Blog : Academic

A Study of Multi Centred City Transformation

A Study of Multi Centred City Transformation

A Study of Multi Centred City Transformation
KL Sentral Central Business District

The development of transportation linkages encourages urban sprawl. Locally it has become increasingly evident in sections SS3, SS4, SS5, SS6 and SS7 next to Kelana Jaya LRT station, Bangsar South development next to Kerinchi LRT station and KL118 next to Maharajalela Monorail Station, thus leading to the speculation of the emergent of multi centred city development as a result of transportation development. Such transformations are triggered by the government’s continuous plan to expand the cities’ public transport network.

In the next 5 years, new multi centred city developments and their vicinity growth in Sungai Buloh Terminus station, Bus Rapid Transit in Bandar Sunway, Batu Kawan and Batu Maung near Penang’s Second Bridge, and the station stops for Kuala Lumpur – Singapore High Speed Rail are to be anticipated. Catalysed by transportation development, such complex yet dense transformative nature of the multi centred city development has encouraged us to relook into our local modern precedent – Kuala Lumpur Sentral Central Business District (KL Sentral CBD).

001_Overview of KL Sentral Station and traffic

Overview of KL Sentral Station and traffic, Image by Akira Mitsuda

Against this backdrop, this article intends to investigate the design challenges of such diversified use, dense and complex development. This is done by highlighting the transformative process of KL Sentral CBD and discussing the challenges of urbanising a Kuala Lumpur’s old railway marshalling yard into a modern transit hub.


In the 1880s colonial Resident Frank Swettenham set about rebuilding Kuala Lumpur with brick buildings after a huge fire and flood swept through Kuala Lumpur. The double disaster took turns destroying Kuala Lumpur primitive wooden structure. The brick kilns were sited, and the name Brickfields has persisted. The area became a ground for Kuala Lumpur’s industries, including the railway yards. During the colonial times, as Indians were brought in to operate the railways, they have eventually settled in Brickfields and its Indian character has persisted.

The current site for KL Sentral was formerly a marshalling yard for Malaysia’s national rail operator, Keretapi Tanah Melayu Berhad. The emergence of Kuala Lumpur Sentral began when the Government awarded the privatization of Stesen Sentral to Kuala Lumpur Sentral Sdn Bhd, a consortium led by Malaysian Resources Corp Bhd (MRCB) in 1994.

A concession was then signed on 1997, whereby Kuala Lumpur Sentral Sdn Bhd was tasked to build and surrender Stesen Sentral to the Government, in exchange for development rights over the surrounding 72-acre freehold commercial land.

18 years after work commencement in KL Sentral, the KL Sentral CBD has become a total facelift of its existing industrious self. Currently sited by Google Malaysia office, and a number of design practices such as RSP Architects Sdn Bhd, Arkitek MAA Sdn Bhd, Ong & Ong 360 Consultancy Sdn Bhd, many of which have offices outside of Kuala Lumpur. The vicinity to KL Sentral Transport hub, owing to the connectivity to the KL International Airport and flight check-in facility, facilitate travelling for international offices stationed in the KL Sentral CBD.

Passengers arriving in KLIA and KLIA2 will be alighting from the KLIA express are confronted at the KL Sentral CBD an environment of polished stone, stainless steel and glass, a modern outlook for the first impression of Kuala Lumpur for many travellers.

As KL Sentral CBD adjoins and submerges in the traditional Indian area of Brickfields and affluent residential suburb of Bangsar, its physical extensions are used to cut into and transform the older city. This creates a complex yet interesting skyline of the colourful low rise and high rises glass façade, portraying an image of the first impression upon arrival at KL Sentral station a progressive urbanizing nation of heritage complexity.

002_Contrasting view between KL Sentral CBD and Brickfields along Jalan Tun Sambanthan

Contrasting view between KL Sentral CBD and Brickfields along Jalan Tun Sambanthan


The weaving of the modern and heritage requires design care and sensitivity. Such urbanization is not entirely confined by and directed by governing council, albeit requiring the understanding and accommodation of demands and pressures from multiple and often conflicting origins. This is the case for the backdrop of KL Sentral CBD lying in the existing fabric of Bangsar to the east and Brickfields to the west. It attracts both low-wage service workers as well as high value knowledge workers and creative professionals. This heterogeneous population is crucial for the vitality and competitiveness of the city but it also poses the problem of uneven development, income disparity and social inequality.

