Wednesday, August 31, 2011


A good wall, as you call it, is a matter of its physical relationship to people and the way it can create space around us, a system of spatial relationship. It is very basic, but something that people, including architects, often forget.

If you look at one wall in front of you, you can perceive it as an object.
If you see it from the side, you understand that it divides space.
If it then connects with another wall, you begin to see it as a container of space.
At that point, the wall functions as a shelter, protection, a sense of security from the elements. This is the most primitive function of a wall, but it is a part of any important architecture. Creating spaces that inspire a sense of well-being is the main goal of the building walls.

A wall must assert its presence in terms of its form and materiality, to make you understand that it has its own power or presence, but it must do so in a way that inspires and does not force or intimidate.
It is important to be forceful without being intimidating or overly elaborate.

by Tadao Ando

Creating Yourself

Life is not about finding yourself,
It's about creating yourself.

George Bernard Shaw

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Beauty in Architectural Simplicity

My architecture is autobiographical.

Underlying all that I have achieved, such as it is,
I share the memories of my father's ranch,
Where I spent my childhood and adolescence.

In my work I have always strived to adapt to the needs of modern living the magic of those remote nostalgic years.
The lessons to be learned from the unassuming architecture of the village and provincial towns of my country have been a permanent source of inspiration.
Such as, for instance, the whitewashed walls;
The peace to be found in patios and orchards;
The colorful streets;
The humble majesty of the village squares surrounded by shady open corridors.
And as there is a deep historical link between these teachings and those of the North African and Moroccan villages,
They too have enriched my perception of beauty in architectural simplicity.

by Luis Barragan

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Fearless Facing Dangers

Let us not pray to be sheltered from dangers but to be fearless when facing them.

Rabindranath Tagore

History and Breaking Loose

There is very little passion around.
Without passion, you should not go into architecture.

I believe in history.
I mean by tradition, the carrying out, in freedom, the development of a certain basic approach to architecture which we find upon beginning our work here.
I do not believe in perpetual revolution in architecture.

I do not strive for originality.
As Mies once told me,
“Philip, it is much better to be good than to be original.”
I believe that.

by Philip Johnson

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Create a New Path

‎"If you are going down a road and don't like what's in front of you,
And look behind you and don't like what you see,
Get off the road.
Create a new path!"

Maya Angelou

The Virtue of Simplicity

The aim of my design is, while embodying my own architectural theories, to impart rich meaning into spaces through things as natural elements and the many aspects of daily life. Such things as light and wind only have meaning when they are introduced inside a house in a form cut off from the outside world. The isolated fragment of light and air suggests the entire natural world. The forms I have created have altered and acquired meaning through elements of nature (light and air), which give indications of the passing of time and the changing of seasons, and through connections with human life. although many possibilities for different kinds of development are inherent in space, I prefer to manifest these possibilities in simple ways.

Furthermore, I like to relate the fixed form and compositional method to the kind of life that will be lived in the given space and to local regional society. In other words, I select solutions to problems in reaction to the prevailing circumstances.

by Tadao Ando

Friday, August 26, 2011

Ask for What You Want

Ask for what you want and be prepared to get it!

Maya Angelou

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

A Bitch

I'm tough, ambitious, and I know exactly what I want. If that makes me a bitch, okay.


Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Principles of Self-Cultivation

The Master said,
"If the scholar be not grave, he will not call forth any veneration, and his learning will not be solid.
"Hold faithfulness and sincerity as first principles.
"Have no friends not equal to yourself.

"When you have faults, do not fear to abandon them."

taken from:
The Analects of Confucius
Book 1, Chapter 8


‎Never fear being vulgar, just boring.

Diana Vreeland


My father said,

“In life, most of us are going to do ordinary things.
The most important thing about doing ordinary things is to do them extraordinarily well
and be able to go to the beach and have nobody know who you are.”

That was very powerful to me: Ego is not central.

by Glenn Murcutt

Monday, August 22, 2011

How You Made People Feel

‎I've learned that people will forget what you said,
people will forget what you did,
but people will never forget how you made them feel.

