Friday, October 19, 2007

Vision of students

Monday, September 17, 2007

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Hegemony of the R.E.M Era

After queuing for some time to get the tickets to watch Rem in action in a sardine packed lecture hall, I was afraid that he’ll be talking about politics and architecture again from his Content book or an update on his projects. Well, my fears came true, indeed he gave a lecture on his current projects, but I must say that he made some interesting points of contention.

First, he showed a sketch of the idea of how the fame of mainstream star personalities can attain an exponential increase in fame, while star architect has an asymptote, with Fosters and Gehry as the cap. This reminds me of the lecture where Nasrine Seraji compared the fame of Mick Jagger with Rem, while Rem is perhaps the most famous in the architectural realm, but his influence – though great through his buildings – is no where near Mick Jagger who influenced a whole generation of rock music. So, what is the hype over an architect’s fame? I guess it’s not so much an issue with pride and ego, but more towards making the public understand architecture to a greater extent and keeping them more informed, rather than just accepting what is being designed. This criticality is important, if not the public might just be at the mercy of developers and architects who are sometimes disconnected with the society and community at large. I guess this was particular true in architecture education too, it’s always easier to do well and impress with a project that is heavily form and structurally and ‘assumed-program’ driven, rather than socially program driven. Comparing Unit 10, which focuses on creating social organisation, with other units in the intermediate level, it is quite apparent that the students’ simple and mundane structures pale in comparison with other fantastic and attractive form produced in other units. However, they are dealing with very real issues, issues that concern and engage the public directly. In this respect, I would say that their architectural education seems to have more value than the other units. However, how much value is placed on such education? I guess sometimes we might be too caught up with parametric modelling, generating crazy forms and subscribing to a certain style that we lose the intuition and human touch with the reality. No doubt these techniques do generate a certain language and theoretical programs, but when a whole lot of buildings designed with these methods are put together, it seems to lose its relevance.

Comparsion of heights of world tallest buildings (Taken from

Collage of world iconic buildings (Taken from

Simplicity amongst iconism (Taken from

'Death Star' lurking ove the city (Taken from

Rem further elaborated on the relevance of star-architects, when nearly all the buildings in the Middle East, in Dubai especially are of sophisticated forms and structure and they are produced by mammoth sized commercial firms like Atkins. To a certain extent, this may render the role of the star-architect useless as any commercial firm is able to produce equally Gehry or Foster type of buildings. It seems absurd but that’s the reality that we’re facing, mammoth buildings with lofty ambitions. However, the traditional notion of pride of a city being defined by the height of building isn’t very relevant anymore with an array of them placed together. Furthermore, with iconic buildings sprouting out everywhere in the city, their iconism seems to be devalued. In his Dubai Renaissance project, Rem proposed having a simple flat monolithic building standing amidst an assortment of ‘iconic’ buildings, in order to overshadow the other buildings with its simplicity. Looking at his other projects, like RAK Convention Centre which consist of a ‘death star’ and a floating ‘cardboard’, it just seems that Rem is still subscribing to iconism, which makes no difference from other commercial firms.

At the end of the lecture, I had only one conclusion to make. The sad reality of star-architecture seems to be constant inventing a certain set of styles or trends which serve to increase its fame. As much as I want to believe that their research are of great importance, but it seems that these research serve their hegemonic ambitions through their design.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Singapore is Really Not a City

This was a reply which i had to cx post on singapore being not a city but a country. He had an elaborate discussion about the overemphasis of singapore as a city, comparing to london, new york, sydney and so on, but losing the focus that we are more than just a city, we are a nation.

well, i feel planning spore is a very tricky issue, and the notion of a city is mainly coined by foreign critics who view spore as a state without a soul, and therefore we cannot be called a country. and they feel that we are too artificial in the making, which i feel that they are right to a certain extent. we seem to be following the global trend, making bold steps in achieving a "global city" status, since 65. however, whether these thematic research hubbish and entertainment developments serve to better our economy is debatable... and such developments are just making singapore seem as if we're "trying too hard", of which some were failures, like crazy horse and the previous themeparkish sentosa... we seem to be constantly reinventing ourselves, seeking or replicating global trends... but if we dun try hard enough, we may not survive too...or rather do we need these architectural wonder gimmicks (sports hub, IR, vivo city, helical footbridge) for survival? no doubt they "look good" (it's quite subjective actually) in our environment but who are the designers of these icons? they are not singaporeans and it seems that they just can't get it right in spore too...

