Monday, 24 March 2008


Akron Art Museum, Ohio by Coop Himmelblau

Sook Tin's post raises 2 main, and very interesting, issues which I've used in the title. You guys have already started the discussion, I'm just adding a few more angles here for you to come up with more opinions.

One of the problems with Decon is that while it is fascinating and exciting standing by itself (...wish somebody would build one in Malaysia) it doesn't always sit well in historical settings. It sometimes seems to want to shove the old out of the way, or patronise it by showing off greater (technological) muscle--see how one of the butterfly wings hovers over the old building.

The other morsel for thought is: Can you imagine an entire chunk of a city made up of decon buildings? What would it be like, living in that area? If the idea of decon is to shock, then can anyone stand the massive shock waves that must envelope the decon village? (See, even the traditional word "village" doesn't go well with "decon".) How many decon buildings can Penang take?

The other subject of signature style is fascinating...but it's as old as the hills. Or rather, the idea of styles as a generator of architecture is. It will always crop up when the genius of imagination grows old and tired and the convenience of the pattern book arises, like a free buffet after a 7-day fast. Most of you have the (correct) suspicion that it's not a master to be subject to. Quite.

Hey...let's hear more from you guys.

JVC Entertainment Centre by Coop Himmelblau


Jon da Penang said...

hey ian, im first to comment...yay..haha...but u lost me in the last paragraph thoh, but anyhow...this is what i think..i feel that the personal style thing is not what we try to be, but it just sort of settles in with our personality when we design, like maybe for me im sort of attracted to metal, especially metals that look sterile, like aluminium...hehe...

so what im saying is that when we first imagine our buildings initailly, it is most of the time the things that are in us...well for me at least...anyone care to share if he she feels the same?....PLEASE SAY U DO....

kelvin said...

for me i've no styles! Mr.Liaw told me that... for this stage, especially learning stage, try not to get restricted! we should explore more and more ! try New things! instead of thinking to create ur own style.. we will get to that by and by!

Jon da Penang said...

yea...totally agree, we shd not constrict oursf. but i was thinking not about styles thoh, its more like when i first see the site, a building from the brief comes into my mind, and that its most of the time a form of building that has the same language no matter where or what, preconceive building form...and normally i will pursue that form...sometimes not... haha and i see ur hyper, use all "!!!" pula...ur team win lar hor....hahahahhaha...

kelvin said...

opsss .. sory i wasnt!~ i used to it aa! ok i change to this ~~ hehehee... it was juz suddent reminded me what mr.liaw told me and i share.. no offences at all ..~~ hehe..~~

Jon da Penang said... offence taken....u just owe me a teh tarik..haha...kidding.. and i was hoping for u to give me a solution to my prob thoh...nvm lar u get back to ur work now...all the best...hehe..

bblsh said...

wah...all din sleep ar!?so pia...haiz!!!

LuvEiEi said...

i read abt this yesterday afternoon!!! its realy interesting!!!
yes yes! i agree with ian, i would like see this kinda buildings in malaysia!!!

analnymous said...

i agree with kelvin. as read in the star newspaper yesterday, ms zaha hadid achieved fame only after almost 30 years since graduating from the AA. To me, it was the 30 years something that really developed her 'style' and 'self' to what she is today. Everyone rejected the decon queen's work till the late 1990s. I guess she and her team really morphosized over the decades and finally caught the attention of the world.

as to what mr liaw said, as 3rd year diploma students, we ought to take this student-level opportunity to experiment different 'styles' and stretch our limits. No one would know his/her niche with only 3years of architectural education, whats more with insufficent real-life experience.

I personally admire the deconstructed constructions of ms hadid, libeskind, gehry & koolhaas. But, having imagine a city made up of decon buildings as pictured by mr. ian, boy, it freaked me out. Individually, a decon structure is undoubtly a sight to behold and great conversational subject. Group them together which I foresee will happen in the near future; erm.

Sook Tin said...

