Case Study of the Life of Ar. Phillip Chang

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From Kuching, Sarawak, Ar. Phillip Chang is a well known architect for its uniqueness. He has been practicing in his firm United Consultant located in East Malaysia, (Kuching, Sarawak) for many years. His primary and secondary school has been done one of the famous missionary school in Kuching which is ST. THOMAS’ boy junior and high school. After finishing high school 2 years earlier than normal Malaysian students, he get the opportunity to study at Australia for 2 years and finish 2 years of Australian high school. This is mainly because he went to school earlier than other Malaysians, at the age of 5 instead of age of 7 which is the normal age to start schooling. This is also the main reason he was able to have the choice of course in NSW Matriculation Certificate. His education in the Sydney Boys High was funded by the Government at that time.

Mr. Phillip started to discovers his interest and talent in art, drawing and creative pursuits during his high school education. He joined a few art competitions and almost monopoly the competition in his category. This started to ignite the flame within himself of passion and talent in art where it’s lead him to pursue architecture. Before that his initial plan was to take engineering course however he opt for Architecture due to the reason that he wanted to be different from other top Asian students in Sydney whereby they all aiming for engineering course. Even though his decision to take architecture course might not be the determination to be an architect but it is the urge to be different from his peers who went for engineering course. It turned out that he never regretted that decision.

This been said, it do affect a person thinking based on what they experience. Before even stepping into Architecture, Mr.Phillip has been a smart student and at the same time being an artistic student, and he choose to go for the more artistic path in his own way of interpreting the theory of “ARTISTIC” which how such “END USER” react to such “SPACE”. He has developed this thought of himself when he started to graduated from Malaysian high school and finish it at the NSW Matriculation, at Sydney Boys High. He tends to be more optimistic in between both different culture of both different country.

Studying Architecture in Sydney University during Mr.Phillip’s days were not an easy task. It was difficult and challenging as during those days, the architecture student had to take 14 subjects and they had to pass each and every subject or else were being forced to repeat the whole semester again. During his second year, things tend to turned into his worst nightmare as he took 18 compulsory subject and it was a tough time for Mr.Phillip. At the same time, he was active in student politics, especially among the overseas student and this actually took a lot of his focus and concentration from his studies, but he was smart. He started to work smart and blend in with the society. Seeing wad is the outcome of this course, why is it being so tough for Asian students to corp up to the international standard. He was assuming and researching all those stuff till he found that different reactions leads to different human behavior. This syllabus was being design for the international student and you, as an Asian, your knowledge is much shallow but there’s something special about Asian, Asian works harder in to achieve something which they pursue. This is when he start to get interested in human behavior and had apply them as one of the main foundation of his design. Basically his Architecture life during university was quite unique to say from others, he dint studied much on designing, but he study more on construction and more technical side of architecture. He studied psychology during his university time also. This is why he has always this golden rule, built for the end user would appreciate and not for the aesthetic value for public to appreciate.

Mr. Philip has always live up to the motif of understanding the site context and human behavior & reaction is his main key of design. By doing so, he study the majority human reaction towards a park. As Malaysian China friendship park was built in a surrounding of a residential context and facing the main road, Mr. Philip Chang took this opportunity to creates a fluid circulation towards the path base of what he had observe on surrounding user. Thus, two main entrance was built to fulfill the common behavior of the surrounding user. The west site of the entrance, (CHINA GATEWAY) was placed there on the X Axis because of the surrounding of residential context. The community in Kuching, Sarawak prefer walking to a place if its in the radius of a walking distance of 15 - 20 minutes. This shows that Mr. Phillip full fill the normal human behavior of Kuching;s Community as the West entrance is the most appropriate for walking distance travel. This are the importance of understanding the user needs and behavior, the end user specific has always play a big role in your design. One architect do not design based on their assumption, but one architect design based on the theory they produce from research. As for the north site of the entrance, (MALAYSIAN GATEWAY), is another main entrance which facing the main road. Going back to the normal human behavior of Kuching’s community, if they were to travel by vehicle to one place, it should be seen clearly from far. This enable them to identify the place they heading to and at the same time, Kuching’s community tends to be lazy in a fact where if one place is not clearly pictured in their mind, they find it troublesome to get to that place, thus they would tend to not go to that place. The strategy of this is to creates a main entrance facing the main road so everyday people passes by and would notice this place and ease up on finding their ways towards the place.

