Thursday, 30 July 2009

Studio 3 - Chinese Chess Centre

I'm posting this on behalf of Choong Wai.

Project: Chinese Chess Centre, Ipoh
Site: Old Man's site
Project tutor: Mr Keith Tan

Friday, 24 July 2009

Studio 3 - Lat's Centre

First of all, this has nothing to do with the discussion that is going on excitingly here recently. I'm posting this up here due to Ian's request and I apologise for the long delay.

Project: Lat's Centre @ Ipoh
Function: Exhibition gallery + bridge connecting the old and new town for public
Location: End of Jalan Panglima, along the riverbank
GFA: around 650
Project tutor: Ar. Ian AS Ng

Special thanks to Ian for guiding me throughout the whole project. :D

Thursday, 23 July 2009


Just a brief announcement that I'll be doing

Dipl Studio 3 Tues & Thurs 800-1200h (start 28 Jul) and

Deg Studio 3 Tues & Thurs 1300-1900h (start 4 Aug).

See you Guys!

My apologies for earlier announcing that I'd be doing Dipl Studio 4. There was a reshuffle after that.

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

Design Studio or Buildable Building Studio??

Hi Richard,

I didn't bother reading the rest of your post after you've mentioned

"if studio cant teach u to make ur fancy ideas a reality then to me, u are just
(i want to say wasting time... but i do recognise the creative juice that
happens here...)..... but yes, in a way, u are wasting time"

I personally think Design Studio is called DESIGN studio for a reason.

I'm not quite sure what you meant by designing something that can be built. You mean in terms of cost? Structurally? Client don't like crazy ideas?

If everything is designed based on what's buildable..then everything will be so boring. There won't be new new technologies. I believe that in today's world, almost nothing is too impossible to be built. Even if there's a problem building something, this is where engineers/architects work their butt of to solve the problem.

Or..tone down cuz client thinks it's too wild? Then it's just a matter of you presenting your crazy ideas to the client..and this is where you convince them. Even if the idea is rejected...fine then. This is where the tone down comes in play. But at least you did try to sell out that lil crazy idea. What if the client buys that crazy idea? Then..don't you think you'll so darn happy when your crazy ideas get to be built? You will never know man! At least you get to say 'I've tried'.

Then again..I don't quite understand what you meant by designing something that can be built.

But hey..if students should design something buildable..why not have a subject in school called buildable building studio instead of design studio??

Almost everything and anything can be built.
aite well if you havent read my post on my manifesto, then pls read that first, for some background, before u read this....

now, back to point 3 of my disclaimer

3) i do not discourage fancy ideas... neither do i condemn paper architecture. dreaming is good. but to realize your dream to built form and to get the world believing in your idea and willing to build it... now that's something. so yes, good architects are good negotiators in this prospect... (well, i will start a new post on this area...i'm in the mood..XD..)

yea ppl worship legends like mies, khan....jean utzon, libeskind....

but quite frankly, i feel pity for em... i seriously do... not that i have anything against them...but i feel that they deserve so much better than what they doing to themselves, that's all...

lemme tell u their story if u havent already know

louis khan... the great architect of light and sound... died a broke man... he died a broke man because he spent half his life financing his own ideas and getting them built... clients didnt wanna pay... so he foot the bill himself... yes yes, everyone in bangladesh loves the parliament house he built for them... yes yes, it was a great piece of architecture... yes yes, years later his son travelled the world to find his father's identity and made a documentary in the end... but so what? all that work... all that toil.... but you funded everything... yes a noble cause... a noble death... to be martyhered for architecture... but dont u think he deserved better? i mean if only he had the capacity to actually saw thru his designs without getting into debt.. wouldn't tht be much greater? dont u think he would have achieved more?

now lets move on to jean utzon... the amazing architect that designed the sydney opera house... but we all know (i hope u know) that he quit half way thru the project... why? because he didnt know how to handle the authorities... lost his power as architect of the project... the local council intervened... didnt wanna build what he designed... in the end his beautiful interior of the opera house didnt fall thru... what a shame.... seriously.... dun u think it would have been great that if he knew how to handle the authorities? and do you know that it is a breach of rights when the authorities behaved that way? he could have done something... but he didnt do much... or rather he wasnt prepared to avoid such things in the first place... sad isnt it? one of the greatest modern icon of the world.. yours but not yours... your design but you pulled out... your design but not entirely... your project but got stole over to some cheap architect who does not know how to appreciate your work and changes the interior...

now lets talk about libeskind... the high and mighty libeskind that everyone at Taylor's adore, thanks to architectural theory classes.... do u know the story behind freedom tower? do u know that the crappy design that is being build right now is not his design at all? he had a wonderful design... he won... but politics got in the way... he didnt anticipate that... wasnt ready for the heat... got bumped around by his client... had to fake smiles and shake cold hands in front of the media... working with a 'partner' who had no intention on working with him at all... neither had he had any intention on integrating his design with libeskind' the end the 'partner' won.... poor libeskind had no say in the end... sad, isnt it??

