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Movie review for ‘Spectral’, ‘Rogue One: A Star Wars Story’ and ‘Kubo and the Two Strings’ (2016)

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

This post would be my last movie reviews of the year. In the past week, I have watched three additional new films of which they are all released this year and I have some thoughts to write about each of them. So here it goes.

‘Spectral’ is a military science-fiction film by Netflix about a special-ops team that is dispatched to investigate strange killing of their troops and later found out what they are dealing with is supernatural beings, or is it? This movie is a bit under-rated and it’s a waste that such movie didn’t get a worldwide theatre release. It’s a great movie. It’s full of actions and suspense, and that’s enough for movie of this category. I’m not looking for any deep character development and just a thrilling action ride, and this movie delivered to the best. Out of 10 points, I rate ‘Spectral’ a total of 7.8. I don’t even mind for sequels for this film since the story looks like it has a lot of potential to develop, especially on the scientific part of the creation of those ‘supernatural’ beings and the further sinister plots behind it.

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‘Rogue One: A Star Wars Story’ is a must-watch movie for all Star Wars fans. I’m not a fans of this franchise but since it is so popular, I watched this ‘Rogue One’ which is actually a prequel to the earlier films. The story is about the Rebel Alliance which makes a risky move to steal the plans for the Death Star, setting up the epic saga to follow. It starred Felicity Jones, Diego Luna, Donnie Yen, Mads Mikkelsen, Riz Ahmed, Forest Whitaker, etc. A very ‘international’ cast indeed. I’m surprised that the Chinese actors in this movie get to play more significant roles this time. Chinese cast are usually just taking very minor roles in big Hollywood productions just to attract Chinese market. The movie is fine. I’m actually feeling bored with the first half of the movie and the movie only got my attention in the last part when ‘Rogue One’ ship started its mission to steal the plans for the Death Star. Out of 10 points, I rate ‘Rogue One: A Star Wars Story’ a total of 6.7. This movie is going to earn a lot in box office as expected (I think will gross over US$ 1 billion in box office). And we are going to see more Star Wars films soon since this film franchise now returns to the big screen, since Hollywood knew how much profit they can make from this franchise.

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‘Kubo and the Two Strings’ is an animated movie about a young boy named Kubo who must locate a magical suit of armor worn by his late father in order to defeat a vengeful spirit from the past. It is a 3D stop-motion fantasy action-adventure film by Laika which is a famous studio specializing in producing stop-motion animated movies. Their past works are ‘Coraline’ (I love this movie), ‘ParaNorman’ and ‘The Boxtrolls’. Their latest work, ‘Kubo and the Two Strings’ has a good and moving plot, beautiful visuals and styles, lovely and engaging main and supporting characters, thrilling adventures and hilarious moments. Out of 10 points, I rate ‘Kubo and the Two Strings’ a total of 8.0. Another masterpiece by Laika. ‘Kubo and the Two Strings’ is so far the best animated movie of the year. I’m looking forward to more Laika animated films since I enjoyed watching stop-motion style in animation. It’s unique and interesting.

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

Shanghai Tower named CTBUH’s Best Tall Building Worldwide in 2016 and won Emporis Skyscraper Award 2015

Posted in Architectural Territory with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 23, 2016 by vincentloy

Shanghai Tower is a 632 metres tall skyscraper located in Shanghai, China and is currently the second tallest building in the world. Completed in 2015, it is also the tallest building in China, a country that has been actively building supertalls in recent decades. Designed by Gensler Architects, Shanghai Tower has 128 floors and is one of the three supertall buildings in the prime area in Pudong. The other two are the Shanghai World Financial Center (492 metres high) and Jin Mao Tower (421 metres high).

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Recently, the tower is named Best Tall Building Worldwide in 2016 by Council of Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat. Besides that, the tower has also won the Emporis Skyscraper Award 2015. It’s a double joy for the tower. Shanghai Tower has accomplished such level of recognition due to many reasons. Some of them are its elegant spiraling cylindrical form, energy-efficient performance of the building, extraordinary double-skin facade, world’s fastest elevator, etc.

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Shanghai Tower prevailed over other winners in smaller categories in CTBUH Best Tall Buildings selection to take the top prize after winning the Best Tall Building Asia and Australasia. Best Tall Building Americas goes to VIA 57 West, Best Tall Building Europe goes to The White Walls and Best Tall Building Middle East and Africa goes to The Cube. As for the Emporis Skyscraper Award, Shanghai Tower topped the list of their 10 finalist selection. The other 9 in order from top to bottom are Evolution Tower in Russia (no.2), II Dritto in Italy (no.3), Jiangxi Nanchang Greenland Central Plaza in China (no.4), ABODE 318 in Australia (no.5), Icon Bay in United States of America (no.6), D1 Tower in United Arab Emirates (no.7), 432 Park Avenue in United States of America (no.8), Citygate in Austria (no.9) and ICE II in Canada (no.10).

