Case Study of Architect Chin Tuck Heng

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Ar.Chin Tuck Heng currently in his 60’s was born in year 1952, 14th February in Penang. He who has a deep passion for arts and excel with flying colors in his studies during his period of studying in Malaysia leads him to step into the path of architecture . There was no specific event that triggered or inspired him to study architecture at first, yet things go differently when his father’s friend who was an architect starts to discover his interest in arts stuff. He brings materials such as balsa woods seeing that the little Chin would make models (plane /gliders) out from it. These were the formative years to sowed the seed in later years for him to consider studying architecture. At this stage, it has shown how influential people or event around him who have affect him during his childhood stage as well as how much the growing environment proved to be affects his decision in his later stage of life.

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Despite of this, you would know him to be a person who emphasize on importance of user needs as fundamental in architecture design process. He has quoted, “if u have imagined it, you can make it” in one of his interview. The whole idea is not standing on how well he caters to user needs, but also how he creates meaning to spaces by adopting material, technology and most important of all, the experience he gained throughout his life not only as an architect but also as a child, student and eventually a father. The series of events shows that wisdom he gained is the key for generating the ideas for his architecture and on behalf of this reason, it sparks my interest to formulate the way of Ar.Chin organize his place in accordance to his belief and his own world view.

DUMC (Damansara Utama Methodist Church),as the name suggested is a church built as a meeting place for different activities and services for the Methodist religious people . The difference between the existence of this church would be the architecture where the early architecture being brings in to Malaysia would have the feature of the early Christian church building such as nave and aisles for worshippers and altars for the placement of sacred monument etc. Being situated in Seksyen 52,46200, Petaling Jaya, Selangor, an urban town which located near to Malaysia’s federal capital is an approximately 6700 m2 building of typical local hall design to fit the purpose gather of group of people ranging from families to teenagers to young adults as well for them to run alongside each other in the race of life as believers of Christ. Due to this reason, I would have believed the initial idea of DUMC being designed would mainly based on typical functional architecture of local context and interest the user groups.

The analysis of DUMC was done mainly based on 3 factors, including climate, function and architectural theory. The issue of climate was discussed first as the design of local building would be greatly affected by weather context. User comfort is the top priority of designing architecture in Malaysia due to the hot and humid weather throughout the year. A good architecture in local should have adhere and responded to these issues and reduce building energy usage in long terms. The initial move taken to respond to this issue would be the form where the long façade sitting in context is orientated facing south-east and north-west instead of directly on east side and west side where the sun exposure is the highest and longest across time. Metal decking roofing material and thick concrete is used mainly to respond to the long term sunlight at Malaysia. It has low heat absorption as compare to its mass and reflects heat well while the roof is pitched using curved form suits local frequent raining weather which allows minimum load accumulate at top during raining season. Fenestration is controlled and at minimum amount especially at east, west and south façade to reduce heat gain in building. Big overhang is chosen as well to shade wider fenestration such as the entrance from sunlight. Another main design element would be the planning of core spaces where it responded to the issues of heat in climate. The core spaces especially the hall which contain the most frequent human activity is situated in middle and away from outer skin of building so that the direct heat oven effect for that area is reduced. This way the cooling load needed for that area would be greatly reduced and hence energy wastage can be greatly reduced.

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The next analysis issue would be function as it determines how well the spaces are coordinated to serve the purpose especially of the given building footprint area as huge as of 6700 m2 has to be the place of activity for a large amount of people. The viability of the design to fit the purpose and meets the requirements is important as it would mean how well the needs of user is fulfilled as followed by the space function. The first step taken to fulfill function is the function to space requirement ratio. It is observed that for every main space, it is well equipped with other auxiliary spaces to fulfill the main function. For example, the hall area is equipped with necessary spaces such as a balanced amount of seating area, public amenities and private area. Spaces such as usher rooms, stage control area, media room, crew rooms, stage utilities room and orchestra pits, are provided equally to fulfill the function of the grand hall. We should not neglect the importance of disabled for sharing the equality of using the spaces. It can be observed partly of the main spaces are designed with details especially the main entrance is of ramp instead of steps. However, this type of access is found mainly at ground floor important area rather than other level. This suggested the user is being less considered in this case when compared to the event of fulfill the function of the building. To fulfill the function the spaces has to be maximized enough for large amount of user. From the site plan provided, it is studied that the building space is maximized to extent after considering the access road and existing building block around. This enable the function of the center especially the main hall spaces and gymnasium etc to build to full potential providing supporting spaces are enough as well. Rather than producing grand and lavish ornamentation to signify the entrance of the building, the entrance is introduced on the façade with multiple glazing doors as well as a simple red vinyl membrane canopy above that distinguished itself from other entrances. This reasons above strongly suggested the idea of designing this building by fulfilling the function of the spaces especially when comparing to the user groups in terms of importance.

