Saturday, December 30, 2017

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

6.12.17 Contemplative practices

I find drawings and running equally comtemplative

Thursday, November 30, 2017

30.11.17 Second Trimester

I worried about many things this year.
Some were within my control. Some were not. But all of these events affected our work, and the way we do our work. Often times, I have had to suck it up and face the music as leaders often do. And now that it seems like the worse is behind us, one thing stands out. People have been kind, some have stood quietly (and resolutely) by my side. Others picked up the pieces, and tidied the house. Sam said some of the young ones in the office love me, perhaps like a father figure.

And that's a reassuring thought. 

Saturday, November 25, 2017

24.11.17 - Tao visits houses

Despite a busy work day, the 3 of us had a long breakfast - I turned off my data to avoid work from interrupting. We caught up over laksa and popia, talking about his future plans, work and family. We also talked the possibility of getting Clarice to come and set up a perma-culture garden for me to retire to...

Later that day, we visited two houses. One still under construction, we could see the roof form taking shape and liked what we saw. 'Having shade is everything in the tropics' I think he said.

At Dona's, the three boys talked about the spaces and the design ideas for the new nursery. This type of interaction is good for Lionel and Sean.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

23.11.17 Handmade birthday presents

I enjoy making things and giving them to friends; glasses from cut bottles, stools from recycled timber and so forth.
So, two of this year's presents were particularly meaningful - an ink stamp with my name and a 'postcard' from the edge ( Bucharest).

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

20.11.17 Re-visiting Phnom Penh

I first saw this building from the bus ten years ago; on the way to Siem Reap. Imagine my surprise, when our taxi took us past this corner on the way to our hotel late in the evening. Two mornings later, I took a walk before breakfast and visited it - and found out that it is Dr. Beat Richner's Children Hospital. Part of the Kanta Bopha Foundation.

Beat Richner (born March 13, 1947) is a Swiss pediatrician, cellist (Beatocello), and founder of children's hospitals in Cambodia. He created the Kantha Bopha Foundation in Zurich in 1992 and became its head. He and another expatriate oversee and run the predominantly Cambodian-manned hospitals. As both a cellist and a medical doctor, Richner is known by patients, audiences, and donors as "Beatocello".[1]
- from Wikipedia.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

18.11.17 Birthday Run

While the others slept, I took a long winding route down to town. 14 kilometres followed by a few laps in the pool. It's good for the muscles and the mind. On a day like this, there's very little else that I want.

 I turn 53 today.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

16.11.17 Managing people

At our last site meeting, I turned to my client and asked, 'do you know what's the hardest thing about managing a project?'

'The client?' she hazarded a guess.

She is partially correct, it's the people. Managing people who often have different mindsets and objectives, made more difficult when their objectives are not apparent.

People who point out problems, but do not offer a solution (even when they have one). Choosing instead to be smug about it, or defer the decision to someone else because they fear accountability.

I turn 53 in two days, I have no time for this small mindedness.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

February in Bangkok

In February, I told our friends that I had a project in Bangkok and travelled there with Sam (my project) after my fortnightly site meeting in Penang.

Monday, May 29, 2017

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Work sketches from last week 14-21 May

 Architectural Journal entry No. 1 this year - as a record of things that happened at work this week. The first was a 3 hour exercise to see how we can fit 150 people in a new open plan - the client rang up at 1030 'are you in the office, I'll swing by at 11 to talk to you about a new project'. He dropped by, we chatted about raised access flooring, toilet provisions, time frame and when he wanted the first round of layout plans. 'This afternoon, 230 would be perfect'

For many of our houses, we designed the landscape as well - trying to fit the poetic with the utilitarian; laundry can dry out of sight behind a garden wall, the edge of a pool doubles as a bench and base for water spout. I find these sketches very useful as conversation starters with the client.

The end of the living space is enlarged with the introduction of a window seat; to collect people for conversation, without outside views to interrupt the chit chat.

View of the conversation area from the atrium

Monday, May 15, 2017

Building in Sarawak

Architecture students sometimes ask to interview me for their assignment about local architects and their design thinking and influences. This is a recent questionnaire (I have not corrected the student's grammar but I will ask to proofread and review his final assignment)

• How has the architecture character in East Malaysia / Kuching changed in the last 15 years?
One simply has to look to see that we are getting our share of buildings which can be found anywhere else in the region. They do not contribute significantly to the city's skyline, nor to the user's experience of it space.

Despite this, there are some smaller projects which stand out as good examples of local architecture - relating well to its context and culture, innovative use of local material and skills, with appropriate response to the tropics.And like most good things, they take a bit more work to find, but they are there.

• To your personally, what is the most meaningful and memorial place in Kuching city, and what emotions does it arouse in you?
I have a strong bond with many of the buildings of my childhood. Many are located in Kuching's Chinatown; the old Courthouse, St. Joseph's Cathedral and open air market, the central padang and the waterfront.

• Please name 3 buildings that you fond the most, does each of them reflects your idealogy?

Many of the buildings I design reflects my ideology; which is to be climatically responsive, to be affordable with a simple pallete of materials,  and to be relate to its site. My ideology is influenced over the years by buildings which I have been to, such as Geoffrey Bawa's houses and my education in Australia.

• If you have the power to design and built a building/place that could create something good for the society, what would it be, and why?
Any building that the public comes into contact with is worth doing, and doing well.

• Which building in Kuching do you think is worth preserving? Why do you say that?
For any building to be preserved, and deserve the investment to do that - it must have a present day function,  it must contribute to its upkeep.

• What is the difference of architectural evolution/progress in between West and East Malaysia?
It's the same, just at a slower pace. We are making the mistake of trying to be like "them" and firing who we really are.

• How do you want to see Kuching city develop?
There needs to be an overall masterplan for Sarawak; one that includes the development of public transport, infra structure, the environment and public amenities such as schools, libraries and hospitals.

• In architectural context, what is Kuching City greatest need now?
More public spaces where people can meet and spend time with their family. Roads with bicycle lanes, a better bus system. It's not architecture that will solve a city's problems, it's planning and education that would help the most.

• In your opinion, what do you think of current Malaysia architecture status?

We are trying too hard to be like everyone else, that we have forgotten who we are.

• What is your word of advice to all the young architects in Malaysia?
To continue learning; through travel, books, work experience and by making mistakes. To be brave and take risks; you'll never know your limits otherwise. To listen; that's the best design tool.

Friday, May 5, 2017

Laying the ground work

These are supplementary construction drawings for a renovation to a small boutique hotel. I often find it easier to add my intended details by hand to the CAD drafted 'frame-work' - I feel that it gives me better exploration and control, and it is also a way to double check the design.

For small practices, this is perhaps an efficient way to releasing construction drawings to the contractor - photocopied in A3, emailed as PDF files, with peace of mind that I have looked through and provided input.

Friday, February 24, 2017

How about dinner?

a postcard from the edge

She walked up to Sam as we were leaving Angkor Wat. It was getting dark and the visitors were hurrying home. "Buy postcard, Miss?" she asked. "No, thank you, we don't need postcards" Sam hurried on. And when the young postcard seller persisted - "how about dinner?" Sam offered. It took a moment for the offer to sink in before accepting. "Ok". She looked 13 but could well have been 16 or older.
Afterwards, from our tuk-tuk back to the hotel, I caught a glimpse of our postcard seller on her bike - her packet of noodles and bottle of Coke hanging from the handle-bars.  She turned off onto a dirt road. I tried to keep track of her in between the silhouette of trees until she disappeared into the dusk.

Later the evening, Sam told me that the girl had 'paid' for her dinner with a postcard.