"…abstract equivalents of experiences, thoughts and emotions"

Good Morning 6.9!

My Cosmos by Toyo Ito

Why are we complaining of a projected 6.9million population as if congestion was a bad thing?

The culture of congestion – technology makes urban density possible, through sewage systems, transport networks and modern construction techniques. It now depends on the designers, builders and guardians of these systems to keep them safe, make them work and contribute to city living.

This culture of congestion is what makes city living exciting. Sure you’ll have to queue once in a while. But…

do Singapore’s gourmets complain when they discover a new exotic restaurant which would not have been supported without their population of expatriates?

do Singapore’s runners complain when there is a new marathon made possible by the large numbers of sports enthusiasts?

The dense, cosmopolitan city is what allows ‘economies of scale’. It allows you a choice when you had none before.

Good morning to a new city, reborn yet again.


Architectural Scale

Empire state building from the ground

How do you design a building that reacts on multiple scales?

Like the articulated sculpture of David by Michaelangelo placed among a party of sculptures, a building that acts on the urban skyline with a recognisable form, that still cooperates with its neighbours to form a coherent emsemble. A building that has various scales – layered, detailed and coordinated where it is accessible to people, and simplified where people observe from afar. A building that doesn’t simply terminate like a straight shaft into the ground, but meets the ground level in a human-scaled street-scape, lively with pedestrians and activities rather than void and silent.

See how the Empire State building (picture) addresses both scales – a distinctive crown that integrates into the Manhattan skyline, yet on the ground level, one barely registers the height as it meets the street as a low-rise block.

Let’s look at how buildings can be tall and proud, yet friendly and approachable.

Politics of Abbreviation

Singtel, CTE, PIE, NEA, NParks, SMRT, MOE, MOM.

Besides being from Singapore, what do these abbreviation have in common?

Singaporeans have for long noticed the spread of abbreviated versions of the names of statuary boards, ministries, highways and everything that can be linked to the government. But is there something revealing from their consistent and pervasive usage?

Abbreviations are not done simply with the object of saving time. Shortened words are a characteristic feature of political language, especially in totalitarian organisations, for instance words like Nazi (which is short for Nationalsozialismus/ National Socialism) and Gestapo (which is short for Geheime Staatspolizei or secret state police). Even large companies like BP (British Petroleum) and KFC (Kentucky Fried Chicken) have joined the bandwagon to simplify their names. They are used consciously to narrow and alter their meaning, and thus remove associations and unecessary meanings that they would otherwise possess. KFC tries to minimise the image of oily, unhealthy food and poor treatment of battery chickens by simplifying its name; BP tries to impress its international image and cut ties with its imperialistic history by abbreviation. Simple abbreviations minimises thought by instant brand recognition, like recognising a logo or typeface. Longer words obliges consideration and contemplation.

Care is also taken to make words easily pronounceable, making them more fleeting in presence. Bukit Timah Expressway is not called BTE as its spoken form is hard to clarify – instead BKE sounds better and is easier to pronounce. Thus the ideal is that by refering to these organisations in simple naming, it alludes to a well organised team with a well-defined doctrine. Ideology becomes neutral. Consciousness of meaning and implication is dulled.

Abbreviation becomes a political tool to manage opinion and intellectual activity.

This post is inspired by and draws many ideas from George Orwell’s 1984.

Yuk melancong ke Manila!

Saya melancong ke sebuah kampung di Manila, Negara Filipina bersama 24 pelajar dan seorang pensyarah sekolah seni bina, pada bulan Januari tahun ini . Orang-orang di sana ramah-tamah dan negara ini cantik! Kita tidak boleh cakap Bahasa Tagalog, tapi banyak orang Filipina boleh cakap Bahasa Inggeris.

Penduduk kampung tidak kaya dan mereka tidak cukup wang untuk membeli makanan bagus. Ada anak lelaki suka makan nasi dengan tepung Milo, tetapi dia masih sangat gembira.

Saya ambil video ini di dalam balairaya kampung mereka. Mereka menari ikut muzik ‘Nobody’ oleh kumpulan penyanyi dari Korea Selatan. Anak-anak kampung ini memang penari bagus!