Monday, February 23, 2015

Friday, February 13, 2015

Planting seeds

Sometimes in the midst of the mundane and tedious; comes a remainder that we are doing the right thing, that we are on the right track and the seeds we sow are bearing fruit.

This one came in the mail.


This is good tonic.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Poetry in life



An excerpt from Patricia Beer's 'Ballad of the Underpass'



An underpass. The tunnelled road
Is short, the village is so slight.
Today I drove right underneath
The tombstones in the fading light.

‘Now I have really GONE ABOVE,'
My mother said, 'though not to Heaven,
Nearer the light, nearer the air.
Set free by half the worms of Devon

My bones hang over you and twitch
Under the rain. Tall as a tree
You used to stand there looking down
And now you must look up at me.'

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Monday, January 12, 2015

Is Architecture in your Blood?


This is an excerpt from 'Like father, like son' - something I wrote discussing the proclivity of architect's children to follow in their parents' footsteps.

In a recent article in the Architectural Record by Laura Raskin writes; - “Architects begets architects, so it seems.  Eliel Sarinen had Eero Sarinen; two of Frank Lloyd Wright’s, John and Lloyd became architects.  Walter Gropius’s father was an architect.

To add  to  her list - two  of  I. M.  Pei’s four  sons are architects, Nick and Glenn Murcutt.  Not just the sons either, Moshe Safdie’s daughter, Taal is an architect. In Kuching, the children of Dato Sri John Lau, Mike Boon, Chiew Chung Yee, Juliah Sabri and Chang Jih Ren are following in their parent’s footsteps.

So, is architecture  in your blood?  

Some geneticists  believe there might be some basis in this thinking that since we inherit human variation such as hair and eye colour from our parents – there is a  genetical  context  for  creative  talent.  Furthermore,  there  are theories that artistic talent is more heritable than scientific  talent and since architecture is a curious mix of art and science – children of architects  may be more likely to become architects. But that is just a theory. (Architects are more likely to marry architects  – but that’s another story)

Many others think that it is the environment – in Raskin’s article, Taal Safdie was ‘breathing architecture’ – a heady mix of job-sites, client dinners and office  flurry, from a very young age. She spent part of her childhood living in Habitat ’67 – the Montreal apartment complex designed by her father. I have met steel fabricators  and carpenters who would have made brilliant architects had they been exposed to the ‘right’ environment when they were young.

The reasons for a child’s tendency to follow the parents’ profession are probably a combination of both nature and nurture. Although in Asia could there be a third factor - parental pressure? On second thoughts, this is unlikely since our profession commands too little pay for way too much work. No self-respecting Asian mother would want that for her child. Sam has been nudging Sean towards dentistry  “shorter   hours,  more  money,  fewer  arguments  about fees” – she is an interior designer.

Ultimately,  architecture  is  more  a  lifestyle  than  a  profession  – the love of what we do daily may play a part in sub consciously determining our children’s’ profession.








Friday, January 2, 2015

so...how was your year?




I have been keeping a journal since I was in university. The first was more like a scrapbook than a journal, it contained my thoughts, notes to myself, lecture notes, sketches of design ideas for studio, photographs, receipts for the tax-man, notes from Sam. Since then, things have become a little more structured (but not too much) there is now a journal for my thoughts and observations, which sometimes takes the form of a sketch; there is a journal for work, jottings of ideas and sketches from discussions with my colleagues and students. And lately, there is one for each project that goes on site, for sketches to explain ideas with builders and for them to share theirs with me.

Not everything goes into these journals, there are plenty of strays ones on butter paper, back of blueprints and letters that have disappeared in between files, books and magazines, or simply been throw away.

I have just completed a sketch journal with unbleached paper which I like for its 'tooth' and the stitched spine means that the sheets do not come loose and it opens flat. I selected some pages from it to share here.
Some are 'thinking' drawings which mostly makes sense only to me - here I am figuring out how to stack the spaces of a house together and create some visual relationships between storeys. Once I think I have the scheme figured out somewhat I draw the plans up to scale (or convince an intern to do it).

Floor construction details for SSR Surau
Open House roof steel
Some are the results of discussions with a colleague - I like to sit with the book open in front of me and draw out quick ideas as we talk and try to find a solution. In this way, there is a record of what we discussed (and decided), also it provides us a clearer picture of what we see in our minds. Often, they would similarly be drawing in their sketch pads as well.

Car porch storage

Ideas for landscape at G House

SSR wall details
 I often send hand sketches to the builders - these are often a product of our discussions, about sizes, construction sequence, alternative materials and I often include a perspective just to make sure that we are on the same page. The perspective with a bit colour also makes this a passable presentation drawings for the client who is keep updated of our proposals.
The tidiness of the sketches depends on how busy I am on that day, although the OCD part of me likes to draw a 1:25 hard-line detail once in a while.

Segu Bungalow
 Sometimes, a sketch sneaks into the work journal that rightly belongs elsewhere. But it has a place as well because it influences my design process, it trains me to be more aware of how spaces are experienced and remembered.

Idea for a hotel restaurant

The proposed layout of a newsletter which I help edit.