.”

The second, when asked, excitedly says, “I am building a cathedral!”

Both are engaged in the same task.  They’re literally doing the same thing.  Yet they are having a vastly different experience of life.  While the first works in the context of a job, a task, a simple means to an end*, the second is works within a context that brings grandeur and fulfillment and creativity and pulls for their pride and self-expression.

Same circumstances, yet to each the stone looks different, the chisel looks different, the process feels different, and through all those they each, very likely, produce vastly different results in terms of speed, quality, and overall excellence in their work.  Not to mention which one goes home ready to zone out and which one is still energized at the end of the day…

Same task, but different worlds.  Not by luck or anything inherent but brought into being through invention.  Their individual invention.**

Tasks are tasks.  We get to create how we relate to them, who we will be, and ultimately influence how our day will go and feel.

 

*  That’s actually hidden within a subcontext, that itself is and contains an “in order to

** And if they/we don’t do it consciously, then they’ll simply invent what they already know, what’s already around them and copy their inherited contexts, whether they are empowering or not.

Architecture Monday

Maybe it’s something about spending so much time indoors that has me looking at libraries so much of late… whatever the reason, here’s another lovely one and one that I can check out the next time I can head back home to visit!

Wood.  Definitively lots of wood going on here.  Big, muscular, impressive wood, using engineered mass timber construction from responsibly managed lands (I am unsure if this is FSC certified, but I hope so).  Arranged like a series of curving splayed fingers, each topped with a green roof, it opens towards the public square with a giant portico.  It’s got great visual complexity, changing appearance from every angle, its various bits always in a dance with each other.

That beefy post and beam structure allows all below to be enclosed entirely with glass.  Inside the veritable forest of leaning trunks and all that light makes for a vibrant experience, almost cathedral-like.  It also allows for maximum flexibility; as its role evolves over time, the library can shuffle itself around to suit the needs of the community.

A very cool, engaging, and fun design.  Top shelf work.

The Scarborough Civic Centre Library by LGA.