Archive for March, 2016

Wrapping up 2015’s films with ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’.

Posted in Miscellaneous with tags , , , , , , , , , on March 29, 2016 by vincentloy

It may sound crazy to you but I have actually had just watched ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ yesterday. It was released to cinemas worldwide from December last year and most of the people I knew (about 90%) went to watch it straight away. I’m not one of them as I’m not a fans of Star Wars. But I would still watch it since everyone else watched it. And here, I did it and that marked the end to 2015’s films. To wrap up my cover for films released last year, I am excited to inform that I have watched a record-breaking total of 101 films released in 2015. That’s the highest figure I have ever achieved since being a movie fans many years ago.

For this latest installment of the Star Wars film franchise that started way back decades ago, all I can say that it is a good movie. As I told you before that I’m not particularly excited to it and that I have forgotten all of its past movies (I did watched some of them as far as I can remember during my childhood years, but I seriously can’t remember anything more besides than the lightsaber). Hence, I won’t be able to give glowing review to this movie. But it is still an enjoyable movie to watch and I watched it as though that the whole plot is new and fresh to me.

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The movie delivered on some wonderful action-packed sequences with great work on the visual effects. The cast on the other hand also did a good job but I’m particularly not happy with John Boyega. I just don’t feel like seeing him here. For the other aspects, I have nothing much to comment. Nothing exceptional for me who are not attached to this whole Star Wars universe. This comment must have hurt the feeling of those crazy Star Wars fans out there. Out of 10 points, I rate ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ a total of 7.0. The movie eventually been nominated for five Academy Awards (but failed to win any), grossed over USD 2 billion worldwide to be the world’s third highest grossing film ever unadjusted for inflation (behind Avatar and Titanic), received widely positive reviews from critics and audiences, and its sequel is now in production (happiest news for all Star Wars fans).

Let’s put aside the movies and I shall focus back on my study. It’s now already Week 5 of my first semester and I’m glad it’s a tuition-free week. This gives me quite a lot of time to work on my coming assignments. About 10 weeks later, my first semester is about to end. That is unbelievably fast.

(Images in this post are from various sources throughout the world wide web)

 

City of Perth Library by Kerry Hill Architects.

Posted in Architectural Territory with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 28, 2016 by vincentloy

Two weeks ago in a site visit from one of my classes, I had the opportunity to visit a wonderful place in the Perth Central Business District (CBD). It’s the City of Perth Library. The library has been housed in a number of locations before it moved to its current location in a new building along the Hay Street and next to the Perth Town Hall. The new library building costing up to AUD 60 million is designed by Kerry Hill Architects and it is officially opened this month.

I was quite in awe when I first visited this library. It’s not a very huge library but it’s one of the most beautiful libraries I have ever seen. Beautiful architecture and a very luxurious and comfortable environment inside. Definitely a perfect place for readers and even just for the wanderers like us two weeks ago in the site visit. The library has a circular design with seven floors, glass facades, and stone-clad columns. Some interesting features of the library include the spiraling staircase enveloping all the different levels in the center of the building, a central atrium with a huge painting and a skylight above, indoor roof garden, outdoor reading or sightseeing area, slanting top floor / attic level, and some details like the lighting along the handrails, folding door mechanism, etc.

Here below are some images I took of the library which clearly define how beautiful its architecture is.

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I would like to visit this library again soon.

(Copyright reserved to all the images in this post)

 

More updated details for KL118 Tower.

Posted in Architectural Territory with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 28, 2016 by vincentloy

Finally, after months and months of speculation and secrecy surrounding Malaysia’s plan for the next tallest building of the country, more details had been revealed recently from the officiating ceremony. What is the project that I’m talking about? It’s the KL118 development. Now, it is renamed to PNB118 since PNB is the name of the owner’s company for this project. Well, I prefer KL118 more as it has more international appeal than ‘PNB’. Nobody knows (not only foreigners but also locals) what does PNB stands for.

