"Archiculture opens the doors to design in order to examine the impact and future of our built environment. The documentary follows five design students throughout the entirety of their senior thesis projects as a means to explore issues pertaining to architecture and design. The students' projects parallel real life controversies concerning sustainability, technology and environmental psychology...

The film is designed to become a forum for larger conversations surrounding architectural design such as technology, sustainability, and environmental psychology. Archiculture aims to examine two predominant themes: the impact the profession of architecture has upon our daily lives, and the act of sacrificing certain aspects of one's life to strive for a goal fueled by dedication and the desire to succeed...

By following the next generation of designers, the film offers an entertaining platform to discuss this serious topic. The student-characters are engrossed in the rigorous process of design education, where they often spend days at a time locked inside the studio with only a toothbrush and design supplies. These diverse characters help animate and materialize some of the stereotypes associated with the profession and education of architecture..."

I can't wait to watch archiCULTURE. It'll premier in June next year; two months after we're done with thesis. How's about making our own documentary and playing it during our graduation exhibition? Jon resembles Giancarlo minus the love for soccer and poetry. I'm sure you'll be able to find traces of our friends in the docu-drama's characters. The lineup of key speakers doesn't seem quite as exciting though - CEO of EDAW, Vice President of Autodesk, just to name a few.



Strangely, dissertation didn't end with a bang. It's not that I didn't manage to finish; I finalised my content a week before submission and took my time to layout and format. Then ca
me an abrupt interruption in the form of a sustainability workshop which extended the deadline - like having a referee blow the whistle just as you're about to land the death blow. I feel somewhat robbed of the euphoria that's supposed to follow a three month long trek beyond the gates of architecture and through wide open landscapes of the unknown.

House hunting with Jan while holed up at The Harley.

Instead, I find myself drifting on to thesis and back at square one - searching for focus, albeit armed with fresh interest in ecology and infrastructure; God knows where this will take me a year from now. If last year is any indication, then this journey will prove to be an exciting one.


I Tried

22 September 2009

Dear members of the External Review Panel,

I am Darryl Sim, the graduate representative from the Department of Architecture. Thank you for meeting my peers and I last Wednesday, it truly was an honour.

I wish to reiterate the points I made and hope that they will be received not as criticism but as opportunities to capitalise upon. In spite of the fact that I will graduate and depart from NUS come May next year, I am deeply concerned about the generations after me if nothing is done to improve the existing infrastructure.

The department is currently plagued by space constraints. With gradually increasing cohort sizes over the years (from approx. 90 first year students in 2005 to 160 in 2009) and the introduction of industrial design and landscape architecture, studio space has been gradually curtailed over the years with more students being forced to work from home. This diaspora jeopardises the quality of design research and the creative basis of an architecture school.

Furthermore, the studio is not synonymous with a seminar room and is as vital to an architecture student as a laboratory is to a chemist. We spend many hours in it and are greatly affected by the quality of its environment. The current infrastructure, by design, is heavily reliant on air conditioning and artificial lighting. As much as we would like to, it is impossible to switch off the air conditioning and work comfortably - the building is too deep in plan and natural ventilation is not an option when staff offices surround the perimeter of the building.

The contrast between my feedback and those of my colleagues from the engineering and business faculties was an interesting demonstration of how the department has slipped under the university administration's radar. It is curious that in light of the business school's plenty, a new building, slated for completion this year, was bestowed upon it back in 2007. Likewise, Law, Medicine, Dentistry and Music have either received or are in the process of receiving new infrastructural upgrades. With the upcoming second school of architecture in the fourth university endowed with better facilities, inaction to remedy the problems at the department could prove disadvantageous.

On behalf of the present and future students of the Department of Architecture at NUS, I would greatly appreciate it if you could include these thoughts in your final report to the university. Thank you for your time and the opportunity to present my feedback.

Darryl Sim
Master of Architecture, Class of 2010
Department of Architecture

The business school's new flagship building:

The Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music:

Proposals for the new school of dentistry and medicine:

Opening of the Bukit Timah Campus, new home of the Law Faculty and the LKY School of Public Policy: http://www.channelnewsasia.com/stories/singaporelocalnews/view/286981/1/.html


It's the first time I'm writing a letter to a Lord. I got a real shocker when I googled his profile after the meeting.

Now to sit, wait and pray.


Independence Day

This stirred controversy when it was first released.

"So hard to teach my primary school pupils" one music teacher quipped in a Straits Times interview. Another person polled said something to the effect of "I'm glad the organisers finally woke up their idea." to which i concur. Previous NDP songs strove to be so inclusive in their scope that they ended up being exlusive, catering to those who'd prefer not to stir the pot. In that straightforward spoon-feeding of nationalism, only the top layer of the soup is consumed, the meat and ingredients at the bottom of the pot left untouched - nationalism stagnated at the level of the primary school pupil.

