muse, sketch

DEC + JAN // Monthly Update

Happy New Year pet project!

The year 2020 has been off to both a rocky and fabulously busy start. I’m stacked up with a ton of todos and commitments, with barely anytime to even enjoy an evening of nothing-ness. Lists gets pushed to the next day which gets pushed to the next week. Sound familiar?

“Is January over yet?”, one friend asks.

Yeah, actually, it is. So here I am with a much delayed monthly update. Thankfully I have something to show for it other than another Test sketch. (I quite enjoy doing those sketches though ^_^).

Before I post that said Test, here are two quick and fun reads that have been on my mind:

  1. How to Design Comfortable and Efficient Offices: Individual Workspaces
    I really enjoy office design. I don’t do much of it at work, but I like looking at well designed office spaces. This was a fun article to browse through, complete with accurate illustrations of different office space typologies
  2. The Art of Kakeibo: This Japanese Budgeting System Could Change Your Financial Life
    This was a light read but seemingly very important and relevant in todays fast-paced, often lose-lose world of money spending more than we save. Apparently there’s a neat trick to go about it. It still requires a good amount of self-control and a motivated mindset to keep at it. All it takes is to know it makes a difference — just like how I’ve decided to transition to plant-based eating thanks to Game Changers.

Seriously though, I have a test in the works. It’s moved past the sketch stage. Update soon. In the meantime, I recently compiled a few of my favourite sketches from my ‘Site Series’ Tests. 05_Artifact_sketch_AM


a test 004

A test 004 –
1 UNIT: built space
OCCUPANCY: private office
TYPE(s): architecture, renovation
AR/TIFACT(s): 04

This is WeWork’s first Toronto location, 240 Richmond St. W. I thought about rotating the view to start looking at the interior fit-out initially, but opted for the envelope view instead. The reason for that being that in an interior fit-out project, understanding the base building and envelope would come first – knowing the structure, existing mechanical or plumbing routes, materials, etc. For example, they found an excessive amount of asbestos in the ceilings that they had to get rid of before even making any headway with the fit-out.

Once there is an understanding of the shell, then we can run right into the interior. Perhaps this test can have a part 2 where I look at the interior.



I have found that this being an ongoing side project of mine,  the smoothest way for
me to integrate and keep up with it is to draw my tests from real life experiences. Not unlike many of the architecture blogs out there of architects with real full time jobs.

This week, I had a lot of exposure to that global phenomenon that is ’wework’. Participated in a tour of one of Toronto’s first wework offices, listening to a podcast interview with the co-founder (see below), reading many articles about the latest quarterly news on the company…etc.

What does this have to do with my idea? Possibly nothing. But at the same time, thinking more broadly about the project, I want to work on something that can have impact on the multiple streams of architecture, from the urban scale to the interior scale. I have also been quite enamored by ideas of work and office culture – design of the workplace, efficiencies and communities, data driven design – so it has been a fruitful exploration into this so called ‘new’ model of work.

For those of you unfamiliar, WeWork is a co-working startup currently valued at somewhere between $20B and $35B, with almost 400 locations scattered around the world in 69 cities. While WeWork wasn’t the first company to enter the coworking space, they approached it in a very different way, focusing on creating physical environments that connected with workers and business owners, while crafting a culture of super-dedicated members.

interview with Miguel McKelvey, co-founder of wework

I can’t exactly pinpoint how the idea of AR can work congruently with this co-working space model, let alone an office culture setting. The basis of my idea comes from an overlay of information or access to additional information of something in real life. It’s incredibly vague, and the details of that overlay can be anything. So I can’t discount the
connection quite yet. At the same time, the premise of the overlay is to introduce a user base and community interaction, which, as I’ve learned, wework has integrated quite seamlessly into their model.

The best thing to ask then, is how can what I design or helpful to those who choose to use it? And following up, can I move from making it a choice to using it, to encouraging its use regularly in education and knowledge building? In my opinion, it’s not

Test 004 to follow.


a test 002


A test 002 —
1 UNIT: built space
TYPE(s): architecture, public plaza, landscape
AR/TIFACT(s): 05


My launching point is the Mies TD Towers in the financial district of downtown Toronto. Note my pilot post & logo. I feel that if I were to pick a starting point of notable buildings in the city, this is an ideal place to start. A Classic, with significant historical backing as well as poignant details to select from. The modular and orthogonal shape of the towers also provides a great testing ground for analysis. Maybe. I quite possibly really just wanted to include the cow(s).



I attended the WHAT IS A SCHOOL? Symposium
keynote at UofT this past Friday. The symposium marked the first use (a test!)
of Principal Hall, the main lecture hall for the Daniels building since it’s opening
last year. It is quite remarkable how early you can occupy a building before
it’s actually completed. If this building is any example, apparently occupancy for substantial completion before 100% completion is “very early”. Criticism aside, the space
worked well, and the acoustics were not noticeably terrible. In other words,
the hall worked great! I sat in the loose seating on the floor but discovered
later that the tired fixed seating further back was not only more comfortable but
also afforded a much better view of the stage. Next time.

What I wanted to muse about this time had
less to do with the content of the keynote (though it is
certainly worth a discussion point for later), but on the topic of education as
it might relate to my project vision.  I
had some early notes made for what AR could mean for students. I found that
more often than not, as a student, we spend a lot of time scrounging the
library (now more the internet) for information on buildings. Not just the surface
stuff – name, date, square footage, basic construction. But things like
envelope construction, material data, details & wall/floor composition.
There is now an enormous source available for that, and it’s only growing. The question is then, (and a challenge to myself), can my idea make it worth a student’s
time to use and learn from?

The biggest weakness in AR thus far, imo, has
always been it’s “gimmick-y-ness”. I can attest; once something seems
slow, buggy or clunky, I dismiss it almost immediately. But what if, clunkiness
aside, a database of details on famous as well as new/upcoming buildings can be made readily available? Through a mediated physical/digital world overlay built for users to analyze,
criticize, learn from and show appreciation. I think it would be neat. 

But neat isn’t what the world is looking for.

So I have some questions for myself. In the
fast paced and efficiency driven nature of today’s society, new ideas need to
provide value. What is the value for this type of database + interactive
overlay. How often would it be used? Would it be used at all? Would it be more
useful for architects, or architecture students?

A test 002 is on it’s way.