Archive for design

One almost done, one has half way to go, and one is still on ground. Updates on three supertall construction projects in Kuala Lumpur.

Posted in Architectural Territory with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 24, 2017 by vincentloy

Kuala Lumpur is ranked among one of the best city skylines in the world. It gained such recognition due to its splendid array of clustered buildings topped with the iconic Petronas Twin Towers and KL Tower. However, the city skyline is going to further transform, thanks to the many new skyscrapers currently being built in the city. They are going to immensely impact the city skyline due to their enormous heights. The city won’t look the same after every few years and I look forward to see more tall and nice-looking buildings being constructed in the city.

Here are the 3 supertall skyscraper projects in Kuala Lumpur that are receiving high attention and shown together are their latest construction images. Render is shown for each project below too. Supertall building refers to a building that exceeds 300 metres in height.

1.Four Seasons Place. 

It is a 65-storeys mixed use tower currently under construction besides the Petronas Twin Towers. Once completed, it will have a final height of 343 metres. It will contain a hotel, serviced residences and a shopping mall at the podium. After undergoing multiple delays and design changes in the past, the tower has now finally rising quickly. It has structurally topped out not long ago and the work on the building’s crown has started. It will top out architecturally before last quarter of the year and will open next year. Once completed, it will be the third tallest building in the country, right after the two twin towers that sat beside it. Now, it has already made the twin towers to look not as tall as in the past eventhough it is still shorter than them by a little over 100 metres.

 

This one is ALMOST DONE.

2. TRX Exchange 106 Tower. 

It is a 106-storeys office tower currently under construction at the Tun Razak Exchange site. Once completed, this new region will become the financial hub of the city. Once completed, the tower will have a final height of 452 metres. It surprisingly will have the same height as the Petronas Twin Towers. You may wonder that it should be taller than the twin towers since it almost has over 20 floors more than the twin towers? Nope. It’s because this TRX Tower has no spire to add up to its height. The construction for this tower is very fast and it has now already half way to its top. It has now already making a huge impact to the city’s skyline. The highlight of the tower will be its crystalline crown.

This one is HALF WAY TO FINISH.

3. PNB118 Merdeka Tower.

It is a 118-storeys office tower currently under construction on the lot bordering the historical Stadium Merdeka and Stadium Negara in Kuala Lumpur. It is just right opposite my former secondary school, the Methodist Boys School KL. Once completed, it will be the tallest building in the country as well as among the top five tallest buildings in the world at a height of 644 metres. It will surpass the height of Shanghai Tower (632 metres), One World Trade Center (541 metres), Taipei 101 (508 metres) and many other skyscrapers across the world. However, its construction has been very slow and I read a news somewhere that it experienced problem with its foundation. I predict that it will be completed by 2020 or 2021. It will reach this immense height of over 600 metres due to its very long spire at the top.

 

This one is still not rising and is STILL ON GROUND WORK.

Hoping to see great progress from these skyscraper projects once I’m back to KL end of this year.

(Images in this post are from skyscrapercity.com forum webpages)

I.M. Pei, an architect who had just celebrated his 100th birthday.

Posted in Architectural Territory with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on April 28, 2017 by vincentloy

I.M.Pei, a renowned Chinese-American architect has just turned 100 years old few days ago. A lot of major architecture websites do share news of his centenary birthday and a glimpse of his architectural projects under his career that spanned over six decades. He defied the typical saying that ‘architect do dies early due to the stress, heavy workload and constantly being all-nighter’.

Born on 26th April 1917 in Guangzhou, China, I.M.Pei moved to USA and studied architecture in University of Pennsylvania, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard Graduate School of Design. He was inspired by works by Le Corbusier, Frank Lloyd Wright, Walter Gropius and Marcel Breuer during his years in architectural education. He was particular fascinated by modern architecture and International Style.

I.M.Pei’s design style is described as modernist with significant cubist themes. He is known for combining traditional architectural elements with progressive designs based on simple geometric patterns. He has designed over 70 projects across the world and has received multiple awards and honors such as the Pritzker Prize (known as Nobel Prize of architecture) in 1983, AIA Gold Medal in 1979, Royal Gold Medal in 2010, Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1992, etc.

