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April 21, 2014 / philosophermouseofthehedge

Lined up. Boxed to go

You know how you can get kids in a line and tell them to walk quietly – like elephants or soldiers – keeping hands to themselves?

And there’s always that kid wiggling and twisting – maybe still be technically within the concept of “line”, but…

It’s like that.

Shadows across brick walk

You can force some to color inside the lines,

But somehow there’s always one who just can’t move that crayon neatly from left to right, left to right.

Still inside the lines, but…

Just not in their nature.

Perhaps that’s it.

Linear shadows in unnatural green

Boxed in is not a good feeling. 

Remember that lab rat environment experiment in college? Too many rats packed into too small a space.

Some quivered in a corner. Some became hostile and aggressive.

Some grouped together for security. (Only to find the crowd turned on them.)

Eventually, the “moral” line between “food” and “brother rat” disappeared.

Not natural. Disturbing.

But just rats, right? Still, oddly creepy. Some primal empathy, perhaps?

Sometimes life out of alignment requires an adjustment.

rail shadows on concrete

A fan of Legos, Moshe Safdie clicked.

Environments should be stacked differently.

What if light and water were used by architects the way rhythm and melody is used in music?

Could structures flow beyond functionality towards spirituality?

Buildings squared could reach farther?

Out-of-the-ordinary boxes lifted by cranes into playful landscapes.

Densely populated communities offering light, openness, and privacy.

Balconies and open terraces stair-stepped like a child’s crayon drawing.

So out of the lines.

So far his works stack up pretty nicely.

Explore the unusual, but entirely logical, architecture by “The Global Citizen” in an exhibit at the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art (May 31 – September 2, 2014.)

The Arkansas museum itself, a Moshe Safdie design. Yes, Arkansas. (I saw that smirk. Out of the box thinking, requested.)

Good time of year to bend some lines of thought: SafdieArchitets: Projects. Philosophy. Practice.

Institute of Peace. Washington, DC. Moshe Safdie. CBS Sunday Morning/YouTube screenshot

Mirroring the wings of a dove. Symbolism plays a role in many Moshe Safdie designs. Light, transparency, and shapes of the Institute of Peace in Washington, DC. (CBS Sunday Morning/YouTube screenshot)

Who isn’t tired of being boxed in so long by winter? Time to play. To grasp some whimsy.

Naturally, it’s ok to color outside the lines. 

Step off the curbs.

(But as far as stepping on the cracks and risking mom, you are on your own…)

Building with that.

Phil, the Philosopher Mouse of the Hedge.

Large apartment project under construction in China. Designed by  Moshe Safdie (Screenshot. YouTube/CBS)

The Lego influence is apparent. Child’s play is serious work. Large apartment project under construction in China.(CBS Sunday Morning/YouTube screenshot)







  1. Paul / Apr 21 2014 2:07 pm

    Wow, amazing architecture Phil. I’ve never seen this type of stuff before. I think I would have to see and experience it in person to figure out my response. It sure looks fragile. I wonder about earthquake rating and hurricane rating of the structures. thanks for the intro – it’s fascinating.


    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Apr 21 2014 2:25 pm

      Habitat 67 in Canada made quite a splash – and is still occupied. Maybe time, building materials, and geological knowledge have caught up to his ideas. Having worked in windowless buildings, I think more attention should be paid to working, school, and living environments.Might be worth a little money to created spaces where people can be mentally healthier/stronger. Thanks for constructing a comment


      • Paul / Apr 21 2014 2:59 pm

        You are likely right about the building materials being greatly improved and strengthened. I know a small amount about materials engineering and some of the new composites are stronger than steel and yet flexible with memory. Good point Phl. Just thought I’d throw in something constructive there to be built on.


  2. Carrie Rubin / Apr 21 2014 3:39 pm

    I imagine architects who design for overpopulated and dense cities have to get creative in their designs. Sounds like a wonderful exhibit.


    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Apr 21 2014 4:17 pm

      You would hope those who finance big complexes would consider livable spaces as much bottom line. Watching our 3 “downtown” centers rapidly mushroom skyward make you wonder. (Yes, we have 3 inner city centers – it’s weird I know, but there’s original downtown with big company offices meeting the med center with all transformed lofts/big high rise apartments, a huge shopping/banking/hotel residential center in massive Galleria area, and the Greenway Center between that used to be all business now mixed development with residential towers. People do not understand how our metro area sprawls)
      Rectangles are cheaper. People not considered? That’s a concern.
      Oh, to be wealthy enough to just fly around to museums – one after another. (OK also weird, but…)
      Thanks for constructing a comment


      • Carrie Rubin / Apr 21 2014 4:22 pm

        Ha, yes, wealthy museum flying would be lovely. 🙂


  3. PiedType / Apr 21 2014 3:45 pm

    Love architects who think outside the box and decision-makers who let them. Anyone can design a box.


    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Apr 21 2014 4:18 pm

      Balconies, open air decks – and privacy? What a grand idea. It does take vision – but people would be so much better off. Thanks for stacking in a comment


  4. katecrimmins / Apr 21 2014 7:20 pm

    Very interesting. I wonder what it’s like to live in something like that.


  5. marthaschaefer / Apr 21 2014 7:25 pm

    Lovely and thought provoking! Thanks for the glimpse outside the box.


  6. jannatwrites / Apr 22 2014 3:51 am

    If one must live in a highly populated area, I think better flow and privacy is a good thing.


  7. shoreacres / Apr 24 2014 2:17 am

    Oh, dang! Now I’m really going to have to consider… You know how I fell in love with Crystal Bridges. I’d love to see that exhibit. On the other hand, leaving town during hurricane season isn’t something I generally like to do – not for an extensive trip, anyhow. We’ll see. I’m just glad to know about it.

    As for the coloring outside the lines – I once got fired by SWBell in KCMO for being unable to stay inside the lines. I was a customer service rep trainee back in the days when a real person actually wrote down your information if you wanted to start, change or end phone service. We had to enter that information on pages that resembled 1/4″ graph paper — and you COULD NOT go outside the lines.

    It was a delightful six weeks. I can’t remember now how many of us were let go after our probationary period, but there were quite a few. I moved over to Liberty Mutual Insurance and was just fine.


    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Apr 24 2014 1:32 pm

      Intrigued by the construction of that museum – now even more so. Pondering the trip, too (Hate that road over – but few took it as an evacuation route.)
      Graph paper! They were as annoying to their employees as to their customers. (And someone was paid to create all those procedures/scripts.)
      Well, the lines you follow now are much more pleasant! Thanks for lining up a comment


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