Friday Humor: 10 Wierdest Headlines About ‘House’

Boat ‘Sinks’ House
The Straits Times, 30 January 1962, p.18.

House Stolen
The Straits Time, 18 May 1971, p.24.

House Dug Up
The Straits Times, 14 August 1971, p.1.

House Says ‘Yes’
The Straits Times, 30 December 1964, p.22.

Bless This House and The Toilet Too
Today, 10 May 2006, p.15.

House for Sale, Comes with Bride
Today (Afternoon Edition), 4 November 2005, p.19.

Couple Too Tall For Own House
Today, 21 July 2005, p.19.

“Sorry, We Bombed the Wrong House”
Today, 10 January 2005, p.14.

Man Sets House On Fire to Get Rid Of Guests
Today, 1 June 2005, p.19.

Grandmother Bites Buyer of Her House
The Straits Times, 25 August 2002, p.25.


Thursday Feature: Hiroshi Sambuichi [a new generation of japanese architects]

The Hiroshima-based architect Hiroshi Sambuichi – like his Tokyo contemporaries Fujimoto and Ishigami – contemplates the confluence between nature and architecture. However, the actual articulation of his architecture is markedly different. Born in 1968, Sambuichi conceives of architecture like the “details of the earth”. His rigorous design process entails extensive (read: approximately a year-long) climate and topographical surveys of each site before embarking on the design proper. This culminates in buildings that meld into the landscape and draw on natural energy sources. His is essentially an indigenous and sustainable architecture, where the beauty of its poetics and performance are derived from the “circulating system of nature and local landscape”.

A selection of his best works:

Rokko Shidare Observatory | Kobe, Japan | 2010

Perched on the top of Mount Rokko, the observatory is constructed almost entirely from hinoki wood and is powered by solar and wind energy. The structure is composed of hexagonal frames that are imprinted with images of leaves. The frames are designed to attract frost in winter. In summer, air is drawn in and goes into an ice room that cools the air down.

                                                                                                                                                          Images: akix626 @ Flickr

Base Valley House | Japan | 2009

The spectacular site of the house – perched at the edge of an expansive river valley plain – brought with it a harsh climate of strong winds. Instead of trying to fight or hide from the less-than-ideal conditions, Sambuichi sought to actually harness the winds while protecting the inhabitants.

He created a “wind street” through the building volume along the north-south axis, thus funnelling the air into the interior spaces. The bedrooms and a sunroom are placed beneath ground, where the natural warmth of the earth regulates the temperature. The living and dining spaces are on ground level, covered with a sloped glazed roof.

The architecture addresses as well as takes advantage of the seasonal climate changes to result in a naturally ventilated environment. In summer, the underground sun room collects the valley wind to cool the bedrooms; in winter, the glazed roof stores solar heat for warmth. But Sambuichi’s masterstroke is in showing how such an energy efficient architectural “machine” can be expressed so naturally and poetically.


Inujima Art Project | Inujima, Japan | 2008

Inujima is a small, isolated island in Japan’s Seto Inland Sea. Characterised by the raw imagery of the smokestacks and ruins of a copper refinery abandoned since 1919, it was purchased by the tycoon Soichiro Fukutake. His intention was to rehabilitate the site into a museum that would have minimal environmental impact. Sambuichi was commissioned to design the building; the artist Yukinori Yanagi was tasked to create its permanent installations.

Sambuichi perceived the new museum to be part of the natural environment and understanding the earth’s natural cycles. To him, the locally available materials and existing structures were the regenerative resources with which to create the museum. Thus he built within the refinery’s ruins, between the tallest smokestack and the remains of the brick wall structure that spread outwards to the sea. Visually, the striking smokestack became the marker of the partially-subterranean building.

Environmentally, the old structure could nevertheless still generate a chimney effect – drawing air in through an opening at the bottom and releasing it at the top – and thus forms part of the natural mechanism that modulates the interior temperature. The cool of the earth chills the 80m long steel-encased subterranean Earth Gallery; the sun heats up the glazed Sun Gallery. This is gradually filtered in the Energy Hall that serves as a semi-permeable buffer space between the two “climates” and thus controls the airflow.

Essentially this first phase of the project is a prolific exploration into regenerating places through a sensitive interpretation of site, heritage, architecture, art and ecology. We look forward to future phases of this Inujima project, where apparently there are plans to work with the Pritzer laureate Kazuyo Sejima.


References: Japan Architect, Wallpaper, Spoon and Tamago, Architecture of Consequence.

Friday Humor: 10 Most Suggestive Glass Technical Terms

Fluid Zone
The temperature zone (>1350 Fahrenheit) that glass become molten and can flow.

Full Fuse
Heating two or more pieces of glass until the slump and flow together to form one solid piece of glass.

Using an abrasive wheel on a grinder to smoother or shape the edges of glass.

Peep Hole
A small opening in the kiln used for observation of glass during firing process.

A chemical added to certain ceramic fibers to bind them into a solid state.

