Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Converted Tram Stops

MART's Cafe along a tram line and that means the only way to enter this little joint is by taking a tram (of course you could drive there, but nothing beats stepping out of a tram and walking straight into a cafe). You see, MART's a converted tram stop, there's little history or references to go by but my hunch tells me it was once a control or rest station for tram drivers on duty.

MARTMARTDining Table Set Up


we love alleys, we love cafes and when cafes and alleys come together, something really good happens

MELBin50mm: alley

Centre Place/Degraves

i hangout here so much, i heard each cafe's playlist at least twice. I think i should pay rent, which i do, in the form of coffee, all kinds and types with their little nuances. Darn am i going to miss this place

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Shakespeare & Co.

shakespeare & co
Shakespeare & Company, Paris

My closest to reading Shakespeare is perhaps Julius Caesar which I did as a literature subject in secondary school and my roommate then would hear me droning quotes after quotes with language structure that seemed so foreign to her. But I bet hardcore fans of literature and books would worship this place, coz even I was awed by this neatly tucked bookshop.

Shakespeare and Company first opened its doors in 1951. For over fifty years, the bookshop has housed numerous writers and hosted readings by published and unpublished authors. Almost every available wall is laiden with books, arranged neatly in wooden bookshelves that rest against pealing plaster walls, and photographs hung above with a chandeliers lighting up the inner parts of the rooms. Upon ascending the stairs, you'd enter private study areas (that are preserved in its original state) with typewriters and benches that have become shiny due to constant wear and tear. There's a rare collection of literary choices (not for sale) of which you can pick of the shelf and read in the study.

37 Rue De La Bucherie, Paris

Friday, October 10, 2008

Schiffbau, Zurich

Schiffbau, Zurich
Schiffbau, Zurich

It was a warehouse, sited amongst the industrial buildings and factories.

The plaster walls were deliberately chipped off to reveal the steel channels that held the large spans of the interior space, the rusty texture of weathered sienna hue commanded a certain rustic charm. Then there were sleek modern furniture and fittings that spoke the language of modern utilisation, posters glued to the wall and notice boards informing of the activities that went around during day and night.

A concrete space was inserted within this warehouse, the finishing left as natural as it could be and given a modest appeal to complement the exisitng quality of space within, while light filtered in subtly through the high ceilings on that Friday afternoon. One feels secured in the hall yet liberated due to the vastness of clear span spaces.

I truly admire this piece of work.

"The architect Peter Kern, who was responsible for the conversion project Schiffbau (shipbuilding), has made the shipbuilding hall into an experience room for theater, music and gastronomy. Each one leads its own life under the huge factory roof. In this way this former industrial building turns into a veritable town within a town consisting of the aquarium-like glazed square of the LaSalle restaurant, the Trendbar and Nietturm lounge, four rehearsal stages, as well as the concrete cubes of the Box studio theater and the well-known Moods jazz club. The heart of the entire site is the indoor theater itself with its charming generous dimensions. "

Schiffbaustrasse 4
8005 Z├╝rich

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Gem of Berlin

Gem of Berlin
"Gem of Berlin" (well according to me)

As I sauntered along the so-called shopping district of Berlin, with restaurants hoarding corners of the junctions, this seemingly delapidated building got my immediate attention. The peeling plasterwork and individual murals and graffiti, the myraid posters and signature boards loosely attached to the wall, were only indications that I had to go beyond this wall.

And I did.

I found the Gem of Berlin. Stay tuned for what's behind this facade!

Sunday, July 6, 2008


Melbourne 6 July, originally uploaded by jonolist.

is cold now, can't type much but enjoy! will post more when i get a stable and warm internet connection

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Of Katong

somewhere in katong, originally uploaded by jonolist.

