Wednesday, 27 October 2010

ASIAHORCS Joint Symposium 2010 Poster Presentation

Presentation materials for the Second Asian Heads of Research Councils (ASIAHORCS) Joint Symposium with the theme Natural Disaster Management: Lesson Learnt and Shared Best Practices. 
1-2 November 2010, Impiana KLCC Hotel, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
Poster presentation based on the experience of MERCY Malaysia's reconstruction project in Nias Island, Indonesia.

Sunday, 24 October 2010

Generative Algorithms as a Design Tool in the Transformative Urbanism of Bandung

In the era of transformative urbanism that needs a new totalizing concept in generating good values in the life practices of its inhabitants, alternative design approaches are needed to respond to these phenomena. This is due to the fact that these phenomena and conditions will be transformed into possibilities that would affect Bandung’s built environment and its values of good life practices in the future. A more flexible and reflexive approach in designing the city (macro) and its architecture (micro) are new demands that must be responded by those involved in the practice of the built environment. Generative algorithms tools made possible by parametric technology are seen as one of the many possibility that would help to generate alternative design approaches in responding to this issue. The complex variables of cultural and daily life practices of the inhabitants of a specific place were used as inputs for the metric parameters used in the generative algorithms tool. This paper is to delineate new design approaches and techniques that are hoped may contribute positively in responding the complex transformative conditions of Bandung. By conducting research and analysis on the phenomena of urban transformation, the objective of this paper is to provide a visionary thinking through best practices approaches and methods on how to intervene the city. Furthermore, the flexibility and capability of the generative algorithms tool is deemed viable for further design explorations and also acts as a liberator against homogeneity for future architectural and urban design works.

By Hafiz Amirrol and Chichi Asda

Saturday, 23 October 2010

Dining Room in the Forest

Situated on a beautiful natural setting, the design of this dining space was largely influenced by the context of the surrounding condition of the site. Mimicking the traditional tepee, this innovative structure was designed to be appreciated by its users depending on the time of the day since the natural environment changes dramatically here and will affect one’s spirit of utilizing the object and the context. Hues of vegetation green, shades of taupe and beige, watery emerald and deep blues are all utilized in one way or another in creating this piece of architecture. The result is a simple, functional and flexible space with an iconic skin and structure built of indigenous and modern materials such as steel, glass, stones, and even kuali; statement making in both form and experience. The timber structure radiates, forming a semi circular space that connect, separate and protect users with the nature, sound and climate. The form also frame panoramic views but at the same time provides privacy for an intimate dining experience. Once within the space, the relationship between the architecture and the surrounding nature becomes more obvious. Fluidity of transition between inside and out, as well as between the different areas reveals an elemental feeling of living with, rather than separate from, the natural world. 

Design by CODA and Hafiz Amirrol

Sunday, 17 October 2010

Architectural Publication - Footprints

Architectural Design Documentation 2009-2010
Design Works from the Students of the 
Master Program in Architectural Design
Institut Teknologi Bandung
245 pages, extensive color and b/w illustrations
160 x 240mm, Paperback, 2010
ISBN 978-602-97836-2-9
Release date 16 October 2010

IDR 150.000/ USD 18.00

Program Studi Magister Arsitektur SAPPK ITB dirancang sebagai simulasi praktek nyata seorang arsitek setelah lulus nanti, yang menekankan pada pendalaman dan penajaman desain melalui tema-tema tertentu dan solusi-solusi baru atas isu-isu, melalui langkah-langkah proses yang sistematis dan akuntabel berdasarkan metode desain tertentu. Oleh karena itu, perlu dipilih tugas-tugas yang bisa memotivasi mahasiswa untuk belajar memperdalam tentang suatu aspek desain arsitektur dan mengeksploitasi gagasan-gagasan baru dan bisa menampilkan desain yang terbaik sesuai dengan kemampuan mereka. Setelah mengerjakan tugas-tugas tersebut dalam rangkaian program Magister Arsitektur, diharapkan bahwa mahasiswa akan mampu memilih tema yang akan dijelajahi, dengan memfokuskan pada isu-isu desain yang relevan dengan permasalahan nyata yang dihadapi, untuk kemudian memilih strategi yang diterapkan menuju konsep dan gagasan-gagasan disain yang baru. Berikut ini akan disampaikan deskripsi tugas, contoh-contoh tugas yang diturunkan dari hal-hal pokok yang dibahas di atas.  Selanjutnya bisa dilihat hasil akhirnya berupa gagasan-gagasan desain oleh mahasiswa yang disajikan dalam gambar-gambar yang disadur dari hasil akhir tugas studio.

