Architecture Monday

This is cool.  In a mountain village well known for its tofu, a new commercial kitchen that allows for the local families to not only hone their craft, but do so in a food-grade-certificate environment.

Gently stepping down to follow both the landscape and the adjacent river, this is no typical industrial-food ‘factory’.  With its assemblage of sawtooth roofs and windows all around, it’s the very definition of light-filled and keeps the cooks connected to the community.  And vice-versa, opening up this region’s traditions for all to see, whether local or a new tourist clientele.  Like a series of terraces, the stepping nature of the building and site also allows for gardens and greenery all the way down, leading to a tofu-tastic tasting room.

Count me as a fan of this.  Great use of the the program, matching the process of tofu making to with a long and linear building that is further enhanced by using the natural topography of the site.  Add in a great use of elegant wood construction with plenty of glass and the rich tones of the stone floor that’s nicely mirrored in the kitchen’s counters.  Great stuff.

Tofu Factory by DnA

Philosophy Tuesday

Sometimes we have to deal with what’s in front of us… the elephant in the room, and all that.  And so, to that end…

I assert there’s a growing weirdness developing towards the notion and idea of “freedom.”

As in, an incredibly reductive view that leans heavily towards the 5-year-old mentality of freedom: “You can’t tell me what to do!”  (stomps foot)  “You’re not the boss of me!”

Which, in actuality, is not freedom.  Amusingly, quite the opposite.  For if we automatically rail against a suggestion, a request, a recommendation, an order, a rule, or a perceived limit – whether imposed by someone specific or in general – in a “I will never do what my they tell me,” kind of way, then we’ve eliminated much of our actual freedom because we are now hemmed in to only do things that are the opposite of what they tell us – or even what we think they would tell us.  We’ve killed choice.  We’ve killed our agency.  And we’ve killed our ability to take on that which betters ourselves and our community.

We do nothing but become impetuous (and, often, petulant as well).

I could take this to level of caricature, in a “Hey, don’t stab yourself in the eye with a pencil.” / “Don’t tell me how to live my life” -stab- kind of way.  But I needn’t (though I guess I just did).  Instead, I only want to push ourselves to recognize what it is we are truly resisting, and what impact that resistance is having on us and on the many communities we profess to be a part of.

That is it.  An invitation to put on our adult pants, look at ourselves, find perspective, be present, and aim towards true freedom:  the freedom to be, to adapt, to consider, to choose, to build things forward, and to enjoy peace of mind, no matter the circumstances.

Architecture Monday

Take one part sculpture, one part landscape, and one part building, put together, stir gently, and pour out onto an urban plaza, Voila!  You’ve got yourself a remarkably bold space for contemplation.

Rising out from a reflecting pool, there’s no missing these sloping and gem-like forms.  From afar they act as a hill or abstract rock, face, edging one side of the urban square.  Closer in, they are more like sculptural elements, with the building itself being split to fit within many of the forms, all connected via glass walkways that allow the water to flow freely.

Inside the geologic forms continue, both rising from the floor or pushing down from overhead to create a nice complex interior geometry.  It’s a balancing act, but it remains mostly in the realm of “visually engaging” without devolving into “cacophony of random stuff.”  Little bits of light and water play out continually as you travel, in a ritual fashion, from space to space.

I dig it (pun semi intended).  Something inventive and playful married with old tradition.  Very nifty.

Al Musallah Prayer Hall by CEBRA

(Who also did the Iceberg apartments in Aarhus!  See them mid-way in this post here…)

Architecture Monday

Another wonderful schoolhouse and mini-library tonight, harnessing design to create something vital and beautiful!

Designed in the aftermath of, and thus to withstand, a cyclone, it’s no bunker of a design.  Full of air and light, built by community hands, and using the robust structure to its fullest to create a great and interesting space within.

The bit about the library is doubly interesting, for this school is in Vanuatu, an island country where humidity levels are often around 99%.  And so the library is nestled up a ladder under the ridge of a black roof, using the sun to heat the air, thus increasing its moisture capacity while also causing convection which is used to continually pull the moisture out of the building.  It’s a small thing, but it helps the books last longer, while also creating a great reading nook.

