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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/.)

 

Happy Chinese New Year! It’s the year of rooster!

Posted in Miscellaneous with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 28, 2017 by vincentloy

I’m wishing everyone a Happy Chinese New Year! This wish is particularly for my family, relatives, friends, neighbours, and to all Malaysian Chinese! Gong Xi Fa Cai!

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The lunar new year comes early this year. This Chinese largest festival (known as Spring Festival in China) always falls on February every year. But for this time, it’s on end of January. We have just finished celebrating the new year 2017 and now we get to celebrate another one. Next year, this festival will be pushed back to February due to additional days in our lunar calendar once every four years.

We now say goodbye to the year of monkey and welcomes the year of rooster. Rooster is the main character this year and unfortunately, it’s also usually the main character in our Chinese dishes. Chicken dishes everywhere and my two nephews love to eat them the most.

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This is also the time for us, the superstitious Chinese to check on our zodiac forecast of the year. I was born in the year of sheep and so my Chinese zodiac sign is sheep. I found out that this is going to be an average year for me, with nothing really bad or good happening. It’s a fairly flat year for me. I will take that. Well, I’m not superstitious but getting a knowledge of it is something not harmful either, so why not…

I had a fairly plain reunion dinner just now in a simple and affordable restaurant nearby. The important thing is not the cost of the food, but everyone being together on the table for this significant meal. It’s alright. We will be having a ‘grander’ dinner soon for the next weekend when my eldest sister and her family will join in too. I will be spending the first day of the Chinese New Year visiting some relatives and also watching a Chinese New Year movie in cinema hopefully. Then, from second day to sixth day of the celebration, I will be having a vacation in Hanoi, Vietnam with my parents. After coming back, I will be spending that coming weekend (next Saturday and Sunday) on Genting Highlands. That’s it. After that, it’s the end of my Chinese New Year celebration this year before I fly back to Perth, Australia near the end of February to resume the final year of my postgraduate study.

Let’s not talk that far yet. Now, is the time to get prepared to welcome this lunar new year with joyful mood, get dressed in new clothes, get angpows, meet relatives (and hopefully successfully dealt with all those questions from aunties and uncles asking about whether you have boyfriend or girlfriend already or not), gamble (who doesn’t like to play and hopefully win), attend friends’ gatherings, eat all those delicious new year biscuits and cookies, watch all the released CNY movies this year, light up firecrackers or fireworks, etc.

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Once again, Happy Chinese New Year! May you have a blessed year ahead with good health and wealth! Gong Xi Fa Cai!

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

New tall buildings rising in KL and latest skyline images of the city.

Posted in Architectural Territory with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 10, 2017 by vincentloy

Since I’m back to Kuala Lumpur last November and some visits to the city since then, I have noticed some new tall buildings in the city. Some are still under construction but are already visible from far and making an impact to the city’s skyline due to their massive heights. Some have already topped out due to speedy construction and some have been totally completed and opened. So, there must be addition of few more buildings over 200 metres in height in the city of Kuala Lumpur.

But when I check out any latest list of the tallest buildings in the city online from Skyscraper Center, Emporis, Wikipedia, and other sources, there hasn’t been any much difference which is so not right. The list differs in each websites I browsed and I couldn’t really find one that truly reflect the current statistic of the city’s buildings. That is disappointing. Some new buildings are missing in this list and some others on the other list. They should have an accurate and updated database compiling the correct and latest information on this. I also found out some new buildings are listed there but without much essential data present like its height.

Here below are some of the new buildings in the city that are around or over 200 metres in height and should be apparent in the list of tallest buildings in Kuala Lumpur but are not:

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Vortex KL Suites and Residences – Emporis stated it to be 235 metres tall and still under construction. But actually this 58-storey tower has been completed. Skyscrapercity put it at 260 metres high but I don’t think that is correct by looking at its picture.

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Ritz-Carlton Residences KL – Also called as Berjaya Central Park, it is 48 floors high but there is no height data for this building at all.

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Le Nouvel Residences – the taller tower is 49-storey high with Emporis stating a height of 199 metres, just 1 metre short of 200 metres mark.

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Elite Pavilion – this one is going to be 230 metres tall and has 50 floors when completed. Its construction pace is noticeably fast and it is going to be topped out this year.

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Platinum Suites Tower – Skyscrapercity put this tower at 51 floors high but Emporis states 57 floors and 231 metres tall. I don’t think Emporis’ data on this one is right. I knew its top floor swimming pool level is on 51st floor which is also the tallest swimming pool in the city. It also claims to be the tallest condominium in the city, a title previously hold by The Troika Tower 3 at 204 metres.