Katong is one of those places proconservation wished they had more time to explore into but with our exchange programme settling to do in full swing we kinda have our hands tied up with silly administrators and incompetent school staff.

but thats not the point

Hopefully you'll find more post on buildings in europe and australia here soon as we leave all the hassle behind and both go on our individual trips abroad. Its an exciting time ahead now and the post will come soon.

in the meanwhile enjoy the holidays!

Friday, April 25, 2008

Malacca snippets

malacca snippets
through the window of Malacca shophouses

You know I wonder, what would become of this place 5 years down the road, even just 2 years down the road.
Who'd still use that classic frame, that golden coated timbre carved piece that holds photographs beneath that reflective glass.
Who'd use this purplish-maroon hue sofa that tells what era it's from.
Who'd still use that circular socket with a rectangular switch.
Who'd still sit in that ratan chair at that far end of the kitchen fanning the charcoal fed stove (I used to squat and fan my grandma's soya bean drink, trust me it tastes so much better than gas boiled ones)

You know sometimes, when people purchase antique goods and place them in their living rooms, they seem out of context?

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Of Old Airport Road

I overslept on the bus the other day on my to meet with some friends for coffee. I hurriedly got off the bus and found out that i ended up in a place i haven't been to for quite a while.

it did feel sorta familiar, thankfully i had a camera in hand. figured i'll just snap a shot.

Old Airport Road, originally uploaded by jonolist.

Early housing flats are a favorite in Proconservation (along with shophouses). These flats and its neighbours at Dakota Crescent still retain that old brick work charm.

The land these estates sits on is also known as Kallang Airport Road.....they say there used to be an airstrip here, thus old airport road. I guess the roads were pretty wide here in the past because my mum often ran to the nearby national stadium carpark to watch car races when she was a youth. They would hold similar ones near her estate too.

i also recall it being the setting for the local motorcycle movie "chi feng" (Jiak Hong). Automobiles seem to have a strong affinity to this area no?...hmmmm formula one anybody???

I remember coming here when i still a kid to visit some relatives and boy did i love the food at the nearby hawker centre. I hope they don't disappear altogether when the new stadium is built. (which reminds me...Huilian! lets go National Stadium! plis?)

apart from the new kitchen extensions and paintjob nothing much has changed, you get the large open fields and very airy interiors. The lattice brickwork(not shown in pics..sorry)and open ciculation spaces reminds one of the time when natural ventilation was a must and not an add on.

I would have investigated more but my return bus was coming.

If anyone knows more about the area, architecture and other info (personal or otherwise) please do drop a message.

Monday, March 31, 2008

Wuhan City old town

Wuhan City
Wuhan City old town

Sometimes as an outsider, one is struck by the rusticity of this intricate old town, and perhaps the immediate signs one can read are the textures of failing plaster walls and stainings from the weathering, and maybe the architecture style in juxtaposition to the so-called contemporary style (shudders a lil here at this terminology used).

But one never truly understands the spirit it embodies unless one has lived here, which is quite sad to see if they themselves are willing to relinquish that value. Then again, this is subjective.

My friend who was here with me can tell you how much I loved the feel of this place, albeit being there only for a very short while. The language of it is a lil quirky in that context, but it just appear right somehow.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Wan Chai Market

a few weeks back one half of qmark (Hongguan) and one half of proconservation (me) were in Hong Kong to intern as part-time lan kwai fong trash collectors(the pay was good you see). On our day off we went to visit the Wan Chai Market after hearing much about it online and through some friends from Hong Kong.

Wan Chai Market

Wan Chai Maket was constructed in the 1937. People call its facade bauhaus inspired but its more streamline moderne to me (and according to wiki)

Anyway this article isn't about style or facades but more of the resilience against opulent development.

Wan Chai Market, originally uploaded by jonolist.

