s

m

a l

l

p

r

o

j

e

c

t

s

s

m

a l

l

p

r

o

j

e

c

t

s

writing and work k e v in m a r k l ow

005

The entry of the louvrebox house, located as it was on higher ground in relation to the living area downslope, required a threshold to bridge a gap between an entrance courtyard and its lobby proper: the galvanised grating mat was designed to allow for the gentle cleaning of shoe soles and poetry of late morning shadows.

Previous page: Moss growth on the textured treads of the gardengate stair. The growth occurs with intense green over the monsoon period October through January each year and returns the treads to a decomposed dark brown at the end of each season with the roughened surface of the treads providing necessary traction.

contents

007 008 012

context phenomenology as process an introduction to intent the principle of specific context notes on phenomenological relevance writing principles and design reality and practice the dogma of economics work early projects lightwell house the gardenshell buildings small projects catalysts afterword appendices i. academia - 1983-88 ii academia - 1990-91 iii. the first ten years - 1992/2002 iv. bibliography 1 v. bibliography 2 vi. project credits

016 028 034 039 117 173 275 301 341 345 350 358 394 395 396

That was. the rigors of construction. There was a game I played when I first began work as an architect to keep the passion alive. It was called small projects. The design of a door entailed the reassessment of each joint to see if the whole could be made any more effective. a humanising of each element in the otherwise faceless object of professional practice. less about size or the registered name of a company than it is about the phenomenlogy of contextual relevance. The scale of work may have increased. and still is. it was about what the object related itself to. . to deadlines and speed of execution. This book is about the possibility of context. Basic functions so taken for granted. Designed to allow natural light into a lower ground entrance. the stair also disguises the manner of its structural support in the use of small steel pins from which each riser is hung as a beam. like what happens just before sleep and right after waking or how toilets get used or the way roof eaves and gutters worked each served as a beginning to subvert the dominant paradigm: it was about the discovery that the beauty of each and every little project was less in how they actually turned out than how the design of each was informed by the dynamics of use and of other elements or events around them. narratives more complex.006 007 The perforated steel treads and risers of the folded stair. a solution originally prompted by the need for a subtle finishing detail between the stair treads and the uneven side walls. and about the specificity of phenomenology to the physical and associative junctions which bind them all. Site work became a project on understanding the subtle differences between how various contractors thought and the bearing that had with how they built. It was all about how relationships of use and appearance grew from context. context The early parts of an architect’s life have an inbuilt setting for dimming creativity: the romance of those great school years of experiment and ideas gives way to the reality of work and client expectations. A meeting with a client was about how certain words put together in particular ways could end in a new idea built or an opportunity lost. the drudgery of submissions and the day to day. but it is still about how the vast relates to the large and then to the small. The game basically involved reducing any given task to its smallest distinct elements in understanding how they all related. the basis of smallprojects. Relevant design was never about the object.

with regard to something which could be called building culture . it barely begins. those physical traces or experiential outcomes which give evidence to the unique character of any one region and place. the context of peninsula Malaysia is an interesting one for a variety of reasons. Moss covered treads of the gardengate stair evidence the specific context of the monsoon tropics. In construction. The difficulties to be experienced should work in a different environment be undertaken is beyond comprehension at this time. but to reengage them is ways I never realised was possible. Bottom: Malaysia. blood warm carpets. specific context. or the local rock garden trails which I bike during the monsoons for the taste of fresh flying moss. the act of use. And finally. friends are made of contracts and contractors. a collective result of its ecology on surfacess and the unique set of working processes which characterise its building culture. The enveloping humidity. . Climate and site responses are obviously vital. Design becomes less the act of showing than it does that of revealing. deep shadow and sleep at the colonnaded west facing prayer hall of the Great Friday Mosque of Sana’a. the architecture which grows from this process engages the patterns of rapid growth and decay on surfaces. With respect to society. the effects of constant water flow on and over buildings during the monsoons. into the heavy nap. a sharpening of each particular moment which hones a memory. And the simple issue of time passing becomes of essence. one chooses not hide the nature of one’s friends but to discover them over time. as do materials and buildings: I am predisposed not merely to make their transition as gracious and dignified as is possible. Winter air. or alternatively. however mammoth a task it may prove since a new langauge is rarely learned nor spoken well quickly. In consequence. primarily in materials that the specific context of Malaysia finds greatest impact. barring the finer points of site pecularities. immediate or slightly more removed. a different working context should breed a different language of work. of production and elemental finish. but is instead given integrity through the design of its relationship to its immediate context: the materials and processes of construction. The organic autumn and machined textures of the Archie Bunker chair. With regard to the phenomenology of society. the getting-to-know-you. and the unique problems faced by maintenance in a deeply humid environment: the accumulation of age on surfaces is designed to be an integral part of the architecture. Concerning the place origins of the work I have completed.for a country with clients and building projects context specific to Malaysia. Bottom: Kuala Berang. it is indeed encompassing. its fluctuating humidity ranging from swimmable to dead dry and the burning sun so characteristic of the equatorial tropics. with the monsoons bringing torrential driving rains twice a year. This page: Top: Cambridge. each understood for their basic characteristics and specific applications. 2004. workmanship and craft commensurate with first world standards. an interesting end has been distilled from its disparity. it is highly localised: its frame of reference is something I call specific context. growth and decay take place at a rate bordering on the phenomenal. 009 phenomenology as process an introduction to intent The red carpets lining the floors of the Great Friday Mosque in Sana’a have the sort of thickness one has to sleep on during winter to understand: one sinks but not quite. everything which can be perceived matters. If an aesthetic pattern of solutions have begun to emerge from this body of work.008 Opposite: Top: Sana’a. find expression in the tectonics of what is created. It is. As friends. however. Its natural and urban ecology and construction pecularities find imprint on the products of my design in a process designed to accommodate rather than avoid. a waterfall which must be clear jumped in early June to understand the pure chill of snowmelt. Ecologically. Phenomenologically speaking. they are less there for the act of building than for what they intrinsically are. one finds fine cement dust coating furniture over the course of a single day and a local manufacturing industry which is as strong as it is generally affordable. It is much the same for the work I do in the context of their origins. it is because all the work I have done to this point has been located within the specific confines of a single place: its points of which demand the quality of material. From the viewpoint of pecularity. heavy rains and burning sun of a tropical monsoon climate provide all the primary cues for the formal expression of the Terengganu house. It is much the same for the Punch Bowl Falls off the Columbia River Gorge. for the fact that it is indeed multicultural to the point of being somewhat confused. the details of space and its assembly. The way in which I interact with my architecture is total. In the way of inclusivity. building culture. context being the sum total of phenomenological experiences of any one place. Nothing is ever too close for comfort and perhaps it is a comfort only found from getting too close. Launching marks my beginnings of familiarity. People age. lighthearted in a manner which worries most project managers. thick with warm sunlight the texture of a favourite blanket and the give of plush velvet. they form the basis for the reference are mostly the same. Subsequently. In the way different environments encourage different trajectories for any one particular launch. for a boom which has lasted the better part of the last ten years. evidenced in the final product. they need not be touched on here. early 1991. late 1999. It is in this tub of extremes which I design and build. That process is one begun by the identification of the experiential qualities of the local condition. that familiarity and sense of scale which only comes with age guide my deliberations and decisions as time has considerably less impact on the quality of light and space (as volume) than it does on the materials which reveal them. Architecture as a process does not end when the building is done. work becomes predisposed to understanding and rediscovering ways in which its pecularities can be given expression. the extremes which characterise Malaysia form the primary cues for the work I do. materials and their manufacture. I launch myself into the environments I inhabit. of maintenance and detail. of detritus. raw light. It is these traces and outcomes with which I begin design. its specific context. curiously spontaneous as it is undemanding. so do projects in different geographic and societal locations instigate different outcomes of work. A work observed to be less skilled through act or appearance is not necessarily made to change. from making the dining room the centre of a house as is the local culture of food to its people to how footwear storage reconfigures the threshold between in and out or the way which its driving culture can influence the design of a carpark. Yemen. its local building industry is strewn with inaccuracy as it is with moments of precision. but as they have been sufficiently written and theorised on in the way of Critical Regionalism and only constitute part of deeper. 1991.