The Master Program in Architecture Studies at SAPPK ITB is designed to simulate the real practice of architecture, with emphasis on the deepening and sharpening of design through specific themes and new solutions on issues through a continuous systematic and accountable process based on specific design methods. Therefore, there is a need to select specific design tasks that may motivate students to study the aspects of architectural designs in depth, exploiting new ideas in producing the best design output based on their capabilities. By completing these series of studio exercises in the Master Program Studio, it is expected that students will be able to choose themes to be further explored, with focus on design issues relevant to real problems faced, before choosing a legible design strategy to be applied onto the design concepts and ideas. Here are some of the studio exercises, with descriptions and examples of several works that reflects the matters discussed above. The end results that are presented here are design ideas by students participating in the studio program.

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Sabri Idrus: Recent Works - Presentation at Institut Teknologi Bandung

Sabri Idrus: Recent Works
Date: Tue, 19 October 2010
Venue: Ruang Kuliah Lt. 1, SAPPK, Institut Teknologi Bandung

Sabri Idrus is a prolific Malaysian artist today. His art making as an inherent social process submerged him in technical and material advancement through experiments. By this, it increases his sensitivity in the visual language and other artistic possibilities. Initially trained as a graphic designer, Sabri embarked on a life long search of creative direction. What he usually regarded as his secondary interests, i.e. graphic design and digital prints, have significantly contributed to his process in mastering his own visual language. This presentation shares his thoughts and perspectives on visual languages that can always be applied into the discussion among those involved in the design and development of the built environment.

Thursday, 7 October 2010

Structural Anthropology as a Method in Researching Urban Transformation in Bandung


Structuralism is a mode of thinking and a method of analysis, mainly used in the 20th century field of social sciences and humanities. Methodologically, structuralism analyzes large-scale systems by examining the relations and functions of the smallest related elements of such systems. Structuralism in this context was used ranging from human languages and cultural practices to works of literature.

For the purpose of this research, structural approaches introduced by Claude Lévi-Strauss that are more related to the domain of anthropology and cultural phenomena studies will be used. Lévi-Strauss basic procedures to structuralism are: (1) Structural analysis examines unconscious infrastructures of cultural phenomena,(2) Structural analysis regards the elements of infrastructure as relational, not as separated, independent entities, (3) Structural analysis attends the system in a single-minded way, and (4) Structural analysis offers general laws accounting for the underlying organizing patterns of phenomena.

The views of Karl Marx and Sigmund Freud, both of whom that thinking and approaches towards any subject of studies were concerned with underlying causes, unconscious motivations, and transpersonal forces, were paralleled to Lévi-Strauss’ methods that values deep structures over surface phenomena. Similar to Marxism and Freudianism, structuralism continues the ongoing diminishment of the individual, portraying the single element as a construct and consequence of impersonal systems. It regards collective controls and conventions over the subject of analysis.  

Structuralism in Architecture
In 1950s and 1960s, structuralists’ thoughts that were already popular in the linguistics and anthropology fields began to influence works of architecture in the United States and Europe. The work of Lévi-Strauss in anthropology and Ferdinand de Saussure in linguistics led to the idea of the existence of ‘deep structures’ in their respective fields of studies. Generally, structuralism in this context was characterized by the attempt to study relationships linking phenomena, rather than studying the phenomena themselves in isolation. This led to the view that individual phenomena are part of the cause and effect of a larger matrix of phenomena, rather than as the outcome of a linear chain of cause and effect. Lévi-Strauss’s studies on traditional cultures drew attention to the built forms of these cultures, and as there seemed to be ‘deep structures’ shaping the social patterns of these cultures, there should also be ‘deep structures’ defining the organization of their built environment. It is in this context that I believed, structural analysis would be appropriate to be used as a method in analyzing the ‘deep structures’ of the community in Bandung city in order to reveal the ‘deep structures’ of their cultural and daily life practices that have shaped and transformed their built environment.

