Archive for June, 2016

Looking back at those past oversea trips I had.

Posted in Wonders and Places on June 30, 2016 by vincentloy

Here I am, coming back to my blog as frequent as I can in these days due to the semester break I’m enjoying right now. It’s the last day of the month today and I would like to wrap it off with a post on a topic. Ohh, is there a topic? Nope.

Out of sudden, in all the free time I have now which allows me to daydream more than usual, I started thinking back on all the past oversea trips I had. I think I’m very fortunate to have been able to travel to quite a number of countries in the past. It’s something that used up a lot of money, but in return, rewarded me with very interesting experience and discovery of various places and cultures across the world. Maybe I’m in need of a new vacation. Well, I most probably have to wait till next year’s Chinese New Year holiday for that.

Here below are 15 quick info of my past oversea trips that are worth your time to read as I find them interesting:

<1> Number of countries (not including my country, Malaysia): Around 15, will be about 20 if those quick stopovers were counted.

<2> Best oversea trip: Italy. It is a beautiful country and had the opportunity to visit all its main cities in one go; Rome, Venice, Milan, Florence and Pisa. Saw amazing structures like Colosseum, Leaning Tower of Pisa, St Peter’s Basilica, Milan Cathedral, etc. Also nice weather at the time when I visited the country. Winter and yet not too cold, and sunny.

Italy_Venice

<3> Worst oversea trip: South Korea. The country didn’t have much interesting places to visit. A giant city but with nothing special or spectacular. Winter there is a bit unbearable for me (too cold). And the worst thing is that I felt sick along with many of the tour members (I vomited, hate the feeling) during the trip. Also I almost lost my camera in the trip. Bad experience over there. Snow is the only consolation.

southkorea

<4> Longest oversea trip: 10 days. Been to central Europe once, covering about 5 to 6 countries in one go. But 10 days are actually not enough for that.

london-eye-detail

<5> Shortest oversea trip: 1 day. Actually less than that…just a half day tour in Singapore. A quick visit to Marina Bay Sands in the midnight and Resort World Sentosa in the morning, then off back to Malaysia. What a lame trip.

Marina-Bay-Sands-7

<6> Nearest oversea trip: Of course Singapore. It’s just an island below Peninsular Malaysia, and it’s even linked by two bridges.

<7> Furthest oversea trip: Central Europe trip. Almost similar to my other Italy trip. Took two flights to reach Europe which is better as I couldn’t stand sitting in the plane in a direct flight of over 12 hours.

<8> First oversea trip: To Hatyai, Thailand with my parents. That was like 12 years ago if I’m not mistaken.

<9> First oversea trip with whole family: To Hong Kong in 2006, a year before my mother passed away. The trip itself is nothing special but is very memorable for me as it is the only trip I had with my whole family when my mom was still around.

disneyland_fireworks

<10> Usual time to go for vacation: Of course during holiday season especially during Chinese New Year when my father will be able to take long leave from work. Also sometimes went out for trip during Raya holiday as well.

<11> Most number of oversea trip in a year: 2014. Had three oversea trips that year. One is by company, and two are with family. Two of those trips were to the same place; Bali, Indonesia. The other one was to Yunnan, China.

<12> Coldest temperature in oversea trip: I think is around -19 degree celsius. Yes, there is a negative in front. That was during a trip to peak of Mount Titlis in Switzerland during their winter season. Thick snow everywhere.

Rider: Location: Engelberg

<13> Warmest temperature in oversea trip: Around 38 degree celsius at Hatyai, Thailand.

<14> Craziest thing I saw in an oversea trip: A huge open field in India as a dumping ground for the people. That’s not dumping rubbish I meant. It’s a vast place for people to shit. Yes…they squat and finish off their business and they can still chat to each other during the process. I saw it in my own eyes while in a bus passing by that area. What a sight!

maxresdefault

<15> Wonders of the World that I have visited: Great Wall of China, India’s Taj Mahal, and Rome’s Colosseum. 3 out of 7. 4 more to go. That’s not including the Great Pyramid of Giza.

I think I had quite an awesome time in the past during these oversea trips that I had before. Looking forward to more of such trips in the future. Who doesn’t like to forget everything about work and go out for a nice holiday?