Also known as ‘Warisan Merdeka’ (Heritage Independence), this development is located on a site just adjacent to the historic Stadium Merdeka and Stadium Negara. It is also located nearby to some very old buildings like Victoria Institution, Methodist Boys School (my former secondary school), Chin Woo Stadium, and Petaling Street (Chinatown). The project has been receiving heavy criticism due to its location on low-lying area which is also full of historical buildings and that this new modern supertall would not fit into this site context. I agreed. This project also receiving strong objection as the money put into this can be more beneficial for other purposes as the city does not need another supertall yet.

The iconic feature of this development would be the construction of an 118-storey tower, now named PNB 118 Tower. The final height of this skyscraper is still not confirmed but it is now fixed to be between 600 metres to 650 metres. Some sources said 610 metres or 630 metres while some even said it would be 644 metres tall which would make it even taller than the Shanghai Tower, the current world’s second tallest building. No matter what the final height is, this PNB118 Tower would still easily be the country’s new tallest building as well as one of top five world’s tallest buildings once it is completed. And it is announced recently that it is expected to be completed in 2024. Years ago, it is planned for completion by 2020 to coincide with Wawasan 2020 (Vision 2020) when the country would become a developed nation by year 2020. However, the project faced delay and it’s getting back on track now. It is now officially under construction.

The tower is designed by Fender Katsalidis Architects, an architecture office based in Melbourne, Australia which is previously famous for designing Eureka Tower in Melbourne. The design is also not that well received as many people commented that it is too simple, too glassy and do not possess timeless elegance like what Petronas Twin Towers achieved. I agreed to these opinions too. However, after its official rendering and an animation clip of the tower are out recently, some changed their mind and started to like the design. I’m one of them, but I still think that the design needs further improvement especially on its treatment to the top where it meets the spire. The spire is also a bit too long and out of proportion in comparison to the building form and volume. I knew it is just there to increase a substantial height for the building just to have it to be placed higher in the list of world’s tallest buildings later on.

So, here below are some new (latest) renderings, plan view and models’ images of the PNB118 Tower and also an animation clip for it by RSP Architects, the local design consultant for this project.

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Looking forward to see this new skyscraper dominating the skyline of Kuala Lumpur as soon as possible. Hmm…I suddenly changed my mind and think that KL needs a new supertall now since Petronas Twin Towers have been here for almost two decades already. However, it is undeniable that the twin towers are still elegant and remain as icon of the country forever.

(Images in this post are from various sources throughout the world wide web)

 

TVB’s ‘Short End of the Stick’, a wonderful drama both dramatic and fun at the same time.

Posted in Miscellaneous with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 28, 2016 by vincentloy

Right after coming back from a housewarming party organized by one of my classmates, I’m super excited to watch the final episode of a TVB drama called ‘Short End of the Stick’ (公公出宮) tonight. This Cantonese drama had been giving me a lot of fun in the past few weeks and it is a bit sad to know that it has concluded. If you didn’t know about it, it is a period comedy drama that centers around the lives and struggles of eunuchs after the fall of Qing Dynasty and their eviction from the Forbidden City. This group of eunuchs then settled in a village headed by Kam family.

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This series is an indirect sequel from 2012’s ‘The Confidant’ series. ‘The Confidant’ is a serious drama (I enjoyed that drama too) while this ‘Short End of the Stick’ is more of a lighthearted comedy. The same cast portraying the eunuchs in ‘The Confidant’ returned to this series except for Raymond Wong. Edwin Siu is no longer portraying an eunuch this time. Overall, the series starring Wayne Lai, Raymond Cho, Edwin Siu, Power Chan, Nancy Wu, Rosina Lam, etc is highly entertaining. There are plenty of moments that will surely give you a good laugh and all of the cast did a great job.

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The outstanding performances shall be from Nancy Wu (great as first female lead role here, but her role is not that prominent anymore in the last half of the series), Rosina Lam (well, she improved a lot and had been delivering very stable and excellent performances nowadays…so much better compared to all the newbies currently highly promoted by TVB) and Raymond Cho (he is very realistic in portraying the most soft and feminine eunuch here…maybe it’s time for him to get Best Supporting Actor award end of this year?). Wayne Lai, Power Chan and Edwin Siu are as usual nailing their roles too. The series is also good because the story keeps on going and presence of many plot twists gave further advantage for the overall story development. It is dramatic and at the same time hilarious. Nowadays, not many TVB drama would have such quality. Out of 10 points, I rate ‘Short End of the Stick’ a total of 8.0. A highly entertaining and interesting drama which I can say is the best for first quarter of the year before we get to see more before the year end’s TVB Anniversary Awards.

