Monday, April 28, 2008

Pecha Kucha Beijing 2008

Thanks Jan for the cover! Pecha Kucha Beijing will be held on May 18, 2008 for those who are interested.

Friday, April 25, 2008


Friend Ren Horng Yee, who presented at Pecha Kucha, with me and Ilmar, my classmate

View from the front row

Lesley Moore

Pecha Kucha in Rotterdam! There I was, yesterday night. (Yoda like...)

Having been to Rojak's and having been very impressed with jing's photograph's and boo jun feng's the changi murals, i must say pecha kucha rotterdam came across as quite a disappointment.

The evening had a foreboding start, and went on with a sequence of designers/artists who were either not able or not keen to share their work in a passionate and meaningful way. Some designers were downright bad. The selection of presenters could have been more stringent.

All was not gloom and doom however. The evening had its nice bits that overall, made the night worth it. The casual dutch atmosphere (as you can see in the photo) was one thing I thoroughly enjoyed. You can't find a more "bo chap" attitude in Singapore. The Rojak session that I attended was super-charged in quite a heady manner, what with the hosts making innuendos throughout the session; Pecha Kucha Rotterdam on the other hand felt like a really casual gathering of people with two less-than-competent-but-still-heartwarming hosts speaking in their second language, English.

The saving grace of the night was-besides my good friend Ren Horng Yee's presentation of his final project, and no this is not just a disclaimer- the works of a two-person design firm Lesley Moore. It puzzled me for some time where the name came from, since their names were not Lesley and Moore. The name of the firm is actually a pun on the phrase "Less is More"! They told me that Goethe was the one who first said it, so let's remember that, and not attribute it solely to Mies.

I was already immediately impressed by the fact that they do the layout of Mark magazine. They spoke about a series of really respectable works- a font inspired by escher's multidimensional staircase, a huge digital clock that was lit up in an analog fashion by friends turning the fluorescent lights on and off, a stencil typography that was formed by two basic shapes. A fantastic piece of work was a short clip they did for Dave Clark called White Noise. The concept is white powder exploding and arranging to form text, the white substance being an allusion to the white noise we see on screen. Conceptually very fierce!

Had a discussion with Ilmar during the break. I asked him what makes Dutch design Dutch. He observed that Dutch design has 3 characteristics:

1. Couldn't-care-less attitude
2. You have to make a joke out of everything
3. There has to be some subliminal message in the design
4. No sense of aesthetics (my addition)

I find these points really befitting Dutch designers.

The day ended with a nice chat with Karin and Alex from Lesley Moore.

Netherlands 1.06pm, signing out!

Monday, April 21, 2008

Really Ar? Again?

Hot on the heels (well, if you're looking at time in the more drawn-out scale of things) of the first Really Ar?, a pecha-kucha inspired showcase of thematically-relevant projects, comes the second session.

Really Ar? Again?

Held in an informal setting, in which we invite a few people with interesting ideas to present to an audience of young architects, the objective of the Really Ar? sessions is to promote exchange of good ideas.

This will be our second such event. (The first Really Ar was held at the end of January this year, and attracted about 40-50 people.) We hope to hold the second on 19th June this year, a Thursday evening

Our format is to have three speakers present for 15 minutes each, after which there will a Q&A session. Each presentation is hoped to be presented in a succinct manner - a single project, or a single idea, with an emphasis on the thought processes behind the product.

Theme and Call for Speakers

We are looking for speakers to present interesting designs, built and unbuilt. We are looking for ideas that are intelligent, fresh and distinctive. The projects need not be large in scale, but hopefully groundbreaking and radical in some way.

The theme for Really Ar? Again? is 'Masterplanning'. We chose this theme as many Singaporean and Singapore-based firms have been invited to do grand masterplans for other countries, but ironically, aren't given the same autonomy to plan their own home country. As such, few people really see the fruit of their labour.

If you would like to share your firm's work, or your personal ideas, work and research, do drop us a line. Suggestions on other topics are much welcome for future Really Ar? sessions.
One more thing - fancy poster coming soon.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Frank Gehry asks "Then what?"

Who would know that an interview with Frank Gehry could be so entertaining? I like what he says about the Architect having to bring something of this own to the table in terms of aesthetics. He also speaks about collaboration, and I thought what was interesting from that was the people the person that he chose to collaborate with. While we often talk about collaboration with the community, with people from different disciplines, what was intriguing about this collaboration was it was between 2 brilliant people. I hope that motivates us to be brilliant at what we do. I believe, only then, can collaboration reach its fullest potential. Ganbante!

Saturday, April 12, 2008


Brick house, London 2001-2005
First time I would ever brag that I like a brick house.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Big Brother's REALLY watching.

This comes about a month behind, but here's a sneak peak at what Rem Koolhaas has "architectured" for an island in Dubai that aspires to be... well, Manhattan.

Image courtesy of The New York Times; you can read the article here.

The round building... no, object... has been likened to the Death Star, which featured rather prominently in Star Wars (I have no idea which episode):

Looks more like a giant eyeball watching over the city to me... Can you say "Here's looking at you, kid"?

Well, make your own judgement.

Lebbeus Woods, architecture theorist and artist extraordinaire, has. (I say this because I'm a big fan of his drawings, many of which are very post-apocalyptic, for lack of a better description.) Read his blog entry, Delirious Dubai, here.

His blog's a very good read actually - ideas abound, and comments and criticisms of these ideas abound.

He says this of Dubai:

"...built up rapidly over the past few years on the wealth gotten from the world’s greed for oil—and more recently as an unregulated sanctuary for cash—it has no depth of history or indigenous culture, no complexity, no conflicts, no questions about itself, no doubts, in short, nothing to stand in the way of its being shaped into the ultimate neo-liberal Utopia."

And of Koolhaas' proposal, he asks:

What, for example, are the space-organization possibilities of networks of information exchange, rather than streets? What are the architectural design possibilities of synthetics, rather than steel or concrete building frames typical of high-rise construction? What are the possibilities for increasing choices in non-hierarchically organized urban spaces, rather than classical, Cartesian systems? And so on—the list of new possibilities is long.

It's with quite a bit of irony to me, that Koolhaas, who, fifteen years ago, so heavily criticised Singapore in the highly-exalted bumper book S, M, L, XL for being a tabula rasa haven for being almost exactly what Dubai is today, is pandering to and relishing in the bland tastes that these very tabula rasa scenarios emanate... and dare I imagine, cashing in in the process.
Woods has this to say, in closing:
"Or maybe he believes, true to his post-Modernist roots, that the past offers the best model for the future ... Or maybe he simply doesn’t have a vision for the future. ... The world’s attention is focused on Dubai, and on Koolhaas and other architecture stars, and because—like it or not—what they do is taken as a model for the future, even when it is, how shall I say, not nearly good enough."

Thursday, April 03, 2008

The ArchRecord Interview: Sir Peter Cook, Page 2 | Features | Architectural Record

The ArchRecord Interview: Sir Peter Cook, Page 2 | Features | Architectural Record: "But the architect at best has a wonderful mandate to create and dabble in almost anything. And I hope it will long be so. As long as you can say, “Look, the person sitting behind me is actually much more interested in sociology, and the guy sitting in front of me is into studying hedgehogs, and they both have something to offer architecture,” it’s a wonderful mandate for indulgence and speculation and creativity, if you make it so."

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

A Burj Too Far...

...or too high, for that matter.

A Saudi billionaire prince is keen on giving a whole new meaning to the phrase "joining the mile high club", if this is anything to go by.

Yes, a mile-high building. Dwarfing the under-construction Burj Dubai (585 m high) and a good two-thirds taller the upcoming Burj Mubarak in Kuwait (1001 m)... Might we have to coin the term spacescraper soon?

Well it seems to me like tall buildings in the Middle East is very much a burj-eoning trend.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

And the Pritzker goes to...

Monsieur Jean Nouvel. Here's an article about it (courtesy The Independent, UK):

Jean Nouvel looks like a villain from a James Bond movie. He is large. He is completely bald. He always wears black, except in the summer, when he always
wears white. He is celebrated for his rages but also for his generosity and his
long friendships, even with his rivals.

Yesterday, Nouvel, 62, the French architect who has designed some of the most memorable buildings in the world in the past 20 years, won the Pritzker prize – the Nobel of architecture. It was a poke in the eye for his many critics. It was a riposte to those who believe that all modern buildings look the same. Famously, no two Jean Nouvel buildings look alike.

He looks quite a bit like Lim Kay Siu if you ask me (see last picture)! That aside, Fivefootway has this to say about Nouvel's award, in the context of the larger picture, with a slight dash of cynicism and a serving of wit.

Me, it hasn't quite sunk in yet, but here are some images for a bit of that instant gratification.

A nice bald shave and a dapper black suit for whoever guesses the names for the three projects above correctly! (Images courtesy of rightful owners.)