Category Archives: Architecture



How Earth Made Us – The untold story of history.

This is part 2 in Professor Iain Stewart’s series, “How Earth Made Us”.  I highly recommend you take an hour to watch it as it is superlative!!!

Our planet has amazing power, and yet that’s rarely mentioned in our history books. This series tells the story of how the Earth has influenced human history, from the dawn of civilisation to the modern industrial age. It reveals for the first time on television how geology, geography and climate have been a far more powerful influence on the human story than has previously been acknowledged. A combination of epic story telling, visually stunning camerawork, extraordinary locations and passionate presenting combine to form a highly original version of human history.

Youtube video, “How Earth Made Us – Water”, uploaded on May 16, 2011 – Of all our planet’s forces perhaps none has greater power over us than water.  For me water is the most magical force on earth.  The presence of water shapes, renews and nourishes our planet.  It’s our planet’s life blood, that pumps through it continuously…


This time he explores our complex relationship with water. Visiting spectacular locations in Iceland, the Middle East and India, Iain shows how control over water has been central to human existence. He takes a precarious flight in a motorised paraglider to experience the cycle of freshwater that we depend on, discovers how villagers in the foothills of the Himalayas have built a living bridge to cope with the monsoon, and visits Egypt to reveal the secret of the pharaohs’ success. Throughout history, success has depended on our ability to adapt to and control constantly shifting sources of water.

Discover why societies have succeeded or failed, and how the environment has influenced every aspect of our history from art to industry, religion to war, world domination or collapse. Visiting some of the most iconic places on Earth, How Earth Made Us overturns preconceptions about our civilisations and our cultures to offer a new perspective on who we are today.

~Youtube video presented by Professor Iain Stewart ~

Link to ~ How Earth Made Us—a masterly BBC documentary

Our heartfelt thanks to Professor Stewart
for his exceptional accomplishment!



This YouTube video combines beautiful pictures, inspiring music, and a touching story to help empower people to live more fully. This was uploaded Feb. 6, 2009 and already has over 3 millions viewers!  From

RAINBOW1GIMPTEXTThe happiest people don’t have the best of everything. 

They just make the best of everything.

LIFE COFFEE6Do you complain about the stress in your life and at work?  While it is normal for you to want only the best for yourselves – that is the source of your problems and stress. 

 ROSEGIMPTEXTWhat wonderful words for all to live by ~
the world would certainly be a happier and safer place!

WATERFALL.jpgGIMPTEXTHold the thoughts from this video close to your heart
and really savor your next cup of coffee!!!

Please share this with people you care about.


The following is an excerpt from ‘Forging a path to reduce the residential water footprint’ ~ Water Canada‘s Nov./Dec. issue, by Kaitlynn Dodge


For a city that relies solely on groundwater, conservation is a given challenge. Add to that a rapidly growing population and a strategy to reduce water use by 20 per cent by 2020, and you’ve got one ambitious target. Guelph, Ontario is the fifth fastest growing city in Canada. Currently, population sits at around 118,000, but it is expected to rise to 144,500 by the year 2021.

GUELPH BLUE HOUSE LOGOHow will the city meet the goal? Planners believe that builders have a role to play in municipal water use reduction. That’s the reason that the City launched Blue Built Homes, a water-efficiency standard and rebate pilot program.

GUELPH WATER EFFICIENT HOME BESTGIMPThe initiative encourages collaboration with local builders to promote water efficiency in new building developments and promises long-term financial savings for consumers. The goal is to reduce strain on the water system and help defer costly capital infrastructure investments. Wayne Galliher, Guelph’s water conservation project manager, says that new homes were using on average more water than homes 30 years their age. By understanding the relationship of water use and distribution in the home and going beyond the building code, he says a significant difference can be made. Owners of the 25 Blue Built units built to date are already seeing a return on investment…

GUELPH BLUE HOUSE 5 CROPPEDThe features of a Blue Built Home
Carol Maas, innovation and technology director of the POLIS Water Sustainability Project and author of a pending report on water-sensitive design for new buildings, suggests that Guelph is emerging as an expert in the field. She says that water efficient homes need many of the features that are being applied in Blue Built Homes, such as efficient fixtures and appliances, hot water re-circulation, rainwater harvesting, grey water reuse, and drought-tolerant landscapes… Basic features also include removing water-primed floor drains and improving hot water delivery in the home while using the embedded energy for other purposes. Blue Built silver homes include a grey water reuse system, which reclaims and purifies water from showers and baths to flush toilets. At the gold level, homes feature a rainwater harvesting system that collects, stores, and purifies rainwater for use in toilet flushing, outdoor landscaping, and gardening….

