Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Conversations with M. #2

Another email to M, who grew up in this part of old Kuching town.

Just a quick note to let you know Sam and I am thinking of you and K; a quick sketch of 'Lau Eya Keng' to accompany the quick note. FYI they have spruced this place and managed to acquire the shop lot left of this sketch (where TECK JOO used to be) and moved the cooking stalls in there.

So that the tables, chairs and people are the only things in the forecourt like street theatre - good eh?

The Teochew Porridge isnt bad either. 

Monday, June 11, 2012

PAM Awards 2012

conceptual site layout
sketch section
Years ago, we did a proposal for an office building in Bintulu - four storeys with a linear floor plan orientated north-south and communal spaces built in every floor. We planned to re-use some existing structures and connect them to the new building so that they have a dialogue and also to retain the site's personal history. The other existing buildings are demolished and in their footprint, we planted a communal tree court and plaza.

front elevation

entrance lobby

In July last year the project was completed, and last Friday - during the PAM* Awards presentation; our building won Silver award in the Commercial category. There was plenty to be happy about, as this project had more than its fair share of problems, and this is the 7th year running that our firm had won a prize at the PAM Awards. 

After the ceremony, I got to thinking that if this happened again next year and I am sure it will, I mightn't attend. There is little doubt that this recognition by our peers in the industry is important and it has given us the 'cred' that got us some new work in the recent years. But it is not giving me the satisfaction that I used to get out of it, which got me thinking about what gives me satisfaction in my work. Which got me listing the different levels of satisfaction that I derive from my work; a well resolved scheme, its' acceptance by the client, seeing my projects published, the list goes on. 

Since moving to our new premises, my work life has improved proportionately with the larger and more conducive space; making it easier to have a sense of community or family. (It is not a bed of roses all the time though, there are so many different characters at DNA that we are more akin to the cast of a sit-com than a family.)   

And then I realised that I am feel most satisfied and rewarded when working with the young students and interns in the office; several dozen go through our studio every year; some for as long as a year and others for a short as a week. They keep me going on a daily basis; organising a balance of work and assignments, portfolios, cardboard models, group work, site measurement, design discussions, sketch-crawls, talks; yes, it feels like a chore at times but we seem to learn from each other. I want to be a spokesperson for this profession that has been so good to me and my family. This is more meaningful in the long run and will impact more people than 'podium' finishes at the National Design Awards. 

Perhaps this is a sign that I am growing up... ..


Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Breakfast with Sara

I drew this while waiting for Sara to finish eating her "Kuih-Tiaw-Thng" - we are seated along Lorong Ceylon (off Argyll Road) - at the same level with passing cars. I had eaten breakfast an hour earlier, but came along because someone had to pay for breakfast. 

I also saw it as an opportunity to sketch more of Penang's street-scape; and to spend more time with Sara. Not that we engage in meaningful in depth conversation between her spoonfuls of pork broth. Teenagers are oblivious to the other people in the world; conversations can appear frighteningly self-centred "Dad. I am hungry  - can we go eat?" or a more recent one "Go home, shower, smell nice, eat, go to sleep"

Even if we are in our own worlds; me concentrating on capturing a view on paper, she in slurping noodles with one eye on Meg Cabot's latest novel, I like spending time with my children; to borrow a line from an old song;  I like the near-ness of them - it strengthens me and gives purpose to what I do.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

The 'kacang-putih' man

For those of us who grew up in Kuching, the Sarawak Museum Garden is certain to be part of our childhood memory - the swings, the 'kacang putih' * man, the Royal Navy band rehearsing at the bandstand. Years later and many changes after, we still gravitate to this place of our memories as we did this Saturday afternoon before dinner at Ivy's.

The change is not for the better; the playground is dissected by a pompous Heroes Monument - no landscape architect worth his salt would have designed this so one suspects a politician must have done. Perhaps this is why I visit every so often; a sub-conscious need to ensure that enough of this place remains intact, along with my memories of it.
My Kuching skyline with the bottom half of the building cut off reminds me of old photographs taken with Instamatic cameras - often what the lens captures is not what is seen through the view-finder.

The porch of one of the small office buildings that line the driveway to the Museum

* roasted or steamed chick peas sold in rolled newspaper cones by (usually) Indian vendors