For the past 5 years there have been disputes against any building developments in Brickfields due to traffic congestion and the increasing house prices. Whilst Bangsar is more accommodative to building development along Jalan Bangsar, the response from architects and urban planners to these contextual challenges – through the provision of sustainable housing, infrastructure, cultural and knowledge environments becomes ever more crucial.

If any Brickfields development restrictions were to be imposed, in short term it may be in the immediate neighbourhood’s best interest, may backfire and conversely contribute to regional undersupply of housing and eventually drive up the cost of housing in general. Careful planning of the CBD could help to reduce the overall cost of housing by contributing steadily to the housing supply, and therefore generally improves equitability in the housing market.

When planning equity in mind, the CBD may potentially be benefiting low and moderate income communities by linking workers to employment centres, introducing construction and maintenance jobs, and spurring investment in areas that have suffered neglect and economic depression.

The CBD may reduce transportation costs, leading to less households expenditure since transportation fee constitute a larger percentage relative to the higher income’s household. This frees up household income that can be used on food, education, or other necessary expenses. Low-income people are less likely to own personal vehicles and therefore more likely to depend exclusively on public transportation to get to and from work, making reliable access to transit a necessity for their economic success.

003_Overall view of KL Sentral Central Business District indicating the vacant lots

Overall view of KL Sentral Central Business District indicating the vacant lots.

MRCB albeit being close to fully utilising the 72 acres it has in KL Sentral, is putting aside two prime lots for development later, namely Lot F, next to Nu Sentral and 1 Sentrum, and Lot 349, adjacent to Menara Shell. Leaving the two lots undeveloped helps to reduce any sudden price hike in KL Sentral CBD, allowing the property prices to consolidate.

By deferring developments, it provides a buffer zone for locals to adapt to the progressive increment in prices. The recent opening of Nu Sentral Shopping Mall in year 2013 and the existing food stores off Jalan Tun Sambanthan act as a mediator and meeting points for both corporate office users and Brickfields residents for a place to dine and shop. Strategically situated between KL Sentral Station and Brickfields, the retail spaces becomes a gateway and welcomes the Brickfields residents to share its facilities. Though contrasting, it becomes a melting pot of options of public spaces via the inclusion of a Golden Screen Cinema, McDonald and public performance space in LG floor of Nu Sentral.

004_Event Performance space in Nu Sentral LG floor

Event Performance space in Nu Sentral LG floor, photo by Gopalakrishnan Nair

In anticipating massive use of public transport for the visually impaired, comprehensive consideration is given for installing tactile guided pathways from the arrival train station platforms to the Nu Sentral and the overhead bridge across Jalan Tun Sambanthan leading to the Brickfields Blind Association. This creates the sharing use of infrastructure, cultural and knowledge environments.

005_Tactile guided pathway on the KL Sentral Monorail station leading to Nu Sentral,

Tactile guided pathway on the KL Sentral Monorail station leading to Nu Sentral, photo by


With more than 30,000 population already living and working in Kuala Lumpur Sentral CBD with a total 72 acres of land area, it creates a density of 100,880 population/km2, a density almost twice of Hong Kong, standing at 6,544 population/km2. The masterplan seeks to provide a total lifestyle of work, live, learn, and play for its workers and residents, and poses a diversity challenge as an integrative discipline for the design in architecture, urbanism, and infrastructural design; a self-sufficient multi centred city that blurs the dualism of these activities.

By merging of living and working within this ‘hybrid’ urban space, the diverse phenomenon has allowed the social and economic transformations of labour to create new form of spaces, namely, Small Office Home Office (SOHO), Serviced Office Virtual Office (SOVO) and Serviced Office Virtual Office (SOFO). These work live combinations allows home based small scale businesses, whilst the tower offices such as Plaza Sentral Office Suites and 1 Sentrum allows for larger scale of business entity supported by Multimedia Super Corridor (MSC) facilities and infrastructure.

Whilst these empower production, it must however be equally enriched by recreation. Upon the creation of the space of work and live on Plaza Sentral (office, 2001), Suasana Sentral (residential, 2002), 1 Sentral tower (office, 2007), Suasana Sentral loft (residential, 2008), it creates a void of necessity for the development of commercial spaces for the workers to cool off and recharge. This encourages the making of Sooka Sentral (commercial, 2008) and Nu Sentral (commercial, 2013). Of such creations of spaces are only catalysed by the completion and running of KL Sentral (transportations hub, 2000). Such is the choreograph of development in KL Sentral CBD and may be used for reference for its programmatic development phases for other transit-oriented development such as the Tun Razak Exchange linking MRT Sungai Buloh and Kajang Line and Bandar Malaysia linking the LRT Kelana Jaya Line.