Well done Electrico!

This stands next to my all-time favourite performed by Stephanie Sun. I reckon it has something to do with it being drilled into me after countless rehearsals. It signalled we were two steps away from loading our rifles for the Feu de joie, three steps away from being able march off and move our limbs again. The 'fire of joy' held dual meaning for us.

It's interesting how the Eurasian community is represented by breakdancing line-dancers and how film directors have moved away from such in-your-face symbolism to an open-ended depiction of our skyline.

Well done film crew!

and well done Architects Team 3, the unsung heroes behind the barrage.


Step Wells

Abhaneri step-well, originally uploaded by Bouneweeger.

Given Western India's polarised weather conditions characterised by three months of monsoon rain followed by nine months of arid weather, the stepwells of India present an adaptable form of water infrastructure in their dual nature as an inhabitable well.

Dated to 600 AD, stepwells are inverted ziggurats dug into the earth in order to access underground aquifiers. A stepwell is composed of two parts – the well and the access route carved into it. The well is used to collect rainwater, either as catchment or by penetrating nearby aquifiers, whilst the access route down to the water surface serves as both circulation and collection basin.

What is intriguing about stepwells is that they served both as an infrastructure to collect water as well as a container for public space owing to their flexible capacity for spatial habitation depending on the time of year; as a mega storage tank during monsoon seasons; as a subterranean landscape during dry seasons, the base of the inverted pyramids providing respite from the hot sun on grade, giving rise to shaded community spaces amidst their architectural majesty.

However, following the onset of colonialism during the 19th century, a change in policy led to the demise of step wells which were deemed a “sanitary disaster” and were gradually replaced by modern infrastructural works. No doubt, India's historical socio-cultural tolerance of unsanitary practices which mixed bathing and drinking water, exacerbated by their co-habitation with cattle and their associated parasites, was deplored by the British.

More info at InfraNet Lab.


Spaniard in Scotland

Miralles was no ordinary Spaniard. He hailed from Catalonia - a once proud kingdom whose history, I concede, I know little about, but whose fame I do have an inkling of.

Like Pugin, Miralles passed away at a considerably young age. When most would have just been coming into their own in their 40s, he had already amassed an impressive body of work and the parliament building is a testimony of his precocious ability.

The Scottish Parliament stands out and yet sits well in its context. The old tour guide who brought us around thought otherwise. He was a Scotsman. Nevertheless, for someone who'd only scaled the streets of Edinburgh (and I do mean scaled) for two days, I can't help but sense a certain connection between the old castle and the new parliament building; a raw and fierce and potent spirit resides in the two.

It's a powerful experience walking through its halls. Interestingly, the elaborate technical array that hangs from the ceiling in the debating chamber actually behaves, in principle, like a truss. More pictures at my flickr account.


Her tears like diamonds on the floor

Maybe this ain't your cup of tea, but I'll invite you to take a sip anyhow.

He's been a source of distraction the past couple of days. For someone who's achieved so much, it's surprising Rob's not a household name.

The way he speaks, the way he pens his thoughts while holding on to his cigarette oh-so-delicately, reminds me of a once avid poet by the name of Mr Jared Kok, and taken a step further, of Damien.

I share his sentiments when he confesses at 02:15 that he doesn't know anything else other than songwriting. I don't know anything else other than architecture. It's all I've got. But that also means I never have to look back and wonder 'what if...', except maybe for that one time when pap accidentally drove over Cadbury's thigh and sent him howling in agony. Alas, a Veterinarian, I am clearly not cut out to be.

I love the title of his sophomore solo album - Cradlesong. A quick google of it led from one thing to another and I stumbled upon this poem which struck a chord,

(Disclaimer: It's from the Romantic Age)

"She Was a Phantom of Delight"

She was a phantom of delight
When first she gleamed upon my sight;
A lovely Apparition, sent
To be a moment's ornament;
Her eyes as stars of Twilight fair;
Like Twilight's, too, her dusky hair;
But all things else about her drawn
From May-time and the cheerful Dawn;
A dancing Shape, an Image gay,
To haunt, to startle, and way-lay.

And now I see with eye serene
The very pulse of the machine;
A Being breathing thoughtful breath,
A Traveler between life and death;
The reason firm, the temperate will,
Endurance, foresight, strength, and skill;
A perfect Woman, nobly planned,
To warm, to comfort, and command;
And yet a Spirit still, and bright,
With something of angelic light.

- William Wordsworth