Maya Angelou

The Story of Little Sunflower-Seed

I wonder whether you have heard the story of the little Sunflower-seed. It goes something like this:

The little Sunflower-seed is innocent and ignorant, cheerful and carefree.
The little Sunflower-seed knows his destiny is to grow into the magnificent Sunflower.
He knows his destiny very well.
But the little Sunflower-seed knows not the hardships of growing before he could Blossom.

'Hey, little Sunflower-seed,' said the magnificent Sunflower.
'Let me tell you the story of growing into a sunflower'

'First you must find a perfect ground to grow.
The ground must be moist enough to stimulate the root,
And it must contain enough nutrition for growth,
And it must be soft enough for the root to penetrate into.'

'After finding the perfect ground, the real challenge begins.
It is the very first step of growing.
You must push your root hard through your shell,
And ground you root firmly,
So that you can stand up strong in the future,
Through the stormy rain.'

'When you grow you'll need food and water,
Which do not come easily and free.
Sometimes, if you are lucky,
The rain will fall.
But most of the time, you will not have the luck.'

'When happened, you must prepare for hunger.
You must find what you need to grow independently,
Your root must dig down to the hardest crust of the earth,
Growing toward as many direction as you can,
Just to find the precious water,
Which is so dear to us.'

As the magnificent Sunflower continues,
The little Sunflower-seed listens.
The little Sunflower-seed did not know,
That to Blossom is a struggle.

'Sometimes, before you can Blossom,
You will get attacked.
The insects love your leaves and your stalk.
They will cut and chew on you.
It will be painful but it will not kill you.
As long as you have strong root grounded,
You will grow back no matter how much it hurt you.'

The magnificent Sunflower concludes,
'The process to Blossom is long and hard,
A Sunflower-seed, you may be,
Clarity, you may have for your destiny,
But know that not all sunflower-seed can Blossom.'

'But when you do Blossom,
You will be Magnificent.'

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Solving Problem

We can't solve problems using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.

Albert Einstein

Saturday, August 20, 2011

The Heart Sutra

(or The Heart of Prajnaparamita Sutra)
Avalokiteshvara, the Bodhisattva of Compassion, meditating deeply on Perfection of Wisdom, saw clearly that the five aspects of human existence are empty*, and so released himself from suffering.
Answering the monk Sariputra, he said this:
Body is nothing more than emptiness,
emptiness is nothing more than body.
The body is exactly empty,
and emptiness is exactly body.
The other four aspects of human existence --
feeling, thought, will, and consciousness --
are likewise nothing more than emptiness,
and emptiness nothing more than they.
All things are empty:
Nothing is born, nothing dies,
nothing is pure, nothing is stained,
nothing increases and nothing decreases.
So, in emptiness, there is no body,
no feeling, no thought,
no will, no consciousness.
There are no eyes, no ears,
no nose, no tongue,
no body, no mind.
There is no seeing, no hearing,
no smelling, no tasting,
no touching, no imagining.
There is nothing seen, nor heard,
nor smelled, nor tasted,
nor touched, nor imagined.
There is no ignorance,
and no end to ignorance.
There is no old age and death,
and no end to old age and death.
There is no suffering, no cause of suffering,
no end to suffering, no path to follow.
There is no attainment of wisdom,
and no wisdom to attain.
The Bodhisattvas rely on the Perfection of Wisdom,
and so with no delusions,
they feel no fear,
and have Nirvana here and now.
All the Buddhas,
past, present, and future,
rely on the Perfection of Wisdom,
and live in full enlightenment.
The Perfection of Wisdom is the greatest mantra.
It is the clearest mantra,
the highest mantra,
the mantra that removes all suffering.
This is truth that cannot be doubted.
Say it so:
Which means...
gone over,
gone fully over.
So be it!
* Emptiness is the usual translation for the Buddhist term Sunyata (or Shunyata). It refers to the fact that no thing -- including human existence -- has ultimate substantiality, which in turn means that no thing is permanent and no thing is totally independent of everything else. In other words, everything in this world is interconnected and in constant flux. A deep appreciation of this idea of emptiness thus saves us from the suffering caused by our egos, our attachments, and our resistance to change and loss.