006_Development Phases in KL Sentral Central Business District

Development Phases in KL Sentral Central Business District

In 2006, with the successful validation of MSC status, it welcomes international IT and financial firms to put their addresses in the KL Sentral CBD. In years to come, the connection linking National Museum and Lake Gardens to the CBD will be completed, transforming the current homogenous spaces of work, live, learn, and play into a cultural and outdoor recreation. This will give a leading edge for further improving the programmatic diversity of KL Sentral CBD, as compared to the KLCC outdoor Park in the KLCC CBD. It opens the floodgate for a workforce where everything related to the soul such as language, creativity and general intellect, is used for production.

007_Development Phases in KL Sentral Central Business District

Development Phases in KL Sentral Central Business District

Whilst the KL Sentral transportation hubs have sprawl into the complex network of offices, residential, commercial and leisure, it requires the support of the integrated facilities management for the daily management and maintenance, namely the integrated Building Management, Traffic control, Façade Maintenance, General Cleaning, Car Park facilities, Auxiliary Security, and Information and Communications Technology maintenance team. Architect’s design integration of building operations are to be considered and inclusive to prevent high building operating cost in the future.

In the masterplan by the late Architect Dr. Kisho Kurokawa, the entire CBD and its vehicular flow are created from the notion of island design in the form of one way roads. There are 6 major islands, namely surrounding the KL Sentral station, Sentral Park, Hilton and Le Meridien Hotels, and island surrounding Plaza Sentral with UEM, MIDA, SSM and Quill 7 towers, island consisting Menara Shell, Ascott Sentral, Suasana Sentral & Suasana Sentral Loft Condominiums, and the island consisting of CIMB, Q Sentral, One IFC and St Regis Hotel & Residences, and the Sentral Residences. Within which are smaller islands surrounding each towers. This ensures all towers are being serviced and consist of a formal drop off area whilst not contributing to the congestion in other islands. Traffic control officers are always seen to be keeping on toes to ensure no parking at the curb that could cause rippling congestion to other islands. This, however has not stopped the traffic congestion outside the perimeter of CBD, on Jalan Tun Sambanthan, Jalan Travers, Jalan Damansara, and Jalan Istana during peak hours.

008_Indication of Vehicular Circulation and Island design consisting of towers.

Indication of Vehicular Circulation and Island design consisting of towers.


The KL Sentral CBD becomes a catchment area for having a transit hub in its centre. With the furthest buildings within 400m of walkable distance from the station, it corresponds to the distance someone can walk in 5 minutes at 4.8km/h. It becomes more encouraging with the covered walkway to shelter against rain, zebra crossing, traffic light, 24 hour securities for each drop off area. This creates a common space shared by low-wage service workers as well as high value knowledge workers and creative professionals. With 400m walking distance residents have easy access to daily needs in the diversified CBD, thus creating a Transit Orientated Development.

With more than 30,000 human population and approximately 7,000 car park spaces available in the KL Sentral CBD, the most possible cars to human population ratio is 1:4. This ratio is one third of the ratio from the 23.71 million total registered vehicles over the 30 million Malaysian population in December 2013.

009_Indication of walking distance (each circle is 100m in radius)

Indication of walking distance (each circle is 100m in radius)


Within the walking district, the masterplan allocates office towers to be aligning the train track, and placing residential used buildings away from hissing sound telegraphed through the track. This can be seen for Suasana Sentral (residential, 2002) and Suasana Sentral Loft Condominiums (Residential, 2008) located at the furthest southwest and St Regis Hotel & Residences (Hotel and Residential, 2015) and the Sentral Residences (Residential, 2016) are placed furthest to the north.

As the amount of commercial and office spaces exceeds the residential’s, the proximity is given to the offices to be adjacent to KL Sentral station facilitating workers to travel to work. To compensate this, the local residents are placed furthest from the station as residents can walk to work.

010_Masterplan of Program Indication

Masterplan of Program Indication


As the success of multi centred city is underpinned by efficient design and adequate infrastructure, the question as to the sustainability of these design and provisions becomes pivotal. The scale of infrastructure is often incompatible with changing demand of the city that is conducive for sustainable inhabitation. Its capacity is often outstripped by demand, leading to its premature demise.

