Thursday, 31 March 2011

Architectural Lighting Design as a Work of Art: Painting with Light

Lighting Design in Space: The Cityscape, The Bridge: Art by Clara Song
Original artwork, oil on canvas paintings by Clara Song, artist.
2011 @
The process of lighting design in a space often resembles painting a picture.

Recently I was looking at paintings from one of our local artists, Clara Song, and I was struck at the notion that the process of creating a picture is similar to that of lighting design.

First you choose a focal point, the important feature of your painting or space, the one the eye drawn to immediately, and then you emphasize it, make it stand out. As in painting, lighting effects are often about contrast and intensity ratios. In The Cityscape the eye wanders immediately to the building at the end as it stands out in stark contrast to the other buildings doused in various shades of grey with hints of colour. The end building feels like a destination.

Now, imagine you have a lobby area where the reception desk is at the far end of the space. By using the same technique and making the area around the reception desk much brighter than the other areas, the visitors to the space would know immediately where to go. This does not mean the other walls in the space need to be boring; they, as the buildings in the picture, just have to be of a lesser importance.

The Bridge is in stark contrast with the background. In the painting the choice of colours accentuates the bridge. In lighting the effect would be achieved by back lighting the object with a hint of light to the front to show the details of the object. If only back lighting is used the object will be in silhouette and will lose all definition on the front.

In The Piazza the important area is surrounded literally by lights. Though, the other elements in the picture are still teaming with interest and life, they are not as important as the group of people in the square. A similar technique can be used in a space, where the most important part is somewhere in the middle: meeting points are prime examples. It may not be feasible to surround the element with torches or streetlamps, but one way is to light the surrounding vertical surfaces such as columns and creating a space within a space.

The Flowers painting uses a similar technique as The Cityscape, just with colour. Here by layering the colours depths is created and a focal point. Light can be used in the same way. It can lengthen and shorten a space by lighting surfaces and objects selectively. By-the-way colour and light are interlinked. By introducing colour on the surfaces it will alter the appearance of the light. If done properly colour can emphasize the effect.

The idea of painting with light is to create spaces that evoke emotions in us. Emotions such as excitement, feeling safe, calm, stimulated and many others. Not all spaces can be as dramatic as Clara’s paintings, most spaces have to fulfill a function as well, but nevertheless all spaces should have some elements of drama. Architectural lighting will effectively set a mood and will help you to transform your spaces inside and outside. The art of painting with light is to combine the drama with the necessary light levels, safety requirements, energy guidelines and costs limitations. With light you can create your own canvas.

Martina Ernst
Wo-Built Inc. - Innovative Design and Build

Flowers, by Clara Song - original artwork, oil on canvas paintingsPainting with Light: The Piazza, The Flowers: Art by Clara Song
Original artwork, oil on canvas paintings by Clara Song, artist.
2011 @

Clara Song lives in Toronto and she exhibits her paintings at Agio Ristorante in Corso Italia, Toronto.

For more information on these paintings and other works, please call 647-348-4814.

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Why Do We Use Facebook in Our Construction Business?

Wo-Built Page on Facebook Social Networking ServiceScreenshot: Wo-Built's Info Page on the Facebook Social Networking Service

Facebook helps you connect and share with the people in your life.
Facebook | Facebook
We facebook!!!!

Why do we use Facebook in our business? For the same reason we use Twitter, LinkedIn, Blog and other social media avenues. To create a buzz around our design and build business, Wo-Built, the construction industry as a whole, and to entice women to become more interested in having a career in the building trades.

About a year ago we started embracing social media as the way to connect to people. We are a company that is strongly community focused and many of our initiatives are designed to help women, the community and the environment. But we need the world to get to know us, what we stand for; of course we also want to show off our achievements. In the past due to our social mission the written press was interested in reporting about us and though this was a great endorsement, it is not constant exposure. Social media gives us the chance to update on an ongoing basis.

Facebook is a great tool for us. A) It is easy to use. B) It allows us to have a page for friends for special messages and a page that is visible to everyone. It permits us to stay in contact with friends quickly, by dropping them a line, comment on their posts or just liking what they said. It lets us dialog with our friends and hopefully helps them understand what the company is about. We had marketing successes with Facebook; people found us and called us for renovation and construction estimates.

One of the most interesting aspects of Facebook and Twitter for me is that I can research and view interesting up to date articles and pictures about art and architecture, the green technology and other design related subjects that friends and strangers are willing to share. For me it is a learning tool.

It is also a great way of letting everyone know about events. We have just posted our next workshop event “How to Design and Build a Green Home Addition or Custom Home” on Facebook. We invite you to be our friend on “wo built” or like us on “wo-built” and of course we would love to see you at our event. Feel free to RSVP.