The architectural theory suggested and in close proximity to the design of this building would be modern theory as the building comply the modern thought and character. From the ground floor plan and roof-top layout, it is observed that they have the characteristics of fully maximized space plot by adopting the near golden rectangle layout from the roof area to most of the smallest service spaces in the building. It is observed and shown that the adoption of material and function of spaces determine the results of the building. The spaces consist of stage and seating area which require high and column-less space. By using lightweight metal deck roofing material, it is able to achieve and fulfill the space requirement by using far apart concrete column supporting the building space and form. This is followed by the elevation showing the façade is of simple rigid massing when comparing to the number of spaces inside. The form is simplified and there are minimum decorations and details when the façade is expressed by using the biggest size fenestration as well as simple and useful nylon overhang to emphasize the entrance. The spaces in the building are organized evenly and each zone is specified to their own function without interfere other zone activities. This shows the lack of clutter space as in modern building characters. From the reasoning above, the building provides a proof of modern theory of nearer to Le Corbusier where in one of his quotes, “building should function as machines for living in”. Analogous to a car, the building is fit to the purpose of fulfilling the functions of user, where the form of the building follows the function.

During his childhood, Ar.Chin would have witnessed that strong architecture influence as a need to fulfill and cater basic primary needs of user/occupants which is the exact as how DUMC is designed today in order to fulfill the function of the building itself. It will be rural back then in his childhood where development would have just started especially in Penang. Back then the building would even have made from wooden enclosure and attap roof and the “modern building” during that period would be concrete massing and tile roofing. The difference in environment during that period and eventually the period today would have consciously leave impact in his design decision as the meaning of architecture would signify differently in terms of senses to him. As in climate factor, a typical roof would be a normal pitch roof to be used in Malaysia to accommodate the building. Instead, he using a smooth, gentle curved roof which actually sits on the building itself like a gentle hand embrace the on the building and land. He explores the design of this building with its simplest form and the elimination of unnecessary details like how others building site around local context. The form of others buildings would look just like how it looks using purest concrete material and simple metal decking roofing and what makes the distinction between them in the city is the gentle curved roof with the striking red color. It gives the building a sense of belonging to that area with a simple detail characteristic on it. The DUMC touches on the cultural event that happens every single weekend that gathers large group believers of Christ to foster closer relationship between them as allowing them to get to know their religion better. The adoption of each material on each space determines the result of how each space is able to use comfortably. As a growing environment determines how the people are growing in it.

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Thus, the center is well-planned built in suitable proportions and symmetries to enhance the spatial qualities. I believe the building poses the characteristics and he was conscious of what it is. The roof on the building signifies its own distinction with its color and creates a shelter with its form for the people underneath it. The solid walls which is of mass concrete protected them and creates function for them to have inside safely everyday as well as the privacy it creates with each space designed specifically for function. It indicates the space adequacy of the building which is premium in the building and this would means the role of the building would be the major factor that affects how the welfare of the end user and hence the activities Is able to be run smoothly and successfully. The sense of space and place are being defined as people being and becoming where it cannot take root until it being realized. It thus gives meaning through the design of structure and its spaces, without much ornamentations, yet rich in meanings. It touches the phenomena where a structure affects the element of culture which is consists of local variations. Hence, it speaks the concept of structuralism, which in the end emphasized the inter-relationship and as well promoting the environment and the experience of user.