site series // a test 008


a test 008 –
1 UNIT: space under construction
TYPE(s): architecture, new building
AR/TIFACT(s): 03

A new vehicle has entered the scene. It was at work in the background before while the CAT was busy clearing and moving dirt. Concrete’s almost complete. The calm before the storm that is Steel to arrive on site.



DEC // Happy Holidays


Bi-weekly my butt! And just like that it’s the holidays. So here’s a December update – thoughts, things I’ve read, and finally…not a test! But Happy Holidays from CAT! Hopefully a test 008 very soon, over the holidays.

A couple weeks ago, a good friend of mine wrote up an interesting article on the current state of architecture schools. I know…these articles are all over the internet. What Nicolas collects are a great number of thoughts from prominent educators in the leading architecture schools of America. The focus of the article is in the revitalization of the PoMo movement in student work, and the question of whether that’s a bad thing or not. At the end of the day, I am not for or against any style in particular, so my opinion could be rather moot. I did however enjoy this quote by Michael Young –

Young, however, still offered a little opposition: “We have to understand one of our strongest political positions is within aesthetics. It is what we do. We alter the background of what people assume to be the way the world looks.”

I don’t know that I would agree that architects are moving more towards just making ‘images’ now, because I’m strongly of the opinion that useful and beautifully designed built physical space is what brings value to an architect. The ‘image’ that we add on top is icing on top of an already deeply multi-coloured cake.

If it hasn’t been evident already, I am really very keen to get into the whole smart city world of Sidewalk Labs. As an architect, I’m not particularly useful to them just yet, as they already have a lineup of architectural consultants (re. heavy timber design..etc.). But since I am very interested in the idea of a virtual (AR) overlay on a city, I would love to get into the R&D or innovation side of things, to see if my idea could be of any use in a smart city. In any case, this article really pinpoints the fact that technology is a driver for design. Maybe many traditionalists would argue that technology is just a tool, but the reality is that if you don’t use the tools properly and effectively, they will eventually move past you and become the drivers.

“If our built spaces can be designed with an awareness of how to design with technological elements, the relevance of architecture will begin to shift. “

So taking a very different turn, I’ve been reading a lot of ‘how this’, ‘how that’ articles that have to do with living a better life, being more productive, yada yada. There was a phase where I was reading a lot of them to help justify the things I decided to do or accomplish, but I have since gotten over it. I find my time is better placed elsewhere, whether it’s winding down with some doodling, taking a break and actually enjoying some video games, or in other more fruitful readings. In any case, one of the latest articles I came across on medium was this. Persuasion is a very useful skill. Not just to get what you want or purely for your own self-interest, but also to help others figure out what it is that they want and thereby making them better decision makers. This doesn’t come without some underlying tactics to be a more effective negotiator though, and so I think out of many of the writings I’ve read about the topic, this one summarizes the tactics pretty concisely:

To persuade someone, we need to prove we are worth listening to.
Some ways to do this:

Tell stories about yourself.Good stories require empathy, and empathy leads the reader to trust the storyteller (you).

Present your credentials. Show you are qualified, but do not brag.

Show your connections with others.Mention your relations with someone who is trustworthy, and you suddenly appear trustworthy too.

Similar to the previous ‘self-help’ type of reading, I found this short article on how to get things done. The solution is easy – ask how a lazy person would do it. Given that you ask a very smart lazy person, I think this is an excellent idea, and it makes a lot of sense. Don’t get me wrong, I love effort. I tend to evaluate or judge people based on effort. But if they can show they can complete or approach something with the fastest solution possible without sacrificing quality, then I’m all for it.


Well that’s it from me. If I don’t see you before, then HAPPY NEW YEAR world!


muse, sketch

NOV // Monthly Progress

At the rate I have been reading, learning, sketching and producing, I think it is safe to assume that I have been able to push out a test once a month. It is probably a good benchmark for me as I am. Now this is the point where I realize weekly has become bi-weekly and then bi-weekly has become monthly. And eventually the project fizzles into the dust of an alternate universe. But, I think monthly is actually totally achievable. It gives me time to learn in my job (for the site series tests), read enough interesting buzz to reflect about, sketch my next ideas, and of course, produce a test.

So how goes this monthly? Test 007 came out smoothly and was well received on instagram. Probably the best place to follow for just my test progress, whereas my text updates will happen here on the blog. It will come in two parts, the first will be test sketches as well as interesting articles or ideas that have come up. And the second part will be the actual test. I guess…that means I’m back to bi-weekly. 🙃

Here’s a collection of interesting AR stories I’ve read recently (actual article of course, may not be too recent)

“… but really any time you’re working on new stuff the goal should be for the radical new technology to basically just disappear, to be invisible to the user.”

  • Nike’s new NYC flagship store is fueled by its mobile app
    There were a slew of these articles released the past few months about Nike’s new retail stint. It’s pretty darn cool, I’d definitely be down to check it out. Retail ain’t dying yet, not on Nike’s watch.

  • Opendesk launches augmented-reality shopping for its open-source furniture
    Speaking of AR in retail, here’s another one closer to home (haha…) I Like this idea, and I’ve tried it unsuccessfully with the ikea app earlier this year when I got my (now outdated) ipad. With the new ARKit2 opportunities though, there’s just so much possibility.
  • Think Generative Design Is Overhyped? These Examples Could Change Your Mind
    I’ve linked and mused about a Redshift article before. Here’s another one that caught my eye. There is some controversy regarding generative design to replace space making (and from the designer’s perspective, it could be a scary thought — what use am I now?), but what about if we shifted that perspective to understand generative design as a partner to design? We’re not getting replaced, we’re just getting actively and exponentially assisted in ways we never could have imagined just a few years ago. I remember walking through Autodesk’s new Toronto office, and there was a little display talking about how generative design is helping with boeing aircraft design to not only increase the strength of the shell, but also reduce weight, reduce waste, reduce fuel needed. Just so many things.  That made me incredibly excited.