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From left to right for first picture and from right to left for second picture – Sentral Residences Tower 1 & 2, St. Regis Hotel & Residences and Q Sentral. These new buildings in KL Sentral Development reach around 200 metres in height respectively and has already been completed except for the Sentral Residences Tower 1 & 2 that are still under construction but have already topped out. However, almost none of these buildings are featured in any list out there for the tallest buildings in the city. Emporis stated that Q Sentral is 49 floors and 199 metres high (but no data in Skyscraper Center), both Emporis and Skyscraper Center stated that St. Regis Hotel & Residences is 48 floors and 205 metres high (so I assume that is the correct data), and Skyscraper Center stated that Sentral Residences Tower 1 & 2 to be 52 floors and 200 metres tall each (but no data in Emporis). Weird right?! Conflicting or incomplete data everywhere.

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KL Eco City Vogue Suite One – This project is expected to be completed by this year and it has topped out to its final height of 243 metres. Emporis states that it has 60 floors while Skyscraper Center said it has 63 floors. Whatever…! When completed, it is going to be the tallest residential building in the city and the whole Malaysia. This is a bit further away from the city area as it is in Mid Valley region. Now, the 310-metres tall Telekom Tower is not the only skyscraper standing in that Mid Valley region.

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Four Seasons Place KL – This one is finally making huge progress after many years of delay in construction. When completed next year, it will be 65 floors high and has a height of 343 metres tall, a much taller companion to the adjacent Petronas Twin Towers (452 metres tall and current world’s tallest twin buildings).

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W Hotel & Residences – Emporis states that it has 55 floors and 235 metres tall but Skyscraper Center states that it has 50 floors and is 232 metres tall. Conflicting data again. This skyscraper will be completed this year.

These buildings above are only those buildings in final stage of construction, topped-out or newly completed in KL that is over 200 metres tall respectively. Skyscraper projects that are still in early stage of construction are not included here such as the PNB118 Tower that is going to be the tallest building of the country when completed at 630 metres high. There is still no visible progress of this skyscraper project after so many years. I’m sure it is going to be completed later than the targeted year 2020 deadline.

Some cool latest pictures of Kuala Lumpur city skyline below before I end this post. Click on the images for a larger and more breathtaking sight.

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(Images in this post are from Skyscrapercity.com)

New Year 2017 Fireworks!

Posted in Explosive News and Results with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 1, 2017 by vincentloy

Didn’t get to watch any new year fireworks live yesterday in KL since I’m at home with family on 12am last night. Well, I do not have the urge to watch the fireworks here in Malaysia eventhough I enjoy doing so because the displays here are simply too plain and boring every year.

So, I have to look up on new year fireworks display from other major cities across the world that were much more exciting to watch! YouTube is the best place for me to do so today after all cities across the globe has already celebrated the occasion from one time zone to another.

The best fireworks display goes to Sydney, Australia as usual. It is one of the largest new year’s fireworks display and its 12-minutes show was really overwhelming and beautiful. View of the massive fireworks shooting up from the Sydney Harbour and the iconic Harbour Bridge impressed me every year.

Here below are the other new year 2017 fireworks display in other cities that look great too:

London, UK – from the London Eye ferris wheel. Amazing and is always the second best.

Hong Kong, China – I like the idea of fireworks shooting from some buildings in the city but that only happened in the 10-seconds countdown to 2017 and not in the entire show which would make it much better.

Dubai, UAE – from the world’s tallest building, Burj Khalifa and its surrounding. I’m impressed by the LED projection screen all over the facade of Burj Khalifa during the fireworks show.

Taipei, Taiwan – from Taipei 101, former world’s tallest building. Taipei 101 is the only stand-alone tall building in the city and so shooting fireworks from the tower itself in all angles is possible. And that is what makes their fireworks show every year spectacular. The inclusion of dramatic play of light of the building during the show is also great.

These fireworks shows above are way much better than our pyrotechnic show in KLCC. We couldn’t deliver intense and interesting display every year. It’s always the same one spot and same one style. It would be much better if our city presents a unified show by shooting fireworks from some major buildings in the city with the iconic Petronas Twin Towers and KL Tower as the main highlights.

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia – from the KLCC Park with the iconic Petronas Twin Towers as the backdrop.

That’s it. Happy New Year 2017 to everyone once again! Have a great year ahead!

(All videos in this post are from YouTube)

Happy New Year 2017 !

Posted in Explosive News and Results with tags , , , , , on January 1, 2017 by vincentloy

Happy New Year everyone! Goodbye 2016…you have been a great year for me. Now, I’m wishing for a GREATER year in 2017 for me and you, everyone out there!

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Time flies. We now step into another brand new year, getting prepared to welcome more exciting things in our life ahead. 2017 may not be perfectly good for everyone, but stay positive and you will get another wonderful year. I take this opportunity to wish everyone a great success and health in 2017. Hopefully everything will be smooth and well for me this year too, especially in my study as this is my crucial final year of my postgraduate study.

In conjunction with this new year celebration, my blog header for this first month of the year will be about fireworks! I love to watch fireworks display! Fireworks is always the best choice to celebrate some happy events or festivals eventhough it contributes to air pollution. Well, it’s not that we shoot fireworks to the sky every night. Fireworks explode above major cities across the world for countdown events to usher in this new year 2017 as usual. The visual (original source from NewsWorks) for my blog header which depicts view of the fireworks display from human eye-level perspective is cool and looks great at the top of my blog page here.

