Saturday, June 13, 2015

Travel sketches - Georgetown

I thought it would be a good idea for Sean to travel with me to Penang when I visit my job-sites - he could eat some nice food, meet my friends at work and we can do some sketching. And if time allows, we can talk about his studies and plans for next year.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Getting there

At the end of May, the first floor of the shop house was gutted and cleaned up. The floorboards are strong in some places, springy in others and rotten through in most - they will be removed and replaced. The wall plaster was bulging with damp - they will be removed as well BUT not replaced.

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Bathing under the stairs

Following on from the previous post...
We decide to relocate the stairs to the rear of the building to allow for an open floor plan on the upper floor But this meant the introduction of stairs in the rear 'lobby' and since this is a tight space, it looked like the existing bathroom will have to go, which ruined my visions of running to work. Without a bathroom, this can be tricky - will the budget hotel nearby lend me their shower? how many wet-wipes will it take to clean a 180-lb body? questions abound..
So, on the plane to Penang - I decided to put my planning skills (and maths) to the test..

So finally we worked out 1. how to get upstairs 2. while keeping our balance, 3. and the bathroom under the stairs, 4. without knocking our heads when we come in the back door, 5. hopefully with enough space for my bike under the stairs. works!

more soon.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015


At my age, most would settle into a comfortable routine and cruise into retirement. So, my decision to relinquish my shares in DNA to set up a smaller practice would appear strange to some, financially foolish to others and a step in the right direction for those who really really know me. One such friend summed it up by saying "time to do good rather than to do well for oneself"

So by July this year, I will working with people whom I like, doing work that I enjoy, in a part of Kuching town that I love. There is still plenty to be done; logistics and paperwork but I won't bore you with them.

This is my first impression of the new premises.

And later, when I visited the shop with Leong and Arl - I made some more sketches and impressions.

The shop house has a small frontage, dwarfed by its neighbours and forgotten by its owner for nearly ten years. Someone had padlocked the front door; using it as a store illegally, we cut the padlock and went in. The inside was dirty and filled with debris of human life from a decade ago when it was last occupied. But looking beyond the filth and water damaged wall plaster, the timber structure was sound and many of the building elements such as the double hatch front windows and the metal window frames are original and intact.

five foot way entrance
first floor

 more soon...

Friday, April 10, 2015

In Memory of Iain

Our friend Iain passed away on this day three years ago - this is a re-posting of my journal entry at that time.

Our good friend, Iain Heggen passed away on the 11th of April in Geelong. Sam and I have known him since 1986 - we met during the Second Year of Architecture School in Deakin University.
He was one of the few that kept in touch after our return to Malaysia - which makes it hard to bear and harder to believe. There will be no more funny emails from Iain with photographs of Geelong.

His funeral was on the 20th of April - several of our close friends attended. Dianne who was unable to attend shared a touching story about how she first met Iain. She writes - 

"If I was to be there I would recall that I first met Iain when I responded to a notice he'd pinned up around the architecture studio. It offered free accommodation at My Buller during the week of the DU ski club trip.  The free accommodation turned out to be an igloo which we would build ourselves."

While I am glad that some of my friends were able to attend Iain's funeral. I regret not being there. I regret not telling Iain when I had a chance that in many ways he represented the Australia that Sam and I remember fondly to this day - the warm friendship, the irreverent wit and generosity.

Years after I returned to Malaysia, he would surprise me with phone calls - "because it is Easter
over here" or because it is my birthday (or his). Once I told him that I watched a televised
bike race through Geelong - he replied "Oh, I was there, did you see me waving?"

I took this photo of Iain and Wendy in our porta-cabin studio during Year 5; as an engagement present to the both of them. 

Iain Heggen; an all round good egg with long strides and a chipper outlook - as Cardie so aptly puts it. 

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Talking to students about architecture

One of my favourite past-times is talking to students about architecture; as a vocation, its practice, the crafting of spaces and so forth, and to support this hobby I tutor, have architecture interns and conduct talks and workshops.

I hold my design studio in the atrium of the college; 20 students sitting in a cluster, taking turns to talk about their ideas, showing butter-paper sketches and models. I am also a student, learning to be a better listener.
OK, some of them need to learn to be better listeners too...
 Here are some of the notes taken during last Wednesday's discussion.