Saturday, 5 April 2008

work in progress

hi everyone...this is my work in give any pointers if you wish...=)

here is an extract of the write up:

I have decided to make my model much lower. The highest point is only 9m. This is in response to the shophouses around. Although I have the 11 storey high oriental hotel and 5 storey high neighbors, I decided to let them have their stage and I’ll have mine. I retain the idea of having it being intimate to the ground and the streets. Again, it is hidden from drivers and pedestrians traveling along Jalan Penang. But its mass is visible to those traveling along Leith and Chulia Street.

So instead of the skeletal structure that cages the triangle, I am using a different approach. In my crit with Keith recently, (the one I told u he commented that I was ‘whisshy woshy’..haha..) I did mention to him that the triangle, to me, is being over shadowed b everything that is going on around the place. The traffic, the heat, the pedestrians, the batik houses, the Odeon. And the current street furniture there makes things worse. It camouflages the place even more. People treat those stones that have the historic information engraved on it as a stool to rest their butt. We would not even have notice it if we were not looking around for a site. Everything seems to be underneath a blanket. No one seems to be aware of the significance of the site. In fact it is so historic, it should be a part of the heritage trail but it is neglected. Hence the first issue of the site I want to solve. To make the site an interesting communal area, to do something to it to generate interest and awareness without destroying the visual communication between the triangle and the surrounding buildings and between the buildings themselves. So, my building will ‘peel’ off the layer of dust for you to ‘peep’ underneath.

I am building a slab over it, with the bottom offset inside a lil to make it look floating above the site. The trishaw stop is part of the slab, astho it is a part f the triangle that has been peel open and become part of the rest of the visitor centre. Where the old foundations of the police stations were, I will puncture the slab to reveal the stones. To emphasize their existence. the flight of stairs that leads up to the lobby will be extruded out to form stairs like street furniture for people to ‘lepak’ on.

Another point about my form is that, it is fashioned to look like three different buildings-the green patch, the glass atrium and the triangle itself. It is because in essence they can function as three different buildings but they are one visitor centre. The green patch is actually a trishaw and bicycle repair shop, the atrium is actually an art gallery, the triangle is a trishaw stop and station. I will elaborate on this point more later when I talk about the special layout, they are inter-related. They way I orientate building also to echo the existing street fabric of shop houses. The trishaw repair shop and art gallery could very well be ‘shop houses’ by themselves. The trishaw station is an extrusion of that.

Now let me talk more on the special layout.

I decided to not restrict my trishaw trails to just the heritage trail. Trishaws are free and mobile transports can creep into every single back alley. So they can come from everywhere actually. And since my site is fronting such a busy street, open to cars and pedestrians and trishaws, so why not have my entry from the triangle itself right?

Therefore in this new model I allow trishaws to stop underneath the ‘peel’ or inside the centre at ground floor. I also recognize that my visitor centre could get so famous people will come by other means too. Cars and taxi could drop off at the ‘peel’. Buses could just drop them at the triangle itself. Pedestrians will come from everywhere. Visitors can access my centre by two ways. The monumental 5m wide stairs at the triangle; or the stair case at the ground floor of the centre to access the lobby at the mezzanine.

In this attempt I am playing a lot with the use of wide monumental staircases as the attracting factor of my visitor centre. Because I figured for trishaws to have a future the target audience for my centre should be the younger generation. And I realize that there is something attractive about wide staircases to youngsters. People tend to hang around them, sit and lepak, some even eat there. Example: the outdoor fountain of KLCC. Even though youngster are pampered by air conditioning units at home all the time, but people still choose to lepak outside, sitting on steps, they seem to love outdoor lifestyles.

Once visitors come up the stairs, they would be greeted by this huge glass roof. I am planning to add some sun shading devices on the glass, but haven’t thought of it yet. If visitors come from the ground floor they would have to go thru the retail shop / office to get to the lobby. My retail shop is going to be really small as it only sells souvenir items and tickets for trishaw rides.

At the lobby, the reception would be on the left; the retail is on the right. Behind the reception counter are the toilets. In front of you is another flight of stairs. At the front of the stairs are two statues of lions guarding the stairs, just like those you see in a Chinese clan house. But now shorter. And at the end of the stairs you will see this huge traditional silk screen that runs from top to the floor. You can see people behind but you can’t make out what’s happening.