another view or justification for modelling singapore after global characteristics would be our lack of real history. as much as we want to claim our chinese, indian or malay roots, are they part of our history or did our history started from 1819 or 1965? if one defines the starting point of our history to be 1965, we can then justify our actions in pursuing global characteristics and developing our "rojak city"... in this respect, singapore is more fortunate than china, esp beijing or shanghai, cuz they have a history to defend, but we don't. it seems more brutal tearing apart thousand of years of history and replacing them with iconic infrastructure that claims to be sensitive to the chinese-ness of the place...but to say that we don't have a history is disrespectful too, i would prefer to see us as being part of history making... maybe our distinct character 100 years down the road would be a surreal mixed country, the only country in the world to have its history and city built on global forces, trends and demands, we become not an asian country but a global country... hmm, but i dunno how will i react if it really happens...

it seems that nothing is really original in city spore, except for our new towns, which we can try to claim originality... and i totally agree with you that our focus should be in the heartlands, developing the uniqueness of each location... and that's why i'm hoping sometimes that ura can revise their master plan, and give equal importance to the new towns as compared to marina bay... if you look at marina bay master plan, it has been revised twice, the focus in 1996 seems to be different from now... it was probably due to asian financial crisis where the govt didn't really know what to do with the over-reclaimed land (the land was left stagnated for about 8 years before development started again) and it had to revisit its strategy and the new master plan was developed as such... marina bay is constantly subjected to economic forces, while our heartland is less susceptible to such impacts, and thus maybe it's more worthwhile to concentrate our efforts in our heartlands rather than the city. lastly, i guess if nation building can brought to a microlevel, it would start from the heartlands and not our city centre...

Tuesday, May 15, 2007


I have never queued up to get a ticket to see any pop idol before, but yesterday was my first.

Monday, May 14, 2007


"hubbish" a new word?

hubbish = rubbish?

hub-ish = the glorification of singapore as a hub for everything.

biotechnology hub, medical hub, tourism hub, business hub, sports hub, arts hub, gaming hub, animation hub and the lastest. ang mo ko hub.

are we striving to be all these hubs or have we become them? i guess there will be more in the years to come and we can become the greatest hubbisher of the world.

hubbish was indeed used in an animation "bump in the night: the hubbish about rubbish

Sunday, May 13, 2007


How does it feel to set your own brief? It's always difficult to define your own parimeters, without the constraints. Will architecture thrive in a borderless realm or within a fixed set of limitations? We were asked to relax and enjoy the process, but can we actually relax given the lack of directions set for us.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Interior Road Movie

The new brief. A 2min interior road movie.

Possible approach:
1. Compression of spaces
2. Circular notion of time
3. Layering of motions with sounds

Gondry's works are good references though. He plays around with layers and repetative motions. There is something very mathematical about his works.

The White Stripes - The Hardest Button to Button : Brilliant Beat Control

The White Stripes spoof by simpsons

Kylie Minogue - Come into my world : Great looping effects

Chemical Brothers - Star Guitar : Marrying architecture and music through mathematics

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Trodding down the Communist Path

With the spread of globalisation like wildfire, our cities are becoming more generic, so do we embrace a laissez faire-ian type of attitude towards city building? If disneyfication of a city is a common trend of globalistion, is it a necessary evil that we should stamp out? or should we embrace it?

Whimsical Tallinn Old Town with mystical folklore characters to boost its perserved heritage. The old town is really well preserved and clean, with shops boasting its own baltic culture. I personally found it more exciting than it's southern neighbour, but it just seems to perfect, feels like a fairyland.

Communistic landscape looming over Latvia's horizon. It seems as though the soviets took away their soul and heritage, leaving behind its own occupation vestiges. As raw as it can be, it definitely doesn't seem as appealing as Estonia.

Therefore, would you want to be entertained by a clean and perserved village or be adventurous, exploring the raw sights of a country, even though it may be banal and soul-less.