Modern can be beautiful

(Estimated reading time: less than 2 minutes)

I was intrigued, and delighted, to learn that the Aviva building in Perth has been awarded A-list status. This recognises it as an iconic building. I don’t know how many people in Perth would name it as a favourite building; I don’t know how much resistance – if any – there was when it was built in 1983. 

It is essentially a series of concrete blocks. However, it was built into the hill in a sympathetic way. And it incorporated landscape gardens from the outset. I’m sure that the development of the trees and shrubs has helped to soften the edges.  I refer to it as ‘The hanging gardens of Aviva’. (See picture below.)

For me there is an important lesson here. This building is a functional office. It is not elaborate or ornate. Yet, it fits with its environment. It is comfortable in its location.

Fit for purpose, and fit to preserve. That’s not a bad model for architectural design, and for the design of systems and institutions in our modern world.


Please, please do not ‘Reply All’

I’m old enough to remember a time when we did not have e-mail. So I can clearly see the benefits that it has brought to communication. It also a burden, mainly because it is cheap.

deleteHow many e-mails do you receive each day that you automatically delete?

The delete button is my best friend. The first step in my workflow is to decide if an e-mail (or incoming piece of paper) can be deleted.

This week I have experienced two of my pet e-mail peeves. Earlier this week a colleague sent me an e-mail about an urgent, time sensitive matter. The problem with this is that I do not sit and wait for the thrill of a new e-mail arrival. I process e-mail in batches – at set points in the day. So for most of the working day I close down my e-mail software. Urgent matters require a walk along the corridor or a phone call. I know it seems like dated technology but talking to someone is a powerful communication tool with built-in feedback.

My other pet peeve is the use of the reply all button. I can’t be the only one who thinks this function should be disabled from all e-mail software.

I know this will shock some people, but I don’t care if you’re available for the meeting unless I’m the one organising it; and I’m not interested in your comments on the paper unless I’m the author or editor.

Please stop it! Think about the recipients. They have plenty of e-mail to deal with already. If 20 people are asked about their availability for an event and they all ‘reply all’, that’s 380 unnecessary e-mails to be dealt with. It’s expensive and frustrating and completely pointless.

Please, please do not ‘reply all’.

My only bookshelf?

As yesterday’s entry rolled around in the space between my ears, a thought occurred.

Why do I keep so many books?  If they aren’t suitable for ‘my ideal bookshelf’ or for reference purposes, do they serve any purpose?    What is the emotional attachement to books read (fully or partly) years ago?

Could this be the start of a radical de-cluttering?  Why does the prospect fill me with a degree of horror?  It seems eminently sensible.  Fewer shelves to dust, more space to use, maybe even restoring some order out of the chaos of books in just about every room in the house.

Maybe less is more.  Hmmm, food for thought!

Has anyone been brave enough to take a similar approach?