Monday, June 24, 2013

Learning from DATUM KL : 2013

Most years, I look forward to DATUM: KL as an opportunity to refresh my thinking about architecture and design, and to catch with old friends and meet new ones. At this year DATUM it was more useful for the second reason, as most of the speakers failed to deliver the goods. 
Razin's Surau Nusa Idaman
Razin was one of two Malaysian architects speaking this year, he began in a relaxed manner and mentioned Dr. Tan Loke Mun and DNA as memorable examples of earlier Malaysian speakers at DATUM. Although his houses and own studio were good examples of home grown architecture - he did not hit his stride until he talked about his Surau project and by then, he had reached the end of presentation.

Madhura's Royal Bakery in Colombo

Sean and I are familiar with Madhura's project, having met the man and visited his Long House in 2006. I have photos of Sean then 11, jumping up and down on the trampoline in the garden and listening to Madhura brought back good memories.

DCM Indonesia
This type of corporate presentation is the dearth of design conferences, when the entire portfolio of the office is wheeled out and described rather than explained. They seem to be fond of using bright colours to dress up their buildings; their Kindergarten project had similar treatment but still looked like prison albeit a nicely painted one.

OAB - Office of Architecture in Barcelona

Hiroshi Sambuichi
Two of the worthwhile speakers this year were Borja Ferrater and Hiroshi Sambuichi; the Spanish architect spoke for an hour on projects ranging from landscapes to houses to institutional buildings. His scale had scope and diversity unlike DCM's commercial repertoire - he spoke about the importance of 'risk' to test design limits in their projects. I knew about Carlos Ferrater's work (Borja's father) but not the extended family involvement in the practice, which uses small external offices to support them in various stages of larger projects.
The Japanese speaker presented through a translator which slowed the delivery somewhat, but did not dilute the purity and intensity of his buildings; based on transient stages of water, wind and the earth.
Not only good for the people, but for the Earth - was something I remembered from his presentation.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Ramp House

I remember sketching this view from my hotel window as I waited for Lee Hui to get ready in the next room. She has been developing the design for our 'ramp house' and we are getting ready to review our construction drawings with the engineers who are based in Penang. 

That was two years ago.

For those who follow this blog, you might remember that this house has ramps as its main circulation route in a series of half levels that form the house's main rooms. It has been a long gestation period but all good things take time...

Monday, June 17, 2013

Timber 'Blinds"

If I were a bread maker, I would want to make it from scratch and not resort to easier shortcuts. Likewise, in the building of the pavilion - it would have been ideal if I had been able to build the entire structure myself. That would have meant taking months off from work, which we can ill-afford. So, my understanding contractors have resisted completing the project and retained some work for me to complete. There remains openings to be closed, the entrance ramp to be built and windows for the bathroom and that is only for the building's exterior. Internally, there are shelves, light pelmets, wash basin counter, the list seems end-less.

But first things first, the exterior shell has to be completed. Initial ideas included the construction of a shiplapped weatherboard panels but these are not open-able. Then I thought of making the ship-lapped pieces open like awning windows which would work.
I eventually settled on making these shutters (or more correctly blinds as Tao puts it) vertical as the adjustable glass louvres are installed similarly. The timber was bought earlier from a contractor when he dismantled some government quarters; they were good hardwood, split in some parts and painted in gaudy colours but dry as evidenced by the 'ringing' when sawn.
These took me a few weekends to complete and I have yet to seal them before installing them; the workmanship is dubious but the client is quite understanding, as I told Kok Ming who gave me an idea of connecting the blinds together to open and shut in concert.

trimming and sanding to remove years of over-painting

The 'box-frame' will fit within the brick wall openings, the 'blinds' are de-mountable.
thumbnail sketches of the pavillion

Sunday, June 9, 2013

A Gift of a Garden

I found this in my old drawing pad - it is a watercolour sketch of a house-warming present for the Lims; a gift of a garden. The sketch was shown to them for agreement before buying the trees for planting.