Posts Tagged ‘community’

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Architecture Monday

July 24, 2017

A wonderful school project in Zambia.  Using locally sourced materials and careful study of the site, this is one great set of classrooms.  The roof is calculated to shade the structure just right from the hot hot sun, acting like a giant parasol that keeps things below cool.  The windows are placed both high and low to let in lots of light without causing glare.  The split design lets the spaces between classroom blocks be porticos, porches, and spaces to gather and teach.  And the space between the parasol and the buildings is used as additional, open-air, classrooms – which in turn is a further moment of delight in the perforated wall that frames the stair access.

That seemingly mundane concrete block that makes the perforated wall possible is almost invisible to our eyes, so jaded by the usual uses of concrete block in our everyday lives, by careful detailing and the application of a lusciously smooth plaster.  With a rhythm defined by the carefully placed windows, it stands proudly but not disruptively amongst the big skies and grasslands that surround it.

This is no big budget project.  It is, however, big on design.  Creativity transcends.  It takes what’s there and multiplies it, crafting delightful spaces that works better for more people, in turn acting as a force multiplier for the activities of the community.  Great work.

Chipakata Children’s Academy by Susan Rodriguez, Frank Lupo, Randy Antonia Lott, Fabian Bedolla, Hiroko Nakatani, Mehonaz Kazi

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Architecture Monday

May 8, 2017

Shopping malls, on the whole, tend not to be paragons of design quality, and have propagated worldwide with little thought, period, let alone thought for the local culture, climate, or conditions.  Which means that often they don’t serve the needs of either the shoppers, the community, or even the shopkeepers.  They can increase cost to the store owners and decrease sales, rather than provide benefits to all who need to use it.

This project in Ethiopia does.

The above diagram, well, diagrams it all.  In elegant ways this new “mall” incorporates sustainable initiatives,  inviting spaces, and local charm to create a shopping mall born of a specific place.  It’s much more than the traditional strip ‘o shops with a fancy pediment.

There’s a whole bunch I like about this building, starting right from the get go with the expressive outer shell.  It’s concrete and it’s expressively pierced with a pattern adapted from the traditional local fabrics.  This means all at once it diffuses and controls the harsh local sun, it allows for passive natural ventilation, and it’s a thermal mass to help control the heat even further.  And as nice as it is on the outside, inside it is absolutely gorgeous, especially the amazing surprise that is the coloured bits of glass that sparkle like jewels.  Simple, clever, and good looking.

The building is also a shortcut between two adjacent busy streets, with a diagonal path carved along the ground floor that, in turn, becomes a diagonal atrium that expands upward and opens to the sky.  This acts as a chimney, letting hot air rise and the natural ventilation keep the building cool.  It’s also an internal street, letting the floors communicate with each other rather than be isolated pancakes.  The roof is also no isolated pastry*, it’s a large umbrella-filled patio.  That also happens to collect rainwater that is then stored to use for restrooms and irrigation.  Oh, and the umbrellas also serve double duty as photovoltaic panels.  Air, water, light, electricity… all thought of and integrated into this lovely box.

This is great stuff.  From the dramatic arched entryways to the spiraling road and shops that lead to the terraced roof, it elevates the experience of shopping while honouring its surroundings and thinking deeply about sustainability.  Lovely work.

Lideta Market by Vilalta Arquitectura

 

* Sorry for the tortured metaphor…

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Architecture Monday

April 3, 2017

Let’s go to Finland tonight for a refreshing jaunt in a sauna, shall we?  How about this delightful public sauna in Helsinki?  Perched on the edge of the water, it is at once a landform and a building, an angular and expressive form that mimics the rocks upon which it sits.  Even better, it engages the city just as much as it also protectively shelters the serene saunas within.

Check it out.  Really, check it all out.  You can step out and overlook the water, descend the stairs to enter the water, warm up at the dockside cafe, then climb on top of the building and get a view of the bay, the islands, and the city.  The carefully constructed wood slats (100% FSC Certified!) that form the face of the building seamlessly turn into stairs that lets anyone ascend upwards.  The roof is no simple canopy, it’s a playground.

Inside, the spaces are divine.  Those same wood slats slide and part to let light and views in (while, like blinds, keeping privacy).  From the covered porch areas to the change rooms to the saunas – including a traditional smoke sauna – the feel of the spaces is tranquil and comforting.