I would love to visit Shanghai Tower and goes up to its observation deck to enjoy the panoramic view of the city and to purchase a replica model of the skyscraper. If you know me well, one of my hobbies is to collect replica models of famous buildings and towers around the world. This hobby is actually very costly, but what can I do since it’s my interest. I have not visited Shanghai before and I am looking forward for a trip to that city in near future. I think I would be very impressed not only by the supertalls in that city, but also by the overall magnificent skyline of the city.

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

 

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)

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“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)

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“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)

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“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)

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“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

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“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)

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“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

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“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)

‘Titanic: The Exhibition’ in Perth Convention and Exhibition Centre

Posted in Interesting Encounters with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 10, 2016 by vincentloy

Not having any classes today, I decided to go to the Perth city centre this morning. The reason for it is that I have to visit ‘Titanic: The Exhibition’ currently being held in the Perth Convention and Exhibition Centre (PCEC) at Pavilion 6, Level 1. The lecturer of my culture class visited it and recommended me to pay a visit to this exhibition as I would be writing a scholarly essay later based on this ill-fated ship for my assignment under her subject. As a student, I do get a cheaper ticket price, but it still costs me over AUD 30. That’s still expensive (about RM 100 in Malaysian currency), but I do make full use of that money by reading and analyzing almost all the displays in the exhibition and it took me two hours to finish the tour.

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I think everyone in this world must have heard of the word ‘Titanic’. It is universally known not only because of the magnitude of its sinking back in 1912 on its maiden voyage, but also due to the immense popularity of a 1997 movie of the same name. That particular epic motion picture directed by James Cameron won audiences’ hearts and subsequently winning 11 Academy Awards including Best Picture. Everyone is melted by the love story between Jack and Rose from the movie. It also became the first movie ever in history to cross over US$ 1 billion in original box office release and remain the highest grossing film worldwide for many years before being surpassed by another James Cameron’s movie called ‘Avatar’.

Let’s put the focus back on the ship itself and the exhibition I had just visited this morning regarding its rich history. The ship named RMS Titanic under the ownership of White Star Line was the largest and the most luxurious ship of its time when it was built and first set sail. On its maiden voyage from Southampton, UK to New York City, USA, this British passenger liner struck an iceberg and sank in the North Atlantic Ocean on the early morning of 15th April 1912. This resulted in death of over 1500 people out of about 2200 people on board (only about 700 people were saved from the doomed ship), making it one of the deadliest maritime disasters in modern history.

The exhibition is filled with interactive installations, graphic art, music and videos, artifacts, costumes, postcards, newspaper articles, as well as recreations of the ship’s luxurious interiors (Grand Staircase, First Class Corridor, First and Third Class rooms). The exhibition also included memorabilia from the 1997 blockbuster movie I mentioned above including the famous ‘Heart of the Ocean’ jewelry and the painting of Rose by Jack. The exhibition started with a photo section on the very edge of the ship (where Jack and Rose’s famous postures are in the movie) and ended with a small shop selling Titanic-themed souvenirs. Before I enter, I was presented a boarding pass with a name of a passenger who boarded the ship in 1912. In the exhibition later on, I can check whether the passenger in the boarding pass survived or died from the tragedy or not from the list of survived and lost passengers on a huge wall.

Hereby below are some of the images in the exhibition that I took:

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I had quite a good time going through the exhibition and I’m almost moved to tears by this sad tragedy that took place over a hundred years ago. Nevertheless, my focus in the exhibition is still on finding great information for my Culture assignment of which I selected this particular ship on examining and analyzing how luxury took its form in the ship from its architecture, interior, fittings, accessories and the passengers that varies, depending on the classes of the people on board. I find this topic interesting and has a strong connection to my Architecture and Culture class. Hence, this exhibition that happened to be held right now (will end on this 20th March) is a good platform for me to gain valuable information for my general knowledge as well as for my personal assignment.

The exhibition is good, but can be better. The lighting is not sufficient in some areas. Besides that, interactive installations are also not enough, making it not a very engaging exhibition especially to young kids (they don’t like to read the sea of words on the wall). The recreations of the ship’s interior are great but I’m actually expecting a bit more of that too. The organizer should also put a huge replica (model) of the ship to amaze visitors. Anyway, it is still a visit that gave me a further understanding of the ship’s history and is recommended especially to those who have not known much of the ship before and are eager to find out more.