In summary. However. In such an approach. In as far as the sustainability of inclusivity is concerned. the obvious questions of intentionality and accident inevitably arise. Although smallprojects as an idea was never intended to reference physical dimensions. The project for the family of eight in particular. aside from being that planned execution of strict intention can also be hardwired for design ambiguity at its vital surfaces and junctions. only time will tell if translation can be made successfully. At best. Yemeni origin. The appendices at the end of the book include a select record of academic work followed by formative projects over the first ten corporate years with a large architectural firm. only time will tell. mid 2007. This is not something to be mistaken with involving clients with the act of design. but more in the sacrifice of other pressing necessities regarding that decision. finding new life in the manner of their assembly within the less than perfect construction culture which typifies Malaysia. It is undeniable that experimentation works more efficiently when performed at smaller scales. American origin. While it is usually the case that one is either a critic or a practitioner and not both. as working alone can be isolating at the very least. Drawer pull. the task at hand is somewhat compounded by the way my practice has been configured. becomes as much a calculated set of concepts and theories of space as it is about the uncertainty of the surfaces which make them and the processes from which those same surfaces are made. As to this. New Hampshire. it logically follows that I would rather build economically than lavishly regardless of place. Attempt has been made for the architectural work documented in this section to be substantiatively descriptive. phenomenologically processed. The projects might be comparatively affordable in relation to mainstream architecture. a part of the entire process which has the product of my work develop its under constructed and less polished sense of finish. I have found bringing clients into complicity with the process of design of vital importance: it has become a part of my practice to engage clients with the act of experimentation. regardless of outcome. A decision made at the beginning of professional practice has led me to work without the help or the assistance commonly found in support staff. Material selection is based on the lower cost associated with commonly found materials. mostly architectural in nature. points a fresh direction in what constitutes necessity: the sophistication shown by the client (the chauffeur of another client) not merely in recognising and requesting what he favoured aesthetically as architecture. built from left over plywood and scrap timber. The narrow wall ledges of the scrapwood pool. once again. The opposite could not be more true of solitary practice and if phenomenology is one’s main priority of business: design and its management are completely inter-related if the object of one’s work is to produce work of constant exploration. . it is exceedingly difficult to maintain control over similar issues at increasing levels of size. the work I do will rank low on the scale of things: clients taken on are at the very least able to afford to build. With respect to how it will impact the outcome of the larger commissions. mid 50’s. it is not possible for one to touch on process without addressing the issue of whom one’s clients are. the application of specific context means that its working principles must necessarily cross dimensional scales of reference as validity of their worth. In the process of attempting to build as such. architecture as we know it being less about the design of necessities than it is in the production of luxuries. The second part of the book documents built work and projects from early ideas to that more consistent with the underlying principles on a process guided by phenomenology. as complicity with experiment carries with it greater moral investment with a consequent emotional need for that investment to materialise.010 011 Bottom: Gardenshell house. the simplest and most basic issues of management have found huge impact in the way I design and formulate ideas: design management has become a muliti-tasking role of the most interesting dimensions. It is not the easiest means to practice architecture. early 2006. work and create. The book’s structure consequently engages the duality of product and process: it begins with a collection of essays written by way of discourse and critique on a variety of issues. Lastly. they currently form the bare beginnings of inquiry concerning contextual economy which might yet find greater application to the grace of living. For the conceptual direction of work I do. and this places them comfortably in the uppermost half percent of all people alive. the texture of stone. however brief. Shoeprint blemishes accidentally created when errant subcontractors had walked over floors which had hardened but not quite chemically set were retained as traces of the construction biography in the gardenshell buildings. Top right: Lightwell house. the earlier process of reduction to facilitate understanding clearly preferenced smaller work and its built work has been generally small in scale. Side table. and time consuming at worst. when they inevitably occur and are not found to compromise structural safety or maintenance and operational ease. to which an answer might be given: that architecture. much less in the way of products manufactured to resist change and wear than those which evolve best with weather and through time. Its contents aim to reveal and clarify the design and development of built work which has grown from the perceived and experiential qualities of its particular context. the pool has been designed for the contiguity of a mining pond. With larger commissions currently being constructed. the thinking and making of architecture as it engages the specific context of place which surround it. Two projects currently in design include a low cost house for a family of eight with a budget of thirty thousand Malaysian ringgit (the equivalent of about 8 300 US dollars or 6 000 euros). a belief system which ultimately prioritises an architecture of economy over one of aesthetic and technological opulence. the floor plans which allow organisational relationships to be understood also double as the means to show how design documentation is practiced. developed as a constant search for opportunity within that framework of conceptual integrity. That complicity engages them with the intelligent search for greater economy of means. With the greater context of our planet as a finite aggregate of material. These two projects have become of singular importance to the next chapter of what smallprojects will be. it has immersed me in a unique set of circumstances which has inadvertantly pushed and remoulded the parameters of work in ways I would not have imagined. early 1991. It is a common belief that design and office management occupy separate categories in the broad scope of what architecture means. Aside from the obvious difficulties of design being more constrained by the public nature of some of these commissions. but they merely skim the deeper issues of construction and technological economy. Building errors. it is felt that this approach most closely defines the meaning of the experiment with regard to architecture. in this case. aside from the drawings and explanations behind specific details. steel hinge pin. Cambridge. Sole practice in this case does indeed mean working entirely alone. It is my belief that such documentation. and a low to medium cost mass housing project. are reconfigured in aesthetic juxtaposition or contrast to immediate physical context and left as that trace of construction biography. The intentions here are to reveal as much as possible the workings and methods of a particular practice. The question here concerns how much of what we do for and with our architecture truly impacts all humanity and not merely the privileged minority. 1990. This is to say that the construction error. I have found it important to my development in design to write and to make personal judgements on issues which I believe to be more or less relevant to the way we live. the growth of algae and the colour of sea milk. birch twig. provides essential background to a process of phenomenological thinking and greater insight to the evolution of that process with regards to a particular body of work. such that the deeper relationships between process and product may be more clearly understood and critiqued. Architecture. 1990. is retained as a tactile element of human and humanising origin. are the formal elements of inquiry with regards to the work in this book. This section documents much of what has become a working process for design and the complex art of building. The responsibility of the architectural commission in this case takes on new significance.

June 2004. Understanding specific context invites the questioning of dominant paradigms within which a society operates. However. The greater degree of complexity the problem. . Specific context also applies to the way any one country or construction region traditionally and also most commonly builds. local building bylaws. A process based on phenomenology presupposes the rational discovery of phenomena. It celebrates diffference as it dismantles ubiquity. from the way brick walls might be laid to how shuttering is erected. Right: Musée Orsay. It is about where the sun rises and sets or where prevailing winds blow. It is as much about any one society’s attitude to garbage as it is about the reasons why orange coloured lichen grows on the boughs of raintrees in Singapore and not in Kuala Lumpur with barely two degrees of latitude between them. governed only by specificity of place. Design is the conversation between creativity and context. The walls of a typical contemporary Javanese kampung house have their brick walls constructed prior to the pouring of concrete stiffeners. design relevance works at much deeper levels through the consideration of specific context. It is about how the dry cold of a temperate climate will deform and split timber from a humid equatorial region and about the storm drains in Singapore which collect water run-off with vastly different consequences from those in Malaysia. The specific context of building culture is about the peculiarity of ways in which any one construction society operates. Architectural context most basically refers to site geography. the principle of specific context notes on phenomenological relevance Every single thing in existence is shrink wrapped in its unique dense weave of relationships which we call its context. The technology of digital mapping as it is commonly used for restorations and reproductions in the European Museum. food and people with fine dust over the course of each day. For the diligent architect. Knowledge and its application as wisdom is contextual. the high tension line or twenty storey building next door. about which materials and processes have best adapted over time functionally and economically in specific locations and about which new imported technologies and materials actually constitute relevance. Nov. measures and monitors itself. About the seven different shades of natural green in East Java by way of texture and sunlight and the way humidity in the monsoon tropics buckle the pages of hardcover books and cause constant staining of glazed curtain walled buildings downtown. 2003. It is about how the surrounding desert environment of Karachi coats buildings. it will concern budget contraints and the relevance of use. It is about the way the phenomenology of perception can inspire relevant design. If design is indeed the conversation between creativity and context. leaves.012 013 Left: Muneng Mayangan. The progress of a society is typically gauged through its awareness and application of knowledge as defined and dictated by rational processes and the formality and history of high culture. the deeper must one converse with the weave of its particular context for informed decision making and heightened intuition. then specific context is that which births specific design. It is as subtle and as pervasive as a weather system and is bound to a constant state of slow evolution. society and culture in any one particular place. Understanding specific context is about perceiving intelligently about the subtle effects of geography. Creativity and its application as design is no different. Problem solving is dependent on the ability to grasp the contextual weave surrounding any one issue: the knowledge a guerilla must have concerning the nature of his operational terrain is as contextually driven as the information a stockbroker requires to make decisions offering the greatest positive economic impact. Specific context concerns the rational discovery of natural and human phenomena revealed through the specificity of place.