Talking about TVB also on the other hand, there are many recent surprising news of popular TVB artists getting married. First of all, Myolie Wu got married not long ago. And then, Linda Chung announced her marriage to a wealthy man out of a sudden. That is still shocking to me as I find that it is a waste for such a beauty to end up on a hand of a bad-looking guy. And then, the most recent marriage is between Tavia Yeung and Him Law. Well, this is expected as their relationship has been very obvious for the past few years already. So, who’s next to deliver another shocking marriage news? This had been such a trend in TVB now.

(Images in this post are from various sources throughout the world wide web)

This Easter weekend: Time to choose which side you are on, Batman or Superman?

Posted in Miscellaneous with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 25, 2016 by vincentloy

Happy Easter Weekend! I’m not a Christian, I didn’t celebrate it, but I’m too in the excitement of most of the people here in Australia who treat this festival as among their most important celebrations every year. In conjunction with that, there’s no class today (Good Friday today) and also for next week too. Wonderful holiday. This short break would give me the much needed time to relax while doing on some assignments for my study without the need to rush (I hate rushing for deadlines). Since there are not much to do today, it’s the perfect time to go out for a movie. A movie’s ticket here in Australia is very expensive (four times the cost of a movie ticket back in Malaysia), but I still wanted to watch this movie quick.

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Yup, it’s the ‘Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice’. I’m not a comic book fans (Marvel, DC or whatever it is) but I have the urge to watch this highly anticipated movie of the year. Despite receiving early criticism especially in the casting and that criticism continues to the poor reception it has right now from many critics, I still wanted to see it. I believe many will too, so that we can judge it by our own eyes. After seeing it, I can say that it is not a masterpiece (some die hard fans praised this movie to the max) while it is not a rubbish film either (some fierce critics calling this extremely bad). It’s just an overly-hyped average film that only marvels in its visual spectacle. Nothing else.

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In comparison, Marvel still do a better job in their superheroes films in the past. Well, they both went in different direction; Marvel goes for funnier and brighter approach while DC loves darker tone. I’m fine with DC’s darker theme but there can be something more to their outcome. DC did it right in Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy. However, both ‘Man of Steel’ and its latest sequel now ‘Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice’ couldn’t reach that level. If you have high expectation entering the cinema watching it, you would be disappointed. I didn’t mean that it is bad; it was just mediocre.

The movie is slightly too long; taking 2 hours 30 minutes. As I mentioned earlier, I’m not a comic book fans and so I’m not interested in the plentiful background story and character’s development especially for Batman in this movie. It’s a bit too much and I think some scenes (especially his many dreams of fear) can be cut off. The continuity of some scenes is also bad.

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The cast contributed steady performances on the other hand. Henry Cavill is being the same Superman like he was in ‘Man of Steel’. Same goes to Amy Adams as Lois Lane. Ben Affleck had proven to his earlier critics that he can be a great Batman too. As for Jesse Eisenberg, his take on the villain, Lex Luthor is different as required by the director. He is doing fine and I’m alright with him being cast as the famous Lex Luthor. I can see that he had put in a lot of effort to take on this big role (his expressions and gestures are good actually). It’s just that his character is being written to be not memorable enough (couldn’t match The Joker’s level in The Dark Knight for instance). But that is still interesting enough compared to the other characters in this movie. So, Jesse’s haters out there, stop criticizing him..he didn’t screw the movie up. Gal Gadot is wonderful as the Wonder Woman but she didn’t get much screen time here yet.