Another influence that structuralism had on architecture came from the interest of a number of architects, such as Aldo van Eyck, Peter and Allison Smithson, Herman Hertzberger and John Habraken, who grafted onto the traditional architectural approach with a set of formal gestures that symbolized the broader shifts in thoughts in which structuralism is represented. Generally, this approach organized architecture as arrangements that are less or more flexible and interchangeable, and can be defined as clear set of modules. Space was categorized and divided to patterns of use and combined according to devised sets of rules. In this approach, components of architectural forms were generally articulated and were made clearer, and again are very appropriate to be used as an approach in devising methods in the design simulations of this thesis. 

The City, as Evaluated by Aldo Rossi

The Architecture of the City
This chapter will review and analyze the phenomenal book written by Aldo Rossi The Architecture of the City (1966) and will delineate the relationship between his theoretical arguments about the city and my research topic. The city has been the focus of many literatures in urban theories, where scholars try to understand the city and try to determine how to design it. In the context of modern architecture, Rossi tried to seek for the inner logics of the whole structure of a city, and this chapter will elaborate Rossi’s theoretical assumptions and arguments in order to position the thesis’ topic within theories that are established and reliable.

City as Work of Art
Aldo Rossi recognize the city as architecture and sees it as a discipline with self-determining autonomy, inseparable from life and society. He considers the city as a unified element – an overall synthesis of its disassociated parts, and is always undergoing changes, be it for natural or man-made reasons. In his study, Rossi framed his area of studies on the city by looking at the city through two systems of study. The first one viewed the city as a product of the generative functional systems of its architecture and urban spaces, while the second one consider city as a spatial structure, which system belongs more to architecture and geography. The Architecture of the City is divided into four main parts:

1.  Problems of description, classification and typology.
2.  Structure of the city.
3.  Individuality of urban artifacts and the locus.
4.  Urban dynamics and the problem of politics of choice.

Rossi is primarily concerned with the form of a city, which is the summary of its architecture, and emphasizes to explain the city as an object of art. Urban artifacts such as buildings, streets, urban furniture, etc. are considered as work of arts, which Rossi believe are the manifestations of social and daily life practice. Rossi also supports Claude Levi-Strauss theory of structural anthropology (1972) that considers the city as an object of nature and a subject of culture, and will be able to achieve a balance between natural and artificial elements. Beside recognizing the city as a work of art, Rossi also view the city as human’s achievement per excellence, and believe that the whole product of the city is more important that its single parts, thus making him examining the city in a broad measure of its many parts.

Typology and Function
Many previous studies on urbanism and architecture addressed typologies in relation to function. But according to Rossi, existing classification on these matters failed to see the root of the problem in a holistic manner. This is supported through his argument that urban artifacts are changeable with time and needs, thus seeing functionalism as physiological in nature, which justifies the formation, development and alterations of forms. To Rossi, types on the basis of functions seem to be inadequate to understand the city. Since every function can be articulated through forms, and forms will contain the potential to exist as urban artifacts, forms are reflexive enough to allow themselves to be articulated as urban elements. While function alone cannot be indicated as a principal issue in studies on city, other elements such as individuality, locus, mnemonic meanings and design itself are priorities to urban analysis. Rossi believes that all urban forms are capable to incorporate functions with some alterations and transformations if required.

Theory of Permanence and Monuments
The theory of permanence, as developed by Pierre Lavedan in his thesis Histoire de l’Urbanisme (1926) was important to Rossi’s hypothesis of the city as a giant man-made object produced in the process of time. Here, the theory of permanence is useful in seeing the city as the product of individual and collective artifacts, and sees the persistence of the city is revealed through ‘monuments’ as well as through the city’s basic layout and plans. However, this concept of permanence can be propelling or pathological. Urban artifacts help to perceive the city in a holistic way, but may also appear as isolated elements of the urban system. Rossi explained that if a monument survived through times because of their form can accommodate different functions over time, it becomes a propelling element. But if the monument stands virtually isolated and contributes nothing to the city, then it is considered as a pathological artifact. The latter condition is what we usually experience in cities like Bandung or Jakarta, where buildings stands alone without having positive interactions with its neighboring context.

City as a Spatial System
The city is conceived as a spatial system composed of many different parts, and this spatial system is attached to nature and evolution of the city, and constitutes the city’s image. This concept of totality of the system challenges theories of the functionalists, i.e. zoning system. Rossi considers specialized zones are characteristics of a city and they may have their own autonomous parts within the whole system. Their distribution and positioning in the city’s spatial system was determined by the entire historical process, and not based on function alone. In the case of Bandung, we can witness how the area of Jalan ABC, Jalan Banceuy or Jalan Suniaraja evolved through time and history, and made them to be specially positioned and zoned as what they are today. These phenomena were caused by cultural demand, human preferences, and history, and function alone may not contribute to its condition in the city’s spatial system. These urban phenomena and elements are capable of accelerating the process of the city’s spatial transformations. These elements play important role in the evolution of the city overtime and constitute the physical structure of the city. Over time, these urban artifacts become transformed and their functions or form altered. According to Rossi, such elements have meta-economic character and become works of art.

