Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Rebellion And Freedom

I was always a disobedient youngster.
I always used to make my mother cry.
But artistic “disobedience” is civil disobedience,
Because if you want to do something you will always end up disobeying.
If you obey you are finished.

Architecture is a great adventure and a fight against gravity.
I rebel against the obvious,
And I hate the idea of style and the formulaic gesture.

by Renzo Piano

Saturday, September 17, 2011

The Paintings Were Like Tests

I still like black-and-white drawings a lot—really crisp line drawings.
I have a personal preference for them,
But I think color is not necessarily used as a decoration.
It shows the temper, in a way.
It also unveils the quality of the architecture.

Every time we painted a drawing,
It changed our view of how the building was actually conceived in terms of materials,
And of its color.

For instance, with the Peak (Hong Kong, 1983)
We really had no idea about how it should be finished.
By the use of drawings and painting slowly but surely,
We’ve developed a confirmed opinion.
The paintings were like tests

by Zaha Hadid

About Serving Spirits And About Death

Jilu asked about the worship of gods and spirits.
Confucius said, " We don't know yet how to serve men, how can we know about serving the spirits?"
"What about death?" was the next question,
And Confucius said, "We don't know yet about life, how can we know about death?"

taken from:
the Analects of Confucius
Book 11, Chapter 11

Thursday, September 15, 2011

How Different Individuals Stop At Different Stages of Progress

The Master said,
"There are some with whom we may study in common,
But we shall find them unable to go along with us to principles.
Perhaps we may go on with them to principles,
But we shall find them unable to get established in those along with us.
Or if we may get so established along with them,
We shall find them unable to weigh occurring events along with us."

taken from:
The Analects of Confucius
Book 9, Chapter 29

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Architecture Is An Old Man’s Business

When two of my sons wanted to be architects, which is in fact what they are now,
I was rather negative about it.

I said it is a rather difficult life.
To be an architect you have to have a great love for the profession that you are entering into,
And success does not come early.
It is an old man’s business.
You have to work for many years before you are recognized
Or given the opportunity to do work on your own.

We are dealing with fairly large investment of capital.
People don’t just choose a twenty-five-year-old to design an office building.
A small house perhaps, if you are lucky.

I did not encourage them to study to become architects,
Nor did I discourage them.
When they said that they wanted to,
I said, “Alright then, go ahead.”

by I.M Pei

Prayer of Saint Francis

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace
Where there is hatred, let me sow love.
Where there is injury, pardon.
Where there is doubt, faith.
Where there is despair, hope.
Where there is darkness, light.
Where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine Master,grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled, as to console;
to be understood, as to understand;
to be loved, as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive.
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life.


Friday, September 9, 2011


‎"In the sky, there is no distinction of east and west;
People create distinctions out of their own minds and then believe them to be true."

The Buddha

Opportunity to Serve

Remember that very often the greatest reward in building is not the pleasure of designing,
But the opportunity to serve which the building gives you.

It makes me apprehensive, though,
When I design a factory and I think of the guy standing there eight hours a day at the machine.
It’s hard not to look away from him.
You put a little skylight up there,
But the guy is still standing at the machine,
And you haven’t done anything for him.
What you really do is walk away from the problem when you can’t deal with it;
So often that happens...

You can’t solve all the problems,
But you can have a desire to deal with people’s needs,
To deal with the heart of the matter, as best you can.

by Kevin Roche

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

What Architecture Is (Part 3)

This is the 3rd part and the last part of the story, but definitely not the end of Architecture.
I shall keep the story short.

It was 5 days ago I came across the following quotes by George Bernard Shaw:

Life is not about finding yourself,
It's about creating yourself.

Isn't it the same with Architecture?

(the end)

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

What Architecture Is (Part 2)

The story continues...

When I was in my second year in Architecture,
My curiosity in Architecture rise.
What is Architecture?
I searched but I did not expect to find any answer.
The process of searching itself content.