014 015 essays 016 017 018 019 020 021 on principles and design the garden room the landscaped plinth the epic landscape mountain pool dogconcrete underconstruction style andy goldsworthy low cost earthed renovation safari roof fengshui smallprojects the detail sketch on reality and practice no compromise descending angels scandinavian style scapegoat professional fees schedule of fees integrity A4 the architecture of engineering the high cost of value the dogma of economics product and process commodity third world ubiquity w r i t i n g 028 029 030 031 032 033 034 035 .

details may bore once again rather than excite. The first issue in the process of detail design sets the tone and informs the next three. However.details for a hung stair to show how structural concerns distilled from understanding immediate use result in steel locking hasps at the tops and bases of the steel tension rods. the functioning and maintenance of a detail is itself dependant on its exposure to moisture and air. in order of priority: 1. The nature of its immediate use. 4. the consequence of required structural support and construction adjustment in a single direction. The reinvention of such details are facilitated by an analysis of how existing technologies or materials function and where they fail and through an understanding of how our world physically functions. The ease with which a detail functions or is maintained is tied generally to its longevity. The degree of its exposure to heat. the need for adjustability in one direction. The detail was sketched at structural inception in order to hide the equipment without losing the impression of a clean concrete shell on the exterior.14 to 15). cold and/or moisture. This is not to say that a detail elegant in appearance is worth its salt if it does not perform as it should. The nature of immediate use is never something to be simply assumed nor taken lightly (see fig. Roller shutters were specified for the task and a detail had to be designed such that the large ungainly housing boxes for the roller shutter could be tucked away from view and serviced without need for entry to the interior of the house. Fig. static or animate. four issues are of critical and concurrent importance. a detail may Fig. 2. heat and cold with respect to detail design are but specific situations regarding the nature of immediate use of a detail. The nature of its finish or appearance.024 025 In the consideration of a detail. the combination of which can lead to localised rust and damage to the surround or internals of the detail (see fig.a detail for the enclosure of a tall living room volume: the function of garden parties necessitated doors which would disappear when required for better spatial flow. constructional tolerance in two orthogonal and one radial direction. . These are. 14 to 15 . Fig. water collects or drips and how heat is transmitted (see fig. Floor skirtings are intended to hide the joint between floor and wall: steel channels for a groove line where a typical skirting should be might look crisp and contemporary but will never disguise the bruising of a vacuum head or the streaks of a mop stain. Understanding the nature of a detail’s immediate use is definitive: is it to keep rainwater from staining the corner of a window reveal? Will a pivot door be expected to hide the view beyond through the little gaps on its sides? Does the stair handrail fit well to the human grasp at the same time it is securely mounted? At a deeper and more refined level of research.11 to13). On occasion. Whether it is in the form of a grease nipple to allow for the lubrication of moving parts or the ubiquitous odour trap (the removable top cover of a typical floor trap to contain sewer odour with a water seal). While it is most common and indeed essential to find the first three issues attended to.6 to 10). it is actually the last which provides new understanding to the act of detailing. extreme care must be taken in the design of these mostly technical details as failure might not involve mere rectification but sequential damage. the question then is what constitutes the most appropriate height for the waiting seats at airport gates. The classic example of sequential damage would be the case of an incorrectly detailed skylight which leaks rainwater into a museum or gallery causing possible damage to architecture and furnishings and potentially irreplaceable damage to the artwork. 11 to 13 . The ease of its function and continued maintenance.a sketch exploring the raw function of a gutter support. Having a window or roof in the tropics to keep moisture and heat gain out is as basic to design thinking as the computer is to production: in as far as roofing sheets have to lap and double glazing is essential for insulation against cold. 6 to 10 . the processing of design detail turns into the anticipation of the unexpected. 3. but in as far as they determine essential functions of a building’s operation. although it will have specific relevance to animate detail. given the dual need for elevating the legs and preparing oneself for boarding? When given deeper thought. but the difference can still be made through the same attention paid to the understanding of how air moves. a well researched atypical finish or appearance of a detail is simply that which marks it apart from more commercial ones. The consideration of moisture. they are absolutely vital. the nature of immediate use can be sought through a consideration of the banal and have questions asked of the ordinary: where is the best mounting surface for a toilet roll holder? What is the most comfortable way of emerging from a swimming pool? How does one most naturally use a basin tap? What makes the most efficient location for elevator cab button panel? The simple example of airport seating tells one that it performs less the function of general rest than it does that of providing relief for legs and feet.

028 on reality and practice 029 no compromise I have been told that the romance years end with graduation from university. but the journey will always be worth its while. he’d say. English is the language of choice among consultants.. Variations based on revision of design not instigated by the architect through foresight or lack thereof may then be charged a fee based on the extent of the change. the best work. stricken by a polluted evil. be it square footage. It may come in uncompromised form only years later.. not learning delivery boyhood. Passionate. It bothers me that under the form of contracts here in Malaysia that architects charge a fee equivalent to a percentage of the final construction costs. It is possible to verify the absolute authenticity of a scapegoat. divers are eccentric and difficult. the headman. . It is understandably easier for those with lineage or patrons to facilitate the pursuit of an uncompromised present. a world of monetary survival. Simply brilliant. ‘These young impetuous architects’. but there it is. a footsoldier and wrestler sent out to wage the war of design gives and design takes. check and balance. And when the final confrontation happened. design. peaceful and godlike. our Viking counterparts have an interesting way of providing for accountability. they have been known to cut their ears off. They are the same deep rollers Dr. building bylaws and creative possibility. I was a frontliner. That percentage sum varies depending on building type and degree of repetition if modular. they may or not change the world but the one thing they strive for above all else is independence through economic gain. That was the game we played. Some of the greatest scapegoats ever were the creations of consultants. it is reflected as a subsequent rise in the percentage fee. one will find the living hell of seeking authority approvals. one has the holy grail of design. As such. the proprieter of the shop. president incumbents or evil landlords. Divers live in a world of their economic making. it begins it. ‘passionate and just burning to do the best possible work’. When it comes to the process of building submissions and authority approvals. am I a consultant or will I meet one later today? scapegoat descending angels We had a wonderful game back in the last office I worked in. to be above it all. but in a way of their choosing and their uncompromised present depends not on a safety net of money but of passion. Before implementation. Be alert for subtleties! Be an exemplary listener and speak excellent English. For anyone who dreams. the consultants scapegoat of choice is the client. On the other. I propose a fee structure which may be left to each architect to decide: the proviso is that every fee structure be absolutely up front. I have been led to believe that the Scandinavians run things differently up North. Then. If you will remember. It is simple really. Logically now. Yes. for they dream. everything which ends as a specification is simply justified in the name of aesthetics. Not shunting between departments for stamps of receipt nor patiently sitting in lobbies for appointments on issues already seen to. Just burning. After implementation. fighting to the last design breath under the task of keeping to budget’s simply because you believed in what you did. During implementation. finishes or fittings. And should the final construction cost rise with higher specifications on architectural materials. So let us rid ourselves of peripherals and start focussing on the design of good working buildings. individuals not necessarily trained as architects but with all the required skills to produce submission drawings and the know how to liaise with those in charge. professional fees scandinavian style The world of professional architecture tends to bifurcate at some unpleasant juncture during the course of all projects. I have since found that with divers and deep rollers. leaving his weary mother to care for the hobbled father and grandmother gone insane. That’s the way it worked in the office. the current system being inherited from the British notwithstanding. Generally speaking. The storm clouds gather. It is apparent that a new way of working professional fees is left wanting. the eldest son gets drawn into a life of crime.. the cherubic Hindu god with beetling eyebrows and googlie eyes drops from the sky and saves the day. The concept of conflicting interests could never be more clearly defined. the consultants scapegoat of choice is the contractor. Lecter speaks of in reference to Clarice Starling. Very much like the vivid vintage Hindi movies of old. and presented in a final sum which does not change from the moment the contract is signed and sealed. the mastery of scapegoat creation lies in the ability of the consultant to leave as cloudy a trace as is possible concerning their involvement through the use of heavy rhetoric: to divert attention by drawing attention. And. The nuances and ambiguities of the English language are most suited for the art of scapegoat finding. for all intents and purposes.. the God Game. concerning the introduction and damning of a scapegoat. It means that the specifier stands to collect extra on an increase in cost of something specifed. The absolute beauty of the system is its sheer audacity. What client could possibly argue with that? Descending angels and passion. they usually started out with a neat family. an entity of objectivity to take away the client’s pain. Clean and disassociated from daily happenings job to job. Leaving architects to do what they should be doing best. are taken care of by a professional collection of people. both foreign and local. The floaters generally grow into pinstriped suits and have corporate ambitions. Takes one through storm clouds and polluted evil. the knit of space and technology. I think Scandinavian style works best. no hidden costs and agendas. Taken to the extreme. the real world will pull the brightest star right down to earth.. Though other tongues are used. this being architecture. translucent. Authority submissions. Ask yourself. then the director of the firm would descend like an angel of reason. crops ravaged and just as the deluge and hail are about to cast a final tragedy on the gathered gloom. Never conceeding a cause just because the client held the say so. Reality will bite. slowly worn down by the unfairness of life. full authority submissions are detrimental to the design of good work by virtue of lost design time. The key is to keep that dream alive. consultants create scapegoats over their making of inappropriate design decisions or to cover just plain incompetence. the consultants scapegoats of choice are the requirements.and when reality bites. when clients got pissed off not being able to make headway with their unreason.clients and lay people are simply not trained to question ‘professional’ opinion on aesthetics or be criticised. a floater will choose to live in the world of purchasing power. The trick was for the director of the firm. there is a recognition to make. real life does not end the romance. Intellect comes in two forms: there are floaters and there are divers. client wants and client needs. On the one hand. Divers are a special breed. disease. detail or design layout. But for the dream filled graduate seeking that first job with nothing but a degree in the kit. A scapegoat is a blametaker. Taken to the extreme. Divers live the less worn path not by choice but as a byproduct of their beliefs. to bite right back. passion and practicality.