Great design is never out of place, and should never be considered, nor need to be, a luxury.  Sweet work here.

Ranwas School by CAUKIN Studio

Architecture Monday

With my brain being a bit on the fritz, a good book is what the hypothetical doctor ordered.  And this wonderful library in Muyinga, Burundi fits the bill for a lovely place to grab and read a book.

There’s a lot of from local culture and the conditions of the site that went into this building, used in a great way that are both functional and fanciful.  Right from the start you can see it in the locally-fabricated compressed earth block masonry which allows the building to match rich colour of the surrounding earth and tree trunks.  There is a rhythm to the high-buttressed walls, each perforated to allow for light and cross-ventilation, and that further extends into the generous covered walkway.  At night, the whole assemblage glows like a lantern.

Inside, it just gets downright sweeter.  It’s lofty and inviting, with a great connection to the outdoors and steps that become bookshelves.  But the piece de resistance is the hammock suspended overhead… what a great reading nook!

I love it.  A great example of learning from the vernacular, using and building skills in the community, and creating a wonderful space through straightforward good design and a few touches of whimsy.  Great stuff.

The Library of Muyinga by BC Architects

Philosophy Tuesday

As I’ve noted here before, there is great clarity that comes from comparing who we proclaim ourselves to be (or to be about), and looking at what our actions, or the results thereof, say about what’s ACTUALLY going on.  And what’s going on right now is really showing us a very stark view of how authorities view and treat people, to the tune of 422+ incidents of overreach, brutality, and aggression* that have hurt, injured, and even killed people they supposedly swore an oath to protect.

And with that comes a hard look at how we let things get to this point.  And what to do about it.  Be ready, for the tactics and fallacies are going to get deployed real fast, in thick clouds (and yes, that imagery is not chosen by accident), trying to excuse these actions.

Especially when it may be coming from within.  So let’s look at one of these fallacies in detail, because by doing so we can both recognize it when being deployed against us, and moreover inoculate ourselves from ourselves, from our own internal monologues that may also attempt to dismiss, or minimize, some of all that is going on.  And it is the No True Scotsman fallacy:

“No true Scotsman, or appeal to purity, is an informal fallacy in which one attempts to protect a universal generalization from counterexamples by changing the definition in an ad hoc fashion to exclude the counterexample. Rather than denying the counterexample or rejecting the original claim, this fallacy modifies the subject of the assertion to exclude the specific case or others like it by rhetoric, without reference to any specific objective rule – “no true Scotsman would do such a thing”; i.e., those who perform that action are not part of our group and thus criticism of that action is not criticism of the group.” [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/No_true_Scotsman] **

This is, of course, nicely related to the “few bad apples” trope that is so readily trotted out.  (which, by the way, notice A) always only seems to get applied to one side of someone’s preferred group, ie, “our side has only a few bad apples, while the other side I am more than willing to tar with a broad brush and apply a single action/trait to degrade a whole group, and B) ignores that the complete saying is “one bad apple spoils the barrel.”)  But my own variant of it comes in this form:

“No climber/paintballer would ever steal my wallet.”

This comes from my days of playing paintball and, later, going to climbing gyms.  There were times where there were no lockers available, or place to stash something, or should I lock my car, or any of those kind of moments… and my mind would head straight into that fallacy:  “Well, I’m a good person, and I am a paintballer, so therefore paintballers are good, and besides, I’ve met a bunch of them, and they seem all like fun friendly people, so clearly I’ve got nothing to worry about…”  The same went for climbers.  “We’re all cool dudes and dudettes, all is safe.”

Fortunately for me, my wallet, or anything else, was never stolen.  But I’ve known others who have had things “walk away” in those kinds of situations, and I’ve been overcharged or otherwise tricked by paintballers and climbers alike.

This is a great example of what’s known as “positive bias” – instances of our hidden prejudices that favour those we have an affinity for, or an identity towards.  This quick piece on NPR is a great primer.