This image speaks it all.  There’s a beauty how the warm and regular wood, through its proportions and design, creates a space that invitingly cradles the seated body, while its horizontal lines draws the eyes outward towards the screen beyond, where the angular forms playfully contrast with the regularity of the wood grid, all given a visual exclamation point by the fire pit and rocks that stand basking in the glow from the generous window.

Marvelous.

And only one of many enchanted spaces within.  A great design that couples civic engagement and exterior excitement with amazing spaces within, all while building smartly using sustainable materials.  Excellent work.

The Löyly Saunas by Avanto Architects and Joanna Laajisto Creative Studio

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Architecture Monday

March 20, 2017

I can be a sucker for libraries, but  this one’s got a lot going for it:  bold forms, luminous troughs of airy space, a marriage of the rough and the refined, expressive detailing, and an interplay that compliments nearby structures without mimicking them.

There’s a clarity too that lets the building speak for itself in many ways.  The building is organized around its three naves, each fronted by expansive windows that themselves double as benches for passers-by outside.

I love this interchange between the readers inside, looking out towards the town square, and the curious pedestrians, who can see the books (and the readers) within as they pause in their day.

The naves themselves are quite exquisite, as the rhythmic wooden slats form a scrim for translucent panels, letting a warm glow suffuse the reading areas.  I particularly like how the bookshelves form both the edges of the stairways, the reading areas, and, spatially, an extension of the nave above.

Built by local woodworking artisans, it’s superb craft coupled with fine design, and a new beacon for a town devastated by the earthquakes and tsunami of 2010.  Great stuff.

The Constitución Public Library by Sebastian Irarrázaval

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Celebrating Zootopia

March 5, 2017

Our drive began before the sunrise.  After an intense flurry of hasty arranging late Friday night.  The destination:  LA.  The reason: to celebrate the one-year anniversary of Zootopia with Rich Moore and Nate Torrence.

zootopia-big-donut-oli

Rich tweeted the invite on Friday evening to join them at The Big Donut (actually Randy’s Donuts, the donut shop that inspired the design for The Big Donut shop in Little Rodentia) for a brief bout of festivities Saturday morning.  Brief it was, for when we got there (nary an hour after it was to begin) it was pretty much all over:  the live Facebook Q&A was finished, the giveaways were done, and most people were leaving.

But the main reason I wanted to go was to meet Rich, and that turned out more than splendidly.

zootopia-rich-moore

Joining Rich and Nate was Clark Spencer, the producer.  It was a total delight.  They are all absolutely wonderful people, and really approachable.  I had fun and great conversations with them all.  Most exciting and special for me was to gave Rich a framed copy of my postcard of gratitude that I’d made for the Zootopia team last year, and to express, in person, to both him and Clark my acknowledgement and appreciation for the film and all the work they put into it.  I also got to give a nice hug to each of them.

zootopia-nate-torrence

zootopia-clark-spencer

The rest of the crew were extra nice too, and they very generously gifted me one of the “cast only” shirts and got Rich and Clark to sign it for me!  I love Rich’s little bunny face…

zootopia-shirt

Besides being all dressed up, Randy’s Donuts were also giving away free (before you even ordered!) “The Big Donut” donuts.  They looked very tasty… (Curse you gluten, my kryptonite!)

zootopia-big-little-donut

It was brief, but it was awesome.  A perfect way to celebrate a movie that has been so momentous for me (and for millions of others).  I’m still giddy about it.  To get a chance to interact with the creators and express how moving the film is and share even a smiggen of what I’ve professed was very exciting and fulfilling.  A day I will long remember.

Rest of our day was spent at the Getty Villa (also drove along Highway 1 to get there, and saw the infamous Santa Monica Beach along with a catching a glimpse of interesting and modern beach houses in passing) and eating some delicious food.  And, of course, the big drive back, returning long after the sun was, once again, over the horizon.   (Actually it was the next day by the time we arrived home… been kinda tired today, understandably…)

 

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Philosophy Tuesday

February 21, 2017

This is a philosophical statement.  It is intended to spark thinking and examining.

Consider for a moment the idea of rules.