Such is the example of 1930 Downtown Los Angeles in the wake of increased automobile ownership leading to decreased investment in the city centre. Downtown Los Angeles became a drive-in-drive-out destination as they would come into the area for a particular objective and then leave immediately once their business was completed. All great cities are susceptible to demise.

Against such odd, yearly appraisal and review are to be implement. Examples are The Master Plan of Singapore and the Tenth Malaysian Plan, reviewed once every 5 years, guiding the countries’ development in the near to medium term. Though such reviews are done by the governing bodies for a different scale, any Central Business District would have to be reviewed in the same sensitivity to transform the district to meet the changing demand and economic environment.

This is especially crucial in Kuala Lumpur where office spaces is abundant and currently undergoing major infrastructure developments, underlying by its potential for expansion. Such expansion opens doors for new CBD and new challenges for existing CBD to continuously transform. In KL Sentral CBD, the subsequent enlarging of LRT and MRT networks further increases the footfall for KL Sentral station. It was designed for 100,000 people per day, and is reaching 120,000. By 2017 upon the completion of enlarged LRT and MRT networks, KL Sentral Station would be looking at 180,000 to 200,000 people a day. As such, perpetual improvement to enhance the inter transit hub is required to meet the demands of the growing Kuala Lumpur and the newly connectivity to KLIA2.


Identifying Malaysian Architecture

Identifying Malaysian Architecture

Whilst the likes of Petronas Twin Tower and Malaysian Houses of Parliament have been the iconic Malaysian Architecture in the 1990s and 1960s respectively despite designed by Foreign Architects, by 31st August 2016 lies the 59th anniversary of Malaysia independence.

With 59 years of independence, Malaysian Architects would have sprouted from the influence from its British Colonial, and able to give voice to its own Design Identity. In Pursuit of such Architecture Identity, the below documents the findings of 5 general movements completed in this decade:




001_Kompleks Kerja Raya 2
Kompleks Kerja Raya 2
GDP Architects
2013 completion

Architect: GDP Architects Sdn Bhd in collaboration with Foster+Partners
Client: Bandar Raya Developments Bhd
Builder: IJM Construction Sdn Bhd

003_The Capers, Sentul
The Capers, Sentul
RT + Q Architects

004_Starhill Gallery
Starhill Gallery
Local Architect: A. Mariadass Architect
Architects: Spark
Location: Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Principal Architect: Stephen Pimbley
Project Architect: Michael Gibert
Completion 2011



005_Suruhanjaya Tenaga Sustainable Building
Suruhanjaya Tenaga Sustainable Building
NR Architect of Kuala Lumpur, with Thai architect Dr. Soontorn Boonyatikam serving as principal for the project
completed in 2009



006_Kuala Lumpur Performing Arts Centre (KLPac)
Kuala Lumpur Performing Arts Centre (KLPac)
YTL Design Group architect Baldip Singh
May 2004

007_Majestic hotel
Majestic hotel
GSD Architect
Opened 2012



008_PJ Trade Centre
PJ Trade Centre
Kevin Low
Tujuan Gemilang Sdn Bhd.



Crystal Mosque

010_Putrajaya Ministry of Finance
Putrajaya Ministry of Finance
GDP Architects
August 2002.
Client : Putrajaya Holdings Sdn Bhd

011_Putrajaya City Hall
Putrajaya Corporation Building Complex
Putrajaya City Hall
Perbadanan government complex
ZDR (in collaboration with Dubus Richez, Paris and AKB Architects)

6 Observations of Public Spaces in Malaysia

6 Observations of Public Spaces in Malaysia

Observation of Public Spaces in Malaysia
In the eyes of Jane Jacobs

01 – Area around Park must not be underused.
Observation: KLCC Park vs Perdana Botanic Garden.

KLCC City Centre Park – Offices, Leisure and Residential surrounds the Park. Easily Accessible/ shortcuts among towers, the park is highly used.

002_Perdana Botanical Gardens
Perdana Botanic Garden – Institutions and private club houses stays within, with heavy traffic Jalan Damansara and Jalan Parlimen bounded the park, making Perdana Botanic Garden alive only during weekend and events.