Here below are 10 of his most iconic works:

131 Ponce de Leon Avenue, Atlanta, USA (1949) – I.M.Pei’s first project.

Luce Memorial Chapel, Taichung, Taiwan (1963)

Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art, Ithaca, USA (1973)

OCBC Centre, Singapore (1976)

John F. Kennedy Presidential Library, Boston, USA (1979)

Bank of China Tower, Hong Kong, China (1989)

Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center, Dallas, USA (1989)

Louvre Pyramid, Paris, France (1993)

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Cleveland, USA (1995)

Museum of Islamic Art, Doha, Qatar (2008)

Looking just at 10 of his works above, you will obviously notice that he applied strong geometrical shapes into his design. It has become his signature approach in architecture. He designed a variety of projects ranging from community centers to highrise towers. He is no doubt one of the greatest living architects of our generation.

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

Pritzker Prize 2017 Winner: Rafael Aranda, Carme Pigem and Ramon Vilalta (RCR Arquitectes)

Posted in Architectural Territory with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 2, 2017 by vincentloy

The recipient of this year’s Pritzker Prize, the world’s most prestigious honour to architect, is a little less known. The recipient goes to not only a single person this year, but three, who works under one office; RCR Architects. They are Rafael Arana, Carme Pigem and Ramon Vilalta. Well, it’s not about popularity and the ‘star’ appeal to win this honour. It’s about one’s significant contribution to the field of architecture to be able to receive this award.

Here are an article from Dezeen (original source: https://www.dezeen.com/2017/03/01/key-projects-pritzker-prize-laureates-rcr-arquitectes/) that introduces us to this award-winning architecture office, RCR Arquitectes:

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Rafael Aranda, Carme Pigem and Ramon Vilalta all studied at the School of Architecture in Vallès, and set up their practice in their home town of Olot, Catalonia, in 1988. Their work ranges from public and private spaces to cultural venues and educational institutions, each designed to closely relate to the environment of its site. The three architects started working locally, designing an athletics track for the town in 2000 before creating their own office in an old foundry there eight years later. RCR Arquitectes’ other projects in Olot include a private house and a restaurant.

Many more of the studio’s projects over the past 10 years have also been located in Spain’s Girona province, ranging from a winery to a kindergarten and a public theatre. Later the firm began building slightly further afield – completing an art centre and a museum in France in 2014. Often collaborating with other architects, the trio uses materials like recycled steel and plastic. The Pritzker jury described their projects as “beautiful and poetic”. “Each building designed by these architects is special and is uncompromising of its time and place,” said the jury citation. “Their works are always the fruit of true collaboration and at the service of the community.” “They understand that architecture and its surroundings are intimately intertwined and know that the choice of materials and the craft of building are powerful tools for creating lasting and meaningful spaces.”

See 10 key projects by RCR Arquitectes below, in roughly chronological order:

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Tossols-Basil Athletics Track, 2000, Olot, Girona, Spain

Looping through two clearings in an oak forest, the running track avoids the trees and is coloured green to blend with its surroundings. The natural topography of the site provides stands for spectators, while a small pavilion comprising two Corten steel volumes includes a bar and storage for the football field.

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Bell–Lloc Winery, 2007, Palamós, Girona, Spain

A descending pathway with angled steel sides funnels visitors down from opposite directions to the entrance of the winery. Once inside, the material also creates a vaulted ceiling over the wine production machinery and barrel storage areas, where gaps in the roof allow slithers of light into the underground spaces.

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Sant Antoni – Joan Oliver Library, Senior Citizens Center and Cándida Pérez Gardens, 2007, Barcelona, Spain

Situated in Barcelona’s dense Eixample district, this cultural venue was intended to break the continuity of its historic street. A bridging section of the front building – which houses the library – provides public access underneath to a courtyard behind, where a low-slung volume wraps around the edge.

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Barberí Laboratory, 2008, Olot, Girona, Spain

RCR Arquitectes transformed a former foundry in their home town into their own offices and studio. Elements of the original building, like crumbling walls and a steel structure, were preserved. They were then paired with huge expanses of glass to create light-filled workspaces.

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El Petit Comte Kindergarten, 2010, Besalú, Girona, Spain
In collaboration with Joan Puigcorbé

Gradients of colourful plastic create a rainbow effect across this kindergarten building. A courtyard at the centre lets children play outside in a protected environment, while the plastic allows coloured light to flood the spaces inside.

