Thursday, 13 September 2012

The Power of Imagination Knows No Boundaries

Emily Schaefer - Fluff, acrylic on panel painting
Emily Schaefer: Fluff, 2011
Acrylic on Panel, 24" x 30", Private Collection
Telephone Booth Gallery | Emily Schaefer's collection of paintings

Imagination is very important to push the boundaries and I believe the world needs more of it.
The following is an excerpt from my speech to Toastmasters.

the faculty of imagining, or of forming mental images or concepts of what is not actually present to the senses.

Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited, whereas imagination embraces the entire world, stimulating progress, giving birth to evolution. It is, strictly speaking, a real factor in scientific research.
Albert Einstein

Not just in scientific research, but in very day life. Imagination is very important to push the boundaries and I believe the world needs more of it.

Our imagination is of course influenced a lot by popular culture, recently I watch the remake of Total Recall, set design was a bit Star Wars meets Bladerunner, indicating that even the movie makers are influenced in their imagination on what was before, but since imagination knows no boundaries there is the potential to dream up more original stories. Kids are a great example.

My nephews were visiting and they are at the age where they still act out their imagination and don’t care where it leads them. I get into the door and immediately the 3 year old latched onto my leg and shouts "Aunty Martina, lets play cave, come, come, come …." And off I go, because in their company I can be a silly as I want to be. Refreshing.

Playing with them in their world of monsters, dinosaurs, ghosts, Star Wars and other, it really hit home again that imagination does not know any boundaries: ghosts can shoot laser guns, they were special ones, they could be held up with ghost fields, our cave people had high tech lighters, we rode bats as big as ships to get around (lassoing them was a task).

We imagined whole alternative worlds during playing. With, I might say, very little props. And the beauty is that even though their pictures in their mind where different than mine, but we could bring together stories. And the story evolved and developed. It’s like brain-storming.

But somehow as we grow older we do this less and less. We are mired in a world of reality, having to be realistic. But I think having a great imagination is important in life, I chose after all to have architectural training. Having to go through design processes you need to look at situations from different point of views, to think outside the box, so to speak.

I can only speak from my personal experience, and I always had a vivid imagination, sometimes it got me into trouble, sometimes I push the envelope too much, sometimes I rush into things because I imagined great outcomes, but I would feel lost without my imagination.

I am not an advocate of unlimited day dreaming, or living in a make-believe world, but I believe if we as a society would put a little more emphasis on encouraging innocent play as adults, flights of fancy and being able to push the envelope with which on the surface might be "stupid" ideas I believe we could move the world forward.

Imagination is more important than knowledge. And I would like to encourage everyone just start playing to either use or rediscover your imagination. Write stories, they don’t have to be about goblins, fairies and giants or other make believe creatures, they could be about day-to-day life, solving problems or just flight of fancy.

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

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Building Resilience into Design

Collage: Palm trees in Storm v.s. House in Storm
Image Credit: MS Office ClipArt: Palm trees blowing in the wind of a hurricane + House in Storm

Time to rethink the "Essence of Sustainability"
Back in September of 2011, Cindy Gilbert, faculty and program coordinator for the Minneapolis College of Art and Design's fully online Sustainable Design Program posted a feature article on The Living Principles blog entitled “The Essence of Sustainability.”

In the article, which seemed to have been partly inspired by her Ride the Talk cycling trip, Gilbert questions conventional notions of sustainable design and offers an alternative metric: resilience.

"What is left after you’ve peeled off the eco-groovy labels and unwrapped the post-consumer recycled-content packaging? Will the product underneath stand the test of time? Will the business you run survive the next recession? In a word, are they resilient?"
~ Cindy Gilbert
The Living Principles: Feature: The Essence of Sustainability
Originally published on MCAD Sustainable Design Blog

We think Ms. Gilbert is onto something. The vast majority of what human beings design is disposable at best. What we consider "durable" still cannot compare with nature’s resilience. Be they systems, structures or products, our best designs are still hopelessly fragile when compared to nature.

Ms. Gilbert uses the examples of cattails and palm trees swaying in the wind. Here we see the genius of flexible materials able to withstand tremendous forces (even hurricane force winds) and yet prove rigid enough to serve the purposes for which they were designed (evolved).

How do we actually design for resilience?

