Monday, March 29, 2010

Buildings Principles.....

It was a long morning, even a longer afternoon. Dreading a long evening too. To my surprise, the evening was a delightful one despite a bit tired after staying up watching my beloved team thrashed Sunderland. Delightful evening, not so much the food nor the company but the privilege to listen to a renowned architect, Mr Chien Chung Pei AIA. For people who are familiar with the world of architecture, the family name ‘Pei’ brought images of famous buildings such as the Grand Louvre in Paris and the skyscraper Bank of China building in Hong Kong. These buildings, off course were designed by the one and only I.M.Pei. Mr Chien Chung Pei AIA is one of his sons.

It was not just a talk on architecture. Going through some the buildings he designed such as the Al Burj in Dubai, the Bank of China Head Office in Beijing, Suzhou Museum in China, United States National Slavery Museum, Ronal Reagan UCLA Medical Centre and the Museum of Islamic Art in Doha, he talked about the thought and philosophy behind the designs.

As he remarked again and again, it will take him more than three hours to go through his presentation. Fortunately, or was it unfortunately for us, he talked for slightly over an hour giving us to have a lively interactive session for another hour.

To share what I learned will take me pages and pages of boring text. I will not be able to put them as eloquently as him. But two things, simple yet valuable things etched strongly in the mind. If put into practice we may just be able to meet the client’s expectation more not just in terms of cost and time but ultimately the end product, a building meeting their requirement.

Firstly: “Buildings should make people (occupants) feels better”.  

Secondly: “in designing a building, talk to the client/owners”. Talking to them will help us discover what they really want and need. It is easier and more comforting trying to sell to them their own ideas rather than trying to force our ideas on them.

With these two principles, we may have more and more happier clients and end users. 

Sunday, March 28, 2010


Price of songkok must be have gone up. May be focus on spending is not on songkok. May be there are other far more important things like servicing our credit card payments which for some people shot almost 300 percent suddenly. May be even it is the ‘in thing’ now, the new style. May be they want to show off their trendy branded expansive sunglasses on top of their heads. May be.

What am I rambling about here? It’s the growing phenomenon of men attending weddings in full baju melayu complete with sinjang but “songkokless’. Judging from the few weddings I attended, not that I attend a lot of weddings, the number of ‘songkokless’ guests are increasing. Not just among the young men but also the older men in their thirties and above.

Some may ask why does it matter if you have your songkok on or not. It may even be a trivial matter to some people. I don’t consider myself as an ultra conservative. In fact I am quite liberal in some of my views. Somehow the sight of ‘songkokless’ men in full baju melayu attire just gets on my nerve. In this country, aren’t we suppose to have a dress code for functions like wedding? Minimum standard and minimum level of decorum. If we see the ‘warga emas’ they normally dress immaculately, stylishly in their baju melayus complete with their songok in some cases inclined at an angle ala P. Ramlee.

In short, respect the function, dress accordingly. As the Malay saying goes, “masuk kandang kambing mengembek, masuk kandang kerbau menguak.”

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Earth Hour ......

A lot of people all over the world is talking about the Earth Hour. For those not in the know, not many I guess, Earth Hour is a global call to raise awareness on climate change issues by encouraging everyone to turn off non-essential lights and electrical appliances to save energy. This year it falls today, 27 March 2010. Started in 2007 in Australia, it has grown into a global movement. Last year cities and towns in over 88 countries officially participated. The number is expected to increase this year. Brunei for the first time will be officially in it. Thanks to the efforts of a group of determined young people and supportive NGOs.

What can one hour of switching off the lights do? Not much in grand scheme of reducing our energy usage and the climate change. But this act, hopefully will trigger other acts that will have a bigger positive impact on climate change issues. So, it is not just for today, not just for one an hour. It’s for every hour, everyday, all year round. What can we do to conserve energy and save the environment?

Turn things off, buy energy efficient appliances, use less stuff, use cloth bags, recycle hazardous household wastes and MINIMISE WATER USAGE are among the simple things we can do. Yes water. Reduce our usage of water. Apart from energy, water is another major issue we must focus on. Water, energy and environment are all interlinked. You cannot deal with one and ignoring the others.

We can even argue what are essentials what are not. Is watching TV essential? Some say it is non-essential but in this modern age of information and entertainment some need it as a form of outlet to remain sane and to keep touch with the rest of the world. Do we need 100 watts light in the toilets? Some people say level of lighting varies on the usage of the area. Areas for reading must have high level of lighting. But some people read in the toilet. How about charging our hand phones and gadgets while we are sleeping? Is the burglar scaring light essential? How about having more than one fridge per household? How about more than one car per person? The list goes on and on. Very subjective and varies from one individual to another. Some say if we follow fully the green guide we may end up back in the stone ages. We must find the balance between having a modern lifestyle yet taking care of the environment. In moderation I guess.

In our enthusiasm to celebrate the Earth Hour, please remember the aim is to create a sustainable low carbon future. In short lowering our carbon foot print individually, the whole country and the whole world. Some of our activities may leave a higher carbon footprint compare to switching on the lights. Lighting candles are worse for the environment than light bulbs. Carbon dioxide emission is a s much as ten times higher. So candle light dinner, no matter how romantic it is and how good it is to your relationship, should be avoided. Guys may use this as an excuse to go on a romantic candle light dinner with their loved ones. Plausible reason even though the real reason may be they are skint or even stingy. Come to think of it, dinner should be avoided too. Candle lit or not. Be it fast food, slow food which is eat at your home or sit-down restaurants, all food production especially for beef involves destruction of rainforest contributing to global warming.

No lights, no dinner, no TV, no radio, no to many other pleasurable things we took for granted. Have fun tonight everyone in saving the earth.

Based on data from the International Agency, Brunei's per capita Carbon Dioxide emission stands around 15 metric tons. We are way up there despite our total emission is negligible compare to the total global emission. How much can one hour switching off do? At the most, just about 0.01 percent. Well, that's my rough estimate assuming it is just one hour out of 24 hours a day, 365 days every year.