With these biases we can so easily deceive ourselves.  Especially as often we will do anything to avoid something uncomfortable.  Or to avoid a new truth that challenges us and our reality and our identities.  And this fallacy is an easy one to reach for.

But eating bitter is where true growth can happen.

 

* Keep scrolling in that thread — it’s a long list to get to 422+.  There’s also a spreadsheet here:  https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1YmZeSxpz52qT-10tkCjWOwOGkQqle7Wd1P7ZM1wMW0E/edit#gid=0  All noted and saved for posterity, so that it cannot be forgotten or denied.

** Also, if you aren’t familiar with all of the logical fallacies, they are mightily powerful to learn about.  Here’s one site that does it in a lighthearted fashion:  https://yourlogicalfallacyis.com/  and the more extensive wiki article:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_fallacies

Art Friday

This is an artwork by artist Sonya Clark, named Gold Coast Journey.  Finished in 2016.  It is 5,000 inches of gold wire spun around an ebony spool.  Clark carefully wrapped the wire as a way to measure and try to grasp (and perhaps symbolize) the 5,000 mile distance between Richmond, VA — which was both the seat of the Confederacy and the second largest port for human trafficking, as well as her home at the time — and the Cape Coast of Ghana, also known as the Gold Coast, were millions of people were captured, bought, and brought across the Atlantic Ocean to be sold, abused, and ultimately enslaved into forced hard labour throughout the Americas.

Additional works by Sonya Clark here

Her webpage click here

 

 

It’s Tuesday

I really don’t know what to say.  I don’t know what more could be said that already hasn’t been said, and by many voices and in many more eloquent ways.  And maybe it isn’t a time for me to say much, but instead to listen.

And to that, listen… if this anger is a surprise to you, then I assert you have very likely been either willingly disengaged or deliberately dismissive and smug.  There is a lot of shit happening to people for no (real, justified) reason, a lot of disproportionate infliction of suffering, a lot of power plays and asshattery and sycophancy and pathological hording and so much treatment of others as nothing but pawns and expendable nothings, led by psychopaths who have closed themselves off to human connection.

I even spoke about it just a couple of weekends ago, about myself being table flippy from all the f-ed up parts of our systems that have been made worse and put onto stark display during the ‘natural’ event known as a pandemic.  And how much of that is supported by and held in place by our systems and how much we need to step up and speak up and especially to march to the ballot box and get our hands dirty in wrenching those systems back to serve us and not us serve a system that is designed to only serve a few.  And to that I still hold – step up, wrest control, and point things towards a world that works for everyone, with no one left out.

(And, of course, step one is to recognize that everyone includes EVERYONE.  There are no “that group/race/nationality/fandom/whatever over there are lazy or stupid or evil or lesser than or etc.”  I often think that should go without saying, but, of course as it turns out, it isn’t so automatic.  To many people, their so-called superiority is so much a part of their identity and they are willing to, and even hoping and wanting to, inflict and harm and fight and kill for it.  This is immoral, corrupt, depraved, and an absolute sin.)

But even then I must remember that I get to speak here from a platform of privilege.  I’m table flippy about many shitty things and about people being shitty, but some of those really shitty things I have the absolute luxury of not having to face.  Of not having to worry about.  Of not even having to think about them if I choose not to.

And so there is the moment to choose.  Choose to listen, to think about them, to reckon, and to support the voices, the actions, and the people who are leading things towards equity and justice.  With an absolute emphasis on the listening part, and to listen hard.  To read accounts like the one below, one filled with nothing one might consider extreme or outright cinematic, but the general, daily, so-common-it’s-in-the-background-but-it’s-always-there-like-a-sword-over-your-head experience of living in a system that is geared to make you and keep you a lessor (and potentially dead).  I likely won’t ever have this experience, but I can imagine it, and I must imagine it and listen to it and let it in.  So that I can be a more open person for having done it.  To ensure I account for any of my hidden biases (and remove them wherever I can).  And to be rightfully angered so that I never step over this kind of shit and let it slide.

This needs to end.

Please read this account by Asha Tomlinson, as reported on the CBC:  https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/raising-young-black-man-1.5594179.