Maas suggests that municipalities benefit most from this type of program through lower infrastructure costs, but consumers seem to be benefiting as well. While there is an initial  investment of $800 to $1,400 to acquire a bronze level certification and a $10,000 to $15,000  investment for gold, buyers are seeing financial returns on their investments. On an annual basis, owners are seeing a 20 to 30 per cent reduction in water and energy costs. As the City moves toward full-cost accounting to meet renewal targets for infrastructure, these savings are expected to increase….An important note for home buyers is the maintenance requirements of installed systems. Understanding those needs and the associated costs will reduce after-the-fact surprises.

WATER CONSERVATION3Driving demand to build blue
Community response to the concept has been positive, but more units will have to be built to achieve the impact that City of Guelph staff are hoping for. Sharing the homeowner experience and educating consumers about the benefits of water efficient homes is an importance piece of that growth. “We want to spread the word about what owners are enjoying about their homes,” says Galliher. The power of social capital is invaluable in helping to gain awareness of what the program is.




Stepwells, also called bawdi or baoli, are unique to India… and are often of architectural significance, just like Chand Baori.

Searching the web and YouTube I found numerous short videos of many different stepwells in India and chose this one as the photography seems to be the best:

Youtube video, “india, chand baori reservoir”, uploaded by  fluglehrer on Mar 25, 2008 ~ “gigantic sight ! a must!”

The following excerpts are taken from the article,  “Chand Baori Step Well in Rajasthan, India“, posted by MumbaiRock on October 16, 2012

Chand Baori in Abhaneri village in eastern Rajasthan, India, is one of the most overlooked landmarks in the country.  It is one of the oldest stepwells in Rajasthan… among the biggest in the  world… This incredible square structure is 13 stories deep, and lined along the walls on three sides are double flight of steps… Built during the 8th and 9th century by King Chanda of Nikumbha Dynasty, the well provided the surrounding areas with a  dependable water source for centuries before modern water delivery systems were introduced.  As the green water at the base attests, the well is no longer in use, but it makes for an interesting stop-over to an architecturally impressive structure that is over 1000 years old.  There’s also a temple adjoining the well for visitors to explore… The well’s sheer endlessly appearing geometric complexity made of stairs and steps ensured that Rajput people had access to water at any time of the year, and from all sides… The large mouth of the well functioned as a rain catching funnel that contributed to the water seeping in from the porous rock at the bottom… At the bottom the well the air is always about 5-6 degrees cooler than at the top.

The steps surround the well on three sides while the fourth side has a set of pavilions built one atop another.

The side that has the pavilions have niches with beautiful sculptures including religious carvings.  There is even a royal residence with rooms for the King and the Queen and a stage for the performing arts.

The well is now a treasure managed by the Archeological Survey of India.


I find it amazing to think that one can travel around the world and visit such wonderfully preserved water castles today.

Wikipedia definition ~ A water castle (German): Wasserburg or Wasserschloss) is a castle or stately home whose site is entirely surrounded by moats or natural water bodies. Topographically water castles are a type of lowland castle.

I created the following video for you
and posted it on YouTube ~ I hope you enjoy it.

Best watched in full screen mode to appreciate the incredible photography.

The remarkable choice of sites, the remarkable French and Italian renaissance architectural style of the buildings, the remarkable artistic landscaping of the adjacent Baroque style formal gardens, and the remarkable use of surrounding water all add up to a fabulous trip back in time when these castles were a vibrant and functioning force within the various countrysides.

The stories behind the origins of various water castles are in themselves a most interesting history lesson and the photos a treasure trove of unsurpassed beauty.

Some of my favorites are:

Chambord Castle, France ~This castle was originally commissioned by Francois I, so that he could be closer to his mistress. But when the affair was over, the castle was mostly forgotten. The Chateau – with its giant hallways and ornate decorations – was picked apart and left to crumble until the Post WWII-era, when it was finally restored.

Frederiksborg Castle, Denmark ~ Frederiksborg Castle is a water castle in Hillerød on the Danish island of Zealand . It is the largest and most important building of the Northern Renaissance and today houses the Danish National Museum.

Chenonceau Castle (France) ~ Chateau Chenonceau was under the direction of Diane de Poitiers who was the king’s mistress at the time. But when the king passed away, his widow, Catherine de Medici, forced out the mistress and made the Chateau her own place of residence. During World War II, the castle served as a barrier between the German-controlled puppet government in France and the actual free world.

Trakai Island Castle (Lithuania) ~ Trakai Island Castle is exactly what its name suggests: an entire island. The castle was made with thick, brick walls, firing galleries galore and is surrounded by a series of locking gates. The castle currently serves as a prominent tourist magnet.