History, Collective Memory and Locus
History is the collective memory of the people of the city, and it has important influence on the city. History expresses itself through urban artifacts and monuments, thus city become the reflection of the collective will through out the time and its existence. Rossi believes that urban history is a useful tool to study urban structure. For example, urban aesthetics constitute mnemonic meanings inherent in the pre-existing urban artifacts and buildings of the city, and through this collective memory, people engaged to discover their meanings and beauty. Rossi also viewed the city with emphasis on cultural stability that somehow will inspire further developments. The city itself became a locus of the collective memory. The value of history seen as collective memory is that it helps us to grasp the significance of the urban structure, its individuality, and its architecture, which is the form of individuality. Locus in the context of Rossi’s study on the city is conceived of singular place and event, which bridge the relationship of architecture to the city’s constitution, and the relationship between context and monuments. Locus is regarded as conditions and qualities of space. On the other hand, architecture shapes a context, which again constitutes changes in space, thus contributing to the city’s transformations.

The Architecture of the City and Bandung
Rossi’s thesis on the city that regards all of the above arguments are useful tools in the process of analyzing and understanding the city of Bandung. As a city that has undergone a process of transformation from its early period until today, where it can be regarded as one of those city that resembles problems due to the modernist and capitalistic approaches in city planning, Bandung can be re-approached according to Rossi’s methods in devising ways to construct the city towards a more holistic and user-oriented perspectives. Moreover, Rossi conceived the city as an archaeological artifact and analyzed it as a whole construct, set within the domain of architecture. Some parts of Bandung are suitable to be approached this way since they resembles typologies that have survived through different periods and users’ demands, thus requiring typological and function analysis to understand them. The theory of permanence is also very relevant to understand Bandung as the fact that its past is partly being experienced now, and this may be the means to give permanency to the city – they are pasts that we are still experiencing.

Congratulations Papa

Congratulations to Mohd Amirrol Shariff, my beloved father, on his appointment as the Adjunct Professor at the Faculty of Business Administration, Universiti Teknologi MARA, Malaysia. Happy teaching and hope that your appointment will benefit and contribute to the development of education. 

Saturday, 2 October 2010

Friday, 1 October 2010

Pre Thesis Seminar - Urban Transformation Phenomena in Bandung

The phenomena of urban transformation that Bandung is experiencing are something that needs comprehensive analysis and understanding. This is due to the fact that these phenomena and conditions will be transformed into possibilities that would affect Bandung’s built environment and its whole future development. The topic is crucial in developing total understanding of the city with all of its conditions, since these conditions of the city will also condition the whole living environment, and also represent human’s achievement per excellence (Rossi, 1984). What Bandung is experiencing today is a representation and manifestation of the collective will of the people that inhabit it, and currently, the image is not a good one. This thesis is hoped to produce better analysis and understanding in helping to recognize conditions and transformations of the city into better practices.

By conducting research and analysis on the phenomena of urban transformation, the objective of this thesis is to provide a visionary thinking through best practices approaches and methods on how to intervene the city (proposed area of study). The thesis will not try to describe urban transformation from the perspective of functions, land use zonings, or urban and architectural design policies, but will be focused on the process of finding strategic operations for design approaches, application of those strategic operations on several scales of operations (design simulations), and measuring the applicability and positive affect that those strategic operations will contribute to the whole long transformation process of the city, from present to the future.

Although the research will consider the generative functional system of architecture and the city, with analysis from various disciplines that directly give impact to the built environment, such as politics, economics, social and cultural systems, it will be more focused on the aspects of spatial structure and design. Thus, direct urbanism and direct architecture that are generated from a design-perspective thinking will be the main generative component of the thesis. By considering that the city must achieve a balance between natural and artificial elements, as it is an object of nature and a subject of culture (Levi-Strauss, 1972), this thesis is interested in seeing articulation of designs being put in the context of a transforming city, in order the test the design approaches proposed and its impact towards the context itself.