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

Advertisements

World’s 10 Tallest Buildings in 2016.

Posted in Architectural Territory with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 26, 2016 by vincentloy

It’s been quite some time since I last compiled a list of the world’s top ten tallest buildings. I think the last time I worked on that was about a year or two ago and I’m very sure that the data in that particular post would be inaccurate as of now due to the world’s high interest on building supertall skyscrapers in recent years. So, if you are looking for the latest and the most accurate list of world’s top 10 tallest buildings as of June 2016, this is the right place to be.

The list only includes buildings (structures that contain mostly habitable or functional floors) and excludes tv masts, telecommunication or observation towers, antennas, etc. This list also includes the buildings that are still under construction but have already topped out (reached final height).

< 1 > Burj Khalifa, 828 metres, 163 floors, Dubai, United Arab Emirates (completed in 2010).

home_bg_tcm186-80501

< 2 > Shanghai Tower, 632 metres, 121 floors, Shanghai, China (completed in 2015).

Shanghai-Tower_Gensler_dezeen_ban

< 3 > Makkah Clock Royal Tower, 601 metres, 120 floors, Makkah, Saudi Arabia (completed in 2012).

57_big

< 4 > Ping An International Finance Center, 599 metres, 116 floors, Shenzhen, China (topped out, to be completed in 2016).

414057d0gw1f50frk9dvkj21jk111u0y

< 5 > Lotte World Tower, 556 metres, 123 floors, Seoul, South Korea (topped out, to be completed in 2016).

26780310113_5b360fd0b5_b

< 6 > One World Trade Center, 541 metres, 104 floors, New York City, United States of America (completed in 2014).

One_WTC_Lower_Manhattan_skyline_Oct_2014

< 7 > CTF Finance Centre, 530 metres, 116 floors, Guangzhou, China (completed in 2016).

25733095343_4ff6d7c984_h

< 8 > Taipei 101, 509 metres, 101 floors, Taipei, Taiwan (completed in 2004).

台北101, 台灣台北 (Taipei 101 and skyline, Taipei, Taiwan)

< 9 > Shanghai World Financial Center, 492 metres, 101 floors, Shanghai, China (completed in 2008).

Shanghai.World.Financial.Center.original.9413 (1)

< 10 > International Commerce Centre, 484 metres, 118 floors, Hong Kong, China (completed in 2010).

international-commerce-centre-4

Burj Khalifa remains as the world’s tallest building, holding on to the title for the 6th year. It is also still the world’s tallest man-made structure and is likely to remain at the top of the list for another few years before being taken over by Kingdom Tower (now under construction in Jeddah) in 2020. Half of the 10 buildings in this list above are in China, further displaying the country’s massive economic boom and interest on constructing tall buildings. Also discovered from the list above is that for the next newly completed building to be able to be ranked in the world’s 10 tallest, it has to be at least 500 metres high. 500 metres (above 100 floors as well) is now the minimum mark to get into top 10 tallest’s ranking. Back in 10 years, 400 metres is the mark. Now, an extra 100 for that.

My beloved Petronas Twin Towers are out of the list since they are only 452 metres tall. They are now placed at 11th (and 12th) tallest. Goldin Finance 117, a tower planned for completion this year and nears topping out in Tianjin, China is currently on-hold and is awaiting funding. Its completion date is now pushed to end of year 2017. The tower is expected to reach final height of 597 metres (117 floors) and will be the 5th tallest once topped out either by end of the year or early next year.

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

Trip to Swan Valley, Perth today.

Posted in Wonders and Places with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 25, 2016 by vincentloy

Me and my housemates went to the Swan Valley today, a place I suggested since we have basically went to most of the interesting places in Perth that are not that far away earlier. Swan Valley is basically a region only 30 minutes away from Perth’s city and contains many plantation fields, wineries, breweries, distilleries, local-produce factories, farms (animals, lavender, cheese, fruits), restaurants and cafes. The downpour this morning didn’t dampen our spirit to start off the day by heading to the city to rent a car.