For climatic condition, Mr.Phillip always uses site context as the foundation of his design. One building does not just landed on somewhere like an UFO. It must always blend in with the site context and no stand alone by itself. This is to give the public the vision and feelings of acceptance. For example the Malaysia China Friendship park. The site before was a abandon empty piece of land a small residential neighbourhood park being intersect by a minor road in between. This is the climatic condition of the site, and as for the sun path, the China park would be exposed to excessive sunlight during the afternoon and evening which is when the peak hour of people coming in. This is usually the main problem of a site contextual design where in Malaysia, sun plays a big factor affecting your site. It is because of the geometrical position Malaysia is at, which is under tropical climate.

This in result, the tea pavilion been built to shelter the user during afternoon, serve as a gathering or meeting point where activities could held during the afternoon. This is part of a concentric placement design where an axis of x and y meet and create a concentric space in the middle acting like an vacuum to attracts the user towards is, and it is furthermore enhanced by the climatic factor which happens in Malaysia is the high exposure of sunlight and also shelter from rain. The tea pavilion been built in a way that, there’s not much of an openings and the roof were being design in a large overhand to shadow the user from sunlight. As for the other side, it is not highly affected by he sunlight issues, but it is affected by the pollution from the main road. Noise coming from the vehicle and air pollution is one of the main factor. Landscaping and vegetation being done to reduce the air pollution, and it has been setback inwards to reduce the noise pollution, acting as a buffer zone in between the main road and the park.

The reason the pavilion of the 7 ethnic group being built in a very open manner is because it does not exposed to excessive sunlight, and it is located on the east side of the park. This again blends in with the site context, because of it is located at Kuching Sarawak, the population are highly from the ethnics group, so the end user would be attracted to this park.

Socio - Culture has always being one of the main design theory of Mr. Philip. This friendship park was being proposed to honour the relationship between

China and Malaysia. The diagram above shows the harmony of both culture being unite into one element which being tied by the south china sea. The layout was built behind a strong theory of the Admiral Zheng He from China coming to Malaysia to offer friendship and peace until today. This at the same time creates an past experience atmosphere to the user when they was on the site. It is one of the design theory where the end user could actually appreciate more about the site and not just blind sightly experience the space without any consciousness of the site, for example the history, the purpose, and etc.

Basically, the West side of the park represent China, Admiral Zheng He comes from China and in order to get to Malaysia, he has to pass the south china sea which is the connection between two country. So as you could see above, the Tea Pavilion strongly represent China with chinese own unique architecture which are the detailing on the ornaments and oriental chinese architecture. Like most of chinese architecture culture, once the user enter, they would be greet by a spacious open space(courtyard) to represent the grandeur of Chinese architecture. Follow up by the uniqueness of chinese architecture which is the tea pavilion. After Admiral Zheng He crosses the south china sea, he reached Malaysia and being greeted by the various culture of Malaysia, which would be represent by the 13 states of Malaysia. Follow up by a Pavilion which represent the 7 ethnic groups of Sarawak unite together as one to form Sarawak, as this park was built in Kuching , Sarawak.

The whole theory behind this again is the diversity of culture between China and Malaysia, and how different diversity of culture find peace within two completely various culture. The park symbolically re-pesent the theory of both country, and the architecture of both country strongly enhance as evidence of both culture unites together as one. This is why socio-culture plays an important part as a theory where it does not just matters about how the end user would feel, but it is also about the site context blending at the same time creates an atmosphere for the end user to experience and this would be in result of the end user actually knows more about the site, thus he fully understand the theory behind the whole design.

The discussion was an architect design must not always be just aesthetically presentable but the idea and concept based on theory being produce by an architect must be able to support the whole design. Do not design for aesthetically visual comfort for the public and end user, but design to blend in with the public and the end user. This conclude the conclusion of, every architect have their own design based on their own theory produced based on the research they did, but in order to have that design proved is practical and success is not important. The process of getting to the design, that is what matters most, because in the end of a day, one architect are designing for a community of public and end user. Architects job are not just designing buildings and space, their daily duty has always been shaping our mother earth and turn it into a better place for humanity from past, towards the current and future to live in.


- Ivy Jong/Pertubuhan arkitek malaysia (2011, september). Intersection. UE_4.pdf

- Pertubuhan Arkitek Malaysia. (n.d.). PAM directory. Retrieved from