How Trent University Preserves Canadian Architecture

Like other art forms styles come and go in architecture; and when styles go in architecture it can result in demolition of buildings (and thus history). In Canada university and college campuses sprung up in the 60s to accommodate the influx of baby boomers so the style of these campuses reflect the style of the times. Trent University captured the Canadian architectural style the best and, unlike other schools, has embraced their buildings as a reason students should attend. Hopefully other institutions can find the value in their older buildings – even if they look “ugly” today.

Today, Trent is engaged in a careful renovation of its original Bata Library, while new projects – including a new student centre by Teeple Architects – are being guided by attention to the original campus.

In this way, a small institution is setting an example for the entire country: how to retain Canada’s modern heritage, which is both critical and in a moment of real danger.

No wonder. Thom and his talented colleagues blended careful attention to the site, beautiful materials and fine craftsmanship. The buildings, crafted by Thom’s team, including Paul Merrick, are full of complex spaces and details that echo and rhyme with one another. Walking through the original campus is a sensory feast of complexity and nuance; if you ever had the idea that modernist architecture had to be inhumane, this place will cure you of that notion. In the Great Hall at Champlain College, the buttresses and high ceiling make it seem “Hogwarts-like,” as one student told me; but the structure is a lattice of very modern concrete that weaves together skylights and wood slats.

Even the landscape, often overlooked in modern sites, has been well conceived. The pathways across campus are paved with an orange brick, which feels right under your feet.

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Let’s Save Brutalism

Saving architecture through Twitter seems a little odd, yet the #SOSBrutalism movement has engendered an appreciation for an architectural style and saving buildings from demolition. Critics of brutalism describe the style as ugly and oppressive despite its rich history and beauty. As a result of the under-appreciation brutalist architecture many brutalist buildings are being demolished which is bad for the environment and bad for the history of architecture. Take a moment today and appreciate some brutalist architecture and tweet about it.

In 2015, the German Architecture Museum launched a Twitter campaign with the hashtag #SOSBrutalism to document Brutalist architecture, with a particular focus on endangered buildings: those facing possible demolition. It now has a database of more than 1,000 buildings worldwide, from carparks to hotels, union buildings to ministries, university libraries to hospitals, churches to shopping malls and from residential complexes to office blocks. Around 200 of them are in Britain.

It has united – and in some cases, triggered – campaigns to preserve these buildings. Elser says a number of heritage experts have contacted him to express their gratitude at the documentation provided in the catalogue. “It serves as proof that something is valuable,” he says.

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Saving Knowledge From Going Extinct

Ultimology is a new field of thought which may help is in the future when we need it the most and don’t realize it. It’s the study of of extinct or endangered subjects, theories, and tools of learning. The Department of Ultimology is an art project that has set out to interpret what the study of dead/dying studies could look like and how it can be accomplished. It’s a groovy project that explores the fringes of knowledge with some real world examples of how very recently required knowledge for some disciplines have already been forgotten.

Knowledge of how things work is always needed and it’s good practice to keep abreast of changes in how and why we keep certain knowledge sets while discarding others.

For example, we met with Dr. Sylvia Draper, Head of the School of Chemistry at Trinity, and asked her what had changed in the discipline of Chemistry. She spoke about how glassware used to be an essential part of research. If you were a student of chemistry, you might actually design a piece of glassware that goes with your research. Draper told us that Trinity College had a glassblowing workshop on site with a glassblower named John Kelly, but that he was going to retire in two years and would not be replaced. It ties back to the commercialization of the university: the reason he’s not being replaced is because he’s salaried and a salaried employee is a high cost for the university. And so he and his work become expendable because in theory the department can just bring in cheaper, standard glassware from abroad.

However, if you’re a student and you’re planning your experiment and it requires an intricate, strange, unique piece of glass, it might now be much more expensive for you to get it, which might impact how you look at your research. You might be less willing or able to do something weirder, essentially. I picture it like these tiny little cracks that maybe can’t be explored in a discipline as people are funnelled down into a more particular standard route.

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The Best Way to Understand Earth’s Temperature Changes Through History

2016 has been the hottest year ever recorded on Earth, and every month this year has broken records for being so dang hot. It’s hard to put these records into context since they seem so abstract since it’s just what we’re used to. You might even be sick of hearing about how hot it’s getting and brush all those recent articles about the heat aside.

Despite all of this climate changed induced temperature escalation there are too many people who think that temperature changes like this are natural. They are, but not at the rate of change we’re seeing. Randal Moore of XKCD fame put together a fantastic infographic/cartoon/image of why we should care about climate change and how fast the temperature is increasing.

It’s worth scrolling through and sharing with anybody who thinks that we don’t need to act on climate change. Spreading knowledge in a fun way about a serious topic is a good thing.

Visualization of the history of Earth's climate temperature. XKCD is amazing!

A Tribe Singing For The Future

Earth Guardians are a new group which is poised to take the political music scene by storm. Xiuhtezcatl Martinez is leading the Earth Guardians around the world to take charge of the planet’s future by changing our attitude and policies. He spreads sick wisdom while dropping hot beats all while spiting hot fire!

Xiuhtezcatl Martinez is not your average kid. Dubbed the ‘Anti-Bieber,’ he is mobilizing his army of teens in 25 countries to demand greener policy from our world’s leaders. Under the banner of Earth Guardians, Xiuhtezcatl has begun mobilizing young badasses around the planet to become the ones we’ve been waiting for – a global collective of youth leadership to defend the planet.

Check it out.