This is my contribution to an architectural installation meant to depict the many facets of architectural life. It was part of PAMSC’s celebration of World Architecture Day. This year, we teamed up with WAK (What About Kuching); part of a larger celebration in Kuching to celebrate its arts, culture and lifestyle.
The former Ting & Ting Supermarket was re-named LOCATION X and revamped into an exhibition space for this event. We were each given a ‘cubicle’ framed by a module of construction scaffolding.
I would like to say that my installation was a carefully curated selection of meaningful objects from my work-life. That would be lying, as Sam and I grabbed this and that from the office last Friday, and hurried over to the exhibition venue and assembled everything before dinner.
That being said, each item of the installation still came together to convey a subtle message of ‘balance’; of work and life, of the recent and past, of the completed and on-going, of natural and man-made.
On the wall is a panel of a recent project; the Bagan Specialist Centre Expansion- its near completeness is a reminder that our work is never done; there is always the on-going guest to improve planning, refine details and reduce mistakes.
On the table is a model of the hospital, made from simple white card it challenges the notion that digital is better. Cardboard models have a physicality that belies the gravity of our work, they are often the most honest manifestation of our projects before they are built.
There are other items on the table; the pot plant is a reminder that Nature takes precedence, the pieces of stone and timber help to reinforce ideas about colour, tactility and weight. While we strive for perfection, we ourselves are prone to human frailty; the reading glasses and muscle balm are testament to this.
In front of the table is a wooden stool which one of my interns made out of recycled weatherboards from a school. We prefer handmade to store-bought because the former brings with it a personal history shared with its maker. The imperfections of the joints, the chipped corners are traces of human effort and failures, and hopefully lessons for the next stool.
On my left is a collage of sketches, postcards and photos of family members offering a glimpse to a balance between work and life. The squash racket and bicycle helmet are emblems of a physical routine; one represents the element of play which is so important as architects often take themselves too seriously, the other hints at a commitment to be environmentally responsible.
On my right are ‘laundry lines’ of drawings including some on butter paper; most are hand-drawn, some are drawn over CAD print outs. They represent some of the ideas and conversations that shaped projects over the past 20 years.
Lastly, the question that remains – what do the swimming trunks and goggles represent? They are an antidote to a noisy world, where I can escape to talk quietly to myself.