I’ll finish off with sketches for Test 008. Somehow it looks like I’ve caught up to construction progress. Perhaps the next test will be a break and I will intercede with some recent event tests. Moving on up
sketch 008




site series // a test 007


a test 007 –
1 UNIT: space under construction
TYPE(s): architecture, new building
AR/TIFACT(s): 02

The Cat’s still around busy backfilling the foundation. Slab on grade is in place. Suspended slab formwork is in progress, and the main level peri system formwork boards are getting craned in.

Sitework is progressing way ahead of my tests, but we’re making headway finally! I went to a mini lecture recently where Bjarke Ingels came to Toronto to talk about the new development going up on King West. There is a plan in place to interject my site series with a test from there. Not sure how the numbering will solve itself yet.

Did you see the new ipad pro? The forever question of do I need it vs do I want it.

muse, sketch


I happened on this article and blog a week or two ago and it’s got me pretty excited. First, the name of the site is great — failedarchitecture. Not unlike baseball, architecture’s playing a tough ball game of success vs. failure. We’re talking about stats where edging below 50% is considered phenomenal. More often than not, the chances are pretty low for ringing out truly remarkable and amazing work of architecture. Not that there are not enough successes versus failures out there, but architecture in itself is just such a long long process. But I digress — the baseball season just wrapped up (congrats to the Red Sox!) so that was on my mind.

What’s fascinating about this article? Aside from the excellent examples of explorations in AR, I think the author has really highlighted the increased importance that AR can play in our urban environment.  Hyperreality is a fantastic video, definitely take a look. The overlay of digital information added to an extreme case of gamification and identity crisis really sheds light on a potential future for humanity. Both terrifying and inspiring, to say the least.

“Matsuda’s film ultimately suggests that augmented reality may become so commonplace as to be essential to making sense of one’s world.”

The merging of AR with reality reminds me an old anime from 2007 I watched, called Dennou Coil. That feeling when a majority of life is experienced through a digital overlay, including pets.


dennou coil screenshot from the internet

I was also excited to read about ‘Urban Tapestries‘, a research project that combined the flexibility of the mobile device and GIS with internet technology to develop a network of shared locations. It reminds me of an early predecessor to the ‘check-in’ app Foursquare or Facebook’s check-in status update. I’m intrigued with this project, particularly because it explores something very similar to what I had in mind. The article puts it best: a “thoughtfully-considered and collectively-generated vision of spatial augmentation through mobile digital technology”.

While the project was completed well over 10 years ago, this level of depth and expanse of a research project is along the trajectory of where I want my project to go. But who knows, things may divert once I actually start developing.

“At turns both wildly hypothetical and eerily prescient, Headmap explores in-depth the implications of “location-aware” augmented reality as a kind of “parasitic architecture” affording ordinary people the chance to annotate and re-interpret their environments.”

So what of my turtle of a project so far? Well test 007, part of my ‘site series’ is underway. By means of a sketch below. I’ll pick up the pace quite soon, just been delayed by my distracted nature of being interested in too many things at the same time.

Following along with the construction of the project I’m working on in my full-time job has been very helpful though, so the goal is to keep up with that in the near future. I’m probably a couple weeks behind relative to what’s actually happening on site, but as I mentioned in the beginning of this post, architecture just takes so so long. So I think I will catch up soon enough. Cheers!

sketch 007

muse, test

Site Series // a test 006

a test 006 –
1 UNIT: space under construction
TYPE(s): architecture, new building
AR/TIFACT(s): 01

As with my last few, developing unit tests based on my
own personal experiences has been the easiest way to learn. It also helps me go from experience
> pen > paper > digital production > blog
a lot more smoothly. Amidst attending
lectures, visiting site tours and hobby doodling, in my day job, I am still a
full-time (almost) architect. What better place to extract from?

The project I have been on for the past two years is finally
under construction, and being both blessed with great leaders and lucky to have
seen all parts of the project so far, I am now able to drop in site to watch
the building physically take shape. And so this next series (an undetermined
amount as of now) will be an exploration of ground-up architecture. This test actually compiles a few phases of the start of
construction. From site preparation and soil analysis to formwork for the
foundations to sheeting foundation walls with the proper water vapour barriers
and insulation. These diagrammatic tests are in no way an accurate
representation of the exact building construction, but they serve as an
illustration for the phases that I get to observe when I go to site.

There are
currently already several technologies utilizing mixed reality to not only aid
the construction process, for example in commissioning or building inspection
that enable users of a hardhat + visor to get a digital augmented visualization
of the innards of the building as it is getting constructed. One such would be
Daqri’s Smart Helmet. Pretty neat. My idea is focused more on a
finished product detail, but that isn’t to say am AR overlay couldn’t be
applied early on during it’s construction.

I’m excited
for this series because I can see a lot of growth out of it, even if all the unit will ever show is the corner of a building. The only sad part is  the CAT won’t always be in the


a test 005

A test 005 –
1 UNIT: built space
OCCUPANCY: private office
TYPE(s): architecture, renovation
AR/TIFACT(s): 04


Back after a mini hiatus of busy busy. I finally got into the inside view of test 004. I don’t think it’s quite where I wanted but I also have a new idea for a new test series, so I wanted to move on with that. I may have to steer clear of interiors for the time being, it’s not working out too well yet.

Stay tuned, I’m back on a roll.