small projects dining table #3 steel table bath valet timber table black and white cabinets onion valet wallpantry kitchen jockey pittsburgh desk mule workstation system autopsy table 5. lightwell house lightwell house loftoffice 3. early projects safari roof house ventblock house louvrebox house 2. the gardenshell buildings BritishIndia corporate warehouse gardenshell house gardenwall offices 4. catalysts brickwall house black and white house dogconcrete house sibu pavilion boardformed house aviary house/folded stair w o r k .036 037 projects 043 079 089 117 159 175 209 227 277 279 281 283 285 287 289 291 295 297 299 303 307 315 323 329 335 1.

This section is about the beginnings prior to engaging deeper complexity. These clients showed a keeness for detail which questioned their own assumptions about how they lived and placed value in the experiment as much as they were forgiving of an idea gone wrong. The complexity and struggle of any architecture lies in the attempts to amalgamate a vast number of disciplines. These early houses embodied explorative rather than fully formed ideas about architecture and. 1 The forest plantation grove looking south down its length to the dining room at the safari roof house. part of a growing trend among the privileged in Malaysia underpinned by the psychological need for physical security. Taken separately. like the projects worked on over the first ten years of professional practice (see appendix ii). The work done in school and the start of any professional career can only ever focus on bringing form to each discipline independently of how well the others might dovetail.038 039 early projects The projects undertaken in sole practice began with three houses. each project in this section reflects a time of experimentation and coming to terms with each diverse facet of architecture independently rather than understood and designed in consolidation as built reality in a single work. The projects documented here are complete as individual concepts but they find grouping with the development of a primary idea governing their design: that of the safari roof. . All three houses were sited in gated communities. regarded tangible hypothesizing and the testing of ideas in built form a necessary part of construction at that particular point in time: they benefitted from the grace and patience of clients who were less interested in the product than they were in the process.

the courtyard was designed to provide morning shade for the tall space of the living room and a vertical foreground to the landscape beyond. its architecture began with the garden. Rather. This door for ceremony opens to a view of a cement rendered pool and the landscape beyond screened by the trees of the forest grove and ashtray garden. The finishes within are all variations on the common material of cement. a garden room of ten feet by forty five feet with a plantation of thirty six trees in eight different species filling a large long ashtray disguised as a gravel compound to accommodate frequent parties. A forest grove centres the house. . The narrative for the house did not have its garden designed around the architecture. The site. The forest grove of the safari roof house. The west sides of the house are shaded by large walls of precast cement ventblock: an economic means to reduce afternoon heating from the west and to provide for greater privacy in the bathrooms. along a gravelwashed driveway and up a short flight of stairs to a large pivoted middle earth door. allowed for building orientation which maximized frontage to the borrowed greens of the east facing course. cigarette butts and the act of camouflage. built for a family of five. being wider than deep. The house is entered through a perforated gate which folds away from an awaiting visitor at the doorbell. The rooms of the house are arranged around and are themselves screened by the east facing grove. a plantation of trees of a mixed variety of species.040 041 safari roof house kuala lumpur. malaysia 2003-05 The safari roof house is located on a rise on the edge of the greens of a surburban neighbourhood golf course. from polished floors and rendered walls to plywood formed concrete ceilings and black bathroom floors.

Sections of the window wall slide open for through ventilation and cleaning and sunlight begins to filter through during the late afternoons with a greatly reduced heat by then. alstonia angustiloba. . Top right: The tall volume of the living room allows for large clerestory windows above for ventilation and the sense of the encroaching greens from outside. and only fully over sunset. Bottom: The living room viewed through the trees of its forest grove from the pool deck to the east. hopea odurata and jacaranda obtusifolia. The trees in the grove include local pelong and jelutong. koompassia excelsa. caesalpinia ferrea. 061 Opposite page: Top left: The ventilation block elevation on the west face of the living room keeps the warmest aspects of the afternoon sun away from the glazed window wall within. tristania obovata. with a deep riot of shadows and mottled pools of light.060 Left: The tall living room is lit by clerestory window walls and shaded from the direct light of the morning sun by the lower verandah roof slab and the forest grove.

the steel supports were made taller for better air flow and simply mounted onto the concrete frame at roof level. the safari roof substitutes technology for cross ventilated wind in its version of tropical heat insulation. the single crucial aspect of its function rests in the expression of the clear space between body of building and upper roof. Bottom row: Preliminary sectional detail sketches of the safari roof and the method of its construction. Right: View showing where the roof eave meets its timber panelled ceiling. For the house. Bottom: The safari roof from the west. A plastic rodent mesh was designed into the gap between the ceiling and its roof to keep birds and rats from building nests within the separation. These were subtly modified and adjusted in the built outcome but the basic intentions of a steel fascia to hide the corrugated roof edge and the roof cross section without insulation remained unchanged. .066 Top: First concept sketches for the house. 067 The safari roof house uses. The client's wish for timber panelled eaves was abstractly provided for by way of timber strips mounted beneath the safari roof in a single broad panel but held away from the roof edges: flourescent tubes brighten the timber ceiling at night. shed like in simplicity. leaving the periphery and eaves of the roofing sheets unfinished and exposed to view. a roof originally found on the series Land rovers from the seventies: a simple sunbreak roof sheet held off the body of the vehicle by small feet. with the safari roofs shown lifted off the body of the building masses. as its namesake. Where many roofs commonly found on contemporary houses in Southeast Asia seal the gap with the fixed glazing of a purely aesthetic nature. a heat best known for its degree of humidity. Where typical cars use a high performance insulative layer in their roofs. for the effect of lightness and the visual experience of what the roof actually does in reality. the safari roof expresses the separation as an uninterrupted gap of cross ventilated air. The lower sketch indicates the extent to which the timber lapped ceiling below the roof would be taken.

