cinteressant partout

We are architects, and thats okay.

top souvenir pictures (not really to date maybe)

by Mal

Di, I found this on our India blog. Can I put it here?
/end Mal

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top of a hill in capadocia, watching the sunset. Amazing view and scent of the russian olive tree. Some random guy offered us wine, but we insist on having olive oil instead, because only olive oil and baguette would be fitting under the beautiful and fragrant Russian olive tree.;

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cave picture, ohei Max. underground city: Derinkuyu (deep well), which is an hour of bus ride from Goreme. Very impressive, subtractive architecture. The heavy stone doors are great to block invaders. As a consequence, it is a great summer hill station.

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top of Vineyard hotel in Goreme, Capadocia. Giant hot air balloon at 5 am in the morning. The huge balloon and the sound of the burning fire are pretty impressive.

Imagewe rode horses to a church far up in the hills. Horses are the best.

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looks like in an action movie. It actually felt like it, right?

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Ashkim, literally translated as my love,  is my horse, We love each other…

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Max and her horse, apparently the fastest horse they own, running at an unbelievable 80km/h

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Where I Visited in Scottstown

by Dihua Wei

A visit at a church in scottstown in renovation has been a real architectural discovery for me. I have discovered an extraordinary project of an ordinary couple resuscitating a 200 yrs old  protestant church deserted by the religious and local communities and sold at 1$ last spring. They have DIY through the processes, saving money on most of the works because of lack of financial support from external resources. That is what they look like. (the couple is right next to me).

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and This is what the church looks like, from the exterior

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One of the major steps is the insulation of the walls from the exterior. This process took a month, and was done in a race against the sweeping coldness of our unforgiving  winter.

Their project was a community oriented internet cafe slash gallery featuring local artists and artisans. It was intended to be a sympathetic place for people in Scottstown, a declining small little village near Sherbrook, to enjoy some of the delights in life that city dwellers are inclined to take for granted: music, art and wholesome food. They have presented their project with such pride and excitement as well. Even I was eager to try their expresso and cake before they even finish insulating its walls. Yet, I already find plenty of beautiful treasures that dotted this room.

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The textual inscription below pays tribute to the victim of the battle of Passchendaele which took place in Belgium.

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The original flat ceiling, concealed  under the arching wooden one that we now see is decorated with a very sober design, painted on a plastered ceiling like a tapestry.

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At close inspection, some animal fur is found in the composition of this plaster. An ancient recipe  peppered with horse hair with the special property of reinforcing the equilibrium of the mix… This is only an educated guess though.

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vintage items: indestructible fridge and stove constructed according to the ultimate military standards…  Still working. These jewels were conceived at a particularly exciting moment when the Quebec people are welcoming into their house the American dream at its best.

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Somehow they found this barrel, and it is absolutely steady looking despite its rugged skin consumed by time.

Maybe next summer,  I will be getting back to you on this project.

What I see in the morning

by mxwt

I look to my left

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and i look forwards

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and then i climb down the stairs and face the day.

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by mxwt

photo (9)

No photos allowed at the Richter drawing show at the Louvre

by mxwt

photo (10)

Walk by, walk by

Letters from beijing, my dearest comrade

by mxwt

Di is traveling again, she sends a letter home:

My dearest Max

I have safely arrived in China and as I’m writing to you now, it is still dark outside. It has been quite a long trip, and in these few days, many interesting things have happened, and it occured many times that I wish you were with me. I miss your compagnonship a lot, you know. While I was in Sürich airport, I decided to go check out the downtown area myself with my huge back pack. It took 10 minutes of high speed train to reach the old Sürich, and I got a map from a nice lady selling excursions nearby the train station. As I have little time, I circled the river and walked through the famous commercial street banhofstrasse. It felt quite nice to be back in Europe. Architecture never fails to enchant you in the oldest part of the town, especially those churches that pop here and there with really long and a sharp tower. I loved the little streets that take you immediated towards a more intimate and pedestrian experience. When I was there in the morning, no shop was opened, so I was just window shopping most of the time. Eventually, I found a bakery which sells those Luxemburgeli, their version of the macaron. They happened to be just a little smaller, not so impressive. I luckly found some market near the bridge at the end of Banhofstrasse. The flower bouquets are most delicious looking. And I bought some cheese from a certain Peter. It took me two euro and I ate that huge chunk of cheese for the next fifteen minutes. With the change, I also got three huge figs. Not the average size. A little disappointing, cause it tasted like someone forgot to pick them up on the right time. Well, at least I have gotten a strange mixture of snacks. The only thing I omitted was bear and I am sure they have an excellent selection of those. I got back to the airport on time. Had to run a little because I was quite anxious about not being able to make it on time. On the next plane to Beijing, I met a really nice guy from Spain. He does puppet shows for children to sensitize them to the environmental causes. He was so shy, we only started talking when we got off the plane. My dad didn’t see me at the airport, but I found him. He looked like he haven’t changed since the last time I saw him. He was wearing the red classic touristy Canada Shirt with white stripes, traveler type kaki pants, a pair of bright orange sandals, and a tissue bag with the slogan of the cultural revolution printed on it. Although it was a most unusual combination, he does fit the mental image I have of him. Together, we went to Nan Luo Gu Xian, the only huton area left to Beijing, thankfully preserved beaucoup a lot of the high rank communist leader lived there during the revolution. We took a bicycle ride around the huton with a native Beijinger. He is the same age as my father, but looks much younger, and skinnier. My dad negociated the same price for two hours, but the guy didn’t realize why it would take us twice as long to do a standard tour until he saw how much a photography fan my dad was. He is so pationnate about his pictures that he would stay in the same spot taking shots repetively in the same position using the same frame a few time. He also photographed absolutely anything. From the visits, I learned a lot about the courtyard house as a type, and it occured to me that its charm is related to a large extent to its inhabitation by the people. A regular Si He Yuan, translated as a complex of buildings surounded a courtyard with concerns about the four directions. The entrance is a big act, and the procession beautifuly coordinated. The door usually indicated the hierarchy of the household, painted red with beautiful motifs on the beeams. The opening doesn’t imediately gave up any view of the couryard yet. A wall blocks the sight of it. The visitor first encounter the house through the smell, the sounds, as well as the atmosphere of this transitional space. That is why I absolutely loved the one inhabited by an old woman and her son. Theirs was a beautiful space decorated with plants, fake cherry blossoms, and stuff that you would have in any household that makes it approachable and living. Turning to the left, one enters into the courtyard, a rectangular shaped and it could be adapted to the needs and tastes of its occupants. It usually is a good place to socialize, eat, plant trees and plants, and a great playground for children. Facing the courtyard and the entrance is usually the master bedroom dedicated to the elders in the family. the have a great view of the courtyard, enjoy watching the va-et-vient of their children living in the opposite unit, and are the first to see the visitor coming from the main entrance. Siheyuan embodies the Chinese ideal of living, but unfortunately, it gradually became forgotten and became an absolete museum piece. By chasing the people away from the houses, they have lost their essence. The inhabitation and occcupation of the siheyuan is so key, and still not so many people are aware of this, I feel. The bicycle rider is a character. He hated life in Beijing and feels helpless about the situation of corruption and the lack of human rights. Interestingly, he goes as far as to confond the two. As I explain to him that in Montreal, corruption exists, he looked pretty impressed. He also complained that Chinese nowadays lack empathy, being only motivated by interests, economical interests above all. He contradicted himself, however, when he repetively let us know that he would have made more money if we have taken one hour intead of two.
In the afternoon, I went to Yong He Gong, an anciant residence to the emperor Yong Zheng in the Qing dynasty, converted into a tibetan monastery by his son. It really is a popular attraction and the number of Chinese worshippers is pretty great. There are actually lots of people who are really sincere looking. People like me who are actually touring the place, observing its architecture and treasures are a minority. The architecture is a mixture of the Han and Tibetan cultures. The gracefullness of the whole complex is its most salient characteristics. The main buildings were channeled by a central axis which runs through the middle of the complex and those aligned bulidings, thus making the walking experience richly layered. You can choose to go through the central ones following the axis and returns to the entrance visiting the side ones. It occured to me that those buildings were really a synthesis of many arts like painting, sculpture, architecture, something that must result of group work.
Later, I was invited to eat with my dad’s best friend and his family. His background is similar to my dad’s. He was borned in misery and got enrolled in the army when he was yound. He got promoted in the governement because of his services to the leader of the country, Deng Xiao Ping. He recently quit the government to become a business man, head of some big company in Henan. It happened that he was envolved in building cheap housing for the government. We had a good meal, but somehow we started talking about the changes, namely the negative ones that China projects internationally, like corruption and the lack of democracy. He was given me all those reasons I have heard before, such as we are a big country and revolutionalry changes could only happen in great chaos. But most chockingly, his attitute is that of disillution and indifference. He said that following the patterns of the history, the changes will happen when our generation takes control and that China will be better with people like me and his son who had a western education. I was quite shocked actually, by his shamelessness and his open selfishness. He left me a homework, he said. Find out why nobody change the education system while everyone knows that it is deeply defected. A good one, I suppose.
After I got back to Nan Guo Gu Xiang, where my hostel was, I walked around that busy street that only closes until late at night. I met a group of girls selling instruments for Xiang Dao, or the incence ceremony. We talked a lot about it and she gave me a quick demonstration. For although she loves what she is doing, she only started learning about it, and still shows little confidence. She is not a good saleswoman, for as I was asking about the princes, she gave me instead an overview of everything she sells in the shop. Her passion for her own culture is very inspiring. However, she keeps dismissing the Japanese and Coreen cultures, being clearly prejudiced against them. I am quite amused to make that discovery, because sometimes, prejudices which we hold so dear, only keeps us away from learning more about what we love.
Anyways, this is a long summary of what I have been through. If you can, can you please post some parts that you find okay on the blog for me, please. I have alas, no access to this website, nor blogger. Maybe I’ll find out something else, if I have more time.
I love you and say hallo to everyone in the family. I miss you all, very much

