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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:
• INTERNATIONAL DRIVEN
• ENVIRONMENTAL DRIVEN
• CONSERVATIVE DRIVEN
• VERNACULAR DRIVEN
• ISLAMIC DRIVEN
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.
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.
KL Sentral – Façade no longer dictates the program. KL Sentral hosts multiple interchangeable programs.
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
Jalan Ampang, KLCC – broad, well lit and landscaped walkway making shopping easier.
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.
Putrajaya Boulevard – Majority of Institution buildings and street parking made mute towards the boulevard, especially under the glaring weather.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Selecting what defines Malaysian Architecture is rather complex in the midst of different designs orientation observed in the local scene.
With the prominent proliferation of International Style, Malaysia has nonetheless incorporated these oversea influences albeit some that may seek to preserve the local identities. As such, designer tend to meet with the dilemma of identity. Ultimately this creates a collision of cultures (Malay, Chinese, Indian, indigenous, Western) in the form of a new synthesis, inducing both a degree of disorientation and a unique sense of energy and excitement.
This synthesis of design orientation are recorded for prominent Malaysian projects completed between 2002 – 2015.
What are the Architecture direction for the next decade in the midst of 2020 vision?
Such directions are summarized in these 5 directions:
The below pictorial examples highlights the observations of the local scene:
1. Potential in improving the living environment
Fundamental needs of architecture seeks to provide shelter and improve the living condition within and around. Contemporaries has sometime overlook these needs and explore onto making architecture that seek attention, similar to the Las Vegas Signages, of which some term as Novelty Architecture. Coupled with the celebration of iconic buildings, the contemporary design direction has been diverted and the fundamental needs are neglected.
As such, we look into the examples of architecture that have and have not, by commentary perception, successfully working with, and failed to work with the intent of the building users. Whilst these are celebrated as an iconic building, the fundamental needs are overlooked.
The ‘Fred & Ginger’ building by Gehry in Prague.
Working on the interior the building becomes inefficient in terms of structure and of space planning. Complexity of form has created waste spaces, over-structured elements, leftover spaces onto the street and problematic office planning. This takes the concept of the Duck shed where the icon becomes the building, and diminishes the spaces within.
Der Neue Zollhof, Dusseldorf, Germany, Frank O. Gehry, 1998
The building is all about themselves. Self-contained and shutting off the places around them.
CH2 (Council House 2), Melbourne, Australis, City of Melbourne in association with Mick Pearce with DesignInc
People gather in front of it. The building is surrounded by people, doing things because there are things to do.
The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Centre, Austin, Texas, Overland Partners, 1995
This is a very contemporary set of buildings around a courtyard. Nature in all its forms is present and is integrated organically into the architecture. It is a place that welcomes people and activity, creating a sense of restfulness and well-being.
Koo Tech Puat Hospital, Singapore, CPG Consultants, 2010
Nurturing, healthy gardens throughout the hospital complex are a testament to the management’s commitment to holistic wellness.
2. Possibilities in Technologies
Technologies creates new height and possibilities for architecture. From the primitive wood structure that succumbed under vermin and rain, the stone structure improve the living environment. Structure understanding allowed taller buildings and its expression. In the example below the better understanding of structure allowed from the round arch to the taller arch, buttresses to flying buttress for taller in building height and lighter interior space.
Further to that, as city densifies, indoor lighting and ventilation (fan and air condition) allows comfort living. Architecture is also governed by the possibilities in technologies. And yet, whatever the technologies (either constructed in labour, machine or digital, architecture timelessly seek expression in design.
3. Aesthetic in Expression
Ornaments existed in multiple early civilisation respectively without communication between them. Such behaviour lead to the belief for Horror Vacui, the desire to fill a space. This nonetheless created abstraction and design that is pleasant to the senses; whether they are:
in different scale,
abstraction of body,
complex or contradicting,
realism or abstraction,
antiquity or modernity,
mechanically objective or artistically subjective, and
transhistorically or transculturally, aesthetically they are pleasant to our sense. Further exploration on the philosophy of aesthetic is recommended to be referred to.