the undercroft of the louvrebox house conceives its use as a plinth for the everyday. Right column: Early sketches studying the louvrebox house as a raised and louvred mass: the area beneath was conceived as a ‘room’ across the full width of the site and contained only by the boundary garden walls and given shade by the house above it. the space of the garden effectively became that of the living room and the living room was perceptually extended the full width of the site. typical in form of the traditional houses on the north eastern coast of West Malaysia. lounging. Bottom left: Morning light filtering through the louvred screens and into the corridors which circulate to the bedrooms on the uppermost level. Understood from the viewpoint of available materials and context. Constructed of timber. Where the undercroft of the Terengganu house found use in the drying of fish and for storage. Raised off the ground for the height of a near full storey. it insulates against the heat of the equatorial sun. the Terengganu house is a perfect example of cross ventilated grace. but underneath and above it as well to dry out whatever moisture might be collected on its timber surfaces. eating. being open from one boundary wall to the next. 105 Opposite page: Top left: The Terengganu house. The openable walls of the raised domicile and louvred ends of its roof provide good air flow not merely through the house. for the grace of gathering and cooking. it avoids the ground dampness and the floods of the monsoon season while providing space beneath for the storing of boats and the mending of fishing nets and the drying of fish during the drier months.104 Left: The upper louvred box of bedrooms was lifted off the ground by concrete columns and the area beneath designed with sliding glass doors. pool parties and afternoon naps. . they have been built for the specific context of an equatorial monsoon climate.

both through the process of continuing renovation and rebuilding and by way of aging as it takes to its garden. if phenomenologically limited sense of sight into balanced perspective. the design explorations on the lightwell house. The lightwell house is in a state of evolution. have found the subtler working details to contribute as much and more to perceived spatial quality. The manner with which details work and are used. it has grown with its loftoffice to become a workshop and test bed for built ideas. It is where most ideas of the practice are first birthed. Spatially. locking hasps slide and doors close. The cumulative effect tests the various experiences regarding the effect of entry in the strategising and fine tuning of perceived thresholds. concrete and gravel for ground cover. having prioritised the details of function equally with that volume making. moss growth. territories. of how nature ages on and with the manmade. more critically. 2 The meeting of the raw materials at the entry courtyard of the lightwell house: a construction idiom of clay brick and cement. the house has been subject to experimentation to blur the readings between inside and out.116 117 lightwell house The lightwell house holds an important place in the work done by smallprojects less for the fact that it is where design work physically takes place than that the house and its design elements. shadow and light. The lightwell house is about the scale of time as it is traced on solids and surfaces and the details of use and occupation which animate space and form. a proving ground for design as it engages the garden and the context of monsoon Asia. borders and strongholds. concepts and materials. pivot. features and loose ends runs threads of influence and continuity through almost every other project undertaken. a reference library for the study of change. hinge or latch are all part of the less known realm of animate detail which engage our bodies more fully. Aside from being simply a place to live. . placing our powerful. see construction and final study: trees and various forms of planting are constantly being added and removed to the spaces within and fully scaled contructs in entirety or part all serve to help the understanding of how natural elements and manmade things age and. Where spatial value has been more commonly understood to be mostly derived from light and its revealing of visual tactile quality.

conceived as a threshold between the garage and front porch. Bottom right: Detail sketches to study the dynamics of supporting the slat door and the design of construction of its timber slats such that its method of assembly would be hidden from scrutiny. it accommodates the arrival of guests by way of a garden and mottled pools of sunlight. the slat door was designed to keep the padlock secure when all were home asleep. Bottom: The entry porch marks a point of decision. Across from the garage and at the end of the courtyard is an angled porch and the main entry sliding slat door. both commonly sacrificed with an opening with which to physically access the padlock. The door slides towards the house to allow unimpeded perceptual continuity of the boundary wall on the right when opened.128 Top: The entry courtyard just past the cantilever gate. 129 Top: The slat door with evening shadows in semi opened position tucked away and protected from the elements at the deepest corner of the porch. Aside from some ideas on how the wheels would be expected to be constructed. The angular form of the porch derives from the geometry of the site and lends itself to the natural progression of entry at the deepest point of its cover. most padlocks can be picked from the outside. through the sliding slat door to the garden room of the residence beyond or up the cantilevered stair treads on the right to an office gate entrance above. Simply put. Bottom left: Inceptual sketches for the slat door in exploration of a latching mechanism which could be padlocked from inside or outside with visual privacy and security. the sketch also shows offset slats on either side which details a alternating slat assembly one side to the next. .

It has been designed to become dressed with ficus pumila over time. The animate detail was based on balance points. at which time it will begin to resemble what its name suggests. Opposite page: Top and middle left: Inceptual and dimensioned drawings detailing the relationship between the cantilevered steps to the gardengate. Right column: The gardengate in closed position in the top picture and in opened position below. Bottom left: Sectional and detail drawings to study the operational dynamics of the trapdoor with its lever door counterweight. its transparency became vital in order to avoid its becoming too obtrusive. . sequencing of the moving parts and the coordination of associated functions. The idea was to have the security of a handrail when the stair was in use and to have the stair treads kept clean and free of the clutter which commonly accompanies a handrail with typical stairs. thereby permitting passage of the sliding bolts on either side of the lever door through bolt holes in the trapdoor edge for a secure lock. simple in form and sufficiently prominent in size to draw the attention of clients to as an entrance. that of a gate with a garden woven through it. swing angles. It was simply logical that the trapdoor floor of the gardengate would serve the function of handrail as well.161 The gardengate viewed from the east. Centre bottom two: The latching system for the gardengate required sequencing the closure of the trapdoor with its lever door counterweight. Centre top two: Design sketches and studies to determine tolerances and raw dimensions for the gate. the smaller arc of movement for the narrower side of the pivotted trapdoor allowed it to swing into position marginally before the larger arc of the counterweight edge.

The gardenshell buildings could be thought of in the same light. In these cases. reducing the finish of any building to its absolute simplest raw element and allowing textural quality to merge more readily with that of the garden. practicality. The gardenshell buildings represent a collective attempt to reevaluate modern corporate aesthetics and to define an architecture of economy and grace. elemental protection and growth accretion on its exterior walls to aesthetic effect and in extreme cases. The gardenshell series of buildings began in response to the growing need for an aesthetic associated with increasing the economy of construction.172 173 the gardenshell buildings While the safari roof houses established building context as an essential part of construction design. the growth of ficus pumila creepers on the external walls have effectively prevented further moisture intrusion and repainted internal walls no longer show signs of water intrusion. it is common to find variations of any one particular model produced as a lightweight ‘performance' limited edition. Reduced to minimal finishes and tolerances. the gardenshell buildings would challenge the limits of aesthetic acceptability. although the idea was only fully formed with the gardenshell house. structural and enclosure systems and integrating the processes of site management. they mark the beginnings of a proper amalgamation of the diverse aspects of the architectural profession. the idea for the safari roof was adopted in most of the gardenshell houses. they took on a porous and unwholesomely cheap cement brick for full brick walls without external finish and these suffered a degree of moisture penetration. Other paradigm shifts for the purposes of construction economy include studying various proportions of cement and sand mixtures in search of the perfect unpolished cement rendered floor. 3 Left: Shoeprint blemishes accidentally created when errant subcontractors had walked over floors which had hardened but not quite chemically set were retained as traces of the construction biography in the greyroom offices. It remained unchanged in principle but put on a truly spartan diet: steel sizes and sections were trimmed to a minimum tolerance and the bituminous roofing sheets were replaced by cheaper cementitous corrugated board. but with the vital difference of economy in mind. all with significant mark up in price as compared to the cost of the base model. The gardenshell buildings had to handle that balance of low cost. The first project undertaken as a gardenshell building was the BritishIndia Corporate warehouse. what became of primary importance was not merely how the building looked as it weathered and more of how much weather it allowed through its walls in its unfinished state. . In the gardenshell buildings. changes and fine tuning done for greater efficiency. they form the first line of defence against the rigors of a monsoonal climate. against the capillary action of water through brick and the gradual accumulation of mould as a result of dampness. a working development itself on the dogconcrete house. In the automotive industry. Together with consideration given to the aesthetic handling of services. something which forms the basis of any process of value. the one question it had not addressed was one of greater economy. Common wall finishes such as cement plaster and weathershield paint do more than merely provide a substrate for the processes of aging. blistering the paintwork on small areas on the interior. a carcass of unfinished cement brick and plywood formed concrete and a cheaper corrugated cement sheet version of the safari roof. with acoustic deadening and heavier frills removed and components from exhaust systems to windows and door handles replaced with lighter materials. Aside from the collective adjustments to specifications from handmade tapware to subtle reductions in timber frames and trims. lower cost and aesthetic maintainability.

