Archive for February, 2010

Asbestos Can Be Expected

Thursday, February 25th, 2010

An unfamiliar white blob on the distant horizon caught my eye a few days back. Somewhere near Berkeley, something big was afoot.

Trawling around just west of the university, the object in question soon revealed itself to be an enormous white elephant of a building, wrapped no doubt to minimize the release of asbestos dust during demolition and/or refurbishment. The presence of asbestos in these older buildings has been a major health concern and potential financial impediment whenever they are considered for redevelopment. The plastic wrapped facades would have done Christo proud and gave the whole scene a rather bizarre look, particularly with the textured wood and stucco structures along the surrounding streets.

Ironically, it turns out the building is the old California Department of Health Services.

Art of the School

Monday, February 8th, 2010

In Singapore, WOHA’s School of the Arts has partially opened to its students. The project is essentially a full sized school perched atop a performing arts centre in the middle of the city. While the lower theatre and rehearsal spaces in their final stages of completion, the open plazas and rooftop recreation areas of the school are buzzing and active with the influx of this year’s crop of bright young things.

Mesmerisingly hovering at one end of the large void is a five story, rolled steel spiral staircase. A work of art in itself, I’d think this can’t help but inspire those students who twist up through its treads each day.

The Thais That Blind

Thursday, February 4th, 2010

It would seem that not everybody who purchased apartments in WOHA’s award winning The Met in Bangkok was keen to move in straight away. For the first time, the building exterior was clean and devoid of the maintenance gondolas that had plagued our earlier visits. From a distance, one could see that many of the windows had been covered with brown paper to keep the low winter sun from directly hitting the floor boards.This somewhat killed the sleek verticality of the lines.

Access to the individual apartments was impossible (and on a 60 story tower, insanely impractical), so there was nought to do but knuckle down at the computer for a few days going window to window and cleaning off the paper. Unlike a flat, glazed facade, this could be no simple cut and paste job as the random patterns of the balconies, cladding and landscaping all needed to be taken into account.

While it got there in the end, there were times whilst sitting glued to the computer with an aching wrist, that I thought I might just….erm, go blind.