While continuing to seek more in Architecture, a look into the past architecture movement via Charles Jencks’s Evolutionary Tree 2000 tells more expressions (red) than design that really seek to improve the living environment (green). (click image to enlarge)
most images credit to Oliver Domeisen.
Most would be surprise to find the presenter having no clue about the project yet able to present for 10 minutes, some may not be having eye contact to the audience and with hand covering the head. These gesture and fluke amaze us as to how these body languages and presentation glitches can get to where they are.
In terms of images, some may seek to amaze using high gloss images and animation while others using the traditional easel and hand presentation. Without commenting on the quality of presentation, I applaud your watching for the below for your verdict and comments.
These videos showcase presentations to client. This is different to presentation to the public or on stage or on camera where its typically choreographed and well prepared. This however is more similiar to student’s final presentation. As such the blog for these videos.
A Statistical Analysis of the Conservational Species of Orang Utan and the Quantity of professional personals in Malaysia
With the advent of implementation based on the ASEAN Economic Community Blueprint, The Malaysia Profession is set to open doors for foreign architects. The Amended Architects Act has been approved by the parliament. The Amendments are part of the liberalisation and the opening up of professional services by Government. They will allow for the liberalisation of the regulations governing registration and professional practice, and in particular the registration of non-Malaysians and equity participation by others in architectural body corporates.
As such, the local architecture industry is set to face a challenge in the year of 2015. Will the local registered architects be set to rise due to the influx of architects? Would such influx be a competitive challenge to improve the industry or set to make allow local architects to venture overseas? The architecture industry is becoming more endangered or it is being challenged ever before.
The Star Online > Focus
Thursday November 25, 2010
Sore lack of architects
IT IS undeniably good to have a professional body like Lembaga Arkitek Malaysia (LAM) governing the architectural profession and registration of architects in Malaysia.
However, at the rate LAM is allowing new registration of architects in Malaysia, I don’t think we would have enough architects by the year 2020. This year, only 50 architects passed their professional exam out of about 280 candidates.
By 2020, Malaysia would have just another 500 more architects added to the existing 1,700. This would make the architect to population ratio about 1:13,000. This is without factoring in the retirement of existing professionals and population increase.
This is obviously very low in comparison with other developed nations: Britain 1:1,860, the United States 1:3,176, Australia 1:2,330.
One might argue that the strict admission is to protect public interest and only those who are really qualified with a high level of knowledge and intelligence can get registered.
One could also argue that architects must master the theoretical part of practice in order to ensure that high professional ethics are upheld, but LAM must be transparent about this. A more inclusive approach should be created.
As of now, the candidates are not even allowed to view their answer scripts to find out what mistakes they made in answering the questions so that they could correct them in their next attempt.
LAM or perhaps Persatuan Arkitek Malaysia (PAM) needs to start looking into ways of creating a more reasonable number of architects to match the country’s progress. Perhaps a more systematic way of “retraining” aspirant professional architects needs to be devised so that architects with high professional moral responsibility who could effectively carry out the wide spectrum of architectural scope of services can be created fast.
Malaysia needs around 15,000 architects by the year 2020 to match Britain’s architect to population ratio of 1:1,860. In order to do that, about 1,325 architects need to get registered every year until the year 2020.
We really need the numbers to serve the nation because the reality is that currently most of the buildings in Malaysia are designed and supervised by non-registered architects.
Even these numbers are not enough, resulting in one architect serving four projects at one time and exposing them to mistakes due to lack of focus.
The risk of building collapse is higher because we don’t have enough architects to supervise building construction, and even if we do, the supervision is carried out by those without or who have only limited liability.
I would like to suggest that LAM and PAM pool their professional expertise and start a comprehensive training programme. The trainers could be from the panel of LAM examiners themselves so that the candidates can be trained exactly as per the required mould of professionals aspired by LAM.
The training with comprehensive syllabus could be held every weekend from now until the July examination date or it could be a one-month intensive course prior to the examination date.
The Star Online > Focus
Tuesday December 7, 2010
A monumental problem
A monumental problem I REFER to “Sore lack of architects,” (The Star, Nov 25). The Architect’s Act exists to protect the interests of the public by ensuring that only persons who are appropriately qualified, sufficiently competent and possessing the required integrity are allowed to be registered to practise as architects as there is much at stake when things go wrong.