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La Lira Theater Public Open Space, 2011, Ripoll, Girona, Spain
In collaboration with Joan Puigcorbé

To form a covered public space for theatre productions, the architects built a slatted-steel box, with angled sides and open ends, over a plaza sandwiched between two old structures. The volume faces a river and is connected to the opposite bank via a bridge made from the same material.

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Les Cols Restaurant Marquee, 2011, Olot, Girona, Spain

Swooping over this restaurant is a lightweight structure made from thin metal pipes, with translucent plastic stretched across the top. The canopy evokes the experience of dining al fresco, and extends beyond the enclosed space to protect those who are actually eating outside.

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Row House, 2012, Olot, Girona, Spain

When renovating this house in their home town, the architects exposed the underside of its tiled roof and concealed circulation on either side behind thin vertical louvres. In the central space – illuminated by a giant glass wall at the back – contemporary insertions form a sunken kitchen and dining level, with two separate mezzanines for lounging and sleeping above.

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La Cuisine Art Center, 2014, Nègrepelisse, France

Tucked inside the stone walls of a historic chateau, rooms made from steel and glass wrap around three sides of the building’s internal perimeter. These spaces host exhibitions, conferences and workshops dedicated to the art and design of food and cooking, and face a central courtyard that is used for larger events.

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Soulages Museum, 2014, Rodez, France
In collaboration with G Trégouët

Contemporary art exhibitions are housed within weathering-steel boxes that cantilever slightly from a small slope. The galleries are linked by glazed corridors and bridges, forming a route through the museum.

After receiving this prestigious honour, this Spanish firm along with these three leading architects shot to fame immediately in world of architecture.

(Images and information in this post are from the following source (also stated earlier): https://www.dezeen.com/2017/03/01/key-projects-pritzker-prize-laureates-rcr-arquitectes/.)

 

My architectural highlight of 2016

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

Year 2016 is coming to an end. It is the year when I stopped working (have worked for almost 4 years) and started my postgraduate study on architecture in Curtin University, Perth, Australia. If everything went well, I will be graduating with a Master of Architecture end of next year.

During these first two semesters of my study this year, I have undertaken two studio projects. The first one is to design a masterplan to rejuvenate the site of the present Perth International Convention Centre and its surrounding (for my Urban Design Studio in first semester). My concept is to create a Waterfront City, maximizing the potential of the river that has a lot to offer and enhancing various linkages to the CBD at north, Elizabeth Quay at east, King’s Park at west and Swan River at south. 3 images to best describe my project below:

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(Copyrights reserved to the images above. Please do not use the above images without my permission)

The next one is to design an indoor archery centre in Whiteman Park (for my Integrated Design Studio in second semester). The challenge of this project is that the building has to be low-cost, quick and easy to be built and maintained, phased, flexible to cater to other functions, and responds well to the present site and the archery sport itself. My idea is to create an archery ‘poly-house’, a warehouse-like structure enveloped with random polycarbonate cladding for passive design strategies and aesthetic purpose. 3 images to best describe my project below:

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(Copyrights reserved to the images above. Please do not use the above images without my permission)

Now, I’m looking forward to one more project (Complex Design Studio) next year before my Thesis project in my final semester. I’m hoping for an interesting design brief for my Complex Studio next year.

The three architectural websites that I have visited the most in 2016 remain the same as in the previous years:

www.archdaily.com

(The best website out there to check on countless amazing architectural projects every year with well-written articles and images. What’s great is that the website has new articles daily)

www.skyscrapercenter.com

(My favourite category in architecture – skyscraper. This is the database by Council of Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat on all skyscrapers around the world that is constantly updated)

www.skyscrapercity.com

(Another site on skyscraper. This one is forum-based and is the best platform for me to view on latest images or updates of completed, proposed and under-construction skyscraper projects)

The three most striking architectural projects built in 2016 that captured my most attention are: (The three images below are from Archdaily)

World Trade Center Transportation Hub by Santiago Calatrava

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Antwerp Port House by Zaha Hadid Architects

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VIA 57 West by BIG

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The three most talked about events or happenings of the year that are related to architecture are:

15th Venice Architecture Biennale this year from 28 may to 27 November and is directed by Pritzker Prize winning architect, Alejandro Aravena.

