Saturday, May 25, 2013

Picking Your Brain

Last month, a former acquaintance rang me in the middle of the day and wanted to meet me, I was busy trying to finish some projects before we left for Europe so I told him I would ring him back. I rang him back later thinking he was going to ask me something over the phone, but he needed to meet me, he explained that he wanted to 'pick me my brains' about a project that he and his family members were contemplating. And when I told him I could only meet him after my return from Europe several weeks later, he got a little testy - and this is from someone that I have not heard from for a long time. This got me thinking about the etiquette for seeking and giving advice.
He used the term 'picking your brain', which I despise as it  implies that he would select choice bits of information and advice that I may impart and discard the rest depending what suited his purpose.

But I should not be so touchy - several days later I was guilty to doing the same albeit in a more civilised manner; by attending a design conference where for a payment of RM 100, I can seat in comfort and hear four exponents of 'environmentally sensitive' talk about their work.

bamboo bridge
Elora Hardy from the Bali Green School uses bamboo and local craftsmen to build houses, bridges and even swimming pools - her design are organic in plan with free-flowing sections. The design are often built in bamboo scale models first before being transformed into the real building; also built in bamboo.

the roof becomes landscape and is used as a vegetable garden

Vo Trong Nghia from Vietnam is also well known for his bamboo buildings, such as the Wind and Water Bar - although his approach in bamboo construction is modularised and structured. This time he spoke more about his projects built from more conventional materials; showing that his skills are not limited to bamboo buildings only.

using trees as facade for wedding boutique

The speaker who impressed me most was also the youngest; BC Ang from BuildingBloc talked about their (his wife is the other half of the design team) innovative and witty design that usually include nature as part of the solution.

It was a nice morning's work, made more enjoyable by Sean's company - later I took the bus to the airport and he took the train back to school.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Views from a Hungarian Bus

 My years in Melbourne has made me very fond of trams
Turm der WeiƟfrauenkirche - White Tower of the Church of Our Lady

At noon on Thursday the 4th of April, a bus full of Sarawakians driven by Georges; from Budapest with tour guide, Ivano from Roma - were dropped off at Willy Brandt Platz presumably to take photos of the big Euro sign and the 40 storey Euro Tower. I obliged although it was all a bit bland. Others disappeared into a nearby pub – it WAS lunch time after all and dinner time in Malaysia. 
The plaza was cold and windy so Sam and I left it to wandering up one of the side streets; looking for something with a bit of character or out of character, as all the buildings appeared so strait-laced and homogenous. We spied the curved canopy of a hall with a white tower beside it and I sketched it while waiting for our friends to finish their meal and beers. I regretted not joining them for beers but am glad to get my first sketch of Germany. 

Later I found out that this is the Church of Our Lady and the White Tower is the site for an art installation that will transform it into a multi-coloured lantern built with larch lattices. 

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Bicycles in Frankfurt

We arrived in Frankfurt on the 4th April after a stopover in Dubai – it was late morning and 4 degrees. The bare branches of the trees flanking the highway reminded me of “The Blair Witch Project” – until I saw signs of life, cyclists on a bike track that ran parallel several metres from the edge of the road; padded, gloved and backpacked. Bit late to be going to work, I thought. Then I saw a woman with a child in her bike carrier; the young girl was holding something colourful in her hands, listening intently as the woman spoke to her over her shoulder. Perhaps on the way home from playschool or should I say ‘kindergarten’ since we are in Germany - it is be wonderful to run along these bike trails I thought.

A few days later, I found myself running on one of these trails in the early morning. It was 4 degrees. It was good as an experience but not good for the hairs on my legs as they dropped off over the next few days.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Mayday Mayday!

I have fallen behind in my blog entries – the trips to Yangon and Europe are only partly to blame, as I have been busy at work finishing off our ‘ job-bank’ projects. These are projects which are in their initial stages and require resolution for planning approval. Since planning approvals can take up to two years, these projects are similar to money in the bank; fixed deposits to be put away for a future rainy day. They will not be built for another two years at least.

 Amongst all the large scale projects, I consciously find time for smaller projects to keep myself in touch with the process of exploration and drawing. I usually do these projects with the younger members and students in the office - as a training process for them. 
I enjoy the smaller projects as they usually foster more informal communication with the client, as can be seen in the notes and sketches above. They serves as our 'minutes' of meeting; the sketches do replace a thousand words (quite easily). Not all my drawings are hand drawn; I like the sketchiness of this software making it more akin to the hand drawn line than a photo-realistic image.

In May, I will try to sequence my blog entries according to the Europe trip as I have made many notes of events and stories in the making – and sketches to accompany them. I mentioned in my earlier post that this is a study trip organised by our local Architects’ Institute; so the priority is to visit buildings and places of culture and interest, with side trips to sample local delicacies with an open mind and wallet. As the trip progresses it becomes clear that unfortunately, not all our travel companions share this attitude.