Architecture is a Stop in Time

Architecture is a stop in time,
a philosophy written in the earth to mark the landscape.

Sverre Fehn

People Who Eat White Bread

People who eat white bread have no dream.

Diana Vreeland

The Duck with Human Mind

After two ducks get into a fight, which never lasts long, they will separate and float off in opposite directions. Then each duck will flap its wings vigorously a few times; thus releasing the surplus energy that built up during the fight. After they flap their wings, they float on peacefully, as if nothing had ever happened.
If the duck had a human mind, it would keep the fight alive by thinking, by storymaking. This would probably be the duck's story: “I don't believe what he just did. He came to within five inches of me. He thinks he owns this pond. He has no consideration for my private space. I'll never trust him again. Next time he'll try something else just to annoy me. I'm sure he's plotting something already. But I'm not going to stand for this. I'll teach him a lesson he won't forget.” And on and on the mind spins its tales, still thinking and talking about it days, months, or years later. As far as the body is concerned, the fight is still continuing, and the energy it generates in response to all those thoughts is emotion, which in turn generates more thinking. This becomes the emotional thinking of the ego. you can see how problematic the duck's life would become if it had a human mind. But this is how most humans live all the time.
No situation or event is ever really finished. The mind and the mindmade “me and my story” keep it going.
We are a species that has lost its way. Everything natural, every flower or tree, and every animal have important lessons to teach us if we would only stop, look and listen. Our duck's lesson is this: Flap your wings – which translates as “let go of the story” and return to the only place of power: the present moment.

taken from:
A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life's Purpose
Eckhart Tolle

Be Persistent

People may not believe in you but you must always believe in yourself.
Be persistent,
One day you'll prove them wrong.

Speech to the Young : Speech to the Progress-Toward

Say to them,
say to the down-keepers,
the sun-slappers,
the self-soilers,
the harmony-hushers,
"even if you are not ready for day
it cannot always be night."
You will be right.
For that is the hard home-run.

Live not for battles won.
Live not for the-end-of-the-song.
Live in the along.

Gwendolyn Brooks


You gotta have style.
It helps you get up in the morning.
It's a way of life.
Without it you're nobody.
And I'm not talking about a lot of clothes.

Diana Vreeland


‘Who you think you are’ is intimately connected with how you see yourself treated by others. Many people complain that others do not treat them well enough. “I don’t get any respect, attention, recognition, acknowledgment,” they say. “I’m being taken for granted.” When people are kind to them, they suspect hidden motives. “Others want to manipulate me, take advantage of me. Nobody loves me.”

‘Who they think they are’ is this: “I am a needy ‘little me’ whose needs are not being met.” This basic misperception of who they are creates dysfunction in all their relationships. They believe they have nothing to give and that the world or other people are withholding from them what they need. Their entire reality is based on an illusory sense of who they are. It sabotages situations, mars all relationships. If the thought of lack—whether it be money, recognition, or love—has become part of ‘who you think you are’, you will always experience lack. Rather than acknowledge the good that is already in your life, all you see is lack. Acknowledging the good that is already in your life is the foundation for all abundance. The fact is: whatever you think the world is withholding from you, you are withholding to the world. You are withholding it because deep down you think you are small and that you have nothing to give.

Try this for a couple of weeks and see how it changes your reality: whatever you think people are withholding from you—praise, appreciation, assistance, loving care, and so on—give it to them. You don’t have it? Just act as if you had it, and it will come. Then, soon after you start giving, you will start receiving. You cannot receive what you don’t give. Outflow determines inflow. Whatever you think the world is withholding from you, you already have, but unless you allow it to flow out, you won’t even know that you have it. This includes abundance. The law that outflow determines inflow is expressed by Jesus in this powerful image: “give and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap; for the measure you give will be the measure you get back.” (Luke 6:38)