(Copyrights reserved to all the images in this blog post).

Finished The Amazing Race 27…and the other much bigger news; this is my 1700th blog post!

Posted in Explosive News and Results with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 13, 2015 by vincentloy

First of all, a huge announcement need to be made first; My blog had reached another milestone on this day, by having a total of 1700 blog posts to date. This blog post is exactly the 1700th of this blog. Wonderful! Target achieved before the end of the year of which I have set or forecast earlier. What a great news…my Sunday couldn’t be more happier in marking this accomplishment.

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Producing 100 blog posts is already a no-easy task, and now I have went so far beyond, and reached 1700 today. I believe not many bloggers out there can have that much of posts in less than 8 years. So far, in this year alone, I have written over 200 blog posts which obviously shows that my blog is very active and frequently updated, and that I’m very hardworking and passionate about blogging. Haha…taking this opportunity to praise myself.

Well, on this Sunday too is the day I finished watching ‘The Amazing Race Season 27’ after gone through its exciting final episode (12th episode) just now. If you didn’t know, I have been catching up with this US television programme for many seasons already (about several teams of 2 person each racing around the world and performing tasks to avoid getting eliminated in each episode) and this latest one is not excluded. I’m happy that my favourite pair, Kelsey and Joey won the race as well as the awesome US 1 million dollar prize. From the beginning, I have been in favour of this pair as they are kind, good, seldom quarrel and always performed tasks in very efficient way. However, in the earlier stages, they always ended up being in the second place. Fortunately, luck is on their side at the most crucial last leg and they won the race after having gone through 5 continents and 10 countries with the other two finalist teams.

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The other two teams which succeeded into the final leg are Justin and Diana and Chris and Logan. Justin and Diana had been conquering the earlier legs (winning many of them) but cab issue had cost them the final leg. They are really one strong team to beat as seen in their dominating leads in earlier rounds. However, I find the attitude of Justin to be quite bad and he is always being cocky. I’m okay with them ended up in first runner-up in the end. Chris and Logan are famous for frequent quarrel and they surprisingly made it into the final 3. It’s the best that they can do already. Now, another season has ended and I have to wait for the next one. The season 28 should be on early next year.

I am also quite excited today because the TVB Anniversary Awards 2015 is going to be held tonight. Too bad, I couldn’t watch it live because I have a full-moon dinner to attend tonight as my cousin’s newborn baby would be celebrating 1-month (full moon) today. Nevertheless, I would still catch up to the results as soon as possible and will write a blog post about it later on. And on the other hand, in about less than a week later, I have another dinner to attend and this time it is my cousin’s wedding dinner. That’s it for my 1700th blog post on this lovely Sunday.

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

10 Skylines of the World: Then vs. Now.

Posted in Wonders and Places with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 7, 2015 by vincentloy

A skyline is the horizon that a city’s overall structure, human intervention in a non-urban setting, or nature, creates. Or in easier words, skyline marks an outline of land and buildings defined against the sky. City skylines serve as a kind of fingerprint as no two skylines are alike. The speed and magnitude of a change in the skyline is representative of how rapid a city has changed through a a century or more.

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Recently, I came across an article entitled ’20 Skylines Of The World: Then Vs Now’ by Nadia Anuar (original source: http://www.hongkiat.com/blog/world-skylines-then-now/) which is very much similar to my post’s title here but with the numbers reduced to 10 instead of 20. Why? I cancelled out the other 10 cities of which the change in their skyline are not that massive and interesting. Here are the top 10 skylines in comparison of their past and the present looks with some stunning images of these cities: (Please be reminded that this is not the ranking for the best skylines but is just to show comparison of the skylines of these 10 cities that may take your breath away).

This list also depends on availability of old pictures of the cities.

New York City, United States (Year 1876 vs. 1932 vs. 1988 vs. 2013)

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New York City, despite being known as an old city with many traditional-looking skyscrapers, still looks great with addition of more modern buildings in present days. The tragic 911 event had drastically changed the skyline of the city, but now the city welcomes the recently completed One World Trade Center as the city’s new tallest.

Shanghai, China (Year 1990s vs. 2010s)

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Many massive cities in China are growing at a rate no one can ever imagine. Shanghai is one of them. Pictures above shows the flat (trees-filled) land of the Pudong area by the river which is now transformed dramatically into a cluster of awesome skyscrapers. Not seen in the picture above is the nearly completed Shanghai Tower, the city’s new tallest.

