How should we design our cities today?
How does the current society and environmental problems influence urban design for today?
How should we design our cities today?
How does the current society and environmental problems influence urban design for today?
Just reading an article from Hotelsmag and thought that this is worth recording as it makes total sense. (Below are some texts extracted from that article)
I totally agree with this – both hands up. Today, hotel trends are going towards sustainability, energy-saving, getting greener.
As an architect, when we design the building for the hotel, with hotel owners, their biggest concern is often, to keeping to the minimum floor area and basic external envelope design, while still trying to look good (according to the stars rating of the hotel, of course), and needless to say still complying to the specifications of the hotel brand. Spending the least money on construction cost is their ultimate objective at design and construction development stage. Even I, someone who is not directly involved in the budgeting of the building cost, since I am always on the side of the design team, tend to realize how shallow and naïve this mentality is. Having spending low construction cost may ultimately (which actually usually happens) lead to more energy and operating cost in future, once the hotel begins to operate. I am not even trying to bring up how better materials and better design will have an impact on the image of the hotel hence influencing how the hotel is being perceived by the public and guests.
Not much concern is emphasized on introducing better details or any sustainability measures unless it is necessary by regulation, at the design stage, unless the hotel brands insisted, which is often a little late in the decision making process.
‘No budget’, they would say, ‘let’s take out the unnecessary sun louvers on the façade, they are merely decorative and additional cost, the guest can draw the curtains if they want! Double-glazing? Do we need that here? The weather is pretty warm here compared to the Scandinavian, no? Rainwater collection and recycling? Do we have any extra space to locate the tanks? Oh, unlike Spain, we are not allowed to put water tanks on the roof top. Earthquake, you know what is that? Moreover, the additional set of piping might increased the thickness of the wall? We don't have budget nor floor area for that!’
So, in the end, the hotel ends up spending much more (than imagine) on energy consumption and water usage.
‘Let’s use thinner walls and floor slab systems so that we may be able to squeeze in one more smaller room! Oh, can we also squeeze in a mezzanine with the reduction of height with thinner slabs? Exceeding the total floor area? How about making the back of house area smaller? Staff resting rooms? Why do we need that? Shouldn't they be working? Acoustic quality? Isn’t this measure the minimum by law that is allowed? So be it!’
Sometimes I seriously wonder, in today’s world, how could anyone still have this kind of backward, conservative, short-sighted thinking? I had thought that with the world keeps changing and everyone getting so competitive, the brains would gradually evolved in order to keep up. Conservatives and backwards thinkers would be phased out and put into ancient museum. Yet, here they still are. For how long more, no one knows.
The point here is, please Start At The Beginning in order to achieve the best results. Do it right, from the start! Go green, go Day One. The hotels’ sustainability team/program/mentality/principles should be involved before operations -during building design decision, not after!
Just imagine how much more we can actually achieve by starting at ground zero.
I so cannot believe that it is already almost end of the year!
Another year has just flown by in a blink of the eye and remember how we were worried about the arrival of this millennium? And yet here we are, still here, on this lovely planet they called earth.
But, where are the flying cars, where are the holograms personal assistants, where are the time machines, and where is planet Mars for rent and living?
Very soon two decades will glide through since this millennium had flawlessly arrived, how jiffy!
Crazy things have happened since. But when do crazy things stop happening in this world anyway?
At one time we had thought that it was a brand new start of the year just preparing to brace it and the next moment we are in December preparing for Christmas decorations! How did that ever happen?
And once again, here we are, the time for reflections and resolutions.
I am done with resolution. One reason because I never kept them. In fact I could hardly remember what they were once a new year arrived. Not sure whether it was the cause of old age memory deterioration or simply champagne intoxication.
I do, however, in this point of time, would like to look back and sincerely reassess what have happened in my life throughout this disappearing year. To me, as fast as it went, much did happen.
Tough decisions were made, options were reviewed, challenging paths were explored, countless research were performed, new ideas were conceived and put into motion, dilemmas were also created, and more important decisions were made.
And not to also mention, heaps of old friends I have known from Shanghai reunited and re-separated, new knowledge acquired and studied, more bureaucratic issues surfaced but fixed (hopefully!), relationship developed and matured, family met and re-parted, promises made and trying to fulfil, and finally, this website updated.
