Civic Mutations

Thesis Blog has moved to

Thesis is here!

Well, after weeks of long nights, it has come down to these 40 pages. I can’t believe the whole process felt so short, for a requirement that is so dense. Click on the image above to download a PDF copy of the proposal. My final thoughts are mixed. There are a few important key points that I thought will be good to carry through the whole project, whether I can pull it off is another story. I’ll post a summary and general comments on the final document, but for now, I have to take a step back and clear my mind, away from the project.

UPDATE: Proposal have been moved to the Thesis Proposal page. Click on the link at right.


Filed under: Random Thoughts, Thesis Proposal, Thesis Seminar, Thesis Studio

Thesis Kick Off

Monday 17 @ 7pm (tomorrow night) is where we will introduce our thesis to the thesis committee. Below are the final boards prepared for tomorrow. Most of the information written can be found in random places on the blog but it was good to have a chance to finally see everything together. I don’t think everything is set in stone and there are still room for a lot of improvement, but I think I have a clear focus on what to achieve in the next year ahead.

Panel No.1

Panel No.1

Panel No.2

Panel No.2

Panel No.3

Panel No.3

Filed under: Random Thoughts, Thesis Seminar

Open to All

The two illustration below portrays the concept diagram of the conventional and new method of interaction. In the first scenario, spaces are organized within an enclosed structure. Interaction between parties are limited to the paths within the confined area.

Conventional Method of Interaction in Spaces

Spatial Relationship in Conventional Method of Interaction

The people in gray represent public figures, thus the scenario above does not allow any spatial relationship and interaction with the general public.

New Method of Interaction in Spaces

Spatial Relationship in New Method of Interaction

In the scenario above, spatial and social relationship between private and public figures are explored and integrated with public life. At the moment, I don’t have a program to support this relationship between public and private. Suggestion such as a supermarket and a civic center like a courthouse have been made to me, but I’m not fully committed to that idea yet, however, shopping mall/retail is one direction I’m leaning towards. Because the final building will be a mixed use development, I’m not particularly sure what’s a suitable program to go along with a shopping mall that will support my thesis. Maybe a hostel or dormitory?

Filed under: Random Thoughts, Thesis Seminar, Thesis Studio

Diagrammatic Theory

The thesis I’m proposing challenges for a new view and direction in the design of spaces towards the connections of its users, activities and location by using the framework of social networking technologies as a foundation. At present, spaces and method of interaction are created in a rather linear manner, interaction between point A and point B using conventional method is only a one-way communication. Same for connection between A — C, B — C and A — X. Also, if situation arises, X can only communicate with C either through A or by way of X — A — B — C (Fig.1).



However, using the same framework underlying current social networking software, A,B,C and X can communicate within each other through a nucleus, thus creating a more interactive session between the four parties (Fig.2).



Using this application, interaction between A,B,C and X will be tested with a mixture of public and private programs. The complex as a whole will become a catalyst for future developments in the built-environment, perhaps a new methodology in urban planning. This research will aim to provide a deeper understanding in today’s culture, its social interaction and how its principle can be applied to designing a better environment for leisure, work and living. Put it simply, can architecture act as an agent for interaction between the residents within it and the city at large?

Filed under: Random Thoughts, Thesis Seminar

Nodes and Connections

Concept Model - Angle 3

First Concept Model

In my last post, the last part on a multiple level courtyard is where I’m thinking of expanding my thesis. The model below is a second iteration of the first concept model I created a few weeks ago. Unlike the first model, (shown in black and white above) the second piece begins to explore connections within a core. In the second model below, the red dot indicates the organic core, created by crossing paths from corners of the cube. An intentional new node is created on the lower right.

Exploration of nodes and connections.

Concept Model: Exploration of nodes and connections.

What does that says? I’m not exactly sure, but throughout the process of creating the second node, the only direct connection it has to the core is on the line where I created the second node but even though I may have started the new node by cutting the line in half,  I’ve created new direct connections to the main core by passing through the second node. The idea is quite interesting and though I might have interrupted the main path, but I’ve also created an agent that could spread out by itself.

The Second Node

The Second Node

Filed under: Inspiration, Random Thoughts, Thesis Seminar, Thesis Studio

An Outline

It has been a long week trying to gather my thoughts and handing in a summary outline of our thesis to the committee for review. Below is an excerpt from the report.


State the issues, concepts, and questions that are central to your thesis. Discuss your thesis in abstract terms.