Here are the store owners who refuse to move out after the authorities repossessed the building and sold it to some developer. Its gonna be another high density residential/commercial area (with only its front area and facade preserved). we heave a collective sigh at its poor attempt in conservation.

power to the people who refused to move out though. Stall holders once held banners (angry looking passionate ones, not the toned down non existent Singapore variety) protesting against the governments plan to remove certain streets and redevelop the market. It then got political with complaints against the democratic system which resulted in the China government sending people there to survey hong kong's political system. I don't really have a clear picture what happen all i know was that it got quite messy. (i shall find out after submissions though...of if anyone can email us some clarifications?)

this place has damn lots of history which you can read more about here.
and the protest here

(apparently its basement was once used by Japanese troops as a corpse storage facility during the Occupation.)

when your in Hong Kong, do visit this place and the nearby "blue house" to see what hong kong really is all about. (its much cheaper than Disneyland!)

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Of Some Old Melaka Shophouse

Melaka's Abandoned Shophouse, originally uploaded by jonolist.

Dotted along Melaka's old town are some abandoned shophouses, left there unkept and so unloved. But because of its derelict state, vacancy , coupled with the broken roofs and floors, they reveal an experience unconventional to the typical shophouse. Narrow large space lit by large openings in roofs, natural light filtering through dusty windows, walls worned out and peeling, shadows falling giving a new texture, creepers growing out of control, double if not triple volume spaces opening up as you walk deeper and deeper in.

Abandoned, originally uploaded by jonolist.

It's hard to decide if anything should be done to these shophouses now, it is only a matter of time before something is done, good or bad. But if you do have the chance, go climb over windows, peek through doors and just go sneak in. They can tell us so much and if you look further in, prod and probe a little, you never know when you'll discover little treasures because we all learn something new everyday.

Time, originally uploaded by jonolist.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Of Old Guards

Sea of Clay

The roofscape of Melaka's old town tells us so much about the history of development around this area. Further beyond the shophouse roofs are the tiled roofs of housing units built in the 70-80s and the thatched pitched ones of neighboring kampungs. Behind these are newer developments built just recently and beyond them high rise apartments and then who knows what's to come? reclamation works seem likely (and unfortunate)

Old guards, originally uploaded by jonolist.

Every shophouse roof has its tipped shaped with relation to certain elements eg fire water earth, each tells it own story. Many though are losing them, along with disappearing trades and lost family traditions. The next time i come up to this roof deck again, it may not be the same sight. So whenever the opportunity arises go up to your own roof wherever you live and find some unique treasure before they disappear quickly!

Friday, February 29, 2008

of Malacca trades

malacca escapade
blacksmith @ Malacca

Every vein on this old man tells the nuances of this age old town.

I love Malacca for the spontaneity of street side oyster omelette aunty who'd scrape off charred remnants onto the street marking her own "territory", for the blacksmiths like these who'd look sternly back at you if he spotted you with the camera whilst you watched admiringly at this strength in moulding those metalware despite his age, for the cats you see nua-ing against the exhaust of the motorcycles, for the laid back lifestyle.

Yet on the other hand, some parts have become too invested with tourist-seeking business, with souvenir shops and stalls that line up to the brim that sometimes, I become a lil apprehensive.

Ou Jian Aunty
Ou Jian Aunty! (aka omelette/Om lette Aunty)

Jalan Laksamana Spice Store
Grocery Store Owner, Jalan Laksamana

Typesetter at work in Melaka

Monday, February 25, 2008

of Malacca escapade

abandoned shophouse @ malacca
abandoned shophouse

Yes, the pro-conservationists were back in Malacca again! Updates soon once photos are sorted out. :)

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Of Air View Towers

Air View Towers

The relatively unknownAir View Towers located in River Valley Road. Being sited on prime land in Singapore with close proximity to Orchard road and the city centre it was no sudden news that these low lying blocks were slated to be on en bloc very soon. Low lying yes but back in the 80s these were AIR VIEW towers with great views out sited on top of a hill, fast forward year 200, the views are blocked by double-digit story condominiums.

