Original Artwork by Papa, Azhan and Nine (click image to link)
‘In the Name of God, Most Gracious, Most Merciful. By Time, indeed humanity is in a state of loss. Except those who believe and do righteous deeds, and (join together) in the mutual teaching of truth and in the mutual teaching of patience’ (Surah al-`Asr, 103:1-3)
"Professional Architect lives almost by faith. When called upon he can do the job without fear or favour. He possesses aspecialized skill and lives by a code of ethics cloaked in honour andintegrity. He is expected to speak his mind and give his views. Whenfaced with absolute wrong, he can resolutely disagree and walk away." quote from THE PROFESSIONAL MAN by Ar Dr Tan Loke Mun PRESIDENT PAM

Friday, 11 January 2008


I've been keeping myself busy by reading books. It seemed like a long holiday with the office closing since the Christmas Eve until the New Year and yet I felt like it ended too soon. The book that I am recently filling my mind with is by Kevin McCloud which is best known as Channel 4's Grand Design; Grand Designs Handbook. This book is meant for anyone who cares about design and for everyone who has been thinking about building their own home. Thus is not really an architectural detail book for architects but actually a guide for ordinary people on thinking, dreaming and building their own homes.

And what on earth that I need to read this sort of "kindergarten" "DIY" or "basic" reading? It may seem a bit awkward but I started to realise and forget how does it really feel like to be just ordinary people who don’t know anything about design. Can you still remember? I believe that to be a good designer you should have the ability to understand people's dream. The dreams that we used to have before our minds were brainwashed for 7-8 years in architectural theory. And you will be amazed by the quote from the very first sentence in his book " I think there's no better phrase to sum up what architecture should do than 'make you feel like a better human being'." Sometimes that we designers casually forget.

By studying other people, we designers would have a better understanding to advice people or to transform the build environment that really 'makes you feel like a better human being'. Several list of dos and don’ts are also recorded in his book; one of them is;

"Don't expect the finished house to change who you are. It's more likely that the process of building it will teach you about yourself".

It reminds me of those who expect to buy houses located in the hotspots within the city which has top class facilities and hoping that it will turn them into a ‘somebody’ from the elite class which they apparently aren’t sure of. Those village people on the other hand, who built their own homes in the rural areas to provide shelters for their family and loved ones are the ones who learn and know about themselves better. These words of wisdom give me a different view about our "design process" which in a way would teach us about ourselves.
He wrote, "The architect is like a hairdresser, except that he or she is going to deliver you possibly 20 or 30 years of your future. They're not going to determine how you look, but how you live. So It's important first to understand what you can get out of architecture."

What makes architecture? (according to this book)

1. (one idea)Great architecture makes you feel like a better human being

2. (2 ideas) People and place
(a) the way in which proper architecture is designed around the people who commission it and use and inhabit it everyday
(b) the way in which proper architecture responds to place, to uniqueness of its setting

3. (3 ideas) "Firmness, Commodity/Comfort and delight" Vitruvius

4. (4 ideas) Contextural, Sustainable, Contemporary, Nice place to live

These are 4 principles also could be consider as a basic brief when designing a house. Above all the idea is to list a set of experience that we wanted to get out of the place; a list of things that had make us happy in the past! Result: happiness

The most importantly, the most interesting homes are those where you can sense the passage of time; where the clapboards are greyed and furniture have been collected over time. What turns a house into home is our use of the place and the idiosyncratic mark we make on itwith our mess and our cherished belongings, and the added resonance of who we are and where we've been. The best homes are not style statements, but autobiographies.

These are some of the few points in the first part of the book; Thinking. And it made me to re-think and re-value my approach towards the client self-thought. This knowledge could be used an ice-breaking sessions with them and should be a guiding book to translate our architectural jargons and interpret design process into simple and small words such as happy!

" a good architect is FREE. They'll cost you no money in the long term, because if they're any cop they'll take your vision of what you want, strain it through their own peculiar and labyrinthine mind, prod and knead it gently with pencil and rubber, and then bake it at 200 C in their CAD software before delivering it back to you in a pretty box. You don't get the raw ingredients of a building with a good architect, you get the perfumed, heavenly experience of the finished syllabub: you get your vision fully wrought and resolved and handed back to you perfectly formed and larger than you ever thought possible. As a result, your home will be better and therefore worth more, and you will be happier. Now that is a secret of life" Kevin McCloud, Grand Designs Handbook


Susan Harwood said...


My name is Susan Harwood.

I'm contacting people who list architecture and housing amongst their interests on the 'blogger's profile'.

I have a new blog called


It is concerned with the environment, building, architecture, politics and education.

It can be found at

It is in its very early stages just yet - so comments will be especially welcome!

Yours sincerely

Susan Harwood


Dear Susan,
Thanks for your comment and concern on the environment, building and architect.
I'll definitely visit your blog and put the link in my list so0n.
Best of luck.