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Sigur Symphony

April 9, 2017

Sigur Ros is a band I am not all that familiar with.  Despite my very wide and varied taste in music, they’ve existed on the periphery of my music listening.  Certainly not for any dislike of their work, it’s just never come to pass that I’ve explored their discography to great detail.  Yet, when I heard they were coming to Berkeley I said to myself “Self, you need to go see this concert.”

So I did.  Read the rest of this entry »

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Wonder Wednesday

April 5, 2017

A surprise as you drive along a seemingly innocent road…

The Dragon Sculpture at Borrego Springs

(Photos by Melissa Hootenanny Hamelkins and Slimdandy)

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Philosophy Tuesday

April 4, 2017

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

We talk about great many things in the same way we talk about gravity.

The economy, cultures, institutions, regions, groups and sub-groups (and sub-sub-groups)…  even individuals.  And even about ourselves.

All like gravity.  All like a physical law of the universe that operates in a strict, and predictable and unbending way.

“Gravity,” as the old* humorous saying goes, “is a harsh mistress.”

And perhaps it’s no surprise.

We know things like gravity (including gravity):  inviolable,  primal,  prone to landing us flat on our keister with no hesitation.

But the thing is, that’s just gravity.  It’s not all things.

If we look through a microscope, we can detect no influence of, for example,  “the economy” on the cells or molecules within.

If we look through a telescope, we can detect no influence of “the economy” on the movement of the planets, the stars, galaxies, or anything in the universe at large.

It’s not like gravity at all.

We’ve collapsed something.  We’ve made a mistake of classification and equivalency.

Many things are not as figured out as we speak them to be.

Many things are not as rigid as we speak them to be.

Many things are not as inviolable as we speak them to be.

How fascinating!

When we distinguish between that which is our own construct, and that which is a true law of the universe, things open up.

We gain freedom, and we grant others freedom.

We open the door to possibilities, to connection, and to creation.

And we get to land on our keisters a lot less often.

 

* Ok, not that old, it was from an episode of the Tick… but it was inspired by a classic Heinlein story “The Moon is a Harsh Mistress” in which gravity did play a big role

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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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Wonder Wednesday

March 29, 2017

Let’s take a little trip… just a short journey… to a place not completely unlike our own… yet not at all the same…

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Philosophy Tuesday

March 28, 2017

This is a philosophical post, intended to spark thinking and examining.

Often, things are talked about like they are a light switch.

Either on, or off.

With each side paired off against the other:

You’re either an introvert or an extrovert.

You should always be assertive, otherwise you will be a pushover.

All boys should act and are like X.  All girls should act and are like Y.

You either have to be a complete shut in, or be a wild exhibitionist.

You must follow this precept, else be cast forever in sin.

You’re either with us, or against us.

It’s all you are/it is X or Y.

Whole worlds of divisions.

Light on.  Or light off.

Here’s the thing about lights, though.

They have things called dimmers.

Gradients are possible (and normal).

 

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Architecture Monday

March 27, 2017

This is a fun one.  An H in plan, the design spark of this house is a simple set of cartoon-like house shapes extruded so that they intersect with each other.  Voila!  A house that’s essentially six “kid’s drawing of house”.

There are three things that really allow this simplicity to sing (and keep this project from being kitschy or just odd).  The first is that all the elements are well proportioned.  The second is the slick and smooth metal panels that cover the house, letting the caricaturish forms really read like the simple mental image of a house (almost like a Monopoly house).  Lastly, and quite importantly, is the rich and contrasting woodwork that infills the gabled ends.  The geometric complexity and three dimensionality of the Mondrian-like screen pattern brings both visual depth and interest, and through that contrast it also reinforces the rest of the house’s overall plastic nature.

The carport is where these two cheerfully collide.  Here the rigorously uniform wood frame marches forth to create that cartoon house shape.  And as we try to get a handle on that, the glass roof throws us off kilter and has us do a second or third look.

When you’re working with something this simple, precision, care, and craft in all the elements is required to really make it stick.  Anything out of place becomes readily noticeable, and both corners and where materials meet must be crisp.  All done well here.

Unfortunately there aren’t too many shots of the interior, so I don’t know how well the conceptual playfulness carried inside, and if the resulting spaces are as nice.  I do hope so – architecture is, ultimately, about the quality of space within, and to find these moves not reflected inside would be unfortunate.

Nice project.  House XL by SoNo Architeki.