Category Archives: creativity

My favorite designs from the Cooper Cabin blog

The Cooper Cabin Weblog When we bought the cabin, I put up a quick free blog hosted on Blogspot to post photos to so we could show the changes the cabin has gone through.  While we have done that, I have posted a lot of design and architecture links to it as well which has generated a growing amount of traffic over the years. Over the last year the site has been linked to by several architectural firms, some classes, and some publications as a niche architectural design resource which has been really cool.  I am not an architect or a designer but it’s nice that my curation efforts are recognized. 

As I was looking for something today and I had a lot of fun looking back at some of the amazing buildings, boats, and structures found in the architectural section of the site.  Here are some of my favorites.

  • The Saskatoon Hayloft :: This is a fun post because I saw it being created day by day as I walked or drove by it on my way to work.  What started as a Safeway store in the 20s turned into a home and performance space that is one of the jewels of Caswell Hill.
  • Floating Home on Lake Huron :: When I think of projects like this, I don’t think of them being located on the Great Lakes.  When you do take a look at both the design and the location, you realize how it all fits together (although I am not sure how the ice doesn’t tear it apart in the winter).
  • The Shack at Hinkle Farm Unplugged :: A series of cabins who are all off the grid.  While some are a little over the top, the Shack at Hinkle Farm is a long time design favorite.
  • Rustic Houseboat by the Sea :: If I was single and lived near a large body of water, I would love to have a place like this to get away to.  It’s a little rustic by my standards and I doubt it would be comfortable on a really hot day but the idea is a great one.
  • Home Office Cube in Chile :: This is quite high end but what a great concept.  The contrast between being open and closed is incredible.
  • Compact beach chalet in the U.K. :: While I get a kick out of how close the English can put beach front cabins together and I am not sure if I would want to live like that, I do really like how this cabin is designed on the inside, now if it could only generate some elbow room.
  • The Cube :: How great would it be to have a home office on the side of a mountain, especially one that seemed to blend right into the mountain and at the same time disappear while you are in it.
  • Chen House :: This is an interesting design that strives to integrate life inside and the surrounding environment together.  It also has an interesting flexible engineering structure designed to move with the wind and the rains rather than stand up to them.
  • A lo-fi urban private club :: A fun post about a private urban country club in New York.  Why more of these don’t exist, I don’t know.  Before you ask, I have tried to get one for the parking lot at work and was vetoed.
  • A wonderful weekend getaway An off the grid weekend getaway :: This is nothing more than a repurposed boat shed in the middle of nowhere but what a great layout.  It inspired us to open up our cabin and rearrange the layout and design of it.  While we are definitely on the grid, it does show you how little you need to get away from the city and enjoy the weekend.  I think of all of the projects I have linked to, this is my favorite.
  • A Hermit’s Cabin :: I keep thinking I am going to build one of these for Mark and Oliver at the lake.
  • Emergency shelter’s made from pallets :: As I have posted before, I am not sure why these aren’t used in places like Haiti and other places where there are large scale refugees needing quick, cheap, and stable emergency housing that can be improved over time.

Of course, if you have comments or other suggestions that you think would fit in, let me know in the comments.

Free download of Human Centered Design Toolkit

Human Centered Design Toolkit

This free download comes to you from IDEO.

IDEO partnered with International Development Enterprises (IDE), Heifer International, ICRW, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to create a toolkit for applying Human-Centered Design to inspire new solutions to difficult challenges within communities of need.

Human-Centered Design is a process used for decades to create new solutions for companies and organizations. Human-Centered Design can help you enhance the lives of people. This process has been specially-adapted for organizations like yours that work with people in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. Human-Centered Design (HCD) will help you hear people’s needs in new ways, create innovative solutions to meet these needs, and deliver solutions with financial sustainability in mind.

All new materialicious

materialiciousâ„¢ has been relaunched with a new design.  materialiciousâ„¢ is a visual curation site featuring residential architecture and design, craftsmanship, materials and products and has long been one of my favorite sites on the web.

The new design is a big departure from the old Typepad hosted site but after a couple of days of looking around, it has really grown on me.  For those of you who are regular readers, you may want to note that it’s RSS feed has changed.

The National Film Board Opens the Archives

I think we are all in agreement, that is the greatest Canadian short ever made.  I found it while checking out the National Film Board‘s new site which has high quality streaming videos for free.  Not only does this excite the historian in me, it excites the Residential Coordinator in me as the guys at the Centre love documentaries.  With a laptop, wifi connection and a television, there is a lot of good stuff to show that would quite difficult to get otherwise. 

A Year Under the Perfect Sun

A Year Under the Perfect SunI posted a couple of weeks ago that I had ordered A Year Under the Perfect sun from the Ecclesia Collective. It’s a zine put together by Jason and Brooke Evans and within minutes of submitting my order, I got an e-mail from Jason saying it had been sent.  A couple days after Christmas it arrived and Wendy and I sat down to read it.

I haven’t bought a zine in years (which along with the fact that I am bald and now own a Honda Accord may mean that I am not the hipster I think thought I was) and I almost forgot what to expect.  What I got a well written, beautifully designed piece that actually inspired me and reminded me what living as a Christian is about and has made me think that if I was going to move, moving to be a part of what the Ecclesia Collective is doing in San Diego would be a good idea (although that may be the -47 degrees celcius weather talking as well).

If you haven’t ordered your copy yet, head on over and get your order in.  While I am sure the black and white version looks good, you will want to get the color copy, it’s worth the extra money.  After reading the zine through, I found myself (and Mark) going through it a couple of times just to enjoy the design and the graphics.

I was going to take some photos of it but I saw these on the Collective website and they give you an idea of how it looks and the time that was put into it.

