Anti-Skyline

Anti-Skyline

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Vancouver Towers

Vancouver can be a bit of an alien place at times. Gazing across the water, I don’t know that any image better represents the combination of dense urbanity, maritime connection, and epic nature than this one does. With the last warm hues of sunlight reflecting from the water and the windows, the blues of the forest (and night) beyond begin to dominate.

Vancouver Towers

Elven Kitchen

In the sylvan core of UBC’s (aptly named) Green College, a few random buildings hide with the trees. Some have pedestrian uses (literally—the building on the right is a stairwell), but others are more surreal: this little cottage is a shared-use kitchen. As the first rays of moonlight catch the scene, I can’t help but be reminded of some Tolkienesque elven fortress.

Elven Kitchen

Hills of British Columbia

Outside Vancouver (the city) are the hillsides, dotted with homes and apartment buildings and, farther north, massive rocks. (That’s a pretty rare combination.) The difference between the soft, welcoming pink hues of the sunset and those massive hillsides (with some lovely evergreens in the foreground) is stranger, the more I think about it.

This picture also illustrates the biggest difference I’ve encountered since moving from the west coast to the east: the environments are less staggering and overwhelming, but the skies (and the buildings) are much more so. I’ve had to reorient the way I shoot to account for it.

Hills of British Columbia

Nitobe Tree

While I’m on the trend of remembering summers past (and mourning the end of our own summer), I’m also going to reminisce about our trip to the University of British Columbia’s Nitobe Memorial Garden last summer. Look at that lushness. Foliage everywhere. And, as I like to joking call it, the “enormous bonsai tree” framing the soft scene.

Nitobe Tree

Vancouver Sky

There’s something magnificent about the views around Vancouver of the hills and the water. There’s something even more amazing about those same views around sunset when the sky just absolutely fills with color. For these reasons, among others, Vancouver’s got to be one of my favorite places on this planet.

That and if you walk around long enough you start to recognize locales featured in MacGyver.

Vancouver Sky

Japanese Garden Fence

In the already quiet and calming Nitobe Memorial Garden, this particular corner is the quietest and most calming of them all. At the back of the garden, where few other visitors go, is this tiny fenced-off area. Though this yard is actually adjacent to the ceremonial tea house, I much prefer imagining that an elderly couple lives here, and will be out to tend the garden shortly.

Japanese Garden Fence

Almost Rivendell

UBC’s Green College (shown here from another angle) is almost 100 years old, but when you’re inside it, the passage of time seems to stop. The heavy, wooden columns and beams seem to have been there forever. The trees are enormous, and enigmatic towers and cottages dot the interior, like the buildings of some alternate-reality castle.

Almost Rivendell

Cyberdojo

The University of British Columbia’s campus has the odd quality that many modern campuses do. The vast majority of the buildings are post-war additions, and carry the strong characteristics and visions of each of their respective architects. This particular building caught my eye for the way it integrates a Japanese-style bridge, pool, and island into the courtyard of what could otherwise be a glossy but unremarkable structure.

The combination makes me think of the entrance to some sort of futuristic dojo in a cyberpunk novel. No wonder William Gibson calls Vancouver home.

Cyberdojo

Kami’s Rock

An enormous, moss-covered stone mediates the meeting between pathway and stream, deep within the Nitobe Memorial Gardens at the University of British Columbia. Though the calm pond and the massive entrance have given a broader idea of the Gardens’ feel, I really like the calmer, more compact corners. These little areas seem like the perfect place for a kami to live.

Kami's Rock

Shinto Entrance

This is the lovely entrance to the Nitobe Memorial Garden at the University of British Columbia. Brendan previously showed you some views from farther inside, but there’s something about the entrance itself that is particularly lovely.
Part of my attraction must certainly be from all of the anime and manga I consumed as a teenager, but even when considered objectively, the garden is gorgeous. I first thought it a bit contradictory to imagine a serene place to be overwhelming, but that was just the experience when I walked into the Garden.

Shinto Entrance

Green College

This photograph comes from within the walls of Green College at the University of British Columbia. I really recommend clicking through to read all about its somewhat bizarre history. The dormitory is a place where academics of all ages come together to exchange ideas and cook extremely garlicky food. The combination of alpine architecture and enormous trees makes it feel like a cross between Hogwarts and Rivendell. I was feeling these mystical vibes in the middle of the night, as the Moon peaked through the trees and I took this picture.

Green College

Heavyweight Theology

During our recent trip to the University of British Columbia, Brendan spotted what looked a bit like a castle rising from behind the otherwise modern architecture of the university. What he saw was the Iona Building, the heart of the Vancouver School of Theology. It struck me as a little bit odd to see such an imposing and explicitly religious building on the campus of a public university, but hey–that’s Canada for you. The building’s provenance does little to diminish its architectural achievement.

Heavyweight Theology