Martina Ernst
Wo-Built Inc. - Innovative Design and Build

Also you could be interested in reading: Facebook Versus LinkedIn - Which Social Networking Site Is Better For Your Construction Business? Advantages Of Using Facebook Places For Your Construction Company Social Media satire 3: The construction sector laughs off the past and looks to the future with Social Media!

Connect to some Wo-Built's Facebook friends: Hard Hatted Women, Independent Women Homeowners, Tomboy Tools Canada, Moxie Trades, Women in Construction

Thursday, 24 March 2011

Promoting Young Women

Women in Information Technology Management networking event, Ryerson University, collage, poster, wobinna, by wobuilt.comCollage: Women in Information Technology Management
Networking Night, Ryerson University, March 23, 2011
Credit: Women in ITM
Yesterday I was invited to a networking night arranged by Women in Information Technology Management at the Ted Rogers School of Management. The purpose was to introduce female students to networking. The challenges women face in IT are not dissimilar to that in Construction and we are happy to help women where we can. Both fields are still seen as non-traditional for women. But the meeting gave me a lot of hope that times are changing as many of the young women seemed determined to make their careers in the field.

Another sign that times are changing: today an article in the Toronto StarA whirlwind tour of the trades – describes the new construction trades techniques program at George Brown College which attracted two ladies who wanted to make their careers in the trades, but had not made up their minds to which trade.

At Wo-Built we are encouraged by these signs as they bode well for the future. The more women will be trained by the schools the more will stay the course and become experienced and well educated professionals who in turn will be role models for future generations.

I also believe that both the IT and the Construction Industry have to play an important part in promoting these young women. In the case of the construction industry employers have to be willing to break through the preconceived ideas and hire these young women on the strength of their performance during their schooling. In the construction industry we will face a rapid trades shortage in the next few years as the older generation will retire.

For many years the industry did not have to implement widespread apprenticeship programs and make the commitment of systematically training the new generation. This will need to change if a disruption in the quality and skill level of the trades is to be avoided. As the trades have difficulties attracting boys as well, courting young women may be the answer to the problem.

At Wo-Built we see ourselves as a stepping stone in young women’s careers, giving them the first on-site experience at our larger construction sites. During the building of additions and larger renovations they help and observe many of the trades and get hands on experience.

In the IT industry women may not face the same physical dimension as in construction, but what I glimpsed yesterday they also face challenges. What I can say to women in both industries: find something you love doing and own it.

Martina Ernst
Wo-Built Inc. - Innovative Design and Build

You would also be interested to read:
Wo-Built: Celebrating International Women’s Day - Encouraging Women in Construction

Wo-Built: A Great Evening Celebrating CAWIC's (Canadian Women in Construction) 5th Anniversary

Wo-Built: Wo-Built Is Talking to George Brown about Training Courses for Women in the Finishing Trades

Share Your Thoughts: Why do so few women choose the skilled trades as a career?

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

What Do These Three Renovation Projects Have In Common?

comparison of three renovation projects: classic, ranch and tower, by wo-built incCollage: A Comparison of Three Renovation Projects:
the Classic, the Ranch and the Tower,
What Do These Projects Have in Common?
2011 @

A comparison of three renovation projects: the Classic, the Ranch and the Tower:

1. The Classic - Design and Build Project
A second floor was added on a one storey bungalow and over the garage. The first floor was gutted and rearranged into open plan concept.

2. The Ranch - Design and Build Project
Second storey was added to one storey bungalow. The client wanted a ranch style house with large overhangs. We were able to achieve this without compromising the daylight in the interior spaces.

3. The Tower - Design and Build Project
Tiny one storey bungalow was transformed effectively into a three storey building with a large loft studio overlooking the floor below. The walls and the foundation of the existing building could not support the new structure and a large steel structure had to be built to take the load.

What do these three projects have in common? On first glance the three projects look very different, from traditional to modern, and do not seem to have a lot in common.

However, they all are:
  • Design and build Projects
  • Classified as home renovations
  • Primarily a second storey addition
  • Candidates for Committee of Adjustment hearings
Or all of the projects have:
  • A new build area is approximately 1000 - 1200 square feet
  • Started off as a small bungalow
  • Extensive renovations on existing floors
  • Medium priced finishes
  • An emphasis on daylight
Interesting what is also similar are the cost and construction time:
  • Design costs (including existing structure investigation, engineers and permit) of $12,000 to $20,000
  • Construction cost between $300,000 to $400,000 including taxes
  • A construction time of approx 6-8 months
Hence in conclusion, regardless of style, with a project of this size with extensive existing floor renovations it is most likely that most of this list will be similar.

If you have your own vision or version of a project of this size we can help in determining if the basic facts of the list holds true. The charm of a project lies in the variety within the list.