Deconstructivist architects for sure have real complex mind & wild fantasy@@ how i wish i can pick up their skills to fragmentize things and put them together to create something with a loud message

ian ng said...

You might want to just read DECONSTRUCTIVIST ARCHITECTURE under Wikiepedia for an easy to understand quick overview.

Yes, Zaha just stuck at it. Her brother gave her a little bit of furniture to design in the early days to publicise her name. My friend studied one sem under her at AA. I'll try to invite him to crit you guys for final presentation. Things started to happen for her when she won the HK Peak Club competition with a building nobody knew how to build. I thought the dwg were marvellous! Well, she's won the Pritzker Prize and nobody can ignore her now. She's less jagged and more "bio-constructivist" now. All please read Emergent philosphy of Tom Wiscombe. (And how many of you have read at least 30% of Veron's article Haptacity? spelling?excusemua.)

Which brings me to the issue of style.

You must understand this at different levels.

STYLE that is not encouraged is STYLING, i.e. making buildings look a certain way to follow a certain style. This occurs at surface visual level only. Good to look at. Looks like whoever's building. But has no depth. Does not stand up to scrutiny. You analyse it and can't see why the building has to look/be like that. Don't have to have indepth knowledge of structure, enviro control, space planning, history, theory, to design like that. Anybody can do. Just copy the look from an arch. magazine. STYLING IS SUPERFICIAL--on the surface only.

REAL STYLE has an INTELLECTUAL BASIS. Decon architects (those names Junhao menioned) have a theoretical premise, an argued agenda for designing the way they do. Whether you agree with their agenda is a different matter. But the fact is they are not arbitrary, they can reason out their outcomes. And it's all up for vigourous debate.

Therefore it is not wrong to design in the real style of decon or postmod or late mod or biocon or whatever if you design from the theoretical base and not from the the superficial skin. Are you with me? Your outcome may still look like the outcome of someone who designs "stylingly" at first glance but yours will stand up to examination.

A good design project for students would in fact be to design, say, an art gallery in the DECON style for, say, Taiping. It will force you to study the decon philosophy and flex your creative muscles in producing the outcome. (That's what Tintin is hoping and wishing she could do--think like those complex minds, right?)

So, you see, my dear guys, there's no room for the lazy bones. You have to read, you have to debate, you have to understand indepth. That's how you will get good buildings. You'll, in this sense, need to be able to design in any style thrown at you.

It's ok at the start of the project brief, Jon, to have this fixation with certain forms or snatches of forms. You'll then have to really get into the project---site analysis, brief analysis, historical examination, available technology, spatial requirements-both physical and poetical, etc---all the sweaty (for some, boring) stuff---BEFORE you let the formal expressions creep up on you, like the sun rising in the landscape of you mind.

Am I making sense, Guys, or am I just talking to myself?

Why do I say that the day you design in a fixed style you will die? Because style is the passing consequence of your living, ongoing imaginative response to any design exercise that comes your way. And your response will use all the data or raw material I listed above. They change with time, you change with it. "To change with change, that is the changeless state." Agree? By the time you guys become tutors, your students will be laughing at decon as old fashion. So, what? Are you going to be still designing in that "fixed style"?

So what is SIGNATURE STYLE then? This is a slithery thing, something not easily grasped. Norman Foster appears to have a signature style because his design preoccupations (the issues he addresses) are unchanged over a range of projects--industrial component parts, non-ornamentation, minimum structure, minimum detail, non-historical references (therfore Late-Modern), muted pigmentation, glass as skin, etc. If you adopted these preoccupations chances are your building would look fairly similar to his, tempered only by your "peculiar personality".

As you go along trying all sorts of true styles with intellectual vigour you will begin to understand the applicability and limits of each style. And you will begin to develop a maturing skill at approaching each design project with increasing inventiveness. And that's the key--inventiveness, creativity, the ability to think out of the box, to see opportunities where others see constraints. The result will be a fresh, original style for that project which you can chop "Mine".

Makes you want to become an architect forever, doesn't it?