I once asked my second year tutor, Kenghua,
"What is Architecture?"
He told me the question is not easy to answer.
He told me a story of onion.
"Architecture is like an onion," He said.
"When you first saw it, you would think that it is all about the space.
But as you look deeper, you'll realize that it is only the very first layer of Architecture,
Just like the first layer of an onion.
You'll find as you learn, that Architecture is about the structure,
Because your Architecture has to be stable enough for people to live in.
But that's not really it, isn't it?
Architecture is the materials.
Architecture is the people, the social.
Architecture is art.
As you peel away layer by layer of an onion,
You'll have nothing left.
So Architecture is Nothing."

The conversation was interesting.
I wondered, instead of concluding Architecture is Nothing,
Why can't Architecture be Everything?

I asked my other tutor, Ken, the same question,
"What is Architecture?"
He told me, "Architecture if Life."
I did not quite get it,
And I don't think I still remember what his explanation was.

(to be continued)

Monday, September 5, 2011

What Architecture Is (Part 1)

Here is my little story:

When I was in my first year in Architecture,
I was having a chat with my teacher, his name is Kimnam.
I was really curious (and I am still so) and I asked him:
"What is Architecture?"
Kimnam smiled
Paused for awhile, he answered me:
"I don't know."

Perhaps we really can't define what Architecture is, I think.
Still curious, I asked him again"
"How are we supposed to design if we do not know what Architecture is?"
He frown and said to me:
"That's a very good question.
Even if you have practiced Architecture for 5 years,
You will still find yourself learning something new about Architecture."

That was the end of our conversation.

(to be continue)

Waiting for the Question

‎Everybody, in their lives, is really waiting for people to ask them question
So that they can be truthful about who they are and how they become who they are.

Marc Pachter

Friday, September 2, 2011

The Sound of Space

Interiors are like large instruments, collecting sound, amplifying it, transmitting it elsewhere. That has to do with the shape peculiar to each room and with the surfaces of the materials they contain, and the way those materials have been applied.
Take a wonderful spruce floor like the top of a violin and lay it across wood. Or again: stick it to a concrete slab. Do you notice the difference in sound? Of course.
But unfortunately many people are not aware of the sound a room makes.

The sounds we associate with certain rooms: speaking personally, what always comes first to my mind are the sounds when I was a boy, the noises my mother made in the kitchen. They made me feel happy. If I was in the front room I always knew my mother was at home because I could hear her banging about with pots and pans and what have you.
But there are sounds, too, in a great hall: the noises in the grand interior of a railway terminal, or you hear sounds in a town and so on.

But if we take it a step further - even if it gets a bit mystical now - and imagine extracting all foreign sound from a building, and if we try to imagine what that would be like: with nothing left, nothing there to touch anything else. The question arises: does the building still have a sound?
Try it out yourselves.

I think each one emits a kind of tone. They have sounds that aren't caused by friction. I've no idea what they are. Maybe it's the wind or something.
But you only really feel there's something else there when you enter a space that's soundproofed.
It's lovely.

I find it's a beautiful thing when you're making a building and you imagine the building in that stillness. I mean trying to make the building a quiet place. That's pretty difficult these days, because our world has become so noisy. Well, not so much here, perhaps. But I know other places that are much noisier and you have to go to some lengths to make quiet rooms and imagine the sound they make with all their proportions and materials in a stillness of their own.

I realise the sound I am making must remind you of a sermon - but isn't it more simple than that, and more pragmatic?
How does it really sound, when we walk through it. When we speak, when we talk to each other - what will the sound be?
And what if I want to sit in a living-room and talk to three good friends on a Sunday afternoon and read at the same time?

I've got something written down here: the closing of a door.
There are buildings that have wonderful sounds, telling me I can feel at home, I'm not alone.

I suppose I just can't get rid of that image of my mother, and actually I don't want to.

taken from:
Peter Zumthor