Behind the silk screen is the history chamber. Here I attempt to bring visitors back to the sixties in Penang. All around I am going to hang old door frames, doors, windows, louvers, found all around Georgetown, leaving each one of them the way they were salvaged, yet maintain their colour quality and shape. The result will be this array of colourful collage of colours everywhere in the chamber. All around I will display the traditional trishaw dismantled to show how it was put together in the olden days. At the center of the chamber u will notice panels of fronted glass panels, dimensioned like 22” LCD screens, forming a inverted cylinder, suspended above the eye level. LCD projectors will project images and videos of what it was like before in Penang, explaining the history of trishaws in Penang. So visitors will stand at the center of this cylinder and watch the visuals. It is supposed to be a place where colours collide to bring out the life of the sixties. The chambers will be dimmed, with downlights.

At the corner of the chamber would be an exit that leads visitor to the glass atrium. Here visitors would immediately notice the change of mood. From a place where it was full of life, colours, sound and visual excitement, the atrium is at the other spectrum of emotions. I have shown them what trishaws were, the glory days of yesterdays, now I show them the sad, depressed, bare state of the current trishaw trade in Penang.

First they would notice the immediate change in colours and light. Here in the atrium, it is white washed everywhere, except for the glass curtain. A flush of natural sunlight lights up the center void where a huge scrap metal chandelier – like art piece hangs in mid air. Then they would notice that beyond the sculpture is an open grass plane in an outdoor space beyond. they would then try to locate the entrance to that grass plane. As they start to walk they would notice footprints set into the floor, scattered all around the floor they step on, with the names of who’s the footprints belong to. Then, they lift their heads up and notice the black and white images hung on the walls.

Here I aim to strip the visitors bare of everything that distracts them. To something empty, silent, dead, where everything is just white, and the scrap metal artwork emphasizing death and termination. But then there is something bout the space that seems alive. It’s in the footprints and the black and white images. As they fret on the ramp that goes around the atrium, it is like bringing them to ‘walk in the footsteps’ of the trishaw men. And as they walk down their paths, they see their faces, and in this sea of faces, they see the tragedy, the sorrow and pain, they see the trishaw men’s story thru their eyes, almost as though I want them to feel guilty.

Backtrack to the green patch. This is an optional space for visitors. It is an outdoor area meant to evoke thought. As they travel up the low rap and reach the end, they would be greeted by the streetscape of Penang, from the level of the roof ridges. Here the green patch actually is angled downwards a little. To almost give the feeling of falling over the tip, to those who are unfamiliar with the space. It is meant for visitors to sit and reflect or to just ay back and enjoy the view. What ever the outcome, it is made to be interpreted by the different individuals that visit the space. I am naming the space ‘the Field of Falling Dreams’, by the way. It is related to the poetics of the atrium.

Towards the end of the ramps, visitors would notice the pool underneath, but they can’t get there yet. They would be led into the working area which is also the repair shop. Visitors will encircle the space from a catwalk above. They would be led down to the working space in the end, giving them the option of mingling there a while. But the difference in floor level might suggest otherwise to them, and they will continue their journey forward (that is the whole point anyway, I do not want people gathering and obstructing the work in the space). I figured that now it is not practical to mass produce trishaws at this point of age, so maintenance and repair seems more logical and practical. Therefore my working space is a repair area. Here regular trishaw men can send their trishaws for repair. And visitors can have a closer experience of the lifestyle of a trishaw man.

As visitors proceed, they would end up in the atrium again but now at the ground level. They would notice some inscription on the wall but it is inverted and can only be viewed by looking at the reflection of it from the reflective pool. Basically the inscription tells that the future of the trishaw trade lies in your hands and you are looking at the reflection that person, meaning you, meaning us. They proceed to exit the atrium and they end up back at the ground floor of the visitor centre where the drop off area is. Here visitors can stay and get a ride, mingle around with the trishaw men or take the stairs up to the mezzanine again to the lobby or the retail shop. Their journey ends here.

So here I solve another issue related to my site. My building becomes a home for trishaw men. I create an avenue for them to repair their trishaws, to park and rest while they wait for their customers, and get free publicity. They don’t have to mingle around everywhere, banking on a kind soul to pay them for a ride. Here we sell the trade to the customers, and customers come with an idea of excitement and ready to get a ride. It’s all win. Haha.

My building also contributes to the whole economy as a whole because I am not only further emphasizing trishaws as part of he heritage trail experience, I am adding to it by introducing this controversial plot of heritage land and using it as a station to start and end the heritage trail.