Cylindrical pencil-thick glass. They come in a wide range of colors and different COEs.

Sagging Process
Heating glass until it sags and conforms to the shape of the form on which it rests.

The probe of a pyrometer. It is inserted into the kiln to measure the temperature.

Transitional Zone
Glass begins to change from about 900 degrees Fahrenheit to 1250 degrees Fahrenheit. The strain point is at the lower end of this temperature, while the upper end is where the softening point and the annealing point are somewhere between.

Wet Felt
Soaking a ceramic-fiber with rigidizer and using it for mold making.

Thursday Feature: Junya Ishigami [a new generation of Japanese architects]

The works of Junya Ishigami are arguably the most provocative and transcendental (both conceptually and visually) of this intriguing current generation of Japanese architects. Or more precisely, of his contemporaries anywhere in the world today. Born in 1974, he delves into and straddles the ambiguous boundaries between art and architecture.

He takes apart conventional notions of the materiality, scale, structure of architecture. But it is not for the mere vanity of doing so, but rather to create a new scale of architecture that returns to the natural and elemental. For him, “in nature structure and space are not divided. Air is space but it also has a structure. But architecture divides these things.” Thus, Ishigami’s works push the norms of structure and material to the extreme, resulting in almost invisible structures that blur the distinctions between architecture and nature.

Although his built repertoire is currently small with the majority being architectural/art installations and, the depth of experimentation and imagination that his works entail separates him from the rest. Here’s a sampling of his genius:

“Architecture as Air” | The Curve, Barbican Art Gallery | London, UK | 28 June 2011 – 16 October 2011


In this very recent work he presents an oxymoron – a nearly invisible structure. On first glance one merely sees the curved gallery space. Closer scrutiny reveals a sequence of extremely fine vertical “columns” along the length of the gallery. 4 metres in height, these 53 “columns” are a slender 0.9mm thick and hand-rolled from carbon fibre sheet. They stand braced by a series of 2756 diagonal members, and beams run between the columns as well. The entire structure weighs in at a shocking 300g, a piece of virtuoso engineering accomplished with the help of Jun Sato Structural Engineers. Beyond the engineering, it takes architectural possibilities and understanding of scale, structure and material into a new dimension.

It is an extension of his earlier installation “Architecture as air: study for château la coste” which was first shown at the Venice Biennale of Architecture in 2010 where it won the highest prize – the Golden Lion.

“Another Scale of Architecture” | Toyota Municipal Museum of Art | Nagoya, Japan | 2010

The title of the exhibition is self-explanatory.

                                                                                                                                                     Images: Fomal Haut @ Flickr

“Balloon” | Tokyo National Museum of Modern Art | Tokyo, Japan | 2008


This installation takes the form of an aluminium parallelotope that weighs about a tonne. Filled with helium, it floats freely and randomly within the atrium space, constantly changing the quality and nature of the interstitial space. Ishigami makes allusions to nature again in this installation, essentially juxtaposing the weight of a mountain and the lightness of a cloud. An intriguing interplay of perception, scale and material.

Yohji Yamamoto Gansevoort Street Store | New York, USA | 2008


Located in the transient Meat Packing district of New York, the angular geometry of the building was informed by the footprint of the brick building that previously sat on the site. Ishigami spliced the architecture into two parts – the tip of the wedge as a product display space; the other part as the shop proper – to create street of activity through the spaces.


In terms of crafting perception, the starkly acute angles give the impression of a depthless building as if it was a stage set. This is fortified by the break in the facade, which lend views of the urban landscape beyond. Unfortunately, the store has since closed.

Japanese Pavilion | Venice Biennale 2008 | Venice, Italy | 2008




Essentially a series of ephemeral greenhouses infused with plants, it challenges structural norms and dissolves the stark divisions of architecture and landscape into an environment where the two are nearly miscible. The interiors are filled with Ishigami’s intriguing drawings.


Kanagawa Institute of Technology Workshop | Kanagawa, Japan | 2007

His most important architecture work to date, this design workshop presents an open plan sprinkled with random groupings of slender tree-like columns that provide support to a flat floor. Filled with plants and coupled with an overall sense of lightness and transparency, the whole spatial atmosphere is like a “boundless landscape” as Ishigami has described it.



Friday Humor: 10 Most Suggestive Building Technical Terms

Base Angle
An angle secured to the foundation and used to attach the bottom of the wall paneling.

Butt Plate
The end plate of a structural member used to rest against a like plate of another member in forming a connection.

The on-site assembling of fabricated Building Systems components to form a completed structure.

Framed Opening
Jamb, headers and flashing which surround an opening in the wall of a building.

The horizontal framing member located at the top of a framed opening.

The uppermost point of a gable.

The resisting forces at the column bases holding the structure in equilibrium under a given loading condition.

Sag Angle
A tension member used to limit the deflection of a girt or purlin in the direction of its weak axis.

A vertical wall member to which exterior or interior covering or collateral material may be attached. May be either load bearing or non-load bearing.

Wind load on a building, which causes a load in the upward direction.