Urban planning as part of the built environment has been an intriguing field of study to me. Through my terms in school, with research, writing and reading that I’ve come across, I began to question the idea behind urban planning. Sure in the past, utopia was known as the ideal world to live in, with many architects in the early 20th century like Team X, Archigram, etc. writing manifestoes and creating master plan for the perfect community. But what went wrong? Why didn’t their plan work? Could our social pattern and logic somehow prevented Utopia from happening? Can architecture instead of urban planning solve the issue for the search of utopia idealism? …

… The issues, concepts and questions to my thesis are based on the understanding and relationship between architecture and urban planning. Issues on our current social framework, securities and economic problems will be explored through the act of building. The concept takes the investigation of the issues further by linking it to the built environment. Questions on social issues and behavior, the connections between urban planning and architecture, social networking and architecture and the impact it creates as well as the results it shapes will be asked and explored.

In abstract terms, my thesis will use the current social network framework like Facebook, explore the virtual connection to the community it possesses to the physical environment, and using my findings, investigate the role of a building as a node, creating a central location and an architecture that is an agent or a device to the urban fabric at large.


Discuss why you chose your program. How is this program a vehicle for the development of the concepts and ideas behind your thesis? Discuss your program in abstract terms.

I have not determined what my program will be. Ideally the building will be of mixed use and initial thoughts includes a hostel with residential or hotel, retail and government offices or civic places, i.e. courthouse housed in a single complex. As an idea to create density in city and prevent sprawling, other thoughts involve reassessing the idea of a public square and relate the idea of a square into a courtyard of multiple levels serving as a public core in a private complex.

Filed under: Random Thoughts, Thesis Seminar

My Aspiration

For our first assignment for thesis seminar, we were asked to write a short synopsis of our intentions for the thesis project. Here’s a portion of my aspiration I submitted.

Can architecture solve our current social/housing problems? Or rather, can a well-designed architecture solve our social well-being?

A recent article in Monocle magazine rated Copenhagen as the best livable city in the world. And within the top 10 spot, none of them are American cities. Jane Jacobs mentioned in her book on “The Death and Life of Great American Cities” that there is a lack of public life in great cities like Los Angeles, and suggested buildings be primarily mixed use. I had the opportunity to visit both Copenhagen and Los Angeles recently and agreed with the two views. Copenhagen, like Boston is small in scale, but the city provides its citizens with great public infrastructure, facilities and amenities. In contrast, Los Angeles lacks comfort and convenience getting from one destination to another without a car.  Because of that, there seems to be a lack of interaction between the different communities within the city of Los Angeles. In terms of architecture, the modern and old sits in balance within the city of Copenhagen. However, architecture in Los Angeles are so spread out that it’s difficult to judge how they stand with each other, but as an individual building, they are visually stunning and serves its purpose well. As I begin to dig deeper into the idea of city planning, the editor in Monocle magazine believed good city planning care for its citizens and their quality of life, and thus listed a few key elements of this so called “qualities”. And so, I beg to question what qualities do we/I possess in today’s modern world? How does that affect a city and its building? 

Clive Thompson of the New York Times published a rather interesting article on September 5, 2008. The title was “I’m So Totally, Digitally Close to You – Brave New World of Digital Intimacy”. His story was on the development of social networking sites like Facebook and how that has changed our interaction and connection with friends and communities and thus aided in the creation of this ambiguous intimacy within our social network. As architecture necessitates around human presence, there’s no doubt our social behavior more or less affect the design and process behind building design. Thompson’s article provided a stimulating point of view and direction towards my question on social qualities and its affect on building design. On a deeper level, it goes beyond questioning our social interaction within one building, but also the interaction between individual buildings and how they (the buildings) are addressing the city as a whole. As a thesis proposal, the question begins with the most basic element suggested by Jane Jacobs and the editor of Monocle magazine, what are the qualities in life we seek? From there, investigation and research on today’s society will project our vision of a modern building and its connection to our community on which will be tested within an urban context.

The current idea is still a bit vague, but as I was doing my readings and talking with some friends, I was questioning my direction. Part of the school requirements is to design a building at the end of the day, but I felt that I was dealing with a bigger problem here, a more urban planning direction which I didn’t want to go for. So, I’m starting to look into the core of architecture – space. What’s the definition of space in today’s society? Is there a boundary between public and private space? Do we even need that boundary? These are just a few questions I’m asking myself. I recently found a book about hybrid space and the existence of mobility in today’s society. Haven’t finish reading the articles yet, but I feel strongly in developing this new prototype.

Filed under: Thesis Seminar, , ,

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