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(Image above from DesignBoom)

The Floating Piers project by Christo and Jeanne-Claude at Lake Iseo, Italy that made its round in social networking sites mid of the year when it is opened to the publicfrom June 18 to July 3. The project is now dismantled.

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(Image above from Blog.Daum)

And the heartbreaking news of the death of Zaha Hadid, one of world’s most famous architects and is arguably the most celebrated woman architect of the generation. She died on March 31, 2016 at age of 65 due to heart attack.

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(Image above from Architect Magazine)

That’s it for my architectural highlight of the year 2016.

7 Cool Architectural Visualization Styles

Posted in Architectural Territory with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 10, 2016 by vincentloy

Recently, I found a very interesting article that discusses the seven most popular architectural visualization styles produced by architectural firms or students out there. I myself is not good in computer renderings and so I’m very excited to look at the different styles and methods used to enhance rendering of each particular projects. I wish to learn (and hopefully) master rendering skills in near future which would be very beneficial especially when I step out to the working world after my graduation.

I would like to share the article below which is originally from Architizer at this link below:

http://architizer.com/blog/7-most-common-architectural-visualization-styles/

There was a time when no self-respecting rendering would allow itself to be seen in public without a zeppelin hovering somewhere in its desaturated sky. Supermodels in haute couture garments strutted across opera foyers, uninterested expressions and blasé attitudes adding to the exclusivity of the space. These gimmicks are still widely used, but since its early days architectural rendering has seen major technical advancements that allowed it to appropriate cinematic techniques relying on color, lighting, framing, composition, and angles to convey moods. This disciplinary overlap between architecture and film is fundamental in the use of similar software and modeling techniques and has brought the two closer through the idea of storytelling, a notion inherent to both disciplines. In architectural rendering, if the spirit or the main feeling isn’t persuasive and engaging enough, the function of images is reduced to regurgitating information already provided through drawings and schematics.

An overabundance of visual content, brought on partly by the democratization of architectural publishing, has produced an almost pornographic fixation on architectural representation, rendering techniques in particular. Computer generated imagery is no longer an intermediary between an idea and its realization, but a finished product on its own. Different rendering genres have emerged over the years, similar in approach and style to recognizable cinematic tropes.

The Mad Max

City lights dimmed, the “urban wasteland” awaits the appearance of the new development whose lights seem to be the only sign of life for miles around.

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Eleftheria Square by Zaha Hadid Architects, via Skyscrapercity

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Phoenix Towers by Chetwoods Architects

The Whodunit

These renderings sport a menacing atmosphere achieved by desaturating the image or using only dark blue and green tones. Stormy skies, shadowy figures, and strong contrasts create tension that transforms spaces into potential film noir crime scenes.

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Kaohsiung Port Terminal by RTA-Office

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Park51 by Soma Architects

The David

The David flaunts its perfectly mapped textures, lifelike grass, and clinically precise reflections to the point that, like the android boy David in Spielberg’s A.I., the architecture looks a bit too perfect.

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The Quest by Ström Architects

Paranormal Activity

Blended so well into their surroundings, these projects are practically not there. Buildings appear as dreamy echoes of themselves held up by light and memory, instead of concrete pillars and slabs.

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Camellian Opera House by Matteo Cainer Architects

The Gondry

The stubborn collage technique may feel anachronistic but, every so often, it makes a powerful comeback. The combination of photos, renderings and drawing can be surprisingly effective and reminds of Michel Gondry’s distinctive visual style. In its most experimental form The Gondry may include unicorns, movie stars, space ships, and a cutout photo of Le Corbusier.

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Boulders Resort by Diller Scofidio + Renfro

The Theodore

The Theodore could be a subcategory of Paranormal Activity, but, unlike the latter, it is found mostly among representations of interiors. Airy spaces and more than generous amounts of diffuse lighting make one want to lay back in an armchair and dictate a heartfelt love letter, just like Theodore in Spike Jonze’s “Her.”

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Green Valley by Schmidt Hammer Lassen Architects

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The Katherine Heigl

Romantic snowbound streets, palpable silence of the first snow, kids having fun, couples holding hands, and a building in the background. The Katherine Heigl promises a happy ending and a lighthearthed story enacted in and around the omnipresent new building. This category includes sunsets, images whose large portions show meadows, forests, parks, and all kinds of pastoral scenery.