We got a nice car (with quite an expensive rate) and we spent the whole afternoon in the Swan Valley. The trip wouldn’t be successful if we didn’t stop by at the Visitor Centre near the entrance to the valley. The staff over there was very helpful on explaining some important places that we should visit in the valley along their recommended 32-km long food and wine trail. Wow…I didn’t expect the valley to be that big. We only covered a small part of it for our trip today. Their guide in pamphlet is very useful, especially the map.

First, we went to the Margaret River Chocolate Factory. We had our lunch there. I have tasted my best ever dark chocolate drink over there. We also did a quick free tasting of chocolates before we left. Our mission today is actually to get all the complimentary tastings without buying. They must be hating us but it’s not our bad since the complimentary tastings are provided and suggested everywhere in the valley. The chocolates are not bad (but not the best also that I have tasted) but I do enjoy their dark chocolates in tiny little pieces’ one. Just next door, we also visited the Providore Local Produce station where we get to taste interesting cooking ingredients like the sauces, spices, creams, olive oil, etc. My tongue felt weird after tasting some of that.

IMG_3564

IMG_3565

Next destination is Lancaster Winery where they served complimentary tasting of wines and you can add it up with cheese if you like to. I don’t really like cheese and so I just ignored that part. One particular type of red wine we tried today is quite good and is not that sweet. We also tried white wine. It’s winter season now and so it’s not the best time to take pictures of the plantation farms since all the trees are dry now with nothing much to see. But it is still a beautiful sight for a vast field of plantation everywhere in the valley.

IMG_3571

IMG_3587

Next, we went House of Honey to taste the honey of course. There are so many different kind of honey and their sweetness produced and on sale over there. There is even one particular one (I forgot the honey’s name) that has healing ability when applied on the skin. Interesting, but I worried it may heals quickly but ants will be crawling towards you. Haha…forget about it. We moved on to the Mondo Nougat and Chocolate and Morish Nuts. Both are side by side. Free tasting again and the staff were very friendly.

IMG_3576

IMG_3578

IMG_3579

The last destination in the valley that we covered is the Mandoon Estate and Homestead Brewery. We noticed there was some sort of a party going on there. It’s a beautiful place and we had beers over there. Nice environment with the plantation field again and frequent view of airplanes on the sky.

IMG_3595

IMG_3596

IMG_3570

Before we returned the car to the rental shop before calling it the end of the day, we went for a quick walk in Kings Park. I’m still not bored visiting the park (have visited it three times and is expected to visit the place again next week), mainly due to the magnificent city’s view from there. Back for my conclusion for the Swan Valley; it’s a great place to visit and most importantly, it’s free for all the tastings. All in one region: Swan Valley. The place is scenic and you must need a car to travel in there. You can also join in some tours provided if you reached there by public transport. For that, you have to ask for more information at the Visitor Centre. I had an awesome day there and would certainly love to go back there again in near future.

(Copyrights reserved to all the images in this post. Kindly request permission if you intend to use any of them)

Winners of 2016 Tall Building Awards by CTBUH

Posted in Architectural Territory with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 24, 2016 by vincentloy

The Council on Tall Building and Urban Habitat have announced the winners of the 15th edition of the CTBUH Tall Building Awards. From over 100 submissions, the best buildings from four regions – the Americas, Asia & Australasia, Europe and Middle East & Africa – were selected, along with recipients of the Urban Habitat Award, the Innovation Award, the Performance Award and the 10 Year Award. The CTBUH will pick a global winner from the regional selections as well as announcing the winner for their prestigious Lynn S. Beedle Lifetime Achievement Award and Fazlur R. Khan Lifetime Achievement Medal later this year.

The towers were chosen by a panel of architects from world-renowned firms and were judged on every aspect of performance, looking in particular for “those that have the greatest positive impact on the individuals who use these buildings and the cities they inhabit.” To be able to contest in this year’s awards, the buildings/materials must be completed in year 2015, excluding the Performance Award and the 10 Year Award. Here’s below is the full list of winners:

Best Tall Building – Americas: VIA 57 West (BIG)

BTB-Americas_Via_57_West__New_York_(c)_Nic_Lehoux

“VIA 57 West is an inspired hybrid of the traditional courtyard block and high-rise tower. Its complex and intelligently orientated architecture maximizes occupants’ views to the Hudson River and activates the New York City waterfront with a dynamic new standard for integrated urban infill development.” – Juror Michael Palladino, Design Partner, Richard Meier & Partners Architects.