A Year Under the Perfect Son A Year Under the Perfect Sun

Not only does it give a great overview of what the Ecclesia Collective did in 2008, it’s a great conversation starter for what your community can do in 2009.

The Tumbleweed Tiny House Company

Over the years I have become a big fan of Tumbleweed Tiny House Company designs and what Jay Schafer is doing there.  Not only does Tumbleweed design great homes, I have really come to appreciate their website.  It is an excellent design with a great CMS and uses web services like Flickr really effectively.  I guess I should expect a website like this from a company that builds homes as well designed as they do.

What Makes for a Good Blog?

Merlin Mann of 43 Folders fame has a list of things he thinks makes up a good blog.

I’ve come to believe that creative life in the first-world comes down to those who try just a little bit harder. Then, there’s the other 98%. They’re still eating the free continental breakfast over at FriendFeed. A good blog is written by a blogger who thinks longer, works harder, and obsesses more. Ultimately, a good blogger tries. That’s why “good” is getting rare.

The list is a good one but this paragraph got to me.  He’s totally right and it bothers me because I haven’t put that much time and effort into this site because I have been too busy doing things that I think are quite a bit more important.  It’s a challenge because good writing takes time and time is what I don’t have much of anymore.  It’s crazy but I am in the middle of 24 straight days without a day off.  Some of those days include 16 hour shifts. It’s hard to find the time or the energy to put into the blog.  I cringe when I see posts go live that would be so much better if I had an hour to flesh it out but lately those hours are better spent with Wendy, Mark, Oliver, or just sleeping.

If you stick with me, the quality will return.  I promise but it’s going to take a few weeks.

My Gadgets

I was called a bit of a hypocrite for my last post because of my own perceived technology usage.  I assume that some think I have a disposable collection of iPhones but in reality I am a bit of a luddite.  Here is my list.

  • Samsung flip phone| 3 years old and is a pay as you go phone from SaskTel.  You can call me on it but unless I am travelling or am call for something, I won’t answer.  It probably won’t even be on.
  • Moleskine| Darryl Dash got me to switch from my obsolete Sony Clie a couple of years ago.  I go through one every year or so.  I don’t know if you can call paper and a pen technology but I carry one with me lots.
  • I have use a larger hard cover book that my friend Darren Friesen talked me into using.  Instead of keeping files, I date pages, write notes, and make them into action items if needed later.  I file them and the moleskine as an archive of my thoughts when they are done.
  • Sony PSP| Lee game me one for Christmas.  I do have a half dozen games for it, the game I enjoy the most is baseball.  The main use for it is watching downloaded videos from YouTube and Google Video at the lake.  It’s also cool in that I bring it on the road and with Skype installed, it is a cheap way to call home.
  • iPod Nano(four gig) | This is my favorite possession and I use it quite a bit at work, home, and at the lake.  I have a couple of cheap speakers I plug it into at the office and hit shuffle.  For Father’s Day Wendy and Mark gave me some speakers that we use at the cabin in place of having a stereo there and moving CD’s back and forth.   I also use it to listen to a couple of podcasts a week (Nick and Josh, Meet the Press, CBC Sask and CBC Ideas).  It integrates in with and it allows you to see what I have been listening to on the sidebar.
  • I have an old Dell D600 notebook.  I got it cheap and it runs Windows XP pretty well.  Sub notebooks are still a vice of mine.  If I need a 19 inch screen, I’ll buy a desktop.

It is a pretty boring list and is a long way from where I used to be.  (Remember the Timex Ironman PDA?)   I am not sure what changed but the technolust that I used to have isn’t there anymore.  I am not saying that gadgets are bad but they don’t mean nearly as much to me as they used to.   Looking through the archives of this site are embarrassing for me.  The sad thing is that I used to think they were the key to the future of the church in North America (high end media system, 3D animations, webcasting, streaming interactive sermons…)  While I still use a lot of technology and I like to think I still understand technology, I am far more selective in what I am using.  Eugene Peterson reminded me in The Jesus Way that uncritical adoption of technology is not a good way to live life.  I think this can be demonstrated by almost every Blackberry user that I have ever seen or some of my friends on Facebook who are shocked that when they post photos of themselves at their friends stag cause people to gossip about them at work.  I don’t think I have it right by any means but the above list has been agonized over.  Even if it does mean I am a Luddite.

The rustic re-use cabin

I live this a lot and it only cost $15,000.00 so far to build.


Paul Stankey (of hive Modular prefab fame) and his brother Scott (and their wives) have (almost) completed the container cabin they’ve been building on their family property in northern Minnesota for the past nine years. Cost so far: $15,000.

Readymade Digital

hiveMODULAR’s first blog post on the cabin & an update


This looks really cool. It is like a gym but for writers. I thought about this a couple of months ago. I was up in Spiritwood for a board meeting and Wendy was out chatting. The board meeting got done about 90 minutes early and I didn’t know where Wendy was and I had her cell phone with me. So I spent some time just relaxing and praying in the sanctuary in total quiet. City quiet and country quiet are two totally different things and in the sanctuary that night, there was not a bit of sound.

I remember thinking how much I would love to find that in the city and thought maybe I might not be the only one. I got thinking of all of these churches in the city that are locked from Sunday to Sunday and thought of the great service they would provide to people just looking for a sanctuary from the noise. Maybe some comfortable chairs, a ban on cell phones, and some good coffee. Even some wifi with chairs spread far enough apart that you can’t here other people typing away.

It isn’t a church doing this but Paragraph has done this in New York. What a great idea. I wish I had someplace like this in Saskatoon. If you know of any places where I can find silence, leave them in the comments below. via