Architecture Beyond Borders : Finding Solace in Spaces Within.
By Hana Yasmin • Year 2, BSc (Hons) Arch, University Technologi MARA, Malaysia
I was thinking about how I find adulthood to be very isolating. But is it really? I often cling on things that gives me a sense of sentimental value, be it music, films or even smell from certain places and items. However, taking this path of being an architecture student broadens my perception in certain aspects and perhaps creates a new beginning of interest. Some may disagree but architecture can be looked upon as a medium to generate creativity in one. Although I cannot deny the fact that I have developed great interest in architecture especially when travelling but it also allowed me to enjoy fashion more than before in a way that it somehow corresponds architecturally.
While this topic may seem like an inconsequential offering to readers of different generations or walks of life, after all I am only beginning my journey as an architecture student. I vividly remember the time I participated in the fashion show for an Architectural Workshop back in 2019. I always enjoyed dressing up when I was younger and always thought of 101 ways to style unused clothes laying around my house. Fast forward a decade later, I was in my first year and had no absolute idea of how this architectural workshop coordinate. Being a clueless first year student in her first semester I decided to take up the offer to become their model under the fashion segment. Little did I know I had to prepare myself to walk in front of hundreds of people on the day of the event. In all seriousness, I was impressed to see that architecture is beyond than just designing skyscrapers and in all artistic aspects. Designing has its layers to be unfolded and varies in many ways of how one portrays yourself through interest and in my case – a mixture of music, films, and fashion with a deep understanding in the alignments of architecture knowledge.
Looking back at my experiences, I’m grateful for all the gentle little moments of tranquillity and gratitude I’ve been given throughout the years. I was exposed to the Japanese language properly at the age of 6 by going to classes and with the help from Obachan, my Japanese grandmother who is now a Malaysian citizen after tying the knot with my grandfather years ago. It was then I often heard exchange of conversations between my father and grandmother that included a mixture of Japanese, Malay and English here and there on a daily basis. Let me tell you I was a confused little girl growing up until I reach the age of where I could genuinely understand the diverse languages. I would not say I am 100% fluent but Japanese culture left me a significant impact and it intensified as I grew older especially when I visit my relatives or travel to Japan. The last time I was in Japan was before the Covid outbreak – reminiscing and recalling while mulling over unnecessary things in my travel experiences, it gave me solace whether it was a quick ride into the highly respectable suburb of the city or a longer route across the countryside or simply the night walks around the neighbourhood, it wasn’t just the music I played or the smell of the many convenience stores in Japan but the spaces they occupy at the moment – the pharmacies, the shelters, the schools or pagodas by the streets. Those lapses in time where I was nowhere but equidistant, inside some exalted limbo within space and volume and tethering through the buzz of the train tracks and paved roads.
I always feel that places do give you a nostalgic feeling and you start to notice many things on specific buildings as you travel whilst letting the city’s architecture take a defining role. It could be how it was structurally built, or what style it was influenced by or why does one building need so many windows? Sometimes you walk aimlessly just simply moving from location A to location B even if that means sitting in those worn seats of the double decker buses and the ever so busy Japan’s bullet train rides packed with humans like sardines - and sometimes those rides became places of consolation in itself. The culture within the place itself brings out the aesthetic of the building. Japanese architecture has always been something I find pleasing to look at with its clean, very minimalist look and their concept of zen in designing - and I like to apply bits and pieces of things I like from my field of interest into my studio design.
These photographs I hastily captured back then brings back not only memories but made me notice small meticulous things that reminds you the feeling it gave you at the particular moment and how much you find commiseration in different places – solace. I think about these places and hope I get to visit new places with different perspective and views be it architecturally or philosophically as I delve further into my course. I am currently finishing my second year of architecture and I am confident that I still have a lot to learn. I am desperately missing traveling but am still insanely grateful to have been on the trips locally and overseas, as few as they were. I believe they serve as constant reminders that I am merely a humble spectator in this glorious world that He created and the comforting feeling of being able to create a sense of belonging by occupying the spaces with man-made objects which essentially gives back to the community in the course I am pursuing. At times when we look out the window and see the expanse of water, or the verdant meadows before you, or the vast sky, or the scent of places and the memory of sublime possibilities complements the building that leaves you with certain feelings you sometimes cannot throw light on when you visit places.
To put it simