Monday, December 20, 2010

Heong Peng from Kampar

Luxury 'heong peng' from Kampar
On Sunday, a package of 'heong peng' was delivered to my front gate, from Kampar; a gift from a former trainee and now friend.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Singapore Adventures

Singapore Polytechnic (SP) invited me to give a talk at their campus and prepared this nice publicity poster for circulation - only thing is, I feel that I should change my photo - look at how seroius the others are. They look as though they can change the world! And me? - I look like I ll be happy just sitting and drawing cartoons. (which is essentially what it amounts to when your design sketches don't take shape)
What do you think? Change photo?

Original sketch done on site while Michael was taking photos.
During the 4-day trip, we met many interesting people and visited inspiring offices and job sites - our hosts really made the effort.
Streetscene from the Tiong Bahru wet market

Sketch of Tiong Bahru shops after being introduced to them by Kok Ming

Sunday, November 7, 2010

H House

This is one of our recent houses in Kuching; I am showing a chronology of sketches and (sketch) models which resulted in the final house. It was completed late last year.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010 want to be an Architect ?

Last month, we attended a series of career guidance talks at the HIP cafe at the Spring - we went after I was earlier invited to give a similar lecture to students in Architecture as a career. Not many of them turned up. Apparently, it coincided with their tuition classes.

Perhaps Architecture is not something that folks are interested in anymore - perhaps it is too long a course; too expensive, maybe they feel that there isn't enough money in it (is there ever enough money in their world?). Or perhaps they feel that it is simply too hard; too much work. Especially when disgruntled architects complain about bad clients and even worse contractors; too much work for too little return. The problem is that these architects are thinking of the returns as purely financial, and also looking at a glass as half empty rather than half full most (if not all) of the time.

The HIP cafe at Spring, Kuching

Monday, October 25, 2010

The meagre fruits of our labour?

Newspaper Article on our recent success at the PAM Awards 2010.
People often ask if there are any financial rewards in winning the annual PAM Awards; we tell them 'no'. 
So...., what do you win? - they are curious. We tell them - a trophy and a certificate.(visit to see the trophy). 'That's it ?' - they are incredulous - sure that there must be more to gain than a trophy and a pat on the back by the National Institute of Architects. Well, of course there are rewards and most times, we reap them even before the winners are announced. For the past 4 years, the process of compiling project material for shortlisting is an excellent team-building exercise and an avenue for design discourse and even a little friendly competition amongst colleagues. 
Of course, the awards themselves are a form of recognition from our peers; important for a young architectural firm like ours from a 'remote' part of the country. 

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Sketching outside Adrian's office window

 Jalan Chew Geok Lin
When I travel, walking around town early in the morning is a pleasurable adventure; it is as though you catch the locals off guard and see them in real life. Perhaps they do not expect an outsider to trepass into their world at this hour. Food stalls that disappear after 7 a.m. - they serve local fare to the locals - the tourists are expected to eat something else. People washing on the pavement; laundry, vegetables, small children, grownups too. A man bathed with a water hose piped down from the floor above - humming blissfully to himself with a cigarette in his mouth the whole time.

Vignettes of city life such as this are hard to come by nowadays. But if you wake up early enough - even my hometown of Kuching has the ability to surprise me at times. Re-introducing me to local characters (and food) not seen since Primary school days. The rewards of waking up earlier and going for a walk in your town.

Market Road, Sibu\

Jalan Bengkel, Sibu

Monday, October 18, 2010

Romance in Fuxing GongYuan

We came across this park on one of our walking tours; Sara said it reminded her of the Paris parks she had seen in movies - and it is clear why - the tree-lined avenues with lawns in between them, vistas guided towards fountains and statues, further enhanced by the crunchy gravel underfoot and couples cuddling on park benches. Clear signs of the French influence in Shanghai's past - so it seemed appropriate that we would meet this spritely couple; not young in years but still youthful in their step.Sara took this series of shots; as they practiced - coaching and encouraging each other - quite oblivious to the crowd which gathered to watch them; envious of their dancing skills and obvious enjoyment of each other's company.
I will take a break from Shanghai entries after this one and come back to them later in the month.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Views from my breakfast window, Shanghai

As Malaysians, we are often spoiled for choice when it comes to food; especially with Chinese food, most of which is influenced by Cantonese cuisine epitomised by high fire stir-fry and brothy soups. Therefore it is not surprising that while the local food in Shanghai is always fresh and clean; it pales significantly in comparison to the food 'back home'. 
But ...I am not here to critique local food (being insufficiently qualified). this is simply a starting point for the next few sketches conducted from my breakfast window.

Looking across the river from our favourite breakfast table

Breakfast is a buffet of twenty odd dishes (emphasis on 'odd' ) - two types of porridge, three types of pickles, peanuts, fried pancakes, you-tiau, tomatoes, sliced corguettes, two types of pau, bread, fried rice and noodles, steamed sweet potato and pumpkin, hard boiled eggs, local corn on the cob accompanied by warm orange cordial and soy milk. (19 items) - SO there is plenty of time to sit and linger and draw.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Suzhou Road, Shanghai

I am a terrible blogger; I do not update my blog on a regular basis, this is a result of not sketching regularly and since this is a sketch blog - one must generate enough sketches to upload on a regular basis. Surprising - considering that I spend my work day drawing.
More on Shanghai; this entry concentrates on the area near our hotel on Suzhou Nan Lu which runs along Wusong River. It is ten-minutes walk from the Bund due east and ten minutes walk to Nanjing Dong Lu due south - so quite handily located although the surroundings are less than picturesque.