Martina Ernst
Wo-Built Inc. - Innovative Design and Build

You also can take a look on our slide-show presentation: Large Renovations And What You Need To Know

Thursday, 17 March 2011

Agio’s New Brunch: Community Starts at Home

AGIO restaurant Toronto Corso Italia, Agio's brunch, by wobuilt.comPhoto Collage: Agio’s New Brunch
AGIO Ristorante: 1351 St. Clair Ave. West
Corso Italia, Toronto ON M6E 1C5
Tel: 647-348-4814
2011 @

No business is an island. Profound but true, businesses are located in a business community, they use the services of this community, they form alliances and friendships, they help each other. Hence we are happy to announce that one of our friends is having a new offering.

AGIO Ristorante in Corso Italia, a favourite lunch and dinner spot of ours, will now be serving Italian Brunch on Saturdays and Sundays starting April 2nd, 2011 from 8:00 am – 3:00 pm, price from $6.99 CAD.

As we mentioned before Agio
is an Italian restaurant with a twist. Run by Owner / Chef Marino and his wife Clara; the food is excellent, truly 4 star. The twist is that they are Korean with a passion for Italian Cuisine. So sometimes you will glimpse a touch of Asia in the composition, not quite fusion, but with a twist. The dishes are high style Italian, but the atmosphere is relaxed, warm, friendly and very welcoming. You feel immediately at home, but presented with food that rivals formal Italian restaurants.

We already sampled two brunch dishes, a Frittata Agio-Agio (vegetarian) and Eggs Martinari (eggs with tomato sauce and pesto) both of them extremely tasty and well worth getting up for on the weekend. Also on the menu will be different Panini.

Last year we celebrated our 'Achievement Lunch' at AGIO’s and Marino’s Osso Bucco was to die for. Thank you, Marino, you are a truly great chef, and Agio is a great part of the Corso Italia in Toronto.

Wo-Built's Team
Wo-Built Inc. - Innovative Design and Build

wobuilt's blog: Building the Friendship of Neighbours in Business

wobuilt's blog: Our Achievement Lunch

wobuilt's blog: A Little Culinary Gem in Corso Italia: Sunnyville Grill

wobuilt's blog: Our New Location Is at the Vibrant Corso Italia Neighborhood

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Entering the Next Phase of Our Brand: Boutique, Green, Commercial Contractors

Wo-Built Brand: Boutique, Green, Commercial ContractorsWo-Built - Building the Next Phase of the Brand
2011 @
When we started the business all we had was the name: Wo-Built (short for women built) and the determination to help women in the construction industry.

Note to anyone considering names for businesses: The letter 'W' will always list towards at the bottom of directories. Next time we will start with an 'A' in front somehow.

We had no marketing material, no logo, not even a clear idea of a tag line, but we had to get out there and start hitting the drums. No projects – no mentoring. So we produced quickly simple business cards from a template and a couple of months later bought a logo idea from a website which we incorporated.

The tag lines the vision builder was created and, of course, renovations with a woman’s touch. After a few months we developed the logo figure which we lovingly named WoBinna. Later WoBinna became the name of our anime.

The logo embodied what we were about, a women run company building our clients’ visions for their homes and commercial spaces and building our social missions for women and the community. When we first started we were aiming for renovation work to be able to employ women. As the company is 100% women owned the tag line 'renovations with a woman’s touch' was appropriate.

Fast forward 3 years and the brand has gained in depth. We should have realized that with both Elida’s and mine extensive experience with large projects, building home additions would be natural. Also with both of our design backgrounds aiming for interesting designs is a given. Hence, Wo-Built is becoming a boutique design and build company which aims to produce interesting projects for our clients, both residential and commercial. We are still committed to helping women in construction, but we are also committed to green. We are entering the next phase, the niche growing phase.

Over the next few months we will revisit our logo and the taglines to see how the new phase can be visualized and still incorporate our original values. Luckily our corporate colour is already green.

Martina Ernst
Wo-Built Inc. - Innovative Design and Build

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Celebrating International Women’s Day - Encouraging Women in Construction

International Women’s Day 2011 Celebrating, Encouraging Women in Construction, by wobuiltCollage: Happy International Women's Day 2011
Celebrating 100 years of Women's Achievements
#IWD2011 + #internationalwomensday
2011 @
It doesn’t happen often, but sometimes it does. Recently I answered a call and the gentleman on the other end politely asked if he could talk to my boss or partner. I was so taken back that I momentarily was lost for words. Finally, I politely counseled the gentleman that I was the boss and that the company is 100% female owned. He tried to apologize by saying that he thought I was the blond young fluffy thing at reception. Some people do not know when to stop.

As amusing the episode is, it shows that we in our society still fight certain stereotyping, especially in a more male dominated industry such as construction. We started Wo-Built to help women to have a career in the construction industry especially in the building trades. We felt that women were at a disadvantage due to prevailing perceptions. So we wanted Wo-Built to be a stepping stone in their career.