Best Tall Building – Asia and Australasia: Shanghai Tower (Gensler)

BTB-Asia___Aust_Shanghai_Tower__Shanghai_(c)Connie_Zhou

“Shanghai Tower shows the greatest commitment to communal space in a tall building since Commerzbank Tower completed in 1997. It contains the world’s first truly ‘inhabitable’ double-skin façade on a skyscraper, which is not only remarkable for its intended greenery, but its incorporation into the tower’s overall ventilation strategy. The sacrifice of valuable floor area to realize this social amenity proves that the aspirations for Shanghai Tower went far beyond mere commercial gain.” – Juror Antony Wood, Executive Director, CTBUH.

Best Tall Building – Europe: The White Walls (Ateliers Jean Nouvel)

BTB-Europe_The_White_Walls__Nicosia_(c)Yiorgis_Yerolymbos__courtesy_of_Nice_Day_Developments

“The White Walls is a truly groundbreaking exercise in materiality, serving as a successful expression of the architectural and environmental values of the Mediterranean across the vertical axis. Extensive vegetation on the north façade and the presence of loggias on the south façade create a very real connection with nature, while the tower’s punctured concrete walls quite literally ‘bleed green’ with tangles of local plant species.” – Juror Karl Fender, Director, Fender Katsalidis Architects.

Best Tall Building – Middle East and Africa: The Cube (Orange Architects)

BTB-Middle_East___Africa_The_Cube__Beirut_(c)Matthijs_van_Roon

“The Cube indicates a clear alternative to the extruded box typology that defines the majority of residential high-rises around the world, instead comprising a stack of completely unique villas in the sky. The tower is particularly successful in its structural design, which features a system of elegantly framed girder walls that add visual flair and allow for completely unobstructed floor plans.” – Juror Hashimah Hashim, Executive Director, KLCC Property Holdings Berhad.

Urban Habitat Award: Wuhan Tiandi Site A

Urban_Habitat_Wuhan_Tiandi__Wuhan__(c)Shui_On_Land

“The Wuhan Tiandi Mixed-Use Development demonstrates that a master plan for a tall building neighborhood can include vibrant public spaces that offer a high level of intimacy, walkability, and social design. The disposition of tall buildings combined with an animated public realm creates a vibrancy that is rarely found in newly created communities. The Wuhan Tiandi complex offers a high quality of life for those that live, work, and visit – a quality of life that rivals long established tall building neighborhoods found elsewhere in the world.” – Juror James Parakh, Urban Design Manager, City Planning Department of Toronto.

10 Year Award: Hearst Tower (Foster + Partners)

HCC

“Walking along the base of Hearst Tower, you might not even realize that you are right next to one of New York’s greatest architectural achievements of the 2000s. Built directly on top of a 1920s office relic, the tower made the world reexamine what’s possible in terms of preserving historic low-rise buildings in a dense downtown core. There’s also something cathartic about the juxtaposition between its classically reserved base and contemporary diagrid structure above.” -CTBUH Trustee Timothy Johnson, Design Partner, NBBJ.

Performance Award: Taipei 101 (C. Y. Lee)

Aerial view of Taipei 101, the world's new tallest building.

“It is rare to see a commitment to upgrade an existing building to this level of environmental performance. The extensive documentation of its energy upgrades and sustainability initiatives speaks for itself; TAIPEI 101 has been the subject of a tireless and exhaustive effort to become one of the most sustainable tall buildings in the world, and it has been successful in this mission. In addition to a comprehensive set of green technologies and systems installed throughout the building, a rigorous occupant engagement program really puts this project in a league of its own.” – Technical Juror Bill Browning, Co-Founder, Terrapin Bright Green.

Innovation Award: Pin – Fuse

Innovation_PinFuse_(c)SOM

“The Pin-Fuse system opens the door to realizing increased resilience in buildings constructed in highly active seismic regions. By providing just the right amount of give under pre-determined axial loads, the system is innovative for its tested impact on repair frequency, costs, and structural longevity for buildings that have experienced an earthquake.” – Technical Jury Chair SawTeen See, Managing Partner, Leslie E. Robertson Associates.

