Tag Archives: Kristofer Kelly

That building is wearing a mask.

This is the kind of low road architecture that embraces the changing pace and needs of the people who live in a building. New purposes wrapping a building’s original intention. Walls made of materials a couple of people can carry and that you can cut with a saw.

A building doesn’t need to die with the purpose that built it. Let the bones and structure that hold it together show enough so that the next occupant can imagine how to work around them. Great neighborhoods grow  over time. Depth and purpose layered on the successes and failures of past attempts. The first shadow of a well built and scaled building will still show up many many many iterations in the future.

It looked like these buildings had grown new organs. Their eyes hidden behind a gas mask and snorkel, cyborg but still human because they smelled like cooking meat. This row of houses in a ward of Kyoto called Higashiyama had changed into new costumes. A kind of unconscious reference to the theatrical undercurrent of that neighborhood.

What do people DO?

Designing at a cultural institution like a science centre can be a humbling experience. We work to develop exhibits that are thoughtful, authentic, and engaging.  But you can lose your way moving from initial idea to finished product. The small details that get lost might be the magic that connects someone to an exhibit or idea.

Documentation  is so critical to the success of a project and every step matters. What you keep and what you drop will influence how that project lives. I’m reminded to include  real visitors, doing real things as much as possible in the outdoor park project drawings.

I love drawing abstract aliens, but its easy to get sidetracked. While they prance through your imagination, real visitors stomp and run and laugh and yell. On a recent trip to Japan my husband challenged me to “draw the actual people” – what a difference it makes.




Pickle Store in Nishiki Market


Setting up big vats of pickles in the early hours before the crowds arrive. Nishiki Market – Kyoto.

Drawing in the Gion

Possibly the most beautiful street I have ever seen…

You can see the actual locations here on google maps.


Keeping Warm

Vlad just finished finalizing the renderings for our warming hut application. This is an architecture competition for small pavilions along the river skate path in Winnipeg that happens every winter.  I’ll post some of the rough sketches later, but it’s great to see the impact some though full color and texture add.

Keeping Warm

Chopping wood, felting wool, shoveling snow, skating – activities that spike your body temperature and fend off cold winter nights. This proposal explores the design potential in keeping warm.

Putting the team to work (i guess we need a team...)
Putting the team to work (i guess we need a team…)

The friction in cascading snow cements it into a solid mass and a team carves room for a hearth and seating. Strangers work together to lay down wool for cocoons big enough to be shared. These pods, felted by skaters dragging bundles along the skating path, are dried by the hearth and then hung in nooks to snugly envelop guests as they warm up.

Sitting by the fire
Sitting by the fire

This warming hut does what its name implies. Requiring intense activity and inputs of energy from its builders, the building emphatically keeps them warm. That work is also embedded in the materiality, form and character of the finished shelter – thereby extending the warming act beyond itself both physically and temporally.

Forming the hearth around a rock.
Forming the hearth around a rock.
I posted earlier about "mother felt". Skaters would help create the pods.
I posted earlier about “mother felt”. Skaters would help create the pods.
A view of the "hut" from above. The central hearth and pods surrounding it.
A view of the “hut” from above. The central hearth and pods surrounding it.


More sketches from our warming hut development. We have been thinking about a hearth formed by mounding a piece of sheet metal around a boulder, then inverting it.

The warming hut foundation and hearth.
The warming hut foundation and hearth.
Section through the felt pods and some possible anchoring options.