You may wonder why I posted these as something worth conserving. Afterall its poorly maintained, the huge open carpark can fit another condo or two , the building is your run off the mill stack upon stack of standard floor plans. Futura Apartments (the real architectural gem slated to be on en bloc too) looks way better on a site full of spanking new condos. So why keep it?

perhaps its the place where my grandaunt is living now, where my grandma used to live, where i spent much of my 3-4 years of childhood playing with the pigeons on the open carpark, running around the estate with my shirt off.

My parents left me here under the care of my grandma as both of them had to work. It was here I learnt how to dip dry biscuits in coffee, slingshot pigeons and just lie on the floor stomach down watching sesame street. Whatever i say now may not help in keeping this place around, my head tells me this place should go but the heart clings to this place dearly. Now that my paternal grandma has passed away more than 10 years ago, my grandaunt still lives here, she's planning to sell the place (for quite a hefty profit) so maybe this would be the last time i come over to visit during the new year.

Air View Towers

Air View Towers

Many families grew up here, by now their children have left to set up their own families. Only the older members choose to stay here, because the rooms are large, their friends are here and despite the location in the busy central business district, the place still exudes that old peaceful tranquility that you rarely find these days. Perhaps its the reason why not all owners can't agree on selling it. Sadly like most of the older units around, it will eventually go the way of the wrecking ball, with the high cost of living in the area and larger offer prices. lets hope i get to come here one more time for new year visits.

(after writing this, i feel this deep need go visit Amoy Street where my dad grew up before they moved here. The shophouses are still there, i know its mighty near the old ACS shophouse school. and not too far away from Thian Hock Kheng. how i wished they kept the shophouse)

Friday, February 1, 2008

of facadism

I had a chat with a friend over dessert and he brought up an interesting note about facadism. Facadism is perhaps a term mostly used to the practice of retaining the front face, or "skin" of an old buidling and affixing it to a newer, usually larger structure. Indeed, as much as this issue falls in the grey area between the conservationist and the developers, one cannot but agree that there is a problem behind this and there is a no right or wrong answer to this long debated question. This fundamentally bogs down to the issue of perceiving the value within each builidng, or even to the extent of the site quality in itself.

I do agree with my friend that it is superficial if not meaningless to merely retain the skin of the building and destroying what lies beneath it, or the spaces that are carved out to tell the story of lifestyle and qualities of life of the occupancy. It can almost be regarded as kitsch, to imagine streetscapes infested with themepark-like wallpapers, to even deceive the naive passerbys (or worst still native people) of what it was like 40 years ago (wil gasp to see a heritage-inspired architecture). On the other hand, I do admire the efforts of those who strike that balance (ok, I haven't found a nicer phrase to put that) and it serves as a pleasant surprise to walk into conserved buildings. The new functions that rejuvenates the builidng is something I look forward to, and I do mind those who's integrity is a lil shaken.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

of Dempsey Hill

dempsey hill
Dempsey Hill

On a site that used to be the former British army barracks, Dempsey presents a certain aura of tranquility that is a perfect hideout from the bustling city centre. As much as I praise its effort at rejuvenating the area, I felt that it had a target group of users in mind in carrying out the plans, that the social hierarchy comes into place, which is quite saddening to me. Conservation projects are still going on and I can't wait to see what it looks like at the end of it, but with that luxury tag associated with the refurbished product, I might not be able to peep into it unless I fork out a week's expenditure on a cuppa tea.
I wonder whether they'll do anything to this hut-like shelter here.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Of Old Police Headquarters

Reflection, originally uploaded by jonolist.

in Hong Kong. Its a really interesting building with all the old intergation rooms and kitchens. Before its get redeveloped by Herzog and de Mueron for the Hong Kong jockey club, it's now being used as the main exhibition space for the Hong Kong Shenzhen Architectural Biennale.

Entrance into the Biennale, originally uploaded by jonolist.

Made of the stuff often used in hong kong construction sites.

Fantastic use of Bamboo!

more pictures soon!