. Copper pipes and brass valves bring flush water to the glass face. The urinal was designed as a upmarket take on the act of pissing by a backlane wall.202 203 The wash trough for the staff toilets: fashioned after the wash areas in preindustrial slaughterhouses. tempered glass panes protect while they allow the texture of the wall behind to show through. the idea was to capture the lean and mean world of merchandising and the clothing industry in the form of an altar for the ritualistic act of cleansing.

spare. Finally. Opposite: A section of the east screen wall of the gardenshell offices. . technology and culture. Secondly. the office had to be a gardenshell building. self sufficiency being the case in point. the spaces within had to be actually pleasant and comfortable to work in with only the use of ceiling fans for which a relatively shallow building width was designed. malaysia 2006-09 The gardenwall offices began as a request for an alternative proposal to the typical office block development: one which could accommodate close to a million square feet and be different enough to be hip. being grown of western roots.224 225 gardenwall offices (pjtc) petaling jaya. has succeeded globally for the exact reason of its ubiquity and sameness from Dubai to Dublin: corporate entities attract economic investment and gain clout and credibility by buying into first world aesthetics. an elevation born of highway billboards and the strategy to conceal wide expanses of glass from view. putting the responsibility of cleaning glass surfaces on occupants. with all the requirements of natural ventilation. unadulterated. To begin with. functionality and construction economy in mind. The project began with the questioning of commonly held beliefs concerning the office building. it is that ‘skin’ the building is covered by. it was determined that every office space in the project would be designed with the option for natural cross ventilation should air conditioning not be desired. a dismantling of western concepts and the evaluation of a tropical monsoon paradigm. imperfect and unapologetic in scale. It was a difficult proposition to begin with since the glass office tower. monolithic. one designed to be predominantly self maintaining and aesthetically elegant as it weathers with the violent grace of tropical humidity. the principles of detail management would not be more seriously tested nor would the specification of finishes for a grade A office more likely questioned than in this project. the building had to be cheap to construct in relation to typical office buildings: for the kind of rawness which was envisioned.

being rooted in structural or constructional concerns while others are about the functioning and use of utility elements. Then again. some will simply be about a reexamination of aesthetics regarding the everyday. To begin with.274 275 small projects In the thinking of what smallprojects was all about. Ultimately. The range of small here is wide. it was recognised there existed a little matter of semantics which required definition. its meaning also extends to the organisation of its professional practice. there is smallprojects. which is in reference to work which is small in scale. For the most part. since small taken to a deeper level reveals whole new layers for development which can be profoundly illuminating. its design was one reduced and honed to structural minimalism for the lean task of project postmortems. in the way the elements of any one design are physically and philosophically joined and how those joints are about specific contextual relations in function or through physical proximity. the deeper sense of the term came to refer to a more encompassing definition of deep context. . those little exercises in rethinking what something was meant for and if it could be designed any better. Mostly. The following projects examine different kinds of ideas: some are technical. the projects here are the ones designed generally enough not to belong in any one specific project: they may have been part of an idea contained in any one of the larger works but manage to stand well enough in other contexts to hold their own. With its highlighted first syllable. has to do with the most basic use of the expression. smallprojects specifically describes the focus of the practice. This section of the book however. which is simply the name chosen for the practice. spartanlike. Context here grew from a pure exploration of use and fabrication. 4 The autopsy conference table. and how the subtlest decisions of management could also impact the way an architecture is ultimately conceived. the small projects began it all. In essence.

The success of its structural integrity rests solely on the trueness of fit of each timber joint between the frameset and each leg. With the tropical hardwood timber of red balau. it will serve as a compressive plate which will keep the timber corner from crushing then the table has been tensioned. threaded end of each rod and the timber corner. Where the original table#1 focussed the highest compressive forces and subsequent clutter of physical material at the centre of the table. since the sheer density of the grain would not permit gentle crushing and subsequent good contact at the joints. thickest at the uppermost end where the forces of cross tensioning were felt most. an elegance of design and form absent in the earlier two was the focus. table#3 placed all the same forces on the periphery. The legs were tapered from each joint to their feet to lighten the mass at the furthest point from the connection and subsequently reduce the moment experienced at that joint. timber and tempered glass Dining table #3 was the last of three tables designed and built based on steel tensioning to lock timber joints in compression. an alternative method had to be devised for the way the timber members met.276 The table was designed around a set of opposing forces with the use of its steel tensioning rods. the first two tables utilised standard full sawn timber members straight off the shipping pallets they were pulled from. With the three steel tension rods in place. Bottom centre and right: The lapped opposing steel rods in tension. with the simplest of cross halved joints used wherever the timber side frames met. and sized to a depth of three inches over their four foot span to take the loads of cross bracing. Further refinement will see metal facing plates finish the joint between the nuts. In this third incarnation of exploring structural limits. Opposite page: View of the table leg with its opposing sets of steel tensioning rods. Slender pieces of timber tapering to delicate feet were shaped. 277 dining table #3 steel. Top and bottom left: Table corner showing the resolution of forces in one of two typical joints. a softer wood best suited for the give which compressive forces put on the joints. the tables in finished form took on the chunky industrial character of their material origins. The series of tables was first begun in graduate school with the use of scrap pine lumber salvaged from packing crates. Without any shaping or carpentry work. focussing them to point locations and reducing the once crowded centre to all of three cross lapped rods. . the table achieved a grace and refinement quite different from its thuggish predecessors. two parallel on one diagonal and one slid betwen them on the opposing diagonal. Little rubber feet at the head of each leg hold the glass top in place. As early experiments. two across a diagonal of the table and one in between and tangential to the first two. the steel rods only serving to compress each joint to hold them in place. Aside from capping the joint. The timber frameset was raised close to the glass top and out of the way of seated thighs.

During the construction of the greyroom. The autopsy table compounded this task with the self imposed need for the slenderness of one and a half inch steel angle legs. 299 autopsy table mild steel and concrete. The steel beam tapers towards either side of the table where support is less needed and to hide the means of support from view. The autopsy table was designed to a length of twelve feet. management sessions and postmortems. Its frame and legs were made of mild steel angles welded with grace of a railroad worker. The inceptual sketch which began the table had the singular aim of putting a concrete wafer on legs. . The idea developed for a table where hardcore postmortems could really be conducted. Right column: The tensile forces were pulled to threaded ends of each rod and cylindrical anchors welded to each corner at the exact junction where the framing angles meet. a concrete wafer table had to derive its structural schema almost entirely from its ability to support its weight at mid span. the client informed of the need for a conference table over which he could conduct project meetings. Postmortems. one with the demeanour and hard austerity of a clinical slab for medical examinations.298 Top left: Unlike concrete slab cantilevers which have the benefit of structural mass for its anchored side. isolating the resultant compressive forces within the frame and allowing the legs the luxury of merely bringing gravity loads to their ugly little adjustable feet. Middle and bottom left: The solution came in the form steel rods in tension which crossed exactly at mid span to support a quarter inch thick steel T beam which in turn holds up the concrete wafer. a width of five and a thickness of an inch and a half.

