Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Đèn lồng Lights Up The Night - Danang Waterfront Hotel

Traditional Water Lanterns of Hoi An

The traditional water lanterns of Hoi An, Vietnam, set the premise for this waterfront project in the search for a contextual architectural language.

The architectural programme called for a series of waterfront resort hotels to be set along the enchanting coast of Da Nang, a famed resort and port city in Central Vietnam. Rather than having the hotels to be built hugging the coastlines, the adventurous Client wanted to experiment with a different notion of a waterfront resort, with the complex literally extended into the ocean to obliterate from the coastline constraints and to have unobstructed views towards both the sea and the hinterland. Doing so will also refrain the development from affecting the natural coastline, with the sea pile foundation system posing as little interference to oceanic life as possible.
Night and Day View of Hotel with allusion to the lanterns
Tranquil setting along Danang coast

Programmatic Strategy

Rather than spreading out the resort into an extensive horizontal network of programmes, as in a typical resort layout of detached villas with front administration & back of house etc, instead a consolidated approach is adopted here whereby the programmes are stacked vertically in 10 storeys high thereby restraining their impact in terms of footprint.

Whilst optimising landuse in terms of consolidation, it is also imperative to address the presence of a tower in relation to its tranquil setting. A strategy to achieve this is to induce the appearance of a reduced number of storeys without physically having to do. Floors of similar programmes are relegated to a pair of 2, rendering the tower to appear as 5 instead of 10 storeys high. The tower height is further suppressed via a series of compression and expansion of the stack series, creating a seemingly moving tower that eludes the massiveness of a static form.

Contextual Language

In the search for a contextual architectural language, I began to look at the enchanting and beautifully crafted water lanterns of Hoi An. The lanterns have been hung as symbols to seek good fortune and luck since the merchants of 16th century. What is intriguing is the ability of the lanterns to cast light and yet illuminating a soft glow through the intricate silk envelope.

Drawing inspirations from the lantern designs, diagonally cut fenestrations are placed along the perimeter of three sides of the stacked tower, along with a more intricate and organic patterned wall on the fourth side. Collectively, the façade design allude to the lantern’s ability to present momentary glimpses into the interior without revealing too much of the hotel’s happenings within, very much like what the lantern’s silk envelope does.

Sky Lobby

Twin Towers by the waterfront

Friday, December 11, 2009

Urban Arts Oasis II

An evolution phase of the on-going design since the inception. Weaving in new requirements from the Client and the various arts groups to be housed within the arts oasis, the design has taken on a different stance.

Emphasis is now on accommodating the differing and sometimes conflicting needs of the various arts groups whilst ensuring a shared communal facility is within the reachable means of the inhabitants, and all within a challenging restraint budget given the trying times of the economic conditions.  In design terms, this is akin to achieving the "maximum with the minimum".

And as its name suggests, being an urban oasis, the architecture besides accommodating the functional needs, also serve as an urban reprieve from the dense concrete jungle that towers over this site.

For the main building facing Cecil Street, and as part of the urban strategy to increase greenery within the downtown core, the building perimeter is enveloped with dense vertical landscaping that are comprised of hardy green climbers that are accustomed to the tropical climate. Randomly placed slit windows are stitched along the intermediatory spaces between the green climbers, allowing natural light to flow into and dance within the interior space.

On the secondary hall building facing the Telok Ayer Street, the building is to be retained as a structure for the storage of the stage props. For this building, the architectural language takes on a more complex nature to echo the hustle and bustle of the commercial activities arising out of the adjacent food court building. The complexity is reflected via the intricate patterning of the mosaic tiles cladded onto the existing wall surface, with a colouring scheme as noisy as the chatterings from the lunch time office patrons.

In contrast to the rectilinear forms of the arts venue, amorphously shaped street furnitures are placed as part of the urban landscaping. Constructed out of polished stainless steel, these furnitures are designed as dynamic forms that appear to be seemingly moving and act as a sleek companion to the static building forms.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Riverfront Township Masterplan in Vietnam

This is a recent completion of a masterplan concept for one of the most prominent developers in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. The site is located within the upcoming District 9 at the peripheral boundary of the city and the development will be a township for exclusive living with a gated community of luxurious villas, an internal lake and waterways that reinforce and echo the presence of an adjacent river network.

Slated to be the next dragon of asia alongside with China, Vietnam has been and still is experiencing phenomenal economic growth and coupled with the rapidly expanding city, this has called for the municipality and the developers to rethink the existing housing policies. Rather than intensifying areas within the congested city to accommodate massive influx of dwellers from the hinterland, peripheral sites along the city edge were identified and masterplanned as key growth areas or satellite townships to alleviate the problem of space constraint within the central crowded city. One such area identified within the overall masterplan is this development site which is in close proximity to the scenic Tac River at district 9.

The key idea of this riverfront planning is to leverage on the presence of the main river, the extensive network of weaving waterways and the lush greenery as design generators. And to further enhance the notion of waterfront living, a man-made lake will be nested within the southern end of which clusters of villas are placed to resonate the idea of floating above the water. Environmentally, this lake will also deliver an evaporative cooling effect during the hotter months.

