Thursday, 22 July 2010

Walking The City: An Alternative Approach in Architectural Pedagogy Through Collaborative Networks

The process of teaching and learning architecture in today’s complex and diverse condition can sometimes be difficult and also challenging. One of the great mistakes most architecture schools make is to think that they are simply in the business of producing great architects. However, there should be a greater ambition to this – a school of architecture must also be on top of all: a promoter and collector of new architectural ideas, ambitions, techniques, agendas and act as a malleable platform to all new minds that are interested to join this platform. By seeing this as an agenda to promote a more reflexive and progressive kind of architectural education, this paper try to discuss an alternative approach in architectural pedagogy by promoting a technique in teaching and learning, which is known as dérive, or the practice of urban drifting. This situational-based technique in learning things related to our everyday life and the city is an attempt at analysis of the totality of daily life practice, through the passive movement through space. Amidst of Bandung’s complex arrangement of interwoven layers of city and lifestyle components, this technique of walking or drifting the city can be an effective method in approaching issues of the psychological aspects of the built environment. This kind of architectural pedagogy is a concept of exploring the built environment without preconceptions, and to discuss the reality of actually inhabiting the environment. By using Bandung as the city context, coupled with its wide myriad of creative inhabitants/ city users, walking in the city as a new tool in teaching and learning architecture may promote the participants (teachers, students and collaborators) as having a key role in understanding, participating, portraying and intervene the city in a more responsive way. 

Thursday, 15 July 2010

Shelter Box Pavilion

Shelter Box is a simple and flexible shelter solution designed for remote areas and communities at times of disaster or distress. The basic principle of Shelter Box is to create efficient shelter space that can be flexibly occupied, and utilizes indigenous construction system, locally available materials and simple recycling methods for self-sufficiency when being used. Inspired by the traditional houses and their construction system, this design adopted some of the traditional building techniques and applied them into a more flexible, easy-to-understand, and modular standards, making it able to adapt easily with any specific context to be built on. The design stressed on the idea that Shelter Box should become a gathering node for the community. The open spaces around and below the pavilion could be utilized for multi-purpose communal functions and acts as a community gathering area. The building layout was a simple regular shape that reduced the concentration of pressure built-up and allowed free cross flow of natural ventilation through the continuous sliding window panels around the pavilion and the bigger windows placed at each end of the pavilion.

Since the whole pavilion will be constructed within six numbers of timber posts, the Shelter Box can be raised above ground for area that are prone to flooding, weak soil condition, or when extra space is needed beneath. These six timber posts are from locally available hardwood, and conventional materials and construction techniques of the pavilion will ensure that non-skilled workers can easily assemble it. The modular component system also helps in the provision of an economic shelter system. Simple sustainability strategies compliment the overall design by providing basic rainwater harvesting system for domestic and communal usages, while the WC of the shelter is connected to drying tanks that will convert human and domestic waste into renewable energy and fertilizers. The simple recycling strategy is an effort to make Shelter Box a design that is friendly to the people and the environment.

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Convolution Dwelling System as Alternative Solution for Housing Issues in Urban Area of Bandung, Indonesia

In approaching urban housing issues, particularly in Indonesia, questions regarding multiple political-social-economy-cultural paradigms are inevitable. These paradigms often come together with the complex problems in housing condition, especially when it involves the marginalized urban poor. This paper discusses the potential of a new approach in housing design, which we call as the Convolution Dwelling System. This design experiment, conducted as part of the studio exercise for the Master’s Program in Architecture Design at Institut Teknologi Bandung (ITB), respond to the site, which is located at the area of Industri Dalam, Bandung, West Java, Indonesia. The Convolution Dwelling System is hoped to provide alternative design solutions in offering flexible yet individually unique housing designs that would be able to accommodate densification within a controlled and sustainable environment. The design strategies formulated from the research were also seen as potential scheme that would resist generic housing developments that are often associated with urban sprawl as well as to approach the design problem within the idea of community based development. This paper is hoped to disseminate the overall design process and thinking behind the research to contribute in providing alternatives housing design scheme for a more sustainable urban dwelling.

Authors: Hafiz Amirrol, Tria Prabawati, Achmad Tardiyana
Seminar Website: SAUD 2010