More information can be found from its official website here at this link below:

http://awards.ctbuh.org/media/ctbuh-names-2016-tall-building-award-recipients/

(Images and information in this post are from the website as stated above. Further information is obtained from http://www.archdaily.com/790068/ctbuh-names-winners-of-2016-tall-building-awards)

My review for 4 movies in a row….yes, I watched 4 movies in less than a week.

Posted in Miscellaneous with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 23, 2016 by vincentloy

I think there is nothing better than spending the beginning part of my semester break on new movies. I have many films to catch up on, and while I managed to watch one by one of them, more and more new ones are on their way to hit cinemas. I noticed that there are a lot of highly anticipated new movies coming out recently (and more soon). Well, it should be since it’s the summer holiday season over in US (it’s the total opposite; winter now here in Australia). The 4 movies that I have watched recently in less than a week are ‘Warcraft’, ‘Finding Dory’, ‘The Angry Birds Movie’ and ‘Independence Day: Resurgence’.

‘Warcraft’ is a fantasy film based on the popular video game of the same name, and it sets on the fictional world of Azeroth. It would be a surprise to inform you that I have not played that game before and I have no knowledge of what’s the setting of the story and its world is all about. I just watched this for pure entertainment. I’m quite blur in the beginning when I have to digest the names and the characters. I just take it lightly and I ended up find this movie actually quite enjoyable, in contrary to the very poor reception it has over on popular critics’ sites. This movie is also making big money in China to my surprise. And I didn’t even know which character is Daniel Wu portraying in this movie. In the end after a quick research only I found out that he is the main bad guy with magic abilities, the Guldan. Couldn’t realize that with all the extensive CGI and sound effects. Overall, I rate ‘Warcraft’ a total of 6.4. It looks like the ending of the movie hints of more sequels coming in in the future (as expected).

warcraft-the-beginning-2016-large-picture-1024x768

Next is ‘Finding Dory’, the sequel to the highly successful award-winning ‘Finding Nemo’. ‘Nemo’ was released 13 years ago and it’s such a high nostalgic feeling to watch this underwater adventure story again. The first one was awesome, and this sequel that changes the attention from the clown fish to the blue tang didn’t disappoints too. The cute little Nemo and his father are still here, but the limelight is on the much funnier Dory that has a short term memory loss, and is lost, and has to find her parents in a marine park. It’s fun, engaging, and beautiful to watch, suitable for both adults and kids. And it is now making a lot of money across the world as expected. This is going to be the next 2016 film to cross over US$ 1 billion in grossing. I enjoyed this a lot, just like the first one. Out of 10 points, I rate ‘Finding Dory’ a total of 8.0.

9213755_orig

We are only halfway there. Hang in there. Next up is ‘The Angry Birds Movie’. Another movie based on a popular video game, but this one is animated. I did play that game but not for long as my interest on it comes and goes very fast unlike some others. I still remember there was a period of time when almost everyone is playing it. Now, I don’t think so…its popularity fades quickly as well in this world where trends change quickly. It’s also a fun movie to watch but is not on Dory’s level yet. Hmm…I shouldn’t compare it that way and I would still like to compliment the effort of turning a simple video game into a movie with quite a nice storyline. It is also the directorial debuts for two talented people. Out of 10 points, I rate ‘The Angry Birds Movie’ a total of 6.9.

angry-birds-movie

Finally, the last movie review for the post. ‘Independence Day: Resurgence’ needs no further introduction. It’s a sequel to the 1996’s Independence Day movie that had us saw the world (particularly US as usual) destroyed by huge alien ships. Twenty years later, its sequel has finally came with much bigger alien ship returning to destroy the world. I came for the movie with high expectation, and in the end, I’m quite disappointed. Roland Emmerich is the ‘Master of Destruction’ with spectacular visual effects on city’s destruction scenes in many of his past directed movies like ‘The Day After Tomorrow’, ‘2012’, etc. I’m looking forward to that here as hinted from its trailers themselves. However, it turned out that the movie only shown us that in a minute or two out of the overall 2-hours length of the movie. Huge disappointment for me who likes to see disasters in movies.

