After spending a night chilling out at Bangsar’s TSB, we struggled to wake up to catch the 2nd day of DATUM:KL.
(Bangsar night street)
Sleepy morning transformed into a fun-filled entertainment segment by not 1, but a Chinese duo – Zhao Xiaojun from CCDI and his translator. It’s more like a crosstalk (相声) performance, really. Xiaojun teased his translator being popular among the ladies, leaving him speechless. Xiaojun spewed a long length of descriptive passages, and before his translator could finish his job, Xiaojun said its fine already. Funny!
But the presentation was really about PTW’s National Swimming Centre, something like a process journal. How PTW approached CCDI for collaboration. How each of them came up with schemes with water iconography but were totally different from each other. How they wrecked their brains out to come up with a 2nd scheme. How CCDI secretly made a model. How CCDI secretly showed the model to PTW. How everyone was convinced. How they derived an algorithm with Arup to come up with the structure.
Its a female counterpoint to the male H&dM Stadium.
Seriously boring. Maybe its the air-con, maybe its the drone of their voice, maybe its the use of so many bombastic words I can’t really be bothered to penetrate into their academia talk.
Hailing from NY is Billie Tsien from the rising husband-n-wife firm, who in her presentation revealed an inclination towards the art scene. Mixing around with the NY art scene, drawing cues and inspirations from fine art and sculptures. For instance, their Folk Museum and 72nd Street Museum is based on a certain theme of “slow discovery”, by exploring the use of masks. And how she was inspired by the stones of Gyoji Garden in Kyoto.
Somehow their designs have this mature sensibility, refined, almost like looking at a painterly kind of sculpture or installation, understated and not too flashy like some bold designer streak.
It is scary when somone goes on stage and begins with a 500+-slide powerpoint. Either that guy cannot cut to the point or he is extremely proficient in slide-creation. Well it happens that Cho Minsuk is better – he is prolific, and gives a good lecture too. He began surprisingly with a tongue-in-cheek presentation on the urban condition, the state of urbanisation in Seoul, referencing apartment blocks to Warhol’s Marilyns and Campbells. This provides the framework to discuss his many designs, in his studies – “Matrix Studies” as well as “Movement Studies” (I’m sure there’s more if he had more time to speak)
(Cho Minsuk on urbanisation)
You can tell from his speech and demeanour that he thinks fast, is incisive and gets to the point. His explorations are clear in what they seek to achieve – iterations in strategy to move away from the faceless Warholian blocks. “Matrix Studies” works are based on a matrix, almost derivative of his early “Pixel House”: Missing Matrices in “Boutique Monaco”, Broken Matrices in a unbuilt Ho Chin Minh Building. Another series “Movement Studies” show “shameless” explorations in movement as can be seen in the distinctive Seoul Commune 2026 design. Definitely someone to look out for, and let me know if you can get a hand on that powepoint.
Who worked with Zaha, Eisenmann and studied in Yale, his seminal birth work happened to be a fish tank. Warped like an aberration in the space-time continuum, the fish tank happens also to be really his aesthetic as well. Wacky skyscrapers a la Gehry, Purist contextless forms a la OMA, engineered buildings a la Calatrava, and sculptural shapes a la Richard Serra. Its like sculpture super big scale, beating Lichenstein and Christo, to create ring-shaped buildings, catapult buildings, Ikea flowervase buildings. It’s amazing looking at the renders, hearing him proclaim in slow stuttering English a 800m design, seeing how parti diagrams transform themselves into (un)built reality.