The source of all abundance is not outside you, it is part of who you are. However, start by acknowledging and recognizing abundance without. See the fullness of life around you. The warmth of sun on your skin, display of magnificent flowers outside a florist’s shop, biting into a succulent fruit, or getting soaked in an abundance of water falling from the sky. The fullness of life is there at every step. The acknowledgment of that abundance that is all around you awakens the dormant abundance within. Then let it flow out. When you smile at a stranger, there is already a minute outflow of energy. You become a giver. Ask yourself often: “what can I give here; how can I be of service to this person, this situation?” you don’t need to own anything to feel abundant, although if you feel abundant consistently things will almost certainly come to you. Abundance comes only to those who already have it. It sounds almost unfair, but of course it isn’t. It is a universal law. Both abundance and scarcity are the inner states that manifest as your reality. Jesus puts it like this: “for to the one who has, more will be given, and from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away.” (Mark 4:25)

taken from:
A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life's Purpose
Eckhart Tolle

Paint it Blue

‎If the tree feels blue to you, paint it blue.

Camille Pissaro

The Mayonnaise Jar and Two Cups of Coffee

When things in your life seem,
Almost too much to handle,
When 24 Hours in a day is not enough,
Remember the mayonnaise jar and two cups of coffee:

A professor stood before his philosophy class
And had some items in front of him.
When the class began, wordlessly,
He picked up a very large and empty mayonnaise jar
And proceeded to fill it with golf balls.
He then asked the students if the jar was full.
They agreed that it was.

The professor then picked up a box of pebbles and poured them into the jar.
He shook the jar lightly.
The pebbles rolled into the open areas between the golf balls.

He then asked the students again if the jar was full.
They agreed it was.
The professor next picked up a box of sand
And poured it into the jar.
Of course, the sand filled up everything else.
He asked once more if the jar was full.
The students responded
With an unanimous 'yes.'

The professor then produced two cups of coffee from under the table
And poured the entire contents Into the jar,
Effectively filling the empty space between the sand.
The students laughed.

'Now,' said the professor,
As the laughter subsided,
'I want you to recognize that
This jar represents your life.

The golf balls are the important things -
God, family, children, health, Friends, and favorite passions.
Things that if everything else was lost
And only they remained,
Your life would still be full.

The pebbles are the other things that matter
Like your job, house, and car.

The sand is everything else --
The small stuff.

'If you put the sand into the jar first,' He continued,
'there is no room for the pebbles or the golf balls. 

The same goes for life.'
If you spend all your time
And energy on the small stuff,
You will never have room for the things that are important to you.

Pay attention to the things that are critical to your happiness.
Play with your children.
Take time to get medical checkups.
Take your partner out to dinner.

There will always be time
To clean the house and fix the disposal.

'Take care of the golf balls first --
The things that really matter. 

Set your priorities. The rest is just sand.'

One of the students raised her hand
And inquired what the coffee represented.
The professor smiled.
'I'm glad you asked'.
It just goes to show you that no matter how full your life may seem,
there's always room for a couple of cups of coffee with a friend.'

Quote of the Day

Beauty is not the person.
Beauty is not the view.
Beauty is not the thing.
Beauty is I who appreciate.

Silence and Light

Inspiration is the feeling of beginning at the threshold where Silence and Light meet. Silence, the unmeasurable, desire to be, desire to express, the source of new need, meets the Light, the measurable, giver of all presence, by will, by law, the measure of things already made, at a threshold which is inspiration, the sanctuary of art, the Treasury of Shadow.
The artist offers his work to his art in the sanctuary of all expression, which I like to call the Treasury of the Shadow, lying in that ambiance: Light to Silence, Silence to Light. Light, the giver of presence, casts its shadow, which belongs to Light. What is made belongs to Light and to Desire.
I likened the emergence of Light to a manifestation of two brothers, knowing quite well that there are not two brothers, nor even one. But I saw that one is the embodiment of the desire to be, to express, and one (not saying "the other") is to be, to be. The latter is nonluminous, and the former, prevailing, is luminous. This prevailing luminous source can be visualized as becoming a wild dance of flame that settles and spends itself into material. Material, I believe, is spent Light.
Silence and Light. Silence is not very, very quiet. It is something that you may say is lightless, darkless. There are all invented words. Darkless--there is no such word. But why not? Lightless; darkless. Desire to be, to express. Some can say this is the ambient soul--if you go back beyond and think of something in which Light and Silence were together, and may be still together, and separate only for the convenience of argument.

by Louis Kahn

Bad Taste

A little bad taste is like a nice splash of paprika.
We all need a splash of bad taste - it's hearty, it's healthy, it's physical.
I think we could use more of it.
NO taste is what I'm against.