02 – City Centre to be multiple used and flexible.
Façade are irrelevant. Potential in Adaptability takes precedent. Hospital, Hotel, Office share similar façade whilst allowing flexibility of changing programs within. Observations: KL Sentral and Bangsar Shoplots.

003_KL Sentral
KL Sentral – Façade no longer dictates the program. KL Sentral hosts multiple interchangeable programs.

004_Bangsar Lot
Bangsar Shoplots – the high turnover of tenants allows adaptability of the place.


03 – Significance of Sidewalk to Encourage Interaction.
Observations: Jalan Ampang, KLCC and KL Sentral sidewalk

006_Street View
Jalan Ampang, KLCC – broad, well lit and landscaped walkway making shopping easier.

005_KL Sentral Sidewalk
KL Sentral Sidewalk – Despite the density of towers, islands of towers discourage foot commune.


04 – Business/ Social Activities encourage use.
Contrast Observations: Putrajaya Boulevard and The Curve.

007_Putrajaya Boulevard
Putrajaya Boulevard – Majority of Institution buildings and street parking made mute towards the boulevard, especially under the glaring weather.

008_The Curve
The Curve – Abundant of F&B, Retails, Events and Music draw crowds.


05 – Performance Zoning rather than Land use Zoning.
Contrast Observations: Sooka Sentral and The Nu Sentral, Setia Alam and Jalan Alor@Bukit Bintang.

009_Sooka Sentral
Sooka Sentral – Despite the good composition of Retail among the office towers, the Retail building merely becomes active during office hour and empty during off-office. Land Use Zoning is not sufficient as it neglect the use of time.

010_Nu Sentral
Nu Sentral – Good Circulation between stations and Brickfield create footfall to the mall regardless of the hour. Performance oriented design look beyond composition but also circulation, visual, and population.

011_Setia Alam
Setia Alam – The segregation of the Residential and Commercial, though may provide security and privacy, may also enforces transportation by vehicle rather than by foot. The clear segregation of land use designated spaces singularly.

012_Bukit Bintang
Jalan Alor @ Bukit Bintang – Residential above and Commercial below, Jalan Alor has become a vivid performing space without much security and privacy.


06 – Green as Barrier + Natural Surveillance + Social Activities as a separate causality.
In turn, Green Space enforces Social Activities, Social Activities help Natural Surveillance, and Natural Surveillance subvert Physical Security Barrier. Ie Putrajaya vs Desapark City.

Putrajaya – High density of residential surrounds the Linear Putrajaya Lake are segregating the concept of “Green as Barrier + Natural Surveillance + Social Activities”. Mix of programs allow 24 hours surveillance.

014_DesaPark City
Desapark City – mixed of commercial, leisure and resort connects the green space creating social activities, which in turn natural surveillance and reduces any physical barrier.

Materiality and Sensory

Materiality and Sensory

Materiality and Sensory
The Thin Line between Theme Park and Museum

Whilst Materiality and Sensory in Architect deal with our senses, this invariably confers to the re-enactment of our memories. “An Architecture of the 7 senses” in The Eyes of the Skin by discusses:
• Sense of Touch – texture and contour evokes imagination and memory;
• Sense of Sight – Sense of separation and space sense of awe;
• Muscle and Bones –Proportion, Ergonomics, Movement, Distance;
• Bodily Identification – Memory
• Sense of Scent – Evokes Memory
• Taste – Vision Transfer to Taste
• Sound – Sound measures space

001_Juhani Pallasmaa

There are 2 extremely and similar yet contrasting examples – Theme Park and Museum Space. Both are spaces of emotions using artefacts, lighting, circulations and others stated above. They generate an emotional link with an individual. And yet, Theme Park is less discussed academically as compared to Museum Space, despite the similarities in Architecture and its intention.

002_Theme Park & Museum

One may argue the over reliance of artefacts makes a Theme Park, ie Mickey Mouse. However Early Museum started off with the Cabinet of Curiosities – galore of collections from expeditions. Perhaps the difference lies upon the types of objects of artistic, cultural, historical or scientific importance. This, however, shouldn’t be distinguished under the academy of Architecture – a study of space, not a study of artefacts.

003_Mickey and Cabinet of Curiosities

Theme park is a group of entertainment attractions, rides, and other events in a location for the enjoyment of large numbers of people.

Whilst a museum is an institution that cares for a collection of artifacts and other objects of artistic, cultural, historical, or scientific importance and some public museums makes them available for public viewing through exhibits that may be permanent or temporary.