Di

The House of Dreams and Wisdom

by Dihua Wei

After I spent a few hours selecting and organizing all the pictures I have taken during trip, I went to Lozeau to get them printed. The guy helping me was particularly curious about my trip and we had exchanged a few words about Turkey. Apparently, I am the second customer (only!) he served so far who went there. He was amazed seeing the caves in Cappadocia. Amusingly, he thought they look post-modern. According to him, Turkey seemed a good place, because tourism “isn’t big yet.”

I immediately thought of Venice, the most touristic city on the planet, with almost no one actually living there anymore (except maybe the rich retired people). I miss Turkey and Italy so much since I returned. How lucky I was to be able to visit them consecutively!  Despite their rivalry throughout history , cultural exchanges never ceased. Venice was Constantinople’s sister city with its beautiful byzantine inspired architecture. Maybe only the five domed San Marco in Venice can compare to the glory of Aya Sofia in Istanbul.

I think the main difference between the two is the quality of light. San Marco felt like a gloaming sky with its domes covered with tiny golden mosaics. Unlike what I expected, the richness of the marbled walls and floors did not appear ostentatious or overly decorative. The dim light somehow allowed them to recede into the background, only allowing the eyes to catch a glimpse of the watery patterns on the walls. The space felt alive, in constant motion.

Aya Sofia’s interior space is much larger and well lit, thanks to the openings encircling the base of its central dome. The pouring light filling the space gave it an incredible sense of lightness and transparency. Standing in the middle of the dome, I can almost feel my soul expending. The golden dome above hovers like a crown under le soleil du midi. The choice of the golden mosaics to adorn the ceiling in both cases results in two completely different relationships to the space. They were like morning and dawn, both shining different light.