The Board of Architects Malaysia (LAM) is entrusted with the task of regulating the profession by ensuring that those who are qualified to be registered under the Act meet the required standards in terms of knowledge and understanding of the legislative, technical and ethical aspects of the profession and also to ensure that these standards are met by architects.
The fact that there are relatively few building failures where architects are involved points to the efficacy of this regulatory function.
LAM holds annual professional examinations, both oral and written, to gauge the readiness of the candidates to join the ranks of professional architects.
In addition to this, it also regulates and monitors continued professional development (CPD) programmes for those registered to practise as part of their annual re-registration requirements.
However, it is not the responsibility of LAM to train aspiring candidates for their professional exams.
LAM is equally dismayed by the poor passing rate as it is a sad reflection on the state of the industry and the profession.
It has to be understood that it is not a matter of LAM “allowing” new registrations but a matter of candidates actually not passing the Part 3 professional exams.
It must be reiterated that the exam papers are set at a level of knowledge based on professional practice that one would expect of a candidate with two years’ experience in an architect’s office.
There is no quota system nor are the expectations unreasonable since the passing mark is set at 50%.
It has to be emphasised that the two years’ experience is the minimum period of training required.
The majority of the candidates generally require more time to acquire the necessary skills and experience either by reason of there being insufficient exposure or lack of guidance while at work.
In this respect, the profession has a major role to play in the training of future professionals.
Too often, graduate architects are employed to work exclusively on specific tasks such as design orpresentation with little exposure or experience on the other aspects of professional training, resulting in a failure to acquire the set of skills necessary to cut it as a professional architect.
On the other hand, the graduate architects who aspire to be registered as professional architects should be asking their employers at the onset whether they would be provided with opportunities to learn all aspects of professional practice during their tenure with the company and at the same time seek avenues to improve their skills and knowledge outside the office.
In the interest of their own career, they must be prepared to change employment if the situation warrants such a move.
LAM is very much aware of the need to increase the number of professional architects in order to serve the public interest, and over the years has enlisted the assistance of the Malaysian Institute of Architects and its members to carry out both Part 3 and CPD programmes and seminars designed to both disseminate and reinforce knowledge of candidates wishing to present themselves for the Part 3 examinations.
LAM is not sure how transparent the writer, Aspirant Architect, wants the board to be.
No professional body divulges examination marks or returns answer scripts to its candidates.
The examiners do not mark the scripts with comments so nothing could be gained from such an exercise.
We welcome suggestions from candidates and architects as to how we can raise the number of professional architects in the country while maintaining the necessary standards of competence to safeguard public interest.
DATUK AR. NUR HAIZI ABDUL HAI, President,
Board of Architects Malaysia
Architect’s Attire in Retrospective
As an Embodiment of their Architecture
The expression of Architect’s Outfit has gone from the stereotypical black color scheme and thick frame glasses from the Le Corbusier’s limited wardrobe to the more casually yet suited blazer of current young architecture graduates. To study the origins of the Architect’s dress code, we look into the Architect’s dress code from the Renaissance to the pre-world war aristocratic period to the capitalist post world war and the colourful contemporaries, and to investigate what has really changed us?
Similar to the Mannerism in which its ideal in Art form is transpired among music, architecture, painting, and literature, the below comparison highlights the contrastingly evolutionary form of architect’s attire as a study of the Architect’s expression of their intangible architectural ideas.
(English Mannerism: Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey, 1546, a rare English Mannerist portrait by a Flemish immigrant. , Wendel Dietterlin (1550-1599), Parmigianino’s Madonna with the Long Neck (1534-40), John Currin’s contemporary painting’s rendered in a style characterized by distortion and elongation in Mannerism.)
Whilst not purporting architects to dress like their buildings to align their expressions in both architecture and fashion, fashion design and architecture have share similar line of thoughts and design method. However not all architects abide their fashion to architecture, and here we note some similarities between the 2 industries.