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Le Brassus by BIG

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Samaranch Memorial Museum by HAO Holm Architecture Office

Each styles above has their uniqueness and there is none than is better than the others because it all depends on the nature of the individual projects as well as the preferences by the visualizers. Well, there may be even some few more visualization styles out there that are not mentioned here. If you know about it, you can share it in the comments section.

(Information and images in this post are from the following source: http://architizer.com/blog/7-most-common-architectural-visualization-styles/)

 

Redevelopment of Bukit Jalil’s Sports Complex

Posted in Architectural Territory with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 16, 2016 by vincentloy

Every units of this semester of my study that I’m currently undertaking is somehow related to architecture of sports facility. For my design studio, I have to design an indoor archery center. For my culture unit, I have to do research on sustainable architecture from stadiums in London 2012 Olympic Games, a topic that I chose myself. And for my technology unit, my kinetic skin concept somehow leads to practical implementation in stadiums in the form of retractable roof. And then there was the recently concluded Rio 2016 Summer Olympic Games and the on-going Rio 2016 Paralympic Games. Sports occupy most of my mind for this last half of the year.

Recently, I came across an article which stated that our National Sports Complex in Bukit Jalil, Kuala Lumpur will be undergoing a massive redevelopment. I’m quite happy after receiving that news because I seriously think the place needs a major makeover. It is now a deserted area with dilapidated and outdated structures, and nobody would want to go to that place unless there’s an event to attend. I also found that there is quite a potential to transform the whole sports complex into a vibrant and first class environment for athletes and visitors and to prepare it for future major sporting events. Here’s below is parts of the full article from the following source:

http://www.fourfourtwo.com/my/features/bukit-jalils-reinvigoration-a-new-look-2017-one-worlds-biggest-stadiums

(Images below are also from the source above)

Bukit Jalil’s Reinvigoration – A new look in 2017 for one of the world’s biggest stadiums

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Built in 1998 for the Commonwealth Games, Bukit Jalil Stadium is the heart of Malaysia’s sporting precinct that also includes a hockey stadium, an aquatic centre, an indoor stadium and a squash arena. Having hosted the Asian Cup in 2007 and exhibition matches involving English sides such as Manchester United, Liverpool, Chelsea and Arsenal in the past, the stadium needs no further introduction. It was also named in FourFourTwo’s 100 Best Football Stadium in the World last year.

The Bukit Jalil that many are accustomed to, however, will be a memory as a two-phase redevelopment of the area – before and after the 2017 SEA Games in Kuala Lumpur – is set to put the KL Sports City onto the Asian sporting map in coming years. Singapore’s iconic Sports Hub is expected to have a decent rival less than an hour’s flight away.

Phase One, which involves a facelift for the stadium and other sporting facilities in the area, ends in July 2017. The stadium is not set for major changes under Phase Two, but massive redevelopment is planned on surrounding land till 2021, making the stadium’s use not feasible. Thus for half a year in 2017, the Bukit Jalil Stadium will offer a glimpse what’s in store when the dust eventually settles.

Capacity

Is it all about the size?

Officially, Bukit Jalil stadium can seat 87,411 people – the largest in Southeast Asia after the Gelora Bung Karno in Indonesia had a reduction in capacity in 2007 – but it is no secret that the highest turnout may well have exceeded six figures as thousands have been seen on stairways, corridors and even encroaching the media tribune during high-profile matches in the past. The construction of a new level of corporate boxes is set to push the capacity to 90,000. If history repeats in terms of overcrowding, the numbers could soar higher again.

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The new level – Level 3M – is being constructed between the existing second and third tiers on the same side as the grandstand and can only be accessed from the stadium lobby. The stadium is a sure bet destination for European clubs looking to make Southeast Asia a pit stop to widen their fan base and exploit commercial gains. There simply isn’t a suitable larger stadium in Asia, unless North Korea is on their radar.

Modernisation

With major redevelopment plans taking place in the vicinity starting in 2018, a lot of effort has been put in to ensuring the 18-year-old stadium still stands out. Bukit Jalil will get a new facade, a silver vertical structure to move away from its naked look of old. At night, that facade can turn into a light show and be colour coordinated to suit the occasion. More landscaping is planned around the stadium to encourage the public to consider the venue a location for an evening stroll.