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Happy New Year once again!

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

Highlights of 2016

Posted in Explosive News and Results with tags , , , , , , , , on December 28, 2016 by vincentloy

Year 2016 is coming to an end and it’s the time again every year to compile a list of major happenings which occurred this year. The following are the top 10 highlights that best define 2016 and will give you a much needed wonderful flashback of 2016 that is concluding soon.

Pokemon Go

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Most of us must have downloaded this mobile app game ever since its release in July (or months later in some countries). It’s a location-based augmented reality game which players can locate, capture, battle and train Pokemon creatures who appear on screen as if they were in the same real-world location as the players. It turned into a global phenomenon as the game has been downloaded over 500 million times and becomes one of the most used mobile apps in 2016.

US Election

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The Presidential Election for the United States of America took place in November 8. It observed the neck-to-neck battle between Republican candidate, Donald Trump and Democratic candidate, Hillary Clinton with Trump emerging as the surprising winner as earlier polls all indicated that Clinton will win this race to get into the White House. The election became the most talked about topic in Facebook and has affected the global markets.

Brexit

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A referendum was held in June to decide whether United Kingdom should leave the European Union. The outcome is ‘Yes’ with 52% votes supporting for the UK exit. This has led to worldwide markets going down as well as the resignation of UK Prime Minister, David Cameron who strongly supported for UK to remain in EU. Theresa May is then elected as the new Prime Minister.

Rio Olympics

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Rio 2016 Summer Olympic and Paralympic Games were held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (Olympics in August and Paralympics in September) despite all the issues the country currently facing such as Zika virus outbreak, high crime rate, political scandals, etc. Brazil successfully organized the world’s largest international multi-sport event in a very modest budget.

Zika Virus

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Widespread epidemic of Zika fever, caused by Zika virus, has started in 2015. In January 2016, World Health Organization (WHO) officially announces an outbreak of the virus worldwide. It began in early 2015 in Brazil before it spread to North and South America, Southeast Asia and islands in the Pacific. It is particularly of bigger concern to pregnant women as the virus may cause birth defects. In November, WHO announced the end of this epidemic.

PPAP

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A short video clip of a man dressed in yellow animal print costume, dancing and singing to a very weird music is shockingly making a wave worldwide, particularly in Asia. The original video in YouTube by Piko-Taro has garnered 100 million views, and that is not counting the number of parodies and covers that have been made ever since. Pen-Pineapple-Apple-Pen….

Mannequin Challenge

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This one is more of a hit in the West than in Asia. It’s a viral Internet video trend where people remain frozen in action like mannequins while a moving camera films them, usually with the song ‘Black Beatles’ by Rae Sremmurd playing in the background. Some of the notable celebrities who have participated in this challenge are Beyonce, Adele, Britney Spears, Ellen deGeneres, Taylor Swift, Hillary Clinton, Michelle Obama, etc.

IS Attacks

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It’s sad to know that Islamic State (a terrorist group) is still carrying out deadly attacks across the world this year. They have been here for many years and the growth of this extremist and violent group is a huge concern worldwide. It has painted a very negative image to the religion of Islam. Some of their attacks this year include 3 coordinated bombings in Brussels, Belgium that killed at least 32 people, a suicide blast in Lahore that killed 75 people and an attack in Istanbul International Airport that killed 45 people.

Flight Tragedies

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This year is also another unfortunate year for aviation. FlyDubai Flight 981 crashes on March 19 while landing at Russia due to poor weather, killing all 62 people on board. EgyptAir Flight 804 crashes on May 19 with 66 on board over the Mediterranean en route from Paris to Cairo. On November 28, LaMia Airlines Flight 2933 crashes at Cerro Gordo en route to Medellin, Colombia. It was carrying the Brazilian football team Chapecoense. Only 6 survive among 77 passengers and crews. On December 8, Pakistan International Airlines Flight 661 crashes at Havelian while en route from Chitral to Islamabad, killing all 42 people on board.

Deaths of Famous Stars

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It’s sad to know that these legendary stars or influential figures have passed away this year. They are David Bowie (a singer, songwriter and actor) who passed away due to liver cancer at age 69 on January 10, Alan Rickman (famous for portraying as Professor Severus Snape in Harry Potter film franchise) who died of pancreatic cancer at age 69 on January 14, Zaha Hadid (most famous woman architect) died due to heart attack on March 31 at age 65, Prince (musician famous for his song ‘Purple’) died due to medication overdose on April 21 at age 57, Muhammad Ali (a boxer and activist who became one of the most celebrated sportsperson in 20th century) passed away due to septic shock on June 3 at age 74, Anton Yelchin (a young Hollywood actor famous for his role in recent Star Trek film franchise) died due to freak accident on June 19 at age 27 and Bhumibol Adulyadej (King of Thailand and was the world’s longest reigning monarch) passed away due to long illness from his old age on October 13 at age 88.

Hopefully it will be a much better year next year with more joyful news or events in 2017.

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

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.