Mont Saint-Michel (France) ~ Mont Saint-Michel is a rocky tidal island and a commune in Normandy, France. It is located approximately one kilometre (just over half a mile) off the country’s north-western coast, at the mouth of the Couesnon River near Avranches. The population of the island is 41, as of 2006. The island has been a strategic point holding fortifications since ancient times, and since the 8th century AD it became the seat of the Saint-Michel monastery, from which it draws the name.

Links ~

You all know that by now we love hearing from you ~ remember that your comments can make a difference in the content of future blogs that we think you’ll enjoy.


It’s no wonder this video has gone viral ~
incredible, awesome, phenomenal!!!

This video was taken the day after the storm “Dagmar” hit the shore. This storm caused a lot of damage in the area. The Atlantic Road was built in 1983-1989 and has become a very popular road for tourists visiting the north-west coast of Norway.

Atlanterhavsveien or The Atlantic Ocean Road is a two-lane highway in Norway connecting the island of Averøy with the mainland at Eide ~ has been declared the world’s best road trip. ENJOY YOUR RIDE!

Interesting Facts about the Atlantic Road Highway

~ Road: Fv. 64 between Vevang in the municipality of Eide and Kårvåg in the municipality of Averøy in Møre og Romsdal.
~ Length: 8.27 kilometres. The Atlantic Road is part of the 36 kilometre long National Tourist Route between Bud and Kårvåg.
~ construction started 1 August 1983. During construction, the area was hit by twelve hurricanes. The highway opened 7 July 1989.
~ 8 bridges totaling a length of 891 metres
~ cost 122 million Norwegian kroner = 20.9449424 million Canadian dollars
~ 25 percent of the cost was financed with tolls and the rest from public grants. Collection of tolls was scheduled to run for 15 years, but by June 1999 the road was paid off and the toll removed.
~ There are four panoramic views and rest areas with facilities in bold architectural forms along the Atlantic Road.
~ people can enjoy the view of the Atlantic Ocean, a rich bird life, spotted seals and whales on rare occasions.

Links ~





New Yorkers love to brag about having the best-tasting drinking water in the country, although residents of high-rise buildings may not realize that their water makes an extra stop on its way from the reservoir. When high-rise residents turn on their taps to have a drink of water, take a shower or wash the dishes, the water comes from a tank located on the roof of the building. In addition to serving as a storage device, the tank creates water pressure through gravity which brings water to each apartment as needed… (By Eric Johnson)

 Watch this impressive YouTube video (fantastic photography) on New York City’s Rooftop Water Tanks ~




To open this topic I’ve included a link to AARP Radio’s Prime Time Postscript on “NYC Water Tanks”: background information on this most unique water system.

Listen to a most interesting talk about New York City’s water system and the rooftop water tanks (all 10,000 – 15,000 of them!) that top all buildings that are higher than 6 stories!!!

“If you’re in New York City, take a look up at the iconic skyline. However, look past the skyscrapers and buildings of glass and at rather, the rooftop wooden water tanks.  Producer Britta Conroy-Randall found out why rooftop water tanks are an essential – and beloved – feature of the city skyline.”

 Listen to a funny incident related at the 3:54 time spot into the talk

I wonder if there are other ‘mega’ cities around the globe using the same bizarre (to me, at least, after hearing this for the first time) system???

These tanks have been “fixtures of the urban landscape for 100 years.”

The city’s water pressure system can’t supply enough pressure to take the water any further than 5 or 6 stories.

The rooftop water tanks are 12 feet high, 13 feet in diameter and most are made of redwood.


Interesting facts  from ‘Longtime emblems of City Roofs, Still Going Strong’ by Jacoba Charles, June 3, 2007 ~

Younger cities often rely on electric pumps to supply water to skyscrapers, but New York’s aged infrastructure, built on shallow bedrock that results in extremely low water pressure, doesn’t allow that technology. Architects outside New York may not even think of using a rooftop tank to hold a building’s water supply, and if they did, who would build it?

To watch the tankmen practice their craft is to witness a construction technique that has transcended time, as was evident one day not long ago when a Rosenwach crew was building a water tank on the roof of a 24-story hotel rising near the Empire State Building. Three men moved nimbly around a narrow, railfree scaffolding almost 300 feet above the street, while two others handed up planks from the rooftop below. It took less than two hours to construct the body of the tank, setting vertical boards in place using only a hammer and a rope.


  See you back here tomorrow for

                        Part 2: New York City’s

                                      Rooftop Water Tank Construction.