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

Masa Series by Sabri Idrus

Masa Series: a Reduction Process
Prints, Marks and Traces
Sabri Idrus is a constant researcher in the process of art making, specifically in his endless search through the production of marks and traces.  It is the nexus of visual representation, and it is a journey continued with the Masa Series. These new pieces operate as a kind of “medium” to convey Sabri’s research and thoughts. It involves a strong visual presentation and appreciation for the materiality of the object that has lead him to experiment with graphic designs and industrial materials, almost to the point of transgression. It is coupled with a fascination for daily objects, ubiquitous in the practice of everyday life, and adds humanity to Sabri’s abstractions. Strict rules and principles apply concerning grids, layers, selection of colors, and fluidity in making prints and marks. They invoke a very personal process of problem solving one that enters the realm of heuristics. It results in specific decisions within the work’s development aimed at reducing the difference, or gap between the artist’s early sketched ideas, their proposed solutions and what is produced. Advancing through transitional areas of experimentation, the resulting product has moved through long processes of reduction and simplification to becoming a simple formula of visual interactions. These are mediated through the actions of stamping, tracing, reworking, peeling, painting and marking to seize the right point of balance and emphasize the central notion of his art making.  
Designing and Editing
When Sabri proposed his idea for Masa Series, he embarked from his previous designing process and started from a point where it was new for him. His long journey in art making had landed him in an art residency program in Poland, where he worked, studied, explored and ventured into new things, producing new “stuffs” that are more experimental than his already experimental approach. Switching constraints and problems into strategies, such as working with found objects from the street of Poznan, making pieces from recycled wood from the forest of Pyzdry, and manipulating images from photographs of the city, Sabri started to treat his designing process as a form of editing. Every detail and move executed had to correspond with his limitation, thus forcing him to smartly ‘edit’ his concepts, desires and direction into clear strategies. Deduction, abduction and introduction of various techniques and methods helped in this process producing works that became representations of reality itself. His time spent wandering, discussing, making and experimenting in Poland contributed greatly in producing Masa Series. From his task as a graphic designer – choreographing images, texts and objects - to his collaboration with architects and other designers narrating artworks concerning dimension, space, moments and temporality, Sabri stepped ahead with his new curiosity. It was these changes and situations that forced him to think of alternatives, providing pleasurable pressures apprehended as the random accumulation of new thoughts and ideas.
Methods and Legibility
The process of mark making and layering of color in this series leaves traces of what they signify, that is, a kind of visual syntax communicating the subject that is about movement, time and sequences. The fluid, yet controlled, composition signify a set of related events or things that follow each other in a particular order, repeating and creating sequences. They exist as natural temporal ordering. While it is sometimes hard to achieve a complicit agreement on what is being produced by Sabri, we cannot deny that his new works have entered an expanded field that liberates the process into a broader spectrum of art practice. By combining his previous formal interests, techniques and mechanical constructions, Masa Series can almost be appreciated as non-referential indices, since these new paintings have the quality to be freed from any semantic-reference, but signal some particular value of the process itself. The final objects that are being presented here are the product of communicating ideas into simplified visual products. It is a complex thinking process, reliant on heuristic and, through this trial, error and process of discovery, is a superior procedure to those he routinely used in the past. Masa Series could be described as expressions of time frozen. They were made to resemble quality that are visibly ‘vulnerable’ to the effects of time - discoloration, rust, tarnish, stain, warping, cracking, bruises, peeling and scars - thus becoming a suggestion of natural process of dematerialization (or materialization). It is the act of accepting the inevitable. 
Dislocations and Tensions
What are usually regarded as Sabri’s secondary interests, i.e. graphic design and digital prints, have significantly contributed to his process and the mastering of his own visual language. The elements of balance and surprise discovered through the exploration of contrasts, is an aesthetic strategy Sabri has often used in his digital sketches, one that has merged into a kind of extrasensory mechanism. It has an efficiency applied to works on canvas. One thing that attracted Sabri were the experiments in basic elements:  playing around with lines, space, volume and colors. These basic elements were always being put to test.  The notion that meaning within those elements is complex, slippery, multifaceted and indeterminate is always in consideration. Parallel to this Sabri uses “paint as paint”, “colors as colors” and “forms as forms”.  It is both a cerebral and visceral experience.  Most revealing about this progressive body of works is Sabri’s desire to foster inscrutable outcomes for purely aesthetic reasons. From his position as an aesthetic obscurantist, missing or indefinable knowledge is seen as simply another aspect of his works’ inherent ‘incompleteness’ - an open-ended approach that allows the greatest flexibility to take his paintings to another level of development. Sabri’s interest in the obscurant lies in his detail - the creating of marks and in-between spaces, of tensions and voids, jagged edges, and moments or transitions that are frozen at strategic moments.

The Process of Reduction?

However, in Sabri’s process of translating his thoughts into a body of art works, the struggle of keeping things in control and simple result in him being encumbered with his own struggle. One is faced with the question of how to exercise the restraint that simplicity requires without becoming sterile, austere? How does one reduce complexity without losing the essence of the detail? How is simplicity achieved without inviting boredom? These challenges Sabri faced by approaching his making from a position of research and specific methodologies. It is a process of inductive and deductive reasoning that guides his thinking and questioning mechanisms (thoughts and executions) and its context. Working tirelessly behind the computer screen during the very early stage creating digital sketches, photographic manipulations, collages and renderings, Sabri proceeds to ‘construct’ images physically, giving them material and tactile qualities. His long fascination with technology helps in hybridizing his work and, from the perspective of gestalt theory, Sabri’s work process can be seen as his own basic framework in the exploration of knowledge and techniques that compel him to revisit and rework his pieces over and over again. The cause and effect of these processes has ‘reduced’ unnecessary things from the final form.  It is a distillation equitable with time.   

by Hafiz Amirrol

Download Press Release

Friday, 2 July 2010

Disaster Risk Reduction Talk in Aceh

Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) is about protecting communities from hazards and minimizing their vulnerability to the risks of disaster before a catastrophe unfold. MERCY Malaysia will again be conducting a workshop and talk on DRR for the community in lieu with our aim to promote DRR as a daily practice, especially for those communities living in areas prone to disaster.

Date: Saturday, 3 July 2010
Time: 0900 - 1600 WIB
Venue: Tsunami Resource Centre, Fakultas Keguruan dan Ilmu Pendidikan (FKIP), Universitas Syiah Kuala, Banda Aceh, NAD, Indonesia
Organized by MERCY Malaysia and PKMI-CA

1. Ir. Zairulshafuddin Zainal Abidin - Introduction to MERCY Malaysia
2. Hafiz Amirrol - Disaster Management and the Community (click to download)
3. Norazam Abu Samah - Disaster Response and Recovery (click to download)
4. Puteri Yusof - Disaster Risk Reduction and Disaster Preparedness

The workshop will include disaster response simulation exercise to socialize the concept of DRR into practice.