I love this trip because it taught me the power of architecture, which is only possible to communicate and apprehend through corporeal experience. Maybe that is what embodied architecture means. The build architecture is not merely the product of some crazy imagination; rather it may become the source of exciting dreams and stories. Or it may offer a moment to appreciate and celebrate the fundamentals of our existence — light and space.

Basilica San Marco, Venice, Italy

Aya Sofia, Istanbul, Turkey

“going to Istanbul, bitches”

by Dihua Wei

So, I finally got to go to Istanbul, our final destination, a goal I have been keeping an eye since the beginning. Since I have not updated the blog assiduously, I felt the urgency to do so right now. Now or never. This trip have evolved around one goal, which is to gather first hand experience of good architecture. Europe is a great place for this. But really, what really impressed me the most was not architecture with a big A, but the sunset in Venice, the huge birds trolling around fish markets, the ocean, the wild mountain horses that move like shadows, the dark forrest, and the eternal fire on the Olympos. I feel very comfortable with these old things, old like eternity.

Au soleil, dans la cave, a minuit ou a midi.

by mxwt

Il y a tous ce que vous voulez a kapadokia.

 

O Kapadokia.

We arrive by plane and it feels like the desert. A desert peopled with a thousand farmers and their lowing cattle. It was surprising not at all like izmir, or anything that anyone ever shows to show turkey. There was no azure blue. There was the parched yellow, the crumbling rock, the glacier that watched over it all stretching it away, watching before eyeballs were around to stare.

It feels very serious, this land. The people still work in their fields with their backs bent, and their children running beside them. The stone walls that separate their lands feel old, feel like they’re part of the geography. The sides of cliffs are homes, nests, cool and dark, probably damp and hard. When we arrive in goreme, it feels strange. You feel obliged to think of it as the set of star wars, but can’t really. The peaked cave houses and churches and tombs wade through the swarm of the new city. Its in a wide valley and the roads go up and down curving by the houses. Our cave is the vineyard cave. The rock is so soft that your hand comes away from it chalky at the lightest of touch.  The evening is falling and I really want to find a lonely planet guide for turkey, and apparently the best bookshop in turkey is around. But to no avail. After a series of men direct us from one souvenir shop to another, the middle earth hiking tour people tell us that the lady with the bookstore moved away and 1001 books no longer exists. 

We stand outside a bit muddled. Above us tiny figures dot the rim of the valley. We want to go there. Back to middle earth hiking tour with a quick question, how can we get there? Instead one of the guys insists on guiding us to the top to watch the sun set. It becomes very sad when I figure out he’s just doing it for the girls. It was nice until that moment. Di and I reject his many offers of wine, which his friend flourishes behind the man (he’s just arrived by car via the man’s cellphone call even amidst the conversations our rejections). He leaves with his bottles and his friend, and we watch the sun set over the silence of the singing mosques and the breeze of the russain olive trees.

But we are still hungry. We find the place ozman recommends. It is good place, we let them know ozman told us about it. Traditional kebab in clay pot, ashglam, an evil drink that is like opaque cherry juice, but is actually fermented carrots juice (it tastes like salami), delicious pilaf, delicious delicious delicious. We leave because I am so sick, the juice is not settling well in my stomach, only anne shared with me. But then the owner gives us free desert. How can I refuse? We sit and talk and talk, about his fiancé, and his business, and archaeology, his crazy brother, tourism. Finally we leave, though I’ve stolen his phone by accident. We walk home through the streets by the dry canal, to our cave home, where I grab the key from the reception room, Ozman sleeping on the floor, and flop over in our dark dark rooms, the small light outside cannot find any way in. 

 

The cats of Ephesus

by mxwt

A million cats in ephesus stalking the shadows. What changed? There used to be fish markets, and the open ocean. People might have been a bit different. But a cat sitting on the steps of an ancient library is a cat sitting on a stone, always a stone, not the case for us, but to them: yes. Did the cat care if it sat on an ancient etching of a menorah? It cared as much as it always had. It was a good place in the sun. 

 

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