27 January 2012

Painting and patching and painting..

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Slowly but surely, Seatondale restoration is approaching a project milestone. 

Today (public holiday? What public holiday?!) the painters will wrap up by completing the 3rd coat of paint, leaving only the final coat and touch up to the timber work to do after the timber floor is polished.
Originally the interior was painted in a non-descriptive yellow, and touch of beige to the cornices.

The space was dim and aged.
We wanted a colour which will bring freshness and brightness into the space, something neutral to complement the new timber floor. After literally tens of colour studies, we settled on a subtle yet sophisticated combination of white and grey. 

...Here began our quest of THE white and THE grey....

Before we paint the entire house, we asked the builder to test the colours on a small area.
Paint samples always look different on the colour chips, the A4 brush out, and an actual wall, albeit being the same colour... Unfortunately the result will not be known until the completion, but we do our best to avoid any (unpleasant) surprise.

Here we go, the base coat!
With such huge walls, the painters must be getting a good workout!

After the first coat, the painters went around the timber work carefully with a brush rather than roller.
Timber works required a different kind of paint, and generally with slightly more "sheen" than the walls for ease of maintenance (leaves less finger marks on doors etc).

So this is where we are at today, the 3rd (final) coat....
I can hardly wait for the next step: floor polish!!!

26 January 2012

Seatondale calm

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We have been working on internal restoration of Seatondale for quite a few weeks now.
Today it was the third day of joinery installation. With a 200-year-old house and its 3.4m high ceiling, we designed 3.1m tall modern sleek joinery units to complement the scale of space, but contrast with the building's age.
This meant a longer onsite installation process due to the physical dimension and weight of the units; but thanks to the offsite prefabrication we are still in control of the timeframe.
The joinery doors will be installed after the timber floor is sanded and polished. This is to prevent any potential damage to the joinery door during the polishing process.

As the client is now in Sydney to celebrate Chinese New Year, we were invited to stay for dinner after a long day on site.
With the amount of time we have spent on site, the bond between us and the client's family has grown stronger... Just look at how the client's dog, Timmy, has befriended Yoshi....

25 January 2012


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Our first publication in Italian!


First page of the article

19 January 2012

Drawings turned red

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Over the holiday season we have worked from Sydney on an office fitout project - Connect Tokyo - located in Japan.  

The approximately 2 weeks of continual correspondences with joiner regarding documentation, finally approached an end.  The joiners had produced their own shop drawings for the joinery pieces they would be manufacturing, based on the documentation we had provided.  To be honest, this had never happened in Australia.  Even in Japan, it had never happened with other projects.  As the result we were very curious about this process, and spent the time to check their shop drawings thoroughly.  Obviously we needed to go over all the dimensions, on top of that we also needed to check many other important items such as the methods of timber manufacturing, and how those timber pieces would be assembled on site.  The shop drawing set constituted of mere 8 drawings.  Although it was physically not that many, we input dimensions and numbers from each drawing into our heads, and when we could construct the joinery pieces in 3 dimension in our headspace, we knew we were ready for construction.

This time we had the pleasure to work with Mr. Nakano from Nakadate.  We spent quite some time corresponding regarding the shop drawings.  Shop drawings produced at Kasukabe City, were checked here in Sydney, and marked up on drawings to send over for instruction.  The over 9,000km physical distance was not felt from both parties.  Although we had not met Mr. Nakano until start of construction, not even spoken over telephone, simply by the numerous correspondences we felt somehow close.  By the time we met on the first day of construction, we already felt like we have known each other for quite a while.  Finally it was construction start - lets head to Tokyo!

18 January 2012

Sydneysider's way of crossing over

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This is a little delayed, but definitely worth mentioning....
Sydney's fantastic New Year's Eve Fireworks!

Every year there are 2 sets of fireworks to celebrate the arrival of the new year: at 21:00 and 00:00.
This is taking into consideration families with children, so that the children can go to sleep earlier after the 21:00 fireworks, which lasts 7 minutes.
The 00:00 is an elaborate display of light, colour, texture, and sound in the night sky, lasts 12 magical minutes.
The fireworks dots along Parramatta river in several locations (I spotted 5 locations this year), and incorporates Sydney's iconic landmark - Sydney Harbour Bridge and its surrounding highrise buildings.

This year we gathered at the Facet Studio office for the 21:00 fireworks.
Thanks to the location and height we were able to see a good overview in the comfort of the office.

view from Facet Studio office window

But.. BUT!
Of course for the count down we need to be amongst the crowd!!

Here are some shots I took with my phone camera...it is really hard to convey the excitement..
May 2012 bring everyone happiness and peace.


11 January 2012

Delaying "speed of consumption"

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Kicking start 2012 with an interview by Architype.

Architype Interviews

It is a time-consuming exercise to work on interviews, however it does provide invaluable opportunity for us to reflect and refine our thinkings.