Now back to the idea of ‘3 in 1’. I guess I have made it quite clear how the three buildings co-relate and yet is one. The workshop can be operational even when he visitor centre is closed. The atrium can display different kind of portraits or paintings or even change the sculpture once in a while, as long as it fits the theme and enhances the emotions of the space. So it can be a place for artisans too, for them to contribute to this visitor centre. The station can still function all day even when the visitor centre is closed. It is functional by itself. But yet they are one because they make up the whole visitor centre.

I played a lot with rhythm and duality of spaces, especially duality. I hope it shows in my current design.

I would like to add a little bit on my triangle. I mentioned that I want to make it float right? But in the day it is not very obvious because the building only relies on sunlight to create that shadow and hence the floating effect. And I also mentioned that I let my neighbors have their stage too. I set back my building t the corner, maintaining to visual contact of every shop through the triangle. But at night I take the stage. Neon lights will be installed under the slab, and the lights will make it look even more like its hovering above ground. And uplights will light up my building like a lantern, with my extensive use of glass, it will command a lot of attention into the spaces within the building. But I can only fully express this night scene thru 3d renderings.


yea i know this doesnt sound like an extract... ah...dont care... haha...i decided to give you guys the whole thing...haha...

feedback is appreciated...


ian ng said...

Ok Richard. Good show. A tour de force...of ideas, certainly of words..haha. Jon's dropped dead.

Some quick comments here as i'd need to see it in greater detail for more astute comments. From what i can make out:
The strength of this proposal is in
1. the wit
2. the transparency
3. the 3 in 1 functional tension
4. the compactness

I like the peel idea. You should really capitalise on this.

The pervasive use of glass (unless it's a sketchup glitch) means you can play with buildings within buildings within buildings. All the layering alluding to the layering of history which you narrate. And of course with the introduction of sun-control layers, you will multiply the multi-skin quality. It's all about serration, perforation, transluscence and the like. Multicoat your architecture for pigmentatious richness.

I like the fact that you understand the implication of non-skeletal expression. Keep that.

The independance cum interdependence of the 3 "shophouses" is quite clever. Almost ingenious. Do I understand correctly that the bicycle repair shop is on the 1st Floor? Better on the Ground Floor.

The Field of Falling Dreams (love the name) will either end up a huge joke or a real killer...depends on how you detail it.

Appreciate that you respect the height of the surrounding buildings. I take it you mean the curve of shophouses. That's ok, but there's no harm in exploring if some parts of your building can exceed that if the spatial poetics so demand.

The awareness of public behaviour on civic-space furniture should be commended. But do bear in mind that our weather is hot and humid most of the day. Address this.

At this stage, Id say it's a raw diamond (almost looks like one..haha.) You really have to do lots of micro design now. The lobby to Rotunda sequence of spaces in particular needs careful orchestration--so that it doesn't look like a cut and paste job. While the 3 buildings are functionally separate, aesthetically they would still require sufficient unity.

More work ahead, lad. But, Well Done!

Richard Lee said...

great... at least i have finally come up with something substantial to work on...haha!

perhaps, if i may, see you on tuesday, to present it properly to you then...? so that you may have a better view or idea of my design?

what say you? do you have time that day? or should i just enter my name into the "crit wait list'?

Richard Lee said...

but i wana say something...

BIG THANKS AND LOVE to GOD, euric, marc, ian, keith and miss v...BIG thanks to the designers and architects of all of the buildings in Jalan Bukit Bintang...

coz i realize one thing... as an architecture student... u gotta be constantly engaging yourself with ideas.. whether big or small...constantly think, discuss and debate ideas with your peers and dunno what crazy and wild ideas might come forth from there...AND do take some time to walk around...look and observe good architecture and design...dont just read..but be there... the experience of being there will somehow speak to it did to me... we took a trip to KL on friday after history and i got totally inspired...we visited all the hotels and shopping complexes there...from the austerity of the Trader's Hotel to the idiocracy of the 2mil Ringgit worth public toilet...

so life..and your architecture will come alive...i guess we just need to keep working and never give up yet still relax and absorb inspiration from the life that is going on around us... it sounds absurd and impossible..but thats what architecture is about neway...its a stupendously crazy

so dont give up i guess...cos studio 3 will not be the end of we..=)

ian ng said...

i'd love to see as many of you as possible on tue. but it's at the stage when all your babies are being born now, and everybody is (i am, too) getting very excited. See, see, see...hahaha! We'll try to squeeze some time in. Somewhere.. Can't stay too late.. sound like a very destressed version of marc...hahaha!

Richard Lee said...

destressed? LOL

Euric said...

2340 patah perkataan SAHAJA