Architects dressed as their most famous buildings: Ely Jacques Kahn (Squibb Building), William Van Alen (Chrysler Building), Ralph Walker (1 Wall Street) at the 1931 Beaux-Arts Architects annual ball
(Elke Walter’ dress on Zaha Hadid, photo by MARCO GROB FOR TIME, Heydar Aliyev Center, Baku, Azerbaijan)
(Fashion Walkway vs Architecture)
The black/white/grey combination has be prominently used as a symbol for Architect’s wardrobe. In color psychology, Black is the color of authority and power. It is popular in fashion because it makes people appear thinner. It is also stylish and timeless. Black also implies submission. Priests wear black to signify submission to God. Some fashion experts say a woman wearing black implies submission to men. Black outfits can also be overpowering, or make the wearer seem aloof or evil.
Dressed like Dracula, the architects of the renaissance are the patronage of the church. The tradition of black attire was passes down in the form of renaissance robe to the 19th century suit to the contemporary T shirt. Nonetheless the colour selection of black continues though there were some deviation most notable by Mike Davies and Peter Zumthor.
(The Architect’s Fashion Chart)
In years to come it is with much obscurity to imagine the next fashion for Architects. Would we be heading to the goosy flamboyant of the Lady Gaga, or the top exposed horse riding Putin, or the uniform driven Mark Zuckerberg and Steve Jobs?
No fear. Looking at the history of Architect’s attire from 5 centuries ago to the recent Pritzker Group photo, we are predicting the black suit will remains for centuries to come. The timely comparison of merely picking a black suit from the wardrobe to the time spent on designing architecture is insignificantly small. Marked by convention and conformity to customs, rules or styles, it becomes the Architect’s uniform.
(Front row, left to right: Carlos Jimenez, Lord Palumbo, Ryue Nishizawa, Cindy Pritzker, Kazuyo Sejima, Frank Gehry, Christian de Portzamparc, Glenn Murcutt.
Back row, left to right: Juhani Pallasmaa, Karen Stein, Rolf Fehlbaum, Jorge Silvetti Hans Hollein, Alejandro Aravena, Richard Meier, Thom Mayne, Cesar Pelli, Rafael Moneo (behind-Jan Utzon, representing Jorn Utzon) Richard Rogers, Jean Nouvel, Kevin Roche, Renzo Piano, Martha Thorne, Bill Lacy.)
The Creation of Architect’s image
Whilst we may easily find the conformist dressers transpired among young architectures seeking an image to represent themselves as a good candidate during job interview (interview impression is created in 7 second), this article highlights the architect’s dress code for our readers to avoid and follow. Discretion is advised.
(Graduates’ selected outfit for graduation, AA graduation ceremony, 2012)
Led by the senior conformists, the fresh graduates are left with limited options to express their creativity in their attire, and saving the creativity for architecture.
(Why Do Architects Wear Black? (2009) edited by Cordula Rau Springer Cloth, 228 pages)
This investigation was further written in the book above. This is the kind of book that will be given to an architect, rather than purchased by one for his or herself. So the next time you see an Architect wearing black, look him straight in the face and ask, why do architects wear black?
Whether it is sustainable, planning efficiency, artistic innovation, space creation, as seen in many of the prestige Pritzker Architecture Prize winners, and as heroic and noble it may seem, architecture has its limiting factor, at least for the time being. The writing below highlights the goal of many architects, and the limiting factors of what they seek to break through.
One of its limiting factors is technique of construction. Enabling possibility via technological advancement and structural understanding, ie cantilever, curved structure, material replacement, energy efficiency, Architect has more technical tools for materialize their design.
Other than being limited by it technical possibilities, Architecture itself as a discipline can also be challenged by its ideal in aesthetic and spatial planning, where the social design values and economic design values are discussed to create a designated place. (such writing does not include construction management, coordination and other site issues that are part and parcel of architecture).
The below are the less noble pursuits of architects we find so common in the industry. The more noble pursuit shall be written in subsequent issue.
1. FOR RECOGNITION (FAME)
Winning awards to win projects. Be wary for continuous pursuant of recognition that quality and substance could be forgotten.
Such is the case for most architects who fail to innovate further once a recognisable award is bestowed upon them. For example, all completed works of the recipients after the award of Pritzker or similar awards remains recognisable due to their iconicity – Zaha’s curve form, Daniel’s Deconstruction, Gehry’s curve form again.