but hey, this is the very nature of our field... architects have the least protection rights in the professional world... look into it and u will find that our copyrights are super grey and not properly defined...

i have no problems with fancy ideas... i mean, ppl like Greg Lynn, Reiser Umemoto, Zaha Hadid, Tom Wiscombe, MAD Architects.... they are all fantastic architects... with fantastic design ideas... no doubt... but if u cant get it built... i find it a pity.. really...

and hence why i say studio should always emulate the real world... i have no problems tutors getting us to design crazy ideas... but i have a problem when students design with no idea how the design is going to be built.... i find it pointless sometimes, to spend so much time developing a dream building and scheme studio after studio, but then when u go out to the real world...OH... real world time, time to be 'real'...OH...kenot do crazy stuff now, 'real' world already...tone down tone real be real... studio is studio practice is practice....honestly, it's nonsense...

if studio cant teach u to make ur fancy ideas a reality then to me, u are just (i want to say wasting time... but i do recognise the creative juice that happens here...)..... but yes, in a way, u are wasting time..... why not channel all that creative juice towards something buildable... it can be equally responsive and fantastic and still buildable.... OR if you wanna explore this fancy all means go ahead.... but dont stop at designing... find out how to realize it....

cos unfortunately, that is usually the case... ppl will have fancy ideas... nice to look at... but then u look closer... u will realize that the designer had no idea how to really make it happen... again another paper architecture.... not that there is anything wrong.... just a bit pointless sometimes....

(but of cos, one can always argue that these are still ideas, yada yada yada... in near future, technology may allow for it to happen and so on... yea well ok.... but lets discover how to live peacefully on earth first before we look at the possibility of living on the moon, shall we?)

but in the end what i am trying to say is, parallel studio with practice... they are in fact the same thing... whatever u do now is almost the same as what u do in the future... and as u can see from the utzon and libeskind examples... it is more complicated when politics and legislations come into play...

i just feel that we can do better than keeping the 'purity' of students at school before they get tainted by the criterias of the real world... to me it's kinda naive... students needs to be aware of the circumstances ahead of em... they need to be aware that if they wanna explore, they gotta be ready to defend it... by all means go crazy, but know how to defend ur craziness... know how to carry it thru to the end... even in practice... then oni its worth while...

so in this respect i hope u understand what i mean when i say 'if your building dun get built then wats the point'....

and as u can clearly see in my manifesto, i am more than just getting the building built... (and in the spirit of transformers) there is more than meets the eye with me...=)
to jsopeh

haha... it's okay... i do see ur point... and i do admit that somewhere along the way i might have contradicted myself.... perhaps its because the conversation is so multifaceted...

but of course.. there are no absolutes in architecture... so in many ways u have misunderstood me...

so to give everyone a better idea of where i am coming from in terms of where i stand

here it is... my 1300 word manifesto i did this semester... i will let it speak for itself...

but before u read it, some disclaimer:

1) i am not trying to justify whatever i said in my previous post by posting this manifesto. i still stand by my word on treating studio as the real world

2) i ascertain that the problem is still simple. because we complicate it by looking at other things while in fact it has everything to do with our culture. tackle that then sustainability will not be an issue anymore.

3) i do not discourage fancy ideas... neither do i condemn paper architecture. dreaming is good. but to realize your dream to built form and to get the world believing in your idea and willing to build it... now that's something. so yes, good architects are good negotiators in this prospect... (well, i will start a new post on this area...i'm in the mood..XD..)

4) when i say dont be too critical, i didnt mean do not critic at all... OMGOSH ppl... please dont take things literally... if i didnt intend to suggest that we should be constantly learning, why would i say 'u might disagree with urself in the end'?....??? so aite, to clarify, dont be fixed on an idea just yet... cos in time u may disagree with urself... we live and we learn... and eventually u may discover a better truth....

5) the nature of a manifesto is that it doesnt necessarily have to lay down the method step one til step ten... it is to post an idea... a final destination so to speak... an ideal... but well yea... and hence, is always open for debate...=)


At the beginning of the nineteenth century we abandoned tradition, it's at that point that I intend to renew it because the present is built on the past just as the past was built on the times that went before it.

Adolf Loos

The decline of the institution of the family and the devastation it brings to our society is clearly reflected in the chains of undisputed problems and chaos we face today. The war in the Middle East and the current global financial crisis is the epitome of the failure of human values. The ever increasingly alarming effect of global warming is the direct result of an unsustainable lifestyle of the family unit all around the world. Therefore, there is a clear calling for the return of old values in family, religion and state across the globe. One has to understand that it has everything to do with our culture.