004_Madame Taussaud and Ripley

There has been multiple crossovers between theme park and museum. Ripley believe it or not museum and Madame Tussauds Wax Museum are becoming more for entertainment. On the contrary, Carsten Holler Giant Slides in Tate Modern, London and South Banks’s Hayward Gallery have become successful as an interactive art installation and a big hit with the public. Musuems and Theme Park serves the same – experience driven with sensory interactions.

Our definition of spaces changes with time.

Technology challenges our notion of Materiality & Sensory. Large Digital Façade – E Billboard changes the façade of the building – almost diminishing the duty of the Architect in façade design. Most notably seen in the UMNO tower, Kuala Lumpur exhibiting the entire façade of moving images. Traditional design in spaces are changed with digital incorporation, making every possible fictions possible – making every space a theme park.

006_Digital Facade

If Architecture becomes irrelevant if it is being analysed only from a physical point of view, the memory or emotions reflected from the forms within an individual gives meaning to it. Thus, Architects are bound to embrace the new interaction and interfaces in Architecture. Not limited to merely form but other means of multisensory experience. To adapt in accordance to time.



After our posting on 35 DAZZLING ISLAMIC ARCHITECTURE and WHEN MODERNISM MEETS ISLAMIC ARCHITECTURE, we relook into Spatial Concept in Islam.

To gauge the Islamic spatial concept, one may study the Floor Plan of Prophet Muhammad’s house in Medina in 623 AD, in a space consisting of entrances, prayer areas, private rooms and covered area for companions.

001_Prophet House

These spaces subsequently evolved into domestic spaces according to Islamic teaching and guidance. The spatial organisation and circulatory behaviors provides an understanding to Islamic principles of privacy, modesty, and hospitality:

privacy, a safe and private place for personal and family’s sanctuary;
(a) privacy between neighbors׳ dwellings,
(b) privacy between males and females,
(c) privacy between family members inside a home, and
(d) individual privacy

modesty, a home with spaces for religious rituals and activities, further defined by humility in design through economical and sustainable designs, and;
(a) a balance of neighborhood wealth by not showing off one׳s wealth through excessive spending on a home (external area of a home), through The use of locally sourced materials rather than expensive imported materials.
(b) private spaces for religious activities and education.

hospitality, a dwelling with opportunities to extend hospitality to neighbours and enhance relationships with the society.

The hierarchy of private spaces above has broader understanding into privacy, allowing for broader applications to the homes of non-Muslims who wish to meet the design objectives shared by Muslims and non-Muslims, such as visual privacy from neighbors, thermal comfort, and use of sustainable and economical materials.

Frontiers of Architectural Research, Volume 4, Issue 1, March 2015, Pages 12–23, Privacy, modesty, hospitality, and the design of Muslim homes: A literature review by Zulkeplee Othman, Rosemary Aird, Laurie Buys.



Last year’s posting on 35 DAZZLING ISLAMIC ARCHITECTURE looked into the Islamic concept of simplicity.

In this festive day of Eid-al-Fitr 2016 (End of Ramadan), we relook into the modern approach of the Islamic concept. The design questions lie on whether the modern construction method may have overshadowed the Islamic concept. Amidst Modernism, whether the Islamic spatial concept is retained.

Here we look into samples of Modernising Islamic Architecture

Extendable Shelter Space

002_Mountain Tents for Hajj Pilgrims
Mountain Tents for Hajj Pilgrims,
Prototypes in Muna

001_Half-Folded Shade Umbrellas at the Prophet’s Mosque
Half-Folded Shade Umbrellas at the Prophet’s Mosque
Mahmoud Bodo Rasch
Madinah, Saudi Arabia


004_Ali ben Youssef Madersa, Marrakesh, Morocco
Ali ben Youssef Madersa, Marrakesh, Morocco
Louis Montrose

003_Marrakesh Menara airport
Marrakesh: Menara airport

Habitable Space under Shelter

005_Mashrabiya of the old part of Basra city, 1954
Mashrabiya of the old part of Basra city, 1954

006_Mashrabiya House
Mashrabiya House
Architects: Senan Abdelqader
Location: Jerusalem, Palestine
Project Area: 1700 sqm
Photographs: Amit Giron
Is it a Mashrabiya House ?