quietly subversive in the way it brings into spatial focus an otherwise hidden activity of all asian homes. . the seeds of more critically formed projects to come. with added focus on those salient features which would become formative root ideas in later work. The projects which follow are an overview of those catalysts.300 301 catalysts The practice of architecture will inevitably result in the production of some work which will defy categorisation by virtue of their anomaly and might appear to lack sufficient critical worth to warrant documentation. each one in actuality carries genetic markers. but instead examines a critical aspect or complex issue each project attempts to address in relation to structure or enclosure. a construction gone wrong and renarrated with its salvaged structure. a perforated stair and a clay brick finished house on a diet. concept or finish. projects of experimentation and an equal measure of architectural wanderlust. 5 The show wet kitchen of the brickwall house. a pavilion for a garden festival. a boardformed concrete house. each work is not documented in full. strict typology and experiment. The selection of projects reflects an acknowledgement of the particular ideas which each project has contributed to the total picture of an architecture in progress. In as far as the finer points of a philosophy of design could be measured. these projects are of considerable importance with deeper consideration of their impact than a superficial overview of their significance might suggest. the show wet kitchen renarrates the activity. smells and sounds of work in the way of entertainment and romance. a renovation done during transition into sole practice. Ranging from renovations and full houses to temporary structures. important traces of what commonly become generating ideas for later work. The section documents. Insubstantial as these projects might appear. among others. one house from a series called the black and white houses.

either side coordinated for the effect of better cross ventilation. The strategy of bracing the concrete awning roof against the steel I. A linear forest grove of mixed trees along this west facing boundary provides ultimate sun protection. interrupted at mid level by a concrete awning cast into the I-section horizontal brace of the frame for greater light and heat control from the afternoon sun. . Opposite: The west face of the living room features a similar fully glazed face. Bottom row: Horizontal cross beam sections detailing opposite facing conditions with regards to the living room enclosure: the sketch on the left documents openable french doors above and the sketch to the right shows the condition where a fixed glazed upper panel has been specified. Top right: The mid section junction where the concrete flat roof slab was cast against the side flange of the horizontal cross beam with flashing and drain channels detailed to prevent rain water seepage between the joint. The concept was taken to full limit with its application in the BritishIndia corporate warehouse with considerably heavier loads involved in its forty foot (12m) tall and fifty foot (16m) wide fully glazed entrance.312 313 Top left: Roof beam sectional detail at the living room area showing junction between uppermost glazing frame and the steel I roof beam.section face of the tall glazed wall was the structural solution for lateral support for the concrete slab without resorting to deep and unwieldly alternatives: the steel columns and cross beam were worked out to be capable of taking both roof gravity loads and the added lateral load of the concrete awning comfortably.

its method of finish between its sides and the uneven walls of the stairwell. The folded stair was to have tremendous influence in the rethinking of the typical handrail for the firestairs in the gardenwall offices. the junction between tread. sized to feel convincingly solid with someone descending at a full run. Constructed of a clay brickwork infill within a concrete frame. The perforated sheet was sized up in thickness to avoid potential flexing and elastic deformation of the stair treads over heavy use. In order to avoid finishing problems were the stair flight to fit accurately. Below right: An underside view of the concept condensed into a single detail. the folded stair was the immediate product of one initial concern. If the stair were justified to the maximum bulge on any one particular side. the stair was constructed of perforated steel sheets. viewed from certain angles underneath the stair either going up or coming down. Tolerances and dimensioned were considered in the sketch to get a feeling for workability. the side walls were separated by a maximum variance of an inch and a half along the entire length of the stair. never mind what it did on the opposing side. . Conceived as a single folded run. it was decided to make the actual width of the stair narrower than its side walls by a good margin and finishing the stair edges with a gap as opposed to a finish filler. lending an air of immateriality to the construction. less in the way of structural integrity than in the way the detail expected of a secure joint can most often be reduced to a single point of contact thereby expressing the finish between surface and element as a separation. 337 Opposite page: The folded stair in use. The resultant solution was to have an aesthetic effect which would make its initial problem somewhat secondary.336 Below left: First sketches of what was to become the folded stair. The natural daylight from a skylight above resulted in transparency streaming through the stair and from its usually attached sides. like a stair runner taking on the shape of each tread and riser. the stair gives the illusion of being unsupported from either side. riser and supporting pin. it would hang out an inch and a half at some point further along that same wall. To bring light down into the lower stair run. Each riser was then conceived of as a support beam for its associated treads above and below it and steel pins inserted into the sidewalls supported each riser beam at their junctions with every upper tread.

Kamil’s ability to see possiblities in architecture and people will always inspire. Many universities in the United States have policies based on a liberal arts education. literature and history. Appendix iv is a complete list of work undertaken personally during the ten years spent at Group Design Partnership (later to become GDP Architects): it represents my bibliography of built and unbuilt projects with Kamil Merican. Early elevational studies for the American Academy in Rome project. it documents a period of my life which was spent in the company of an architect I still consider to be the country's finest. It is an education which prioritises the development of general knowledge and intellectual capacities for creativity over that primarily focussed on technical. Understanding architectural work broadens with some history preceeding the work. Terrance Goode. but what one knew about design and its development. philosophy. history. Virginia Cartwright. The first year of my undergraduate degree was an unabridged onslaught of pure learning. describing the various points on campus related departments of the school could be found. Lewcock. . Bottom centre: The existing main school with its dual entrances. The idea was to amalgamate all the components physically into a recognisable unity. mathematics and science. there were other required classes known as free electives that involved material professionally unrelated to one's chosen field of study. Philosophically. it requires context. professional or vocational curriculums. First exposure to context came in the form of an existing suburban timber sided home to be site measured and drawn to scale. Eric Dluhosch. Bottom right: The existing building: a clumsy accretion through the years. describing the more important work I felt I was doing during the time. Everything was new and was absorbed. smallprojects was begun in 2002 as a decision to reclaim old dreams: work since then can be found listed in Appendix v. a downtown cinema. The work in Appendices i and ii describes the beginnings of inquiry and first designs. The final year project was another addition. The rear elevation sits above the street front elevation beneath. literature. Youth was entirely on our side and it felt that anything was fair game. Specifically. Oregon. The accuracy of site reporting was emphasised and classes under GZ Brown taught us how to design according to the softer northern light for the studio and warmth of south light for the resting areas for the house. it meant that aside from requisite major related coursework. it was a month shy of being two years old when I joined its ranks. Earl Moursund. Those classes could generally be selected from theology. that for the campus main library at the University of Oregon itself. The next semester of that very same year had us engage the design of a downtown health club: it introduced concerns regarding projects of greater complexity of use and program aside from beginning our awareness concerning urban issues. langauges. it rooted my thinking in relatively deeper ground. u. not with respect to the point in time construction was begun or completed but in relation to when the concepts for each were first born and formulated.s. 1983-88 Bottom left: Location sketch for the School of Architecture at the University of Oregon. Incepted in 1990 by Kamil Merican. The next two semesters of the second year presented a suburban fire station and a residential development of about thirty units in a hilly and wooded site out of town. and later at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology with the Aga Khan program and Professor Ronald B. Donald Peting and the late Mike Shellenbarger. Mostly. The following projects are all part of that early conceptual rooting. and the problems faced by sloping sites and rural development. It begins with a selection of academic work first completed in the United States when I studied at the University of Oregon under the tutelage of Professors Jenny Young. The projects which followed over the next years were respectively. It is difficult sometimes to say when school ended and professional work began. a proposal for the new American academy in Rome and an addition to the School of Architecture and Allied Arts in Eugene. A small note on the sequence of the built work under smallprojects: the listed work has been ordered chronologically. what the education in the liberal arts gave me was the ability to form connections between disparate ideas and concepts: it gave me substantial reasons for design decisions. Much of that could be attributed to the first ten years of professional practice I spent at GDP Architects in Malaysia. Beyond the natural benefits of having a better rounded education. Ron Lovinger. a nondescript one off a ceremonial quadrangle and a formal one from a nondescript street junction.344 345 appendices appendix i: academia university of oregon. a small town library. A formative slice of these first ten years is recorded in Appendix iii. I made most of my selections from philosophy. Nader Ardalan and Masood Khan. such that the strength of ideas became not merely what one saw. Not all the work during this period has been listed: the unbuilt designs and several built houses which did not further my process have been left out. serving as the base for the addition and design of a house and studio for an artist. These projects dealt with vehicular traffic as it may affect form and placement. It is my feeling that this method of arrangement makes considerably more sense to understanding the evolution of ideas than otherwise. This part of the book documents a portion of that background.

the process of retrieval and act of reading and finally. It grounded the sense of varying spatial needs catering to differences in building typology: human circulation being of critical consideration in transport hubs. Its program concerned the expansion of the current main library on the University of Oregon campus and involved issues of circulation complexity. the different aspects of space as related to use and function of any particular building type. the task of adding an entirely new structure to a campus buiiding built in 1937. The existing Knight Library sat at the head of a tree lined north facing quadrangle. and bounded by the tall old growth firs of a cemetery to the east and low lying neighbourhoods to the south and west. those undergraduate years encouraged the kind of critical thinking that I was to rely tremendously on in my later years. the social condition of gathering. In retrospect. but thereafter. Behind the original structure from 1937 sat a later addition much in the tradition of the former but less elegant and clearly more utilitarian in demeanour. To the back of this block was the site proper. flanked on either side by brick clad structures. interaction and creative exchange that is a school of architecture. The library extension was designed to heighten the experience of the tall cemetery grove behind it as a backdrop. some historically significant such as the art museum and others less so. the activity of reading and book storage forming the basic narrative for libraries.348 349 The graduating project was a watershed in a sense. raising issues I have only begun to understand more recently: they grounded my need for relevance. but still with some measure of dignity.But regardless of immediate impressions. all the projects I undertook. each of the various projects had intrinsic value for me: they taught deep concern for the primacy of building program. It demonstrated the first time I was able to work narrative with some basic understanding of context into a small vision of how a contemporary architecture could be. The results were crude and clearly more picturesque than explorative from the viewpoint of material use and manner of construction. . academic or professional would be guided by some degree of knit between context and narrative. book storage and access. a piece of land sufficiently large to take the additional hundred thousand square feet or so. The link between the old and new was designed as a volume for orientation and circulation to the upper levels: an urban courtyard roofed with glass lanterns. new library towers of the closed stacks lining the east edge and allowing views through in between.

The archiebunker chair was born when I found a busted low slung armchair. a close friend. Viewed from the pathways crossing the quadrangle. Opposite page: Top row: Sketches showing the inceptual idea of the fallen leaf pile and how shaping the pile into the archiebunker chair was to be accomplished. a journey of painstaking care for the lawn it was to sit on. It was also deemed to be the most comfortable of all the entries which was really the only thing we had in mind during its upholstery. Halfway through the degree program. deep fall. it went on to win the Harvard lawn furniture competition.355 Left and top right: The quad bench. It was an open competition and. . the upholstered fill gradually disintegrates and sheds. cold outside and entries due the very next day. plumping the arms and seat with better form. Fallen leaves were plentiful outside and it took minutes to gather bundles. The quad bench was built as part of the class. the autumn leaves gradually disintegrate allowing for renewal possibilities the next season. backs against the bench upright and elm trunk respectively and facing each other. about three times the amount of leaves than we expected had to be stuffed and we used traditional methods of tying the wire upholstery down to shape. we wound our roll of chicken wire around the stripped frame to approximate the general shape of the armchair we had in mind and upholstered it with the bale of maple leaves we scraped from the street earlier. The assembly was then hauled Golgotha-like to the site. I was also involved in a class on 'making'. returning it to where it was first gathered. Andrew Russin. Middle right: Contrasting galvanised wire and maple leaves in a closeup of the upholstered chair. taught by Ed Levine. headed by Professor Eric Dluhosch. Bottom right: After time and regular use. and I saw a large flyer out late one night calling for entries for Harvard University's first lawn furniture competition. being sponsored by the other university on the opposite end of Cambridge. sits on the edge of the quadrangle looking out. to a fuller understanding of material integrity in construction. awaiting renewal with its next fill from the coming season. packed with half a room of autumn maple leaves. The citation went along the lines of the entry’s theoretical strength. configured for a single person facing the side aisle or a twosome. Named by Andrew Russin in acknowledgement of its backwoods honesty and uncompromise. I had the image of Linus van Pelt running up and leaping into a huge pile of dead leaves came to mind in the form of a huge bean bag. the chair had sufficient body and give for a comfortable seat. Bottom left: View of the chair from its side wing. I had learned an important lesson in specific context in putting the the timeless craft of upholstery to dead leaves for a competition in autumn. But amid the celebrations of our little conquest. I kept myself in touch with the building technology section. sited against the trunk of the third towering elm in Killian court. being about its decomposition and return to the soil and the fact that with use. the bench sits as a fallen cross bright against the dark rhododendron background. sparked something in us despite it being already dark. Chicken wire was purchased at a 24 hour store for leaf containment but it quickly became apparent that chicken wire left too many things unresolved as a bean bag shell. Bottom right: The construction of the bench required interlocking sets of pine threaded through eight sets of threaded rods for each layer to establish structural rigidity and the desired striated texture. from the sharp points of the joint line to bent bits of wire when the bag was used. with the view of the bench upright from the side aisle of the elms texturally finding empathy with the fluted columns of Building 10. It being autumn. While all this work was proceeding with the Aga Khan program.The chair made it to the venue on time early the next morning and it won first prize. In order to get the form of the chair just right. It was simply another important lesson in perceiving the nuances of the environment and creating contextually.

The corporate warehouse had the ground floor of its existing three storey rear block cleared for a lobby and a new roof was designed for the 3 storey volume of an office memorial library linking the taller existing office to its warehouse. The spine begins at the side of the office library and runs the full length of the warehouse to intermittent stairs to connect with department offices located on the side. 383 Minco corporate office renovation. solids and transparencies. The existing huge double sliding doors of the warehouse were maintained and painted in the gold of the company’s corporate colours. which itself had a single immense concrete slab put in for an additional floor. with steel grille gates put in for the purposes of security. A louvred main elevation was designed for the new corporate face of the existing three storey block and protection from the glare of the direct morning sun. Petaling Jaya 1999. Bottom centre: Construction detail showing steel stair joint with reinforced concrete wall support. painted royal blue and hung off only one side from a curved gold coloured concrete wall in acknowledgement of corporate colours. Top and bottom left: Inceptual sketches for the oval stair linking the administrative block to the resource library. Their brief was to renovate twin run down clear spanned factory warehouses. The existing warehouse walls along the spine had a series of windows eccentrically cut into its bulk for the benefits of morning sunlight. paint to disguise the ugly and the remainder on a minimalist Memorial Library for the clients' late father. Although costs were considerably lower in 1999. Sited in the belly of an old warehouse with an adjacent warehouse block. The Minconsult corporate office was designed to be an environment of planes. good daylighting and ventilation. Top right: Resource library looking south east with steel oval stair in the background. site entry was made from the back between the twin warehouses. But not without its own price: Minco was run by Rose and Dennis Ganendra at the time. with the inclusion of all mechanical and electrical systems. a rare breed of client who understood the balance of corporate image and the honed ‘unpolished’ product. bare concrete. steel and glass which we hoped would speak more for the grace of corporate blue-collar architecture. . It was an attempt to revise the powerful associations of imported granite and marble to corporate identity with an assembly of painted surfaces. the Minconsult Corporate office was designed for a multidisciplinary engineering firm. The warehouse renovation project for Minco went on the ground in 1999. for five million ringgit (just over 1. Bottom left: Site entrance layout plan with driveway in cast concrete and embedded construction aggregate. Marked by the sentinel of a water tower. Its lessons would in later years. 55 ringgit a square foot at the time was nonetheless a small sum to work with. each of about forty thousand existing square feet to accommodate an additional fifty five thousand square feet. electrical and the ancillary mechanical systems and what was left over would have barely paid for a reinforced concrete frame and slab. the renovation was simple and relatively straightforward architecturally and the project taught the value of economy and the power of paint. clever insistent clients who were as sharp about value for money as they were about consultant trickery. Although my ability coordinating electrical services at the time was appalling. voids. The intention was to have a steel stair hung off the structural curve of a concrete wall which also doubles as an entrance wall for the library.5 million US dollars). The scheme was simple: of the twin warehouses one became corporate and the other a store. Subtracting the necessary costs for plumbing. prove invaluable. Petaling Jaya 1999.382 Minco corporate office renovation. As such. the renovation infill was raw in concrete and bare of finish. Top: The additional concrete floor cast into the carcass of the existing warehouse was designed to leave a double storey circulation spine between its edge and the existing warehouse side wall. Bottom: Side elevation of the corporate warehouse wing along the entrance driveway. with the precious little spent on cement hardener for the floors. loose gravel. The one extravagance was a steel stair for the library.

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful