15 7 / 2014
This week marks my third week at work in BDP Glasgow, one of the most successful corporate studio in Scotland who won awards for many of his large-scale projects. I didn’t get much rest after thesis and degree show but went straight into the working world.
GLASGOW VS LONDON
People always question about my intention about living in Glasgow but not London. I am not a fans of big cities, realised only after my 5 years life in Singapore. London seems much more happening with diverse culture and fun-filled activities, but it also means the sky high living costs that doesn’t match with the wages. The lower the rent, the higher transportation cost is, and also the time taken for traveling to work. In terms of nature, Glasgow is famous with its Loch Lomond which is 30 minutes away, while it is hard to find a peaceful spot in Greater London. With much advantages in saving money by living in Glasgow I can pay off my loan as soon as possible.
BDP VS Others
In the art school corporate practices such as BDP are not welcomed by the students. They used to label these practices with less-designing and more-project-managing, putting the mundane title onto these companies. After three interviews in one week, I made my decision based on the choices and situation that I have (visa problem), and I am very happy with my decision to join BDP. The office is considered big in scale in the UK by having several offices across UK and the world. However the Glasgow studio is rather unique in its own way; there is only the architecture department in Glasgow, and most of the staffs are old MACK graduates. The pace might be slower than others, the projects might be less adventurous and experimental, but i enjoy working in a team of 10 with architects from various backgrounds. It is very organized (to certain extend) compared to small practices, where no time wasted on conflicts and technical errors. From what I am working now, I think the directors intended to put me into the design team, dealing mostly with conceptual initial design stage.
5.30PM VS LATE
Given my previous working experience in Singapore, leaving office at 5.30pm is rather weird to me. Nobody in the office stays later than 6pm, they rather come in early to do the work. I do understand the idea of ‘work-life balance’, but I was first lost in the searching of ‘life’ to balance with work. I have nothing to do after work other than cooking myself a beautiful (might not be tasty) dinner while watching TV shows on the couch. In the next few months, I shall find myself more activities to involve, and to broaden my network skills. On the other hand, my flatmate is working late everyday with random assignments given by the directors. He is exhausted after work, only came home about 7-8 in the evening, and too tired to make himself dinner. He ends up eating ready meals or pizzas from supermarket, and go to bed as early as possible for more sleeping hours.
Which is better and which is not, it is all depends on your own take in life. I am satisfied with the current stage of my life, but there is always rooms for improvement. The next few months will be very interesting; lots of submissions to complete, including RIBA President’s Medal nomination, and GIA Dinner to attend.
Life is an adventure. Make yours an incredible one. =)
28 2 / 2014
It feels so surreal that I am back in Glasgow after four months in Versailles.
I still remember vividly the street that I walked back and forth everyday between school and home.
I still be able to recall those RER train rides to Paris, it was long and dull but fun if with great company. And of course, Paris is an awesome city to visit.
I still remember the boulangerie shop that sells the best baguette that I ever had in my life. There isn’t any comparison of boulangeries in the city of Paris, this is the best!
I hope I will have another opportunity to visit these places with great memories in near future.
After one month in Glasgow, my diet is slowly changing to suit the food portion in the UK. My appetite is so small nowadays that half a meal from a restaurant in Glasgow is enough for me. Small meals but more frequent is probably the healthier way.
Thesis is haunting me every seconds; the workload floods in without any break after the exchange. Time is tough but at least I am enjoying what I am doing.
31 12 / 2013
25 12 / 2013
First of all,
Merry Christmas! Joyeux Noel!
I am back in Glasgow during this festive season, along with strong wind that blows everything away. It is not end of the year yet, but it is an excellent moment to recap bitter-sweet moments in Versailles and Paris.
1. The first impression was bad. I was living in Paris’ most dangerous district, the 11th arrondissement while looking for room to rent in Versailles. I almost got my laptop stolen, I was sleeping in crappy hostel trying to save money, gun shooting happened outside my hostel, bed bugs and etc… it wasn’t pleasant until I found my current room, an amazing attic room with huge floor area and stunning views. As what they said; good thing comes only at last.
2. There is an stereotype about French and their incapability in english. It isn’t true. Most of the people I met (approximately my age) can speak good english, or at least it is sufficient for normal conversation. Some of them are probably afraid of speaking in english due to lack of confidence or misleading concept about unrefined french accent in english.
3. I am not sure if it happens to other Erasmus students or french universities, but Erasmus students in my french schools are not very welcomed by the french students. It was really great to have a student initiated association to help the Erasmus students for all inquiries, but they are JUST helpers but not our friends. They won’t ask you to go out for a drink, or to join a party, in french students’ perspective, Erasmus students are almost non-existent. Therefore my friend told me to be pro-active and approach the french people as they are very shy (?).
4. Spanish people are probably the most friendly people in the world. Approach them and they will welcome you with warm hugs and kisses (only applicable if a girl approach a Spanish guy).
5. Paris is the most amazing city in the world. It is complicated with own characteristics and genius loci in each arrodissements. Never feel tired walking and exploring this romantic city, it is even more exciting if you get lost and found something authentic. The roads might be busy with cars, the streets might be filled with tourists, but there are always intimate corners for romantic moments.
I guess that’s all at the moment. There are more to share but these points are simply entertaining. Cheers! A bientôt!
10 12 / 2013
22 10 / 2013
September 10 marked the beginning of the next chapter in my life. After one year (with the summer) in the wonderful Glasgow, I departed to Netherlands, Belgium, and last but not least, France for my short Erasmus study in Versailles. Instead of flying straight to Versailles/Paris, I decided to go for a solo road trip across various major cities.
The first night in this famous tourist city wasn’t that pleasant; it was pouring down heavily from the moment I arrived at the airport. Five seconds of rain is sufficient to get me all wet. Arrived at the Amsterdam Centraal in late evening, I quickly rushed to my hostel for a comfy shower. Unfortunately, the hostel is probably the worst after the one that I had in Paris (which will be mentioned below). Huge long room with eighteen beds, and I almost got my cash stolen due to my careless action. I did enjoyed the architecture and streets in Amsterdam other than the rain that stopped me from travelling far. Red light district was fascinating, with the huge windows and large rooms for sex trade. Anne Frank house touched me with its catastrophic house and story about WWII. I didn’t give a try for drugs and weed because I was alone, to reserve for the next time hopefully.
An administrative city with central business district covered with skyscrapers, Den Haag is rather comfortable with less tourists around. In this coastal city I found M.C. Escher, one of the most prominent and creative artists in Netherlands. His artworks are amazing, creating illusions with lines and continuous graphics. In front of the exhibition museum, a flea market was set up underneath rows of green trees selling books and antiques.
I made a right choice for hostel this time. Strowis Hostel is a warm and cosy hostel that filled with fun people. The main reason I visited this town is Rietveld Schröder House which is designed with De Stijl style architecture. I got no question with the aesthetic, it’s a personal taste, but I am impressed when the walls started to move in front of us. An enclosed space turned into a spacious one with great amount of sunlight penetrates into the room, it was like a magic show in architecture terms. Other than that, the town is lovely with only local tourists. Canals flow around the old town, allowing people to kayak and enjoy the city from lower perspective.
A rather modern city with sudden boom in architecture, Rotterdam reminds me greatly of Singapore. The in-house architects, MVRDV and Rem Koolhas are making the city more vibrant with iconic architecture. Not forgetting the most famous housing experiment — Cube House that designed in 1970s, the weird form and spatial experience are exciting yet controversial to me.
A day trip from Rotterdam, Kinderdijk is a peaceful outskirt with nineteen windmills standing high under the sun. The scenery was stunning with water, nature and man-made structure, and that’s all you get!
Despite its close geographically location, Brussels became an ‘unofficial’ introduction for my french journey. People around me started to speak french instead of Dutch (which sounds quite different), and the friendliness in Brussel dropped dramatically. Graffiti are everywhere on the wall of buildings, train stations, tunnels and even toilets. I visited the Atomium which located far north of Brussels city, and It was quite impressive as a sculpture (not architecture). It plays similar role with Eiffel Tower in Paris — it was built for Expo 58. Other than museums visit, I also tried the sweetest most waffle ever in Brussels! One bite of the nutella waffle, and I still managed to taste the ‘sugar balls’ inside the waffle! I guess it didn’t melt properly, and it gave me a terrible overly-sweet waffle I ever had.
It is one of the most romantic/enchanted/vibrant/fashion city, and I am totally in love with this city. There might be issues of crime, pickpocket and cleanliness in this city, but the people and vibrancy in every corner in the city make you forget all but to enjoy most. It is a place of hate-or-love, especially the chaotic side. I will be spending more time to explore this city, because each arrodissements are with own characteristics!
More updates soon =)