Repetition of Ancient Islamic patterns

008_Tomb of Hafez inShiraz, 1935
Complex girih patterns with 16-, 10- and 8-point stars at different scales
in ceiling of the Tomb of Hafez inShiraz, 1935
By Pentocelo
CC BY 3.0,

007_Burj Doha Skyscraper
Burj Doha Skyscraper
By Arwcheek – Photographed from the street
Previously published: n/a,
CC BY-SA 3.0,

3D in Rhino

3D in Rhino

Once the drawings have been discussed and completed in here, we look into the several simple productions of 3D objects from 2D drawings.

The simplest form of the surface creation. The creation of a surface from 3 or 4 corner points. Thus it could be ended with a triangle or a rectangular surfaces. Ensuring snapping is enable to allow proper surface creation.

ExtrudeCrv (E)
Directional Extruding Surface from Curve. This is immensely useful in wall creation. The extrusion may also be dictated by typing in the extruded height.

Surface from Planar Curves. Most of the time this method is used to close the cap hole of the extruded tubes.

Surface connecting all curves. Immensely quick method to create organic looking surfaces. As compared with other softwares, Rhino shows its potential with this tool.

Surface from Network of Curves. Similar to lofting as shown above, Network surface creates a connecting surface from 2 sets of curves laid in different directions.

Drawings in Rhino

Drawings in Rhino

Making drawings
Though Rhino may not be the most suitable software to handle heavy drawings file, minor drawings works in Rhino can help to create interesting 3d objects from 2d drawings. Having said that, there are many tools for making drawings in Rhino, as below:

Polyline (pol)
Polyline is connected lines. Designer may toggle the close curve setting by clicking “c” or click within the command line.

Offset (of)
Offset produces a directional extension of the selected curve. This is extensively useful in creating walls and boundary lines creation.

Circle (ci)
Circle is one of many default closed curve creation tool in Rhino. There is an option for multiple sides polygon.

Trim (tr)
Trimming is a delicate work where intersection and proper snapping is required beforehand.

Closecrv (cl)
When there is an open curve intended to be closed, a quick “closecrv” is a quicker method than creating a line and joining them. “closecrv” connects the 2 end of an open curve into an opened curve.


Join (ctrl + j)
Joining disconnected curves facilitates swift selection and the creation of polysurfaces rather than surfaces. This is immencely useful when the drawings and 3D are messy.




Group (ctrl + g)
Ungroup (ung)

Introduction to Rhino

Introduction to Rhino

D1-01_Introduction to Rhino

Rhino system was built to allow for easier curve surface generation. This is in comparison to 3ds Max and Sketchup. Though the term “easy” may be subjective, this blog wishes to highlight its method based on 8 years of architectural usage. As such, Rhino has been efficient in creating surfaces in short period of time, making it suitable for competition use or tutorial works at the eleventh hour. As complex surfaces can be created in a short period of time, the drawings generated from the model must require refinement before turning into authority and building drawings.

001_Software Comparison

The blog will start off introducing Rhino tools and navigation methods for beginners. As it progress it focuses on the following:

• making basic drawings,
• Modelling 3d building,
• turning 3d models to axonometric drawings,
• making complex surfaces, and
• turning complex surfaces to physical models.
• Making Drawings on Rhino
• Knowing the Unit setting and Toolbars

D1-02_Selecting the File type
Setting the filetype in the beginning allow consistency of measurement unit among your works and teamworks. This can be done upon opening the Rhino software. As this blog is created for architectural users, “Large Objects – Milimeters” is selected.

D1-03_Knowing the Toolbars
The toolbars are created in order of complexity, from 1 dimensional of POINT, to 2 dimensional LINE and CURVE, and to the 3 dimensional SURFACEs and 3D forms. The second half of the toolbars are for editing the first half of the creations.

D1-04_Ensuring the Snapping Toolbars

The snapping bars are at the bottom of the windows.
Grid Snap = Snapping to the Grid shown.
Ortho = Orthogonal, making your snapping to 90°, 180°, 270° and 360° directions.
Planar = Restricting 1 axis for the next selecting point, allowing snapping to the other 2 axes only.
Osnap = Object Snap. Once enabled, additional snapping bar will pop up.
SmartTrack = Automated Tracking line will appear as it anticipate your potential snapping points.


Once the OSNAP button is toggled, a new paragraph of tools will pop open. Select at ease the snapping potential of each combinations to ensure objects are snapped.