Diana Vreeland


Realization is Realization in Form, which means a nature. You realize that something has a certain nature. A school has a certain nature, and in making a school the consultation and approval of nature are absolutely necessary. In such a consultation you can discover the Order of water, the Order of wind, the Order of light, the Order of certain materials. If you think of brick, and you're consulting the Orders, you consider the nature of brick. You say to brick, "What do you want, brick?" Brick says to you, "I like an arch." If you say to brick, "Arches are expensive, and I can use a concrete linter over an opening. What do you think of that, brick?" Brick says, "I like an arch."

It is important that you honor the material you use. You don't bandy it about as though to say, "Well, we have a lot of material, we can do it one way, we can do it another way." It's not true. You must honor and glorify the brick instead of shortchanging it and giving it an inferior job to do in which it loses its character, as, for example, when you use it as infill material, which I have done and you have done. Using brick so makes it feel as though it is a servant, and brick is a beautiful material. It has done beautiful work in many places and still does. Brick is completely live material in areas that occupy three quarters of the world, where it is the only logical material to use. Concrete is a highly sophisticated material, not so available as you think.
You can have the same conversation with concrete, with paper or papier-mache, or with plastic, or marble, or any material. The beauty of what you create comes if you honor the material for what it really is. Never use it in a subsidiary way so as to make the material wait for the next person to come along and honor its character.

by Louis Kahn

Cooking and Poetry

Cooking is like writing poetry,
be careful in the choice of your ingredients
and respectful of how they work together.
That’s true of all the efforts in life.

Maya Angelou

In Search of the Lost Architecture

When I think about architecture, images come into my mind. Many of these images are connected with my training and work as an architect. They contain the professional knowledge about architecture that I have gathered over the years. Some of the other images have to do with my childhood. There was a time when I experienced architecture without even thinking about it. Sometimes I can almost feel a particular door handle in my hand, a piece of metal shaped like the back of a spoon.
I used to take hold of it when I went into my aunt's garden. That door handle still seems to me like a special sign of entry into a world of different moods and smells. I remember the sound of the gravel under my feet, the soft gleam of the waxed oak staircase, I can hear the heavy front door closing behind me as I walk along the dark corridor and enter the kitchen, the only really brightly lit room in the house.
Looking back, it seems as if this was the only room in the house in which the ceiling did not disappear into twilight; the small hexagonal tiles of floor, dark red and fitted so tightly together that the cracks between them were almost imperceptible, were hard and unyielding under my feet, and a smell of oil paint issued from the kitchen cupboard.
Everything about this kitchen was typical of a traditional kitchen. There was nothing special about it. But perhaps it was just the fact that it was so very much, so very naturally, a kitchen that has imprinted its memory indelibly on my mind. The atmosphere of this room is insolubly linked with my idea of a kitchen. Now I feel like going on and talking about the door handles that came after the handle on my aunt's garden gate, about the ground and the floors, about the soft asphalt warmed by the sun, about the flagstones covered with chestnut leaves in the autumn, and about all the doors that closed in such different ways, one replete and dignified, another with a thin, cheap clatter, others hard, implaceble, and intimidating...
Memories like these contain the deepest architectural experience that I know. They are the reservoirs of the architectural atmospheres and images that I explore in my work as an architect.
When I design a building, I frequently find myself sinking into old, half-forgotten memories, and then I try to recollect what the remembered architectural situation was really like, what it had meant to me at the time, and I try to think how it could help me now to revive that vibrant atmosphere pervaded by the simple presence of things, in which everything had its own specific place and form. And although I cannot trace any special forms, there is a hint of fullness and of richness that makes me think: this I have seen before. Yet, at the same time, I know that it is all new and different, and that there is no direct reference to a former work of architecture which might divulge the secret of the memory-laden mood.

taken from:
Thinking Architecture
Peter Zumthor