ID4RHEADER-1

Independence-Day-London

Anyway, one plus point for changing the attention now from typical US landmarks to Asian landmarks now in this sequel (Marina Bay Sands and Singapore city, Petronas Twin Towers, Burj Khalifa dropping on London’s famous attractions like London Eye and Tower Bridge). Most of the destruction scenes are already in the trailer. That is what makes me angry and I hoped to see more of those heart-stopping sequences. On the other hand, it’s actually nice to see new cast mixed with the original cast (love to see Jeff Goldblum again) in this movie that worked out quite well. The visual effects are good (but not the best I have seen) and the score is not that powerful enough. It fells flat most of the time and it could be so much better in my opinion. Out of 10 points, I rate ‘Independence Day: Resurgence’ a total of 6.1.

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

Semester break is the time for me to turn from a student to a tourist in Perth.

Posted in Wonders and Places with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 21, 2016 by vincentloy

Semester break has started just not long ago and there is like a month left before the next semester of my study begins. I’m enjoying the holiday but I started to feel bored already. I’m now desperately finding things to do. This is a typical student’s life. When you are in the semester, you have to work so hard and couldn’t sleep much to complete the assignments. When everything is over and the holiday begins, you start to wonder what to do during the holiday.

I started off the break by transforming myself from a student into a tourist. Last Saturday, me and my friend went to Fremantle, a port city not far south from Perth. It’s a beautiful city with many historical heritage buildings, port, harbors, museums and beaches. Hmm…I think I have described about the city in my earlier posts. So, I’ll just move on with some beautiful pictures I have taken there.

IMG_3496

Fremantle Prison, one of the most iconic structures in Fremantle, but doesn’t look iconic to me.

IMG_3497

View from Round House overlooking a beautiful heritage street in Fremantle.

IMG_3498

Fishermans Wharf, the place to enjoy my fish and chips and I’m afraid of the many sea gulls over there waiting to snatch my food.

IMG_3499

Sunset in Fremantle.

IMG_3503

View of the ferris wheel in Esplanade Park, Fremantle. Look at the sky! Beautiful tone of colours.

We went to the Fremantle Market, Fremantle Prison (only outside view since the admission fee is expensive), Round House, Bathers Beach, Fishermans Wharf, Esplanade Park, and also wandering around some nice-looking streets surrounded by heritage buildings, cafes, shops, etc. After an early dinner of having fish and chips (a must meal over there), we took a quick time enjoying the breathtaking sunset view (it’s winter now here and so the sunset is on 5.20pm…so early) before leaving Fremantle and call it the end of the day.

Today, we went out again. This time is on city exploring in Perth. Ahh..not really city exploring since there is actually nothing much to see or visit in Perth Central Business District (CBD) since it’s very small compared to many other bigger cities I have been to. But Perth is still a very beautiful city and it’s ranked one of the most livable cities in the world. There are certainly reasons for that achievement and I can feel that since moving to here from past February. Today, we just head down to the Elizabeth Quay, the latest waterfront development of the city facing the beautiful Swan River. The quay is completed but developments in it are very slow. They all remains as flat plots of land without any sign of construction of buildings proposed over there. However, Elizabeth Quay is still a popular destination with parks, iconic Swan Bell Tower, some new pavilions selling food and beverages, jetties, bridge, playground, Spanda sculpture, etc.

IMG_3510

View towards the city from the Double Arches Steel Bridge in Elizabeth Quay. Spanda sculpture is on the right.

IMG_3508

Swan Bell Tower at the back. The thing that attracts me is those purple bras on display along these pergolas, marking the ‘Purple Bra Day’. What on Earth is that?

IMG_3511

View to the bridge I went to just now and the Swan River.