D1-05_Properties Panel


The Properties Panel opens all relevant info of the selected object. This ensures you are working on the correct layer. Type “Properties” in the Command Line to reveal the Properties Panel.


D1-06_Layer panel

Typing “layer” onto the Command Line reveals the layer panel indicating your available layers. Double click on the space below the tick allows layer change.
Clicking on the light bud toggles the layer visibility.
Clicking on the padlock toggles the layer lock.
Clicking on the coloured boxes changes your material colour.


D1-07_Viewing Options


Right clicking on the Perspective reveals all the Viewing Options – Wireframe, Shaded, Rendered and others. This changes the model rendering option within the viewing panel. Here are the effects. Whilst “Shaded” is usually the preferred option, other options may be more graphic resources consumptive than the others.


There are 4 simple navigations shortcuts to keep in mind:
hold “Shift” + hold “Right Mouse Key” to pan around the view.


hold “Right Mouse Key” to rotate around the view.

D1-11_Zoom in
Scroll the “Middle Mouse Key” to zoom in and out.

D1-12_Maximize view
click “Ctrl + M” with the perspective view clicked ( as pointed in the image below) will maximise the view. Click “Ctrl + M” again will revert to previous viewing panels layout.

D1-13_Types of Objects
There are 5 main object types within Rhino that we have frequently use. Most of these objects are known by selecting the objects, and their object type will be shown. There are:


D1-15_Opened curves


D1-16_Closed curves

D1-17_Open/ Closed Surfaces


D1-17_Open/ Closed Polysurfaces



Additions to Learning from Las Vegas

Additions to Learning from Las Vegas

    The Design for Attention – Signage and Monument

    The iconic Learning from Las Vegas highlighted the observation of the notion of Duck Shed (where the building is formed out of an Icon) and Signage (where the signage describes the building, and no longer require the façade articulation). This blog highlights the additions to the Las Vegas observation.

    009_01_Artistic craftsmanship and Heritage background

    In the past buildings are remembered for their Artistic craftsmanship and Heritage background.

    009_02_Statue of Liberty

    In the last decade building becomes the icon of the city. This sounded the race for the design of the iconic building representing a city. Since then many architects have been tasked to design for attention. With capitalism, representing city no longer limits the agenda. Now we have corporates, political parties and charity organisations seeking to pursue the similar path for building for attention. Learning from Las Vegas becomes a good precedent for many Casinos seeking to attract customers via their building design.

    009_02a_Learning from Las Vegas

    While Learning from Las Vegas is contextual, this blog intents to record 4 majors types of the Design for Attention in several locations.


    1. Structural Awe – height / Cantilever
    Sizing up the competition for height in multiple cities, we have also the world largest cantilever of 83m, Busan Cinema Centre.

    009_04_Odd Shape

    2. Unconventional Form – Tabula rasa from the site context. (Aldar Headquarters Building, CCTV headquarters, Galaxy Soho)

    009_05_Technological Awe

    3. Technological Awe – LED SCREEN (Umno Headquarter, Canon Building, Hong Kong)

    009_06_Socially integrated

    4. Public Accessible (122 Leadenhall, London (left), Hearst Tower, New York (right))

    While some may adore and admire the grand Design for attention, we seek to differentiate the needs for building user, pedestrians, building owner, neighbourhood and cityhood.

    How does the Design for Attention help improve the working efficiency of the workers in the building, and improving the living condition of the surrounding users, and not prioritising in portraying awe and admiration?

    009_07_Social Divide

    Having designed for merely the building owner and without social consideration can lead social seclusion and further issues on crime rates and political instability. Such is the case in Sao Paulo, Brazil.

    009_08_Ryugyong Hotel

    Politically motivated, the Ryugyong Hotel is merely a shell for its vacant interior. Empty with no users, it served to only a monument for the city.

    These exemplify the influence of Architecture to the worker, social and political impacts. While sometimes architects are succumbed to the influences of attention and client’s agenda, we must not forget the other users.

    Thus in judging quality of architecture, perhaps the verdicts should fall onto its building users (being the main tenant) rather than by international jury, by pictorial visuals or magazine/online commentary. While at times we parade on the architectural successes via the showcases of architectural awards, perhaps best we need to experience the design work firsthand.

    Again, this questions the fundamental needs of architectural designs?
    For international jury?
    For attention seeking visual?
    For client’s agenda?
    Or for building user, pedestrians, building owner, neighbourhood and cityhood?