Our neighbours are hardware stores and welding shops; but the river is a nice guide to stroll along and if you presevere (30 minutes walk) it will lead to Suzhou Xi Lu and ultimately the MoganShan Lu where the Shanghai Art Precinct is located. This Art Precinct is similar to Beijing 798 - and was formerly a light industrial area now restored to house art galleries, eateries, studios and design offices.
Despite the "blue-collar" neighbourhood, there is plenty to sketch - this is a block of apartments across the river, its windows and balconies are a mosaic of people's lives.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Trip to Shanghai

Went to Shanghai for 7 days to visit the Expo, amongst others things - to visit the renowned Shanghai Bund and other historic parts of this lovely city such as the (former) French Concession Area and the Old Quarter. There were plenty of sketching opportunities, and I will be sharing the results in the next few days. I will also share travel tips so that my friends who are about to visit Shanghai may enjoy this multi-faceted, vibrant and highly accessible city.

One of the landmarks of Shanghai is the Bund; along the Huangpu River lined with one mile of historical buildings that house government bodies such as the Customs House (pictured), hotels and banks. The side streets are lined with high-end boutiques (photo) and restaurants. The waterfront along the Huangpu teems with people throughout the day; and more at night - taking in the sights and photographing themselves against the buildings along the Bund as well as the high-rises in Pudong.

Friday, August 20, 2010

work load

The lapse in posting is due to additional workload - the shortlisting of 4 of our projects for this year's PAM (Malaysian Architects' Institute) awards is one of the reasons; there are two invitations to speak at local universities and then there is plain old WORK to be done. Not to grumble - work is good, it results in more things built, which is a good way to test yourself and your ideas. Invitations to speak is a good vehicle to put your thoughts on paper, as oftentimes architects and designers are able to do things intuitively BUT when asked about the idea behind a particular scheme - they are at a loss for words.
So, in the meantime - these are the four shortlisted projects.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Monday, July 26, 2010

cafe by the river

This concept sketch is for a small cafe by the Rejang river in Sibu; the focus of which are two decades-old rain trees. The building was designed as a series of structures, seemingly suspended from the branches of the trees; transient and impermanent. And yet with enough presence to address the street and the river. Last year, this little building was awarded a Prize by the National Architect's Institute - we felt like the proud father of a child protege playing his first piano recital. But in reality, architects cannot be real parents for long; we hand over our 'children' to their foster parents - the clients - and wish for the best. 

This year, the client has completed the total destruction of the building's original intent through a series of additions; apparently to improve the business of this little cafe. The most damaging is the roofing over of the open-to-sky terrace on the first floor; shutting off the view of the sky and the trees' canopy - this was the only part of the buiulding where one could truly sit under the trees and listen to the wind conversing. 
The owner chose to open several other doors along the street front to induce customers to walk in - thus compromising the building's mystique and privacy. Of course architecture is not the cause of poor business, the source of which lies in the kitchen; but our product is physical and visual thus making it an easy choice for a scapegoat. 
NOTE: These photos show the building before the client's renovation

Wednesday, July 14, 2010


I was invited to speak at DATUM this year; I accepted of course - it is a great honour especially for a Sarawakian firm to present at the biggest PAM event on the calendar. Look at all the famous faces next to mine on the poster.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Morning walks in Sibu

Recently I spent a night in Sibu; the next morning I decided to walk through the town at six in the morning and sketch what I see.
This is a view of the rear of  shophouses are near the Tua Pek Kong temple; there are some interesting shops in them. Th Cafe Cafe is a good place for lunch with reasonably priced dishes in a cool inner courtyard space accompanied by nice music. The Transit bookshop is worth a visit as well with its off-the-beaten track selection of books.
  I like these old shop houses because the proportions are correct, with the pitched roofs and the verandahs running down the sides of the shops - they have a high degree of articulation. Sibu town at 6 is already busy with people shopping for produce and having breakfast.
This vista of the SMC would look even better lit up at night and framed by the two row of dark shops.
 These two buildings flank the Central Padang which is Sibu's version of the village green; people take their morning walks here, some ladies were practicing their folk dancing while children walk to school. My favourite part of the morning as a school boy - the anticipation of the day ahead. So different the things I looked forward to then - an interesting story from a friend or a teacher, getting marks back, going to the Park to sketch for art class. (I was a bit of nerd, as you can tell)
The nicest touch on the Sibu morning was the swiftlets circling around overhead as life went on below them.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Sarawak Museum

I have always preferred the small white buildings along the road leading up to the museum; their scale and their intricate detailing is a good contrast to the main building.

An tribal totem is a nice counterpoint to the low sweeping arc of single storey buildings. The main Museum building is a local landmark, and although its exhibits have not changed much in years - it is still a much better place to visit than the new wing. It is open on Sundays and admission is free, for many of us it represents a nostalgic reminder to our school days.