In the afternoon, we proceed to the famous Kings Park, a huge park overlooking the city. I think it is the largest inner-city park in the world (and just now I have only covered a tiny bit of the overall park and even for that I have already spend like three hours there). This is a perfect spot to enjoy the magnificent view of the city’s skyline. It is not far from the city, a very popular place to relax and enjoy the nature and the view, and contains gardens, bridges, fountains, sculptures, art gallery, cafes, souvenir shop, State War Memorial statue, viewing decks, open fields, outdoor theatre, etc. We met a local man whom is a photographer and he brought us to walk around the park. Hmm…out of sudden, we got a free guided tour in the park.

IMG_3554

IMG_3515

State War Memorial, a monument to commemorate the Western Australian soldiers who perished in the past wars, particularly the World Wars.

IMG_3517

The beautiful city skyline of Perth, the compulsory view from Kings Park.

IMG_3541

A nice-looking bridge in the park, but this is quite far from the main entrance area of the park.

IMG_3545

IMG_3546

IMG_3549

IMG_3553

A short timelapse video I made just now showing Perth’s city skyline from Kings’ Park in the afternoon.

The weather started to get really cold once after the sun disappeared. My hands were freezing. Nothing is better than a hot meal for dinner at Waterford Plaza near my house to end the outing today.

(Copyrights reserved to images and video in this post. Kindly ask for permission if you wish to use any of the images or video above)

 

Urban design is fun.

Posted in Architectural Territory with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 19, 2016 by vincentloy

Urban design is the first out of the three design studios I have to complete in my Master of Architecture course. It is generally defined as the process of giving form, shape, and character to groups of buildings, to whole neighborhoods, and the city. It is a framework that orders the elements into a network of streets, squares, and blocks. Urban design is also about making connections between people and places, movement and urban form, nature and the built fabric and the goal is usually to make the urban areas more functional, attractive and sustainable.

image-7590

Before I take on this design studio, I have had already some interest in urban design. I do like to see how and where the buildings were placed in relation to each other and their significance to the overall masterplan. I have been to many cities with unique urban planning before like Siem Reap (the ancient city of Angkor where the famous Angkor Wat temple is at the centre), Beijing (city spine or axis from Tiananmen Square to Forbidden City and then all the way up straight to Olympic Park, picture below), Paris (the streets and uniform building heights and patterns), Seoul (the Cheonggyecheon River and the public realm along it, picture below), etc. I like to research on the many urban case studies across the world from the ancient or historical city planning to the ones in the present. They are not only useful to my study in this particular studio but also beneficial for my extra knowledge on this field that involves a lot of parties (architect, urban planner, landscape architect, engineers, authority, etc).

201212040921418141

6ptworldrivercities_cheonggyecheon-stream1

After this studio that I have completed, I do discovered many more useful information and knowledge behind a successful urban design. Here below are the top 10 urban design knowledge that I have learnt from my studio which can be seen as the basic principles or guidelines on creating a good urban planning:

(1) Be pedestrian-friendly. Pedestrian streets over vehicular roads.

Urban design is mostly about creating good environment for people to walk, to see, to play, to shop, to eat, etc. Having beautiful pedestrian streets or promenades gives a nice and safe ambience to people. Lesser attention to roads.

Bourke_Street_Mall_(1)

(2) Activate ground level. 

Ground level is where all the things should be happening. Skywalks (those pedestrian bridges) are now very popular urban trend to link buildings away and above the roads. They may be useful but they are sometimes bad on preventing people to be on ground level. Try makes the public spaces on the ground to be interesting to draw people to that level.

1

(3) Continue lines from existing urban or city grid. And create new ones too.

To start on your master planning, try as much as you can to link your newly proposed roads or streets to the existing ones outside your site boundary to create a continuity so that your masterplan isn’t in its ‘own world’. Linking to existing urban patterns (grids) is very important for a continuous uninterrupted flow around or within the urban area.

Vision-Zero-640x480

(4) Have a driver or an overall concept.

It is preferred to have a main strategy before starting on the urban planning. A main concept or driver to your imagined urban development. For example, you can have your site to be transit-oriented (main focus on transportation links), or water-oriented (priority for water views or for various interaction or engagement with people from water). Have a look on some good examples of successful urban projects across the world. Research on them, make them as your precedent studies, and maybe you can find certain interesting elements to be incorporated in your urban design as well.