Today is the 100th anniversary of the International Women’s Day celebrating women’s achievements and accomplishments. We have made immense strides over the last 100 years in gaining equality, visibility and status in business, but further progress has to be made. And in the developed world it has often very little to do with external influences.

We are looking for one important aspect in the women we help, the right attitude. The attitude is to be the best you can be and not because you want to impress others. You want to be the best for yourself. This is the attitude that will also help every woman to make it in business. It often is the woman’s own prejudices, preconceived ideas and self-esteem issues that help to provide the ‘glass ceiling’.

We have met many competent and professional women in the construction industry, all of them are equal to their male counterparts. These are women who love what they are doing and through this become experts in their fields. They demand respect, a very important attribute in business.

The International Women’s Day theme this year is: Equal access to education, training and science and technology: Pathway to decent work for women. Even though this is a right in Canada, women still have to claim this right in higher numbers. We will encourage any woman who wants to.

Martina Ernst
Wo-Built Inc. - Innovative Design and Build

Thursday, 3 March 2011

Light – the Music of Architecture

light music architecture, by wobuiltCollage: Light – the Music of Architecture
2011 @
We all know that music touches our emotions. But so does light. Its use can make us feel joy, awe, it can lift our spirits, it can calm us down, it even can inspire us, it can bore us, make us feel safe or threatened or help us feel romantic. Of course there is a functional component to light, it makes us see our environment. Its level of intensity helps us work, play and function.

Lighting design is the art to produce the right light level with the appropriate emotion for the space. It would not be productive for your staff to feel compelled to dancing when entering the office or have audiences fall asleep during a drama performance, but it is important to combine interest and function in each space. Some space might be the equivalent of adagio, others allegro. Every space needs the right amount of drama.

It seems that the majority of noteworthy light comments come from either architects or poets. My personal favorites:
  • "Light is the attempt to give dreams to somebody, who doesn't have them."
    Massimiliano Fuksas, Italian architect

  • "If the spaces we create do not move the heart and mind, then they are surely only addressing one part of their function. Any engineer can quantify light by which to read a book, but what about the poetic dimension of natural light: the changing nature of an overcast sky, the discovery of shade, the lightness of a patch of sunlight?"
    Sir Norman Foster, British architect
Lighting design was my first passion in architecture. Without light and its controls there is no architecture, no spaces, no buildings. Bad lighting can destroy spaces. Good lighting enhances them.

I believe lighting design is necessary for all commercial spaces, since in addition to the quality of the light it is also important to control it properly to save energy. But it has also a role in the home. The quality of life can be enhanced greatly by lighting in a new building, addition or renovation.

In all of our projects we offer our expertise as lighting experts to provide quality spaces using both daylight and artificial sources and their controls. Sometimes I feel like a conductor, the orchestra are the light fixtures, the sun and the daylight.

Martina Ernst
Wo-Built Inc. - Innovative Design and Build

Wo-Built's Development of a Second Floor Addition Project 2008Wo-Built's Second Floor Addition Project
"...allowing plenty of daylight to penetrate to the lower level as the staircase has a very open design."
Photo © 2008-2011 Wo-Built Inc.

Wo-Built Inc: Design + Build Construction Company: The Development of Our Addition Project

architectr: architecture news aggregation engine

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

My Idea of a GlassHouse: the PolygHome

PolygHome glass home, National Home Show Toronto 2011, photo-collage by wo-built inc.Photo-Collage: National Home Show 2011
Glass Home, Built by Concept PolygHome with Interiors by Debby Travis
2011 ©
twitpic 2011 @

Large beam spans, lots of glazing, open concept, double height ceiling and the feeling of space – my sort of glasshouse and if asked, would live in it in a heartbeat. I must admit, during the National Home Show I went back several times and let myself dream a little bit, of course in the right setting such as a lake front, mountains views and other wonderful areas.

Some of the features of the bioclimatic architecture house, the prefabrication, the use of recycled wood, the warm/cool air across the curtain walls to minimize heat loss and gain, the use of natural ventilation, sun heat gain storage and rainwater recovery make this concept a very attractive green design.

In our Dream Home Contest: Conservatory write-up we looked at a concept that had satellite buildings for living around a large conservatory. The PolygHome House is the closest I have seen so far.

This house needs a large setting, but a scaled down version for city could be possible and we would love to try and design it for you.

Martina Ernst
Wo-Built Inc. - Innovative Design and Build

Wobinna’s Dream Home Contest: Submission #1 Conservatory

PolygHomes - Concept PolygHome - Bioclimatic architecture houses

The Concept PolygHome PDF Presentation:
PolygHome: A Bioclimatic Home! + "Range of Vision" with PolygHome. + An Ecological Structure.