Once they were innovative in creating creative architecture, Award recipient architects’ works tends to remains singular when the recognition of award is bestowed upon them. Though clients would usually seek architect for their design identity, this encourage the architect to repeat their concept. Thus awarding the Pritzker award would have almost limited the recipient’s chances to further explore as they are recognised and awarded for a certain design concept.
Award giving becomes a double edge sword. Once awarded, architects work are recognised by their singular design technique and fail to move beyond their comfort zone of design. They will seek less risky approach since they have achieved the peak of architecture. On the contrary to the performance bond in building contract, perhaps architecture award could be revoked once the awarded recipient failed to innovate further.
On the contrary, Frank Lloyd Wright outdid everyone in this area. Being mentored under Louis Sullivan, Frank Lloyd Wright ought to be designing similar to his mentor. In Frank’s career his works ranges from Morris Gift Shop with the stroke of Louis Sullivan, and making the Louis’s curve into circulation and space in the Guggenheim Museum, New York to the entire new working concept in the Fallingwater.
2. FOR MONEY
You don’t need to be an architect to be rich. Some of the architecture firms are owned by non architects, albeit the architectural services are being run by architects. The administrative and management departments share similarity in running a manufacturing factory.
Here is a good quote that applies to all businesses:
“We survive by breathing but we can’t say we live to breath. Likewise, making money is important for business to survive, but money alone cannot be the reason for business to exist.”
– Anu Aga, Former Chair, Thermax Ltd.
Money should not be the aim of business, though cash flow is a survival factor. Architects must also know the business of architecture.
And yet, those that are in the architecture field for decades could not do but to stay in the architecture. Years of experience has yet to make big bucks and some will look for quick money such as the sale and insurance industry.
If money is not primarily what you seek for, see whats next.
3. FOR PASSION
Passion, the only nobility of architecture. If all fails, passion and determination would never leave their backs. Determination never betray. It could also persevere through tough time of architecture as it does require long working hours. This is relevant as Architects are late bloomers. It’s a long haul and most architects do not hit their professional stride until around age 50!
4. FOR LIABILITY
Debts, children’s education, housing loan, to name a few, are some of the limiting factors for existing architect employees to remain confined at job. This in turn restricted creativity and exploration. To reduce risk, Architecture is merely a job for funding purposes and in time, becomes a repetitive chore.
5. FOR DESIGN IDEALS, AND IT’S LIMITS
5a.FOR SPATIAL REENACTMENT
In literature writing there a quote:
“No tears for the writer, no tears in the reader. No surprise for the writer, no surprise for the reader.” – Robert Frost
The writer creates literature that mimic an emotion. If one were to compare literature and Architecture (which some may say it’s a master of all art), what are the methods employed by architects to create such emotional provoking spaces without becoming a Disneyland? Some may relate such ideas to the Jewish Museum, Berlin by Daniel Libeskind. Though Disneyland and Jewish Museums consist of very different contents, its use of architecture and space as an emotional provoking space could find some common design ground – a recreation of a time and space.
Can the design credential of both Disneyland and Museum be evaluated under the same merit?
5b. FOR BEHAVIORIAL DESIGN
“We shape our buildings, and afterwards our buildings shape us.”
– Winston Churchill
The old House of Common was rebuilt in 1950 in its old form, remaining insufficient to seat all its members. Such interesting spatial consideration was proposed by Churchill, who was against “giving each member a desk to sit at and a lid to bang” because, he explained, the House would be mostly empty most of the time; whereas, at critical votes and moments, it would fill beyond capacity, with members spilling out into the aisles, in his view a suitable “sense of crowd and urgency.”
And yet, what are the possibility for Architecture to shape better parliamentary business; a parliament house that help politicians make better decision for the country? Though there were interesting debates on designing houses that promotes happiness, or factory to maximise manufacturing performance, or even offices that incite creativity. Ideals are limited, but should be celebrated to promote such ideal. An ideal for an ideal, and it’s an ideal worth seeking for creating a better living environment.
Further writing on Design Ideals to be continued in subsequent chapters.
-to be continued-