10_view1_ferry-terminal_3-mj

(5) Emphasize on views, vantage points, visual axis or linkage. See at human scale.

View is important. When you are proposing a street here, try and imagine what would people see at the end of this particular street? It’s best that the planning is done to allow people to have certain intended view (for example, view of a river, view of a sculpture, view of an interesting roof, view of a major park, or view that directs people to another angle, etc). Always see from a human scale.

ArcDeTriompheAerial_20121110

(6) Have something as the centrepiece of the planning.

It’s always an ideal way to have something that stood out among the rest in your masterplan. It would be boring to have all proposed built forms in your masterplan to have uniform and similar strength, proportion, height or scale. Have one particularly large or tall building (a landmark) as the limelight of the overall masterplan. Or if you think that is unnecessary, have a main public square as the node of your planning. On the other hand, try to propose a few more civic or community buildings like library, aquarium, sports hall, shopping mall, museums, art gallery, etc to create a sense of place and to gives identity to the particular urban area or city.

Tun_Razak_Exchange,_a_landmark_Financial_District_in_Kuala_Lumpur

(7) More parks, plazas or squares. Public realm is the most important.

Create these spaces for people to walk, relax, interact, etc. Public space is the priority in an urban design. Have them designed in a way that it invites people, it engages people, it attracts people, at any time of the day if possible. It’s not about the quantity too as it’s about quality. Having a lot of parks or plazas may not be good as this approach will make people to go on separate ways since they have many choices to make (on which parks or plazas to go).

park-in-helsi_cepolinacom

(8) Connectivity and practicality in mind.

It would be cool to have the urban planning to feature extensive greenery, massive parks, huge waterways, etc. You can be daring in your design. However, kindly think of whether it is practical to have that. Will it interrupts flow of people? Can it be accessed by cars? Can the disabled go over there? Can goods or loading be done over here to cater for this building? Also think about the distance to reach a place from the office, from the mall, from the homes, from the hotel, etc. On the other hand, car park is an ugly building but it is very much needed even if you don’t like it. How are you going to have that in your masterplan while not being a waste of space or being an unpleasant sight? Avoid from having car park taking up ground level and preferably place it in basements or in a podium together with facility floors. You can even propose to treat the facade of the car park podium to be interesting. But let’s not get into detail of buildings as urban design is not about that.

AT&T-Ramp

(9) Be green. 

Everything is about sustainability now in the architecture world. It’s good to bring the nature back into your masterplan by proposing parks with extensive landscaping (or even lakes, etc) as people love to enjoy the nature if it’s provided and it’s beautiful. Be green in this case also means having your masterplan to work in a way that you envisioned it to be energy efficient by having the future built forms in the site to have maximum exposure to natural daylight, making use of wind direction, sun orientation, etc.

18b7cecd54a3541a3f30a3a1c3e56e4b

(10) Think about land use, setbacks and mass of buildings. 

This is where standard comes in. There is the setbacks to buildings that you have to provide when setting out your proposed location of new built forms. Each authority has their own set of guidelines on it, and it includes also on the mass of building (height, density limit, etc). As for the zoning, try to think over and over again why would you want to propose a hotel here instead of at the other places in your site. That’s one of the examples. If you can’t find good reason for it, then it’s not a good urban design decision. Work on it again.

MLK-Final-Master-Plan

In conclusion, urban design is mostly about people and its about the spaces between buildings (roads, streets, parks, boulevards, lanes, plazas, walkways, etc). Social system goes above vehicular system. People over cars. A good urban design facilitates human interaction, activates dead spaces, ensures smooth flow and permeability, and caters to a demand-seeking future. A masterplan should be flexible, able to adapt to future changes or addition of new built forms if possible. It should be done to prepare the site to meet demands in the future especially when all the cities now are growing fast with increasing need for more residential, commercial, leisure or tourism developments. When you are designing a masterplan, imagine being in there yourself, what do you want to see, where do you want to go, what do you want to do once you are in that space? Have plenty of good reasoning to all the design making decisions you have make, and then you will have an excellent masterplan. There is no right or wrong but there is a point where we know whether it works or not. It requires a lot of thinking in macro-scale. That’s what differentiates urban design from architecture.

img04

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