Programmatically, this township will be self-sustaining comprising of villas and low-rise condominiums with a slew of supporting amenities for a total community living. A 3km long riverfront boardwalk serve as a connecting device for the residents to transverse from the northern zone to the commercial zone at the southern tip and vice-versa. Pockets of intimate green courtyards form the interstitial space between rows of villas.

For a sustainable development, it is envisaged that materials indigenous to the local context such as bamboo be integrated into the overall construction process as much as possible, such as for their use as external window screens and furniture within the villas.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Urban Arts Oasis I

A commissioned project for a local arts governing body. Garnering both extensive off-site and on-site studies, a practical design approach was adopted to both conserve as much of the existing building as possible, whilst energising the facility as an ideal venue for urban cultural and artistic activities.

Within an urban centralised location, the project site yielded an immense potential to be a hub beyond addressing the programmtic concerns, and to be an oasis locale to the downtown financial zone which is largely devoid of both cultural and artistic energies come sunset.

The building is likened to an urban vehicle that attempts to engage the weary urbanites, a building that speaks beyond the protracted boundary.  Extended circular motifs that seemingly bleeds from the form mimic the speech bubbles of a comic strip, of which users can interpret with their own texts and whimsies.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

SAM Interior Concept Design

Recent completion of a Concept Design proposal for the entrance lobby of Singapore Art Museum (SAM).

One of the main observation when one enters the main reception lobby is the disparity between the formal architecture of the museum building and the lobby spaceitself.
The formality of the main entrance drop-off is being contradicted by a lobby space that is skewed to one side,with the main museum signage incidentally placed along the external wall of the office room.

Thus, there exists an opportunity now to revisit the possibility of having a lobby that is able to respond to the symmetry of the architecture but yet able to exudean artistic and contemporary charm of the museum itself, with these 2 strategies:
A central axis is maintained and respected with theplacement of the key programmtic functions along this axis; entrance reception counter, office room, visitors’seating, Roll of Honour and donation box.
The centrally located main reception provides a senseof focus for visitors upon entering the premise. At thesame time, both the left and right walls of the receptionlobby are free for temporary or permanent artwork displays for added interest.

To echo the museum‘s reputation as the world’s largest public collection of modern and contemporary Southeast Asian artworks, the lobby design is contemporary with bold choice colours ofblack and red, and yet with clear, simple and elegant forms to reflect the timelessness of the architecture the museum resides.

Bump and Mind. U:phoria architecture+design pays tribute to Comme des Garcons’ 1997 idiosyncratic collection

Our studio embarked on an exploratory journey to study the parallel practices in fashion and architecture, with inspiration drawn from Comme des Garcons’ Spring/Summer 1997 “Bump & Mind” Collection.

This quirky and surrealistic collection featured models wearing gowns attached with bumps that seemingly challenges the conventions of garment cladded forms. In this collection, “Comme des Garcons (CDG) does not attempt to show what is supposed to be the ‘natural’, but instead, to enable the wearer to approximate the ‘actual’.
In these dresses, individuals feel that they are weird but perceive that the clothing does not represent the ‘natural’ and, by extension, themselves” – Artforum International, Dec 1996.

Though conceived 12 years ago, this collection with engorged garments is still being perceived as futuristic. In architectural sense, the relevance is even more so with the current liberation & proliferation of technologies that allow building forms to go beyond the convention of post and beam with amorphous forms.
As a tribute to this ground breaking creation of CDG, a series of forms or objects are explored and devised to specifically co-relate the ephemeral qualities of that collection with the permanence of structured forms. These forms are contorted and misshaped with protruded skin elements to emulate the unusual garments conceived for the collection. Enveloping frames free the interior of column structures and thus allowing for a greater fluidity of space within.
Whether as building elements or sculptures, this study attempts to draw closer the disciplines of architecture and fashion, and just as important, to provide a befitting context and background for the co-existence of CDG’s garments.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Pavilion Place @ Orchard

A competition project I did near the end of 2007.

Design Concept is based on 3 principles of Contrast :

(1) Material Contrast
- Steel is commonly perceived as a hard, rigid and robust construction material.
- In this design proposal, and in contrast to that thought, I attempt to portray steel as a light and elegant material with an almost ephemeral quality.
- To do so, the pavilion mimics the nature of a fabric with its soft flowing quality.
- This is achieved by having the individual steel bar placed at different angle on each end of the pavilion. With all the steel members in placed, we will get a parabolic surface.
- The entire pavilion is then anchored on 2 points of each end, with the wall extending to become the roof.
- The end result is that of a light, elegant steel structure that seems to be floating above the ground.
- It defies gravity.

(2) Urban Morphology Contrast
- The 2nd contrast is that of contrasting with the dense Orchard Road urban morphology.
- Being in the heart of this street, the pavilion is fluid response to concrete jungle that towers above it.
- It respects, but not necessarily responds to the contextual element that surrounds it.

(3) Location Contrast
- By nature of its location, it is already a contrast.
- It is being sited right smack in the heart of Orchard Rd, just across the youth centred Hereen Bldg, and yet offers one of the most contemplative corner of this busy street.
- It is also devoid of any form sensory bombardment as one experienced throughout the entire street of Orchard Rd with the myriad of advertisements and media .
- It is a place for contemplative resting and to be away from the sensory bombardment.
- The pavilion and the tea-garden provides an almost zen-like spatial escape from the busy nature of its surrounding.