The question is, then, how do we actually design for resilience? And is resilience really designed in nature? Or, does it evolve? If the latter, do we have any hope in mimicking the "genius" of nature’s designs, considering human time-frames, resource limitations and productivity requirements outstrip evolutions "slow and steady wins the race" modus operandi?

Intelligent design v.s. evolution in nature?

Intelligent design v.s. evolution in nature? It makes little difference to Peapod Life. Practically speaking, things are BUILT. So building resilience into both inception and evolution of design is paramount.

The bottom-up approach

This bottom-up approach is the key to Wo-Built’s success and the hallmark of its new Peapod Life initiative. Like nature, it has to work. To work, it must be built from the ground up. To last, it must withstand elements A, B, C, etc. To withstand the elements, the design must endure.

Wo-Built / Peapod is about design and build—two activities intimately interwoven—just like nature.

Attila Lendvai
VP of Strategic Development
Wo-Built Inc. - Innovative Design and Build

Thursday, 6 September 2012

Get Answers to Your Home Renovation and Design Dilemmas: September 8

We are going to give a talk about "Renovations and what you need to know" ...


We are glad to announce our participation in the Community Day held by the St Clair Avenue Baptist Church this Saturday, September 8 at 1 pm.

Home Reno & Design Help by Wo-Built Inc

When: Saturday, September 8, 2012
Time: 1 pm - 2 pm
Where: St. Clair Avenue Baptist Church
152 Wychwood Avenue, Toronto ON M6C 2T2
Get a map & TTC directions

We are going to give a talk about "Renovations and what you need to know - how good planning and thorough design will make the renovation process easier".

Bring your photos and questions.

Come join us and get the answers to your home renovation and design dilemmas in a friendly and informal session!

For details please check out the facebook page: St. Clair Avenue Baptist Church Community

Five Things to Remember when Making Your Old Bungalow New Again
Fall Home Design Workshop Series: Get the Answers to Your Home Renovation and Design Dilemmas

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

No place for an all-glass addition? Time for “Peapod Light!”

House silhouette and tree design
Image: Plants inside Conventional House
Image Credit: MS Office ClipArt: House silhouette and tree design

Peapod Life: Beyond traditional hydroponics, Peapod Life is a living and breathing addition to your home. The custom designed items are multipurpose: it's a usable living space, a living wall and window garden, a source for solar power and a method for collecting rainwater. Essentially, you create your very own mini-ecosystem yielding edible, medicinal, fragrant and ornamental plants tailored to your lifestyle.
Green Benefit: locally-sourced organic food, a reduction in electricity and water consumption
Cost: Peapod Life costs about the same as a comparably-sized standard edition.
Corporate Knights: Guest Post: Best of Green Living Show 2012 by Erin Poeta

Recently we were asked if the Peapod Life concept could be integrated with a more conventional building method rather than a complete glass enclosure.

It’s a good question, since an all-glass aesthetic may not always work; whether due to the application required, lot layout, and many other factors.

Still, the short answer is yes. With some adjustments, we can build a kind of “Peapod Light” into just about any conventional building.

To quickly recap, Peapod Life integrates energy generation and conservation with efficient use of natural resources in closed-loop systems to enable food production.

The Peapod Life is easily achieved with an all-glass design. A non-glass design simply limits the size of the ecosystem, the amount of plant material which can be grown inside, and ultimately the quantity of food the system can produce.

So the fundamentals of Peapod Life are still intact; just downsized.
  • A living wall is key for better air quality and the indoor/outdoor lifestyle experience living with your plants. The living wall can support food plants as well as ornamentals.
  • With this approach we still recommend at least 50% windows and skylights to maximize sunlight exposure. Thus, natural ventilation and natural lighting are maintained.
  • Humidity control, which was easier in the full glass construction, dictates that the walls be treated more like bathroom walls. Some materials, such as hardwood flooring, will not be used due to moisture movements.
  • Other green elements, such as rainwater collection and solar collectors should still be considered to maintain the essence of Peapod Life.

Your property may not be able to support an all-glass Peapod Life addition; but as design and build contractors specializing in additions and major renovations, we are confident we can give you the best Peapod Light experience possible, no matter what the constraints of the building project.

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

Check other articles about livable and sustainable design for future:
A New Construction Paradigm for Buildings
Indoor Landscapes: Companies See the Light of a whole New Level of "wow, cool!"
Combining Old and New Technology - The New Paradigm for Building?