Consider that rules are not the great inhibitor,  or a restraint, or an attack on choice.

Consider that we make rules to empower us.

Consider that we make rules to empower us to get that which we want in life.

If you play, or enjoy watching, a sport, then this concept is very clear.

Because a sport is nothing but rules.

The first rule of a sport is often something like “it is more important to have the ball over there than it is to have it over here.”

Then we create rules to limit how you can get the ball over there.

Sometimes very intricate and amazing rules, with paragraphs and sub-paragraphs:

“Added new Rule 6.03(a)(4) regarding a batter who throws his bat and hits the catcher.  Exception now applies to Rules 6.03(a)(3) and 6.06(a)(4). Comment now applies to 6.03(a)(3) and 6.06(a)(4).”

That is one rule from two pages of rule changes made in a single year to a 170 page rule book.

Deliciously intricate.

And we enter 100% voluntarily into them.

Why?  Because it’s fun.

We’ve created a ruleset to empower us to have a great time.

It is, of course, the same with all games, not just sports.

And it is the same within our personal lives and our communities.

Like a rather common rule that says “you can’t just walk up and take someone’s stuff.”

Why did we create that rule?

Because it empowers us to get what we want in life:  The opportunity to focus on things other than combat training, being at ease and not always on guard, security, a life of less stress, one full of ease, where we can be and playful and joyous and waltz around with abandon.

Rules that empower us.

And we even task others to maintain and insist on  those rules.

We create umpires and referees.

We send them out onto the field, or onto the broader scale of our community, or the grand scale of our country, to maintain those rules.

Rules allow us to operate together to strive forwards together.

We can look at our intentions, be fully grounded in what’s actually happening, and create our rules accordingly.

Errata is very possible, if need be.  Even for a league that’s been around for 114 years.

All towards empowerment of who we are, and what we want:

Lives full of health, ease, grace, safety, love, enjoyment, fulfillment, expression, passion, fun, and peace of mind.

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Philosophy Tuesday

January 10, 2017

This is a philosophical statement.  It is intended to spark thinking and examining.

Community is a creation.

There is nothing automatic about community.  There is no critical mass where gathering enough bodies together causes a chain reaction and BOOM! community appears in a preordained way.  There is no community in the cosmos.  Communities are declared into existence.  Communities are a stating that “lo, here there will be community.”

From that great nothing, everything is shaped.

And it does not stop there.

Every minute, of every day, in every action and every reaction, we are continually creating and re-created our community(ies).  Community persists only through this continual renewal.  Who we are being and how we act every day in our lives forms a part of the creation called our community, in all of the communities we participate in:  our cities, our families, our workplaces, our friendship circles, our fandoms, our countries, our fellow commuters, the people in the elevator… all of our communities.

How we treat one another, what we value, how we nurture our tribe, how we regard others, and the results and outcomes and fallout of our daily lives all derive from that created community.

Here’s the thing… even without intention, we are still creating.

Many of our views and actions on community, and how we operate, how we interact, how we live, are inherited, uncritically, from those around us.  They come from what we’ve heard.   They come from what we’ve observed.  We read between the lines and make decisions.  We take it in and, like the good social animals we are, we mould ourselves to fit the context around us.

And so we know how the world works, we think/say, and we act accordingly.  Without even thinking about it.  And we recreate and reinforce that very same inherited world.

Even if it’s not the world we would want to create for ourselves.

Yet, if community is a creation, and it is being recreated all the time, and we are the actors of that creation… then something quite remarkable is possible.

It begins by taking direction of that creation.  It takes intent and action.  It takes a conscious effort.  It cannot be passive.  It takes engagement.  It takes wielding the extreme power given to us through these continual acts of creation.

We have a say.  We have a huge say over who we are, what ways of being we wish to nurture, and how we will act in our community(ies).  We have a say what community can be, through our speaking of “this is how it is”, through our leading by example, and through the vibes we give off.  Our creation becomes part of the context of others.

The great news about community being a creation, and always being created on a moment to moment basis, is that we’re already, largely, doing the work.  We’re even good at it.  We’ve been doing it for a long time.  Maybe we haven’t been aware of it, but we have been.

With intention, we can step up, reach out, engage broadly, and work to work to inspire and mold the types of communities that our central, authentic, selves truly want.