Below I have included the text of the interview for the curious...


What was the most difficult issue about working within this building type or the most unexpected challenge that may have influenced new thought in your project?
We found to design a space which delays the “speed of consumption” in design style something challenging in retail design.
There is certain transience, fashion, and catchiness required of retail design. The investment in producing a retail design reaches its peak in attracting customers at the time of completion; slowly the attraction fades until a new design is required. The lifespan of this design may have been 2-3 years in the past, however it is now reduced to 6 months – 1 year, or less, before consumers start to require new excitement.  This change of speed is most likely brought about by the surplus of information, the accessibility of design news and change of lifestyle in general.
For example, comparing the impressions given by a shop now and 6 months ago, somehow the shop seems to be out of fashion in the 6 months period, although it is exactly the same shop; this is simply because the person looking at the shop feels that it is “out of fashion”.  The design of the shop is dependent upon the material and thematic trend as well as its connotation, hence when this connotation of trend changes according to time, it is without a doubt that the meaning implied by the design changes to cause a different impression.
Therefore we have decided to approach the design of Sneakerology, independent of this “connotation of the material and thematic trend”.  By analyzing the naming of the shop, we discovered its underlying retail philosophy: “to express the merchandise (Sneaker) in a scholarly fashion (-ology)”. We placed our design emphasis on this philosophy, and tirelessly explored methods to give physicality to this philosophy. As a result, we reached a simple expression of “sneaker showcase”; it is in this kind of expression of design essence where we feel a longevity in design style, which will not lose its impressiveness within a mere few years.
Did this project expand or evolve your role as an architect in any way In general, do you feel that the role of the architect is changing on current projects?
Our projects come from not only in Australia but also from many different countries such as Japan, China, and France.  Because of this global nature of our work, seems as though there is a variety of roles we are required to play as architects; however if we think further in depth, fundamentally “what we are doing” is not different from “what we have been doing”.  As long as we are designing space for people, we believe our role is primarily the same.
How is your building possible today in a way that it may not have been before and how have trends in technology and society inspired new thought and solutions?
The genre and amount of available consumables are increasing at an immeasurable rate; it is a curious concern in the modern day that due to this immeasurable increase, it becomes ever so difficult for people to find what they really want.  It is also more likely to find on the Internet cheaper price at any on time one wishes to shop.  Although there are so many benefits brought upon by Internet shopping, we believe the biggest benefit amongst all is the convenience Internet shopping brings to the consumers in simplifying the process to “find what they really want”.
If this is the case, there is no reason why we should not be utilizing the Internet as interface of consumerism.  The consumer who finds what he/ she wants on the Internet, visits the shop after checking merchandise size and availability on the Internet.  He/ she then learns more about the merchandise in detail (such as design concept of the particular sneaker) through the touchpanels located centrally in the shop.  It is important at this point to maintain a consistent numbering system managing the merchandises on the Internet, the touchpanels as well as the “sneaker showcases”.  As soon as the consumer recognizes the merchandise as a sum of data, all he/ she needs to do is to search according to the number assigned to each “sneaker showcase” to be able to see the actual merchandise, and to physically be in contact with the merchandise.  The journey of “find what they really want” in the virtual world is now concluded smoothly in the discovery of the actual merchandise in the shop.
In terms of retail design, we consider the potential of technology lies in its capability to help simplifying the discovery process of “find what they really want”.
In the context of this project, how is your office and design process being influenced by current trends in academic curricula and incoming young architects?  In turn, how are current projects and processes guiding the ongoing reformulation and development of academic curricula?
The recent trend of BIM assisted design gives architects the sense of possibility in new design expressions, and to surprise spectators of the these forms created by utilizing this technology.  However we would like to pause for some thoughts here: “Is it possible that we are simply amazed by our familiarity of this technology, and the complicated unique forms generated by it?”  The foundation of our thinking should remain in defining of design meaning, and the user of the space – human.  A space absent of these 2 elements can be referred to as a “selfish” space created solely by the ego of its architect.
What we have designed for this project is a simple 200mmX600mm “sneaker showcase”.  If we put it in a simplistic manner, all we did was to repeat the “sneaker showcase” 281 times over.  This modularized box was efficiently produced in the factory off-site and to reduce the material wastage as much as we could.  On-site the assemblage is a continuity of simple repetition, with the construction process itself also being of simple nature.  By doing so, the modularized box has a high level of built-in flexibility, which can easily adapt to the unique shape of the site.  Although this space is a product of series of simple processes, the impact it gives people is nothing short of impressiveness.
We believe, this process of giving physicality to a simple idea is still valid in creating spaces that are capable to amaze people, and to touch their heart; we believe that fantastic spaces can still be created without the need to complicatedly design and compete with acrobatic building forms.