Hong Kong, China (Year 1920s vs. 2000s)

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Hong Kong is always ranked the first in the best skylines ranking in the world by many polls. I agree with that. And the changes as seen in the pictures above tell it all. The buildings are beautiful, the lighting are beautiful…what else can I say?

Doha, Qatar (Year 1977 vs. 2010s)

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An Arab city not as popular as Dubai (seen below) but still manages to inspire us with the drastic changes on its cityscape. Many tall buildings are rising very quickly in Doha.

Dubai, United Arab Emirates (Year 1990s vs. 2010s)

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Dubai is home of the current tallest man-made structure on Earth, Burj Khalifa (not seen in the pictures above…too bad). Without that, the city still looks seriously amazing with its transformation in a lightning speed. It’s a city with hundreds of buildings rising from a desert out of nowhere and you couldn’t be more awed than this.

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (Year 1990s vs 2010s)

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I’m glad that my city, KL is in this list. My city has wonderful transformation in its city skyline too, mostly thanks to the iconic Petronas Twin Towers (world’s tallest twin buildings) and the KL Tower. Too bad, the image of the city (representing 2010s) is not the most recent one. It’s more dense with many new buildings on the right side of the picture actually.

Toronto, Canada (Year 1930s vs. 2010s)

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Simply beautiful with those lights reflected onto the water and also the iconic CN Tower.

Tokyo, Japan (Year 1945 vs. 2011)

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Seriously a very dense city right now.

Panama City, Panama (Year 1930s vs. 2010s)

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The development of the city skyline is looking good.

Fortaleza, Brazil (Year 1970s vs. 2011)

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I have never heard of this city before but right after looking at the pictures above, the changes in the skyline are very obvious.

How I hope I can have more amazing cities included in this list for the comparison like Chicago (US), Guangzhou (China), Shenzhen (China), Seoul (South Korea), etc. Some cities from the original source are not included here because I find the pictures are not good enough to present the changes in skylines over time.

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

 

The Potential Impacts of Tall Buildings

Posted in Architectural Territory with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 22, 2015 by vincentloy

Tall buildings are always a great sight for me. I love to see skyscrapers and do many research on them, either from books or from the internet mostly. This particular interest started about a decade ago, and it encourages me further to pursue my future in architecture. And since I live in Kuala Lumpur, a concrete jungle, I’m never tired of looking at the tall buildings in the city, particularly the iconic Petronas Twin Towers. And when I had the chance to visit other cities across the world in the past, there is no way I would miss out from their skyscrapers like the ones that I have checked out myself or even visited like Taipei 101, Burj Khalifa, Hong Kong’s 2IFC, London’s The Shard, etc. skyscrapers-looking-up-sunny-flickr (Image source: http://i.bnet.com/blogs)

Many cities now love to construct tall buildings because tall buildings save space, covers less area in urban area usually troubled with limited space, creates iconic visual to the city’s skyline, and is a symbol of the city’s strength and growth. Tall buildings do come with many positive impacts, but they can also bring out the negative ones. Hence, no matter how good the idea of building tall is, a proper planning, design and consideration are still required. Recently, I have gone through a book entitled ‘Planning for Tall Buildings’ by Michael J. Short, and there is a sub-topic inside that I’m particularly interested; ‘The Potential Impacts of Tall Buildings’. I read it, and I found it interesting to be shared in my blog here.

Since I’m lazy to type out the whole content here, I’m just going to follow the current trend of taking snapshots of the pages of the article and put it here below. If you are interested in it, you can click on each images below for a bigger version so that you can read it comfortably. It’s a good article that studies and further analyses the good and the bad of which tall buildings can contribute in 8 different categories, namely;

a) Context / Topography.

b) Historic Environment.

c) Local Environment.

d) Relationship to Transport.

e) Permeability.

f) Architectural Quality.

g) Contributions / Opportunities.

h) Sustainability. IMG_2551 IMG_2552 IMG_2553 IMG_2554 It’s not a lengthy article and so I managed to finish it (I mean not the whole book) in a short while. I think this article is useful to architects (to me too as an architect-to-be) as we have to consider many elements before designing a tall building so that it will gives more pros than cons to its site and the surrounding. We don’t just simply design tall buildings for the ‘wow’ factor, but also to design in relation to everything that matters as highlighted in the article above.

(Source: ‘Planning for Tall Buildings’ by Michael J. Short – Routledge 2012)