The story here is much deeper compared to Marvel’s films. It focused more on ideologies/philosophies, symbolism, politics, and threat of power and its perception by people or certain individual. It is a refreshing new theme to explore, but it may not please the wide audiences. Fortunately, the movie is still filled with some great fight scenes (of course the one between the two titular roles as well as the final battle together with Wonder Woman with the Doomsday created by Lex Luthor). Opps…Batman appeared to be not much of a help in the final battle since Doomsday is too strong for him. As I said earlier, the movie also delivered with wonderful visual effects (awesome CGI works done on most parts of the movie that heavily requires it). The ending is quite emotional (won’t reveal more spoiler here) and it actually paves the way for more DC superheroes films, eventually expanding DC cinematic universe just like what Marvel did (Marvel does it earlier). Overall, the movie is still fine and worth to watch. Out of 10 points, I rate ‘Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice’ a total of 7.2. Despite the poor reviews, it would still be a massive box office hit worldwide due to the fame of these two big superheroes sharing the same film. I’m guessing that it would earn over USD 1 billion in the end too.

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Well, to answer back my question on the title of this blog’s post on which side you are on…Batman or Superman, my choice would be Superman, since he is far more superior and stronger than Batman who has to rely on gadgets (not useful against Superman except Kryptonian). Batman is still a human, while Superman is an alien with superpower. So, my side is on Superman. Wait, did he really died in the end of the movie? Opps…spoiler.

(Images in this post are from various sources throughout the world wide web)

Been in Perth for over a month already…starting to get busy with my assignments while still manage to find time for HK series.

Posted in Interesting Encounters on March 21, 2016 by vincentloy

Just dropping by to give a rough status update as I realized I have been away from my blog for many days recently. Well, I have been preoccupied with some assignments right now and in the same time, couldn’t think of any interesting topic to write.

It has now been a month already since I last left Kuala Lumpur and settled in Perth. So far everything has been smooth and I’m coping quite well with the transition from being a man with a job to a full time student back. I can also consider myself quite familiar with the surrounding here in Perth now, the city that I have to be in for about two years where I’m currently pursuing my Master of Architecture. It is just that the cost of food and daily supplies here that I’m not too happy about since everything is so costly over here than back in Malaysia. Well, that’s the difference between a developed country and a developing country.

The weather here is also quite good. It’s sunny most of the time and the temperature is fine and comfortable with frequent breeze. However, sometimes, the weather can change drastically from around 20 degree celsius, and then jumped to nearly 40 degree celsius the next day. I can literally feel that my skin is burning and I’m getting darker day by day if this condition continues. It’s like summer here, but it should be already autumn. Anyway, I’m still okay with it as long as there is no extreme weather or temperature level.

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As usual, I have been catching up with some currently airing TVB series too. No matter how hard I have to work for my assignments or how much I have study, there is this compulsory slot in me for a bit of entertainment too just to get rid of the student’s stress. I had recently finished watching a 20-episodes series called ‘Fashion War’ (潮流教主) that starred Moses Chan, Sisley Choi, Ali Lee, Him Law, Vivien Yeo, Joel Chan, Koni Lui, Hanjin Tan, etc. It’s a Hong Kong drama that centers around office politics of a fictional high fashion magazine and shows the darker gritty side of the fashion industry. It mainly follows the fashion exploits of magazine editor Ip Long (Moses Chan) and his protege, Yannes Cheung (Sisley Choi).

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The story is generally fine with all the office politics going on but I think that the ending is a bit rushed with many points left unanswered or unresolved. I’m also expecting more scheming office politics towards the end of the series to make it more intense but it just concludes with thoughtless direction. This series can be in a total of 25 or 30 episodes for it to be more developed. Here comes a part for me to analyse the acting which should be very interesting for this drama especially to the huge line-up of actresses here.

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I’m still strongly opposed to the TVB’s plan of heavily promoting Sisley Choi. She is now in almost 3 out of 5 TVB dramas recently. That’s too much and I don’t see her acting skill sufficient to put her into the lead role. She needs time to improve and so it’s still better to put her in supporting roles first. Everything is too fast for her (similar to other rising newbie in TVB like Grace Chan). Anyway, she is not the worst in the series (but considered bad since she took up most of the series and that her character is too ‘innocent’ and fawning towards Moses). The girl portraying as the model named Nana in this series defines the worst in acting. Fortunately, Ali Lee did quite a good job in this series alongside with the male cast. Out of 10 points, I rate ‘Fashion War’ a total of 6.9.

