Thursday, July 9, 2009

A Lost World

Thanks Darryl for your kind contribution. =)

One of the unique qualities of Dempsey is its state of transition. You've got high-end lifestyle destinations atop the hill and yet untouched history in the surrounding environs of Harding Road, Loewen Road and Ridley Park. No doubt a very idyllic setting for that occasional tea for two, it also makes good fodder for contemplative walks alone. I chanced upon this beauty while waiting for church to start last Sunday. Having explored the old barracks along Loewen Road, on impulse, I veered off the main road, trekked through a clearing and there she was.

My heart skipped a beat.

Tucked away amid dense tropical jungle, you do get the palpable sense of crossing over into another time stream; a real-life 'Bridge to Terabithia' encounter, right down to the threshold of having to cross a waterway, in this instance, a storm-drain.

The architecture stems from two periods, the consulate buildings at the front of the complex look old enough to be pre-war, whilst the newer extension at the back recall the sincere RC experiments of the 1970s. Its construction is simple and clearly expressed - utilising an age old strategy of extending the beams beyond the floor slabs thereby achieving a tectonic quality of one thing supporting another and a visual language of horizontal and vertical linearity. Closer inspection of the individual rooms reveals a sensitivity to climate and affordance. Each room is bestowed with an enchanting view of the surrounding green through sliding windows that reach from a cill height of about 600mm to the ceiling, thus creating the impression of a room enclosed by three walls and fully opened on one side - another strategy known as 'prospect', as termed by Glenn Murcutt. Even rainwater disposal gets accorded attention - a rectilinear protrusion breaks the horizontality of the roof slab and connects to a hollow square section pipe, similar in profile as the railings though of understandably larger dimensions, which then proceeds to decant rainwater into a receiving RC trough on the ground floor.

As much as the building has been lost to the onslaught of the jungle, so too has the architectural heritage that first gave it form. It is a masterful work that combines clear-headed planning, collected concrete construction, climate, comfort and controlled composition - qualities that defined the age of Peter Blundell Jones, Sonny Chan Sau Yan and Geoffrey Bawa, when schools still trained competent architects who could call the shots and inspire confidence in their clients.

To the unknown ancestor who crafted this gentle beast, I tip my hat to you.


Anonymous said...

cool finding.
Appreciate if direction can be given for self exploration.

no use for a name

Rosie said...

Hello there,

I would love to use this location for a film shoot. Any chance you could send me an email letting me know where it is? It is incredible. My email address is

Any information you can provide me would be greatly appreciated.


Anonymous said...

hi! could you share with me where this location is? I would like to do some photoshoot there.
hope you can drop me an email at