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Changing rooms, a warm-up area, walkways, access gates and media areas are being redesigned while the stadium’s lobby underwent a restructuring to cater for newly-installed escalators and lifts to the corporate boxes. Spectator seats are also in for a change to meet current Fire & Safety standards. The stadium also gets a new athletics track but the football pitch remains, something Malaysian Stadium Corporation (MSC) insist is being well taken care off despite on-going renovation.

Technologically Advanced

Little thought was put into technology when the stadium was built. Apart from its looks and a digital scoreboard, Bukit Jalil is far from what you would call a technologically advanced stadium. Over the years, the stadium has built quite a reputation for jammed phones lines and unstable internet connection. Media personnel considered themselves lucky if wi-fi services were available, and whether or not the connection was stable came secondary, unlike the fast stable connections available in leading stadiums around the world.

That will soon be a thing of the past as the stadium will be fitted with fiber optic cables to provide high-speed connectivity. Spectators will also enjoy pre-paid wi-fi services, so gone are the days when being in a full stadium meant being out of reach. Other improvements include fixed stations for broadcast cameras, a high-definition big screen and light-emitting diode (LED) floodlights that can be controlled to suit different needs such as a football match, an athletics meet or a concert.

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The MSC are also building a mobile application to enable visitors better access to just about every piece of information there is on the stadium and its side attractions. The full works of the app, however, are only expected to be known once more facilities are introduced in 2021. MSC is looking to maximise engagement with the public in the hope it will draw a crowd on a regular basis.

Comfort

Access to the stadium is relatively easy on a sunny day but when it pours, even getting out of the train station can be havoc. But not anymore. A covered walkway is being constructed from the station to the stadium. Public amenities such as toilets, food & beverage outlets and prayer rooms are also being upgraded and will be more friendly for people with disabilities. The location of a viewing/seating area for the disabled is also improved as the present one at the top of the first-tier does not offer a good vantage point.

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A sporting ground for all

Next time you visit Bukit Jalil Stadium, make sure to bring either your bicycle or jogging shoes. A Commonwealth Hill Park was part of the big project in the 1990s and though still used today, its upkeep has been close to none apart from the trimming of grass. Unknown to many, there was also a recreational area with public courts situated behind the hockey stadium which has been underutilised for years. So much so, there were even squatters in the area at one point.

There has been no mention of upgrading those areas or whether it will make way for other developments, but one thing confirmed is a jogging and cycling track that partially surrounds Bukit Jalil Stadium and other facilities in the venue. Phase Two of plans, meanwhile, will include the construction of multipurpose outdoor courts for public use.

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I’m surprised that this news didn’t get much attention despite scale of the redevelopment. I’m impressed of turning parts of the current massive unappealing parking areas into fluid landscaping. However, reducing parking may not be a good option especially when you have huge event that is going to be attended by tens of thousand of people. There is also not much detail revealed yet despite the redevelopment is going to commence soon.

I would love to see the whole new redevelopment masterplan to further understand how it will look in overall layout after the transformation. There isn’t any body of water currently on the Bukit Jalil Sports Complex. There is this current trend of having a stream of water cutting through a sports complex (usually seen in Olympic Parks across the world) for aesthetic and I’m not against such idea since I saw the proposal of having similar approach in the last rendering above.

The new facade for the main outdoor stadium looks nice but is that the only proposal submitted? It would be much better if international and local architects are invited to submit design to give a new makeover to the stadium rather than just sticking to one proposal. Maybe once all this is completed, Malaysia would be much more ready to join hand with Singapore to host future Olympic Games. I also noticed there is still vast empty land near the Astro headquarter which is adjacent to the Bukit Jalil Sports Complex that can be developed for more facilities (temporary sporting venues, athletes’ village, media center, parks) if Malaysia is indeed serious on pursuing the hosting job to the Olympics.

I have written my thoughts. Now, what do you think of this redevelopment? Feel free to comment.

And by the way, Happy Malaysia Day!

 

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.

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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).

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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.

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(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.

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(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.

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(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.

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(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.

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(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.

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(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).

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(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.

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(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.

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(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.

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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.

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