In the face of such atrocities, I believe that the only viable way that architecture can be able to be the sustenance of memory in a space of matter is through the study of the individual house. Since our first breath, mankind always had an innate desire to make sense of our existence. In efforts of trying to grasp the meaning of life, an order is formulated to counter the disorder that life brings. This order is reflected in our lifestyle, culture, religion, art and architecture. The family unit is and always has been the first of human order. And the house is the physical container that holds it together as well as the non-physical symbol of the entire order.

The house and its many forms is the reflection of our pragmatic and emotional reaction towards disorder. Architecture is particularly adapt to express this duality of the tangible and intangible aspects of a system of order. A courthouse for example is the pragmatic reaction towards law and order and also an emotional reaction towards social injustice.

Therefore, the architecture of the city started with the house. The house expands as the complexity of the family life increases. Certain branches of the house would specialize and form different entities by themselves, such as government, military, religious or commercial buildings. These diversified houses will then double and multiply and order themselves into what we know today as the city. The ordering of cities has then evolved into urbanism and town planning that is ultimately part of a nation building effort.

However, the house varies according to specific environments and time. Different localities and seasonal changes would call for different needs and hence, different responses. Out of the abundance of these variations come the different culture, lifestyle, politics and technology of the various localities. These four elements are important because together through time they form pockets of memories that collectively constitute the essence of the genius loci.

To be culturally sustainable and socially responsible, architecture must respond to these four aspects of the house,


Every society comes with a root and a need to identify with that root. Most of the time it is religious and it has great ties with the constitution of the family. It is important to recognize and respect the culture of the place. Racial harmony and integration can be fostered through sensitivity to culture by design.


By articulating the spaces and the programs to work as a backdrop to the life contained therein according to the lifestyle, architecture takes a backseat and encourages the occupants to discover cultural sustainability by themselves through the interaction between space and man. Architecture be should less concerned with the form. Instead, the spaces between should add to the quality of life by capturing the memory of what was and the potential of what is to be.


Architecture should reflect the politics of a particular time and space. It should never be regressive and de-contextualized. It should be about the here and now. It reflects the current identity of the place and it has the power to determine the direction of a nation. If a country is democratic then the architecture should reflect its politics to the full sense of the word. It should never be bias to any cultural or racial background. Whatever the politics standpoint may be, it has direct connections with the culture of the place and insensitivity to politics can disrupt the order.


Architecture should reflect the technology of the particular time and space as well. Because architecture is about the long term inhabitation of space, technology places an important role in ensuring that the aesthetic life of architecture is as long as its material and physical life expectancy. Hence, technology should be seen as a mere tool for permanence in architecture and should not overrule the essence of the building which is to be culturally sustainable.

These four elements are crucial to the success of the building and without which there should be no architectural respond. It is through the study of culture and lifestyle that practical spaces and programs can be derived. The study of politics and technology will then justify the form and materials used to convey an architecture of joy and survival. The resultant architecture now becomes an identity that is unique to the genius loci of its locality and time. This whole process reflects the transformation of the physical house into a metaphysical symbol of order which is the home, a final destination of comfort and refuge for the harmonious inhabitation of man.

Frank Lloyd Wright’s Johnson Wax Building in Wisconsin, USA is a perfect embodiment of these principles. It is a direct responds to the core family values of the Johnson Family and their vision for the building to be a home for the workers of the Johnson Wax Company. A clear understanding of the working lifestyle of the staff at Johnson Wax informed Wright’s decision to design the grand cathedral of columns as the main work areas. The form and program of the building responds to both the politics of the surrounding environment and the organization of the corporate body. Wright’s clever manipulation of modern technology such as the use of the inverted pillars and the impression of the floating roof paved the way for the building to be timeless and relevant even till today. It evolved through time and become a monument of the neighborhood and contributed to the spirit of the place. Through its careful thought to all four aspects of the house, the Johnson Wax Building is undeniably a culturally sustainable building.

Therefore, let it be clear that I am not concerned with the various stylistic forms and methods in architecture. To me, the ultimate goal – home, is all that matters. I believe in the concept of identity in variety, where architecture has a specific identity that is a reflection of the genius loci and also a variety that consist of the human touch of the individual architects. This returns us the analogy of the house where architecture is evolutionary and ever learning and adapting. This allowed the birth of various architectural movements and styles that portrays the individual characteristics of the architects. Collectively, they are all part of the architectural order of cultural sustainability.

The study of the house is all about creating an alternative reality to the current global conditions that we now live in. it is a call for a paradigm shift amongst architects to get out of the narrow confides of ideology and into the broad fresh air of the real world. If we truly aspire to be a society that is culturally sustainable, it is time we question how people live, beginning with the house.

1300 words