Okay…I have to get back to my assignments now as their deadlines are just around the corner. Study is still my top priority, and hence I have to reduce my time for blogging. That’s it for my latest update here. See you…

(The last two images in this post are from various sources throughout the world wide web)

 

World’s Ten Tallest Cities (as of March 2016)

Posted in Architectural Territory with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 13, 2016 by vincentloy

It has been a long time since I last posted something about skyscrapers, a topic I’m particularly interested in the field of architecture. Today, I have a desire to compile a list of the world’s ten tallest cities. This list is determined by adding the top ten tallest buildings (not including mast / tower) of each cities and then divide the figure by 10 to get the average height of the ten tallest buildings in that particular city analysed. The ten cities with the highest score will then get into this list.

Well, there are quite a number of similar ranking to check on which cities are ‘taller’ out there by different people with different methodology (like the list of Emporis or Ultrapolis Project). This ranking is hence subjective, but the cities mentioned  are usually within the top too when ranked anywhere else too in terms of ‘tallness’. Now, let’s take a look at my list:

1.Dubai

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  • Country: United Arab Emirates.
  • Score: 411.2.
  • Tallest: Burj Khalifa (828m), Also the tallest in the world.
  • 10th tallest: Rose Tower (333m).

2. Shanghai

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  • Country: China.
  • Score: 356.1.
  • Tallest: Shanghai Tower (632m).
  • 10th tallest: Bocom Financial Towers (265m).

3. Hong Kong

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  • Country: China.
  • Score: 342.6.
  • Tallest: International Commerce Centre (484m).
  • 10th tallest: The Cullinan I (270m).

4. New York City

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  • Country: United States of America.
  • Score: 338.1.
  • Tallest: One World Trade Center (541m).
  • 10th tallest: Citigroup Center (279m).

5. Chicago

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  • Country: United States of America.
  • Score: 324.7.
  • Tallest: Willis Tower (442m).
  • 10th tallest: Aqua Tower (262m).

6. Guangzhou

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  • Country: China.
  • Score: 320.5.
  • Tallest: Guangzhou International Finance Center (438m).
  • 10th tallest: Bank of Guangzhou Tower (268m).

7. Shenzhen

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  • Country: China.
  • Score: 310.7.
  • Tallest: KK 100 Tower (442m).
  • 10th tallest: East Pacific Center Tower B (261m).

8. Abu Dhabi

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  • Country: United Arab Emirates.
  • Score: 300.2.
  • Tallest: Burj Mohammed Bin Rashid (382m).
  • 10th tallest: Regent Emirates Pearl (255m).

9. Kuala Lumpur

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  • Country: Malaysia.
  • Score: 288.1.
  • Tallest: Petronas Tower 1 (452m), with Tower 2, they are the world’s tallest twin buildings.
  • 10th tallest: Maxis Tower (212m).

10. Moscow

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  • Country: Russia.
  • Score: 283.3.
  • Tallest: OKO Apartment Tower (352m).
  • 10th tallest: Zapad Tower (242m).

The data above is correct as of March 2016 and only covered buildings that are completed/built (topped out buildings or the ones still under construction are not included in the calculation).

China conquered the list by having 4 of their cities in this top 10 ranking. That’s nearly half of the list. This list cemented China’s position as a leading nation in building supertall skyscrapers in their multiple mega cities. Dubai, United Arab Emirates topped the list as expected as the city is home to many supertall skyscrapers including the current world’s tallest building as well as man-made structure overall, the mighty Burj Khalifa. It is the only city in the world with all ten of its tallest buildings over 300 metres height respectively. The country’s capital, Abu Dhabi also managed to join Dubai in this list. The other country with two cities in this list is United States; New York City and Chicago (both are the birthplaces of modern skyscrapers). My country, Malaysia’s capital, Kuala Lumpur also managed to join the list at 9th position, while Moscow ended the list at 10th place.

(Images in this post are from various sources throughout the world wide web)