Now, it is time for plans to realign, foggy clouds to clear, and new adventures to discover. It is time to enter 2018 with a positive attitude, wider opened eyes, and riding the waves of ups and down with style, on the driver’s seat, steering it, embracing it and cherish every moments of it before letting it quietly slips away like it has always did.
Let’s talk about non-architectural sketches.
Yes I love architects’ sketches, we have the same unique way of hand-drawing, within our same flock, with variations obviously, but always discernible.
But I also love sketches from other designers, from illustrators, artists, graphic designers, fashion designers, product designers. Sometimes their sketches could seem so effortless – simple lines with some pencil strokes and a splash of ink for background, so uncomplicated yet so appealing.
I wish I could also draw like them.
I have two friends who are both architects. Never really seen their works though, but I am sure they are good. They have a daughter, she is maybe six or seven, and she is a genius artist. Her children sketches, are amazing. Her father draws and paints well too so I guess that must be in the genes.
I wish I can sketch like her too!
Today, with smart phones, their high-resolution in-built cameras, and photo filters apps, everyone is capable of taking more or less good photos, as long as they have an eye for composition. As it is today, millions of photos are circulating online, perhaps a little too carried away.
Sketching, in my opinion, however, requires more observation and imagination. If you are not born with sketching genes, I supposed this skill could still be acquired and learnt. But the eye for seeing, what you want to capture in your drawings and how you perceive or define it to be, is an art.
I guess that is why good sketches intrigue me so much, especially those that have added imagination of the real thing.
How do you sketch emotions? How do you capture the affection the anger the joy and the grief the sympathy in one single simple lines sketch? They never cease to surprise me. How clever and compelling some people may be!
Sometimes I fall into black holes of searching quest, in pursue of amazing illustrators with unique point of views. The more you find, the more you tend to discover, and it keeps going.
These works above represent those who uses simple line drawings to express emotions, to capture the moment, and turning something evanescent to something palpable, in their very own ways.
As a foreigner local living here for a year and 8 months now, I seem to be constantly reminded, in sort of an uncomfortable way, the impossibly ridiculous, back to ancient times, inexplicable and unnecessary hail storm of bureaucracy and paper works. All I want to do, as a good resident,
Xavier, my beloved dog my companion for 13 years, died of heart failure on 10.30pm on Friday, 24 July 2015 in the town of Sicily, Cefalu.
We came home at around 7.30pm I signaled him for his daily walk but he refused to come to the door. I thus carried him downstairs but even at the main door on ground floor he did not want to go out. That was very strange I thought. “What’s wrong, xav?” I asked. Despite his reluctance, since he did not pee or poo the whole day, I insisted that he goes out. He had his slowest walk ever and even with 2 other dogs at fairly close proximity in front of him he did not seem to be interested. He stopped and peed on the street without even doing his usual sniffing or to the side, not even lifting his leg. His pee was fairly dark in color (dark yellow) but I thought it was because he didn't drink much water. After stepping away from the pee, he just refused to walk any further. I thought that was really strange and decided to walk back. That was barely 10 meters from the house. Even walking back, he did not want to move so I carried him back down the street and up the stairs.
Cefalu, Thursday 23 July 2015
The one shop that this touristic town has most in number, apart from souvenir shops and gelataria (ice-cream shops) are hair salons/barbers. We know that the Italians love their hair, and Italian men and women are obsessed with the look of their hair. After soaking in the unbearable heat and humidity for 2 weeks, I gave up doing my hair as there is absolutely no point nor hope to revitalize it, I have decided to give it a try at one of these many hair salons. Usually I cut my own hair, at home. But I guess when in Rome! The visit to the salon is quite an interesting experience. The one I went is a small cute family-run parrucchiere on one of the main streets of Cefalu. Orchestrated by father and son, it is a whole stage for social interaction and entertaining. Now I understand why salons are so popular here, apart from the ‘hair’ thing. It is an important part of their lives! Sitting on the salon chair, the mirror becomes the screen broadcasting live entertainment show within this set-up. How regulars enter the salon, doing their rounds of kissing the hosts on the cheeks, Umberto and Serge, father and son, starts their performance cutting hair, trimming, shaving, mixing colors, perming, steaming, while the whole time chatting and talking with their hands, like the true Italians, with the scissors and comb and shavers waving on top of our heads at close distance, but never really at risk to the customers, just nervous, for the untrained heart. When done, Serge the son asked me proudly, ‘you like it?’ eager for recognition of his satisfied work. And in fact, yes I do, I answered. It was quite a pleasant and interesting experience. Felt almost like back to the past in the 80s, but on stage.
Cefalu, 19 July 2015
Next time, as cute as local as convenient as they are, remind me not to rent an apartment in Sicily in a narrow alley where the good old Italian neighbors are 2 feet apart and loves a good sometimes passionate (agitated) group chit chat talking across their balconies early in the morning, where the sound of a little stroll or roller luggage dragging down the street is amplified as if via a loud speaker right into within the walls of the apartment, where the proud-to-be-loud Italian gas scooters va-vroom their F1 arrival across the street, where the old-fashion fisherman/fishmonger with the strongest lungs broadcasts his catch of the day the whole town could hear him, and where you could hear baby crying, people talking, shower water running, washing machine working, tv showing and telephone ringing.
Cefalu, 2 June 2015
I have been trying to set up Internet connection at home for days.
First day, "impossible to activate connection as one of your codes are incorrect". Second day, "shop is closed" (weekend). Third day, "shop is closed" (weekend). Fourth day morning, "shop is closed" (closed on Monday morning). Fourth day afternoon, he gave me the 'correct code' but it still couldn't work, so he said "try again tomorrow". Fifth day, "impossible for to activate connection as your SIM is not connected to our system". When I called the hotline guy, he said, "TRY AGAIN TOMORROW".
Cool graphics and artworks have always intrigued me. I wished I could have the talent to draw out what ever is in that groggy mind of mine. Or what it takes to put graphics on paper what we see in our dreams, a condition which some said is our unconscious state. I believe when we dream, we see things in some form of our own perspective, our proportion and even our relativity. Sometimes it may be all a blur but at times it is crystal clear almost as if it is the real life! But, think about it, when it is in a befog situation, even when we remember the dream and we try to describe it, we realized that what we say does not make much sense. We open our mouths we try to find words and compose sentences to describe the circumstances in the dream, and found ourselves stuttering. Those dreams, however, to me, are the interesting ones. Needless to say, how can our unconscious mind be as clear as our conscious state?
If only I could ‘sleep draw’
Apart from texting/tweeting on the smart phone, I believe the other most commonly performed action of today’s daily society is taking photo, or taking a selfie.
How many cameras one person has in average? Each one of us used to own a ‘point and shoot’ all automatic camera, some of us have a more sophisticated compact one, other has a DSLR, or many of us have them all. But ultimately, everyone will have a camera in his phone. No more carrying heavy equipment around, all we need is to take out our phone and take a snap shot. Today, we take pictures of almost everything,
Cotton is the cutest cat ever. Now the little secret here is - he is not actually a cat. Yes he may look like a cat, sound like a meow, walk like one, but the truth is, he is an alien from Mars…or somewhere, out there. He tried to infiltrate into the human household by pretending that he was lost and hungry, next to a bin full of leftover food, in a lush garden setting with beautiful trees. He inspected every corner of his new home, every single possible hiding place, just in case his fellow Marsian came looking for him. He has super powers that make himself invisible each time a suspicious character were to walk into the house. When there is no one at home, he does not play with the flies, he is not interested in looking for rats, he could not even be bothered to spy on the dog. All he does is
Sometimes it is not that difficult to be a director of your own movie. The trick is – just write it down. Take pictures, compile your stories, Tell what you feel, put together some graphics that excite you, throw them altogether in a pan and cook them like a dish. Everything is actual and they are already available to you. The materials, the thoughts, the feelings, the words, they are hovering over your head. All you need to do is to piece together the right ingredients, choreograph them the way you feel best reflecting the moments, and serve them.
When I finally completed the first issue of “The Shanghai Journal” in January 2013, it was meant to be a bi-monthly issue. It was meant to record my life is Shanghai – activities around me, my friends, the times we spent, the food we had, the highlights of the month, and the sentiments of that time. Today, a year and a half later, there was never a second issue.
Many things happened and passed by, and sad to say but true, they will soon be forgotten. As memories fade, it is a pity that whatever that used to take place will soon be obliterated. Yes perhaps sometimes when we scan through the photos in our computer, it will trigger off some distant moments. Or, will they be erased as if they had never happened?
Today, people post their life stories on different social media – facebook, twitter, google+, we chat moments, and so forth. I supposed this is one way of recording what you do and how it feels. For me, as old fashion as it seems, nothing is better than printed on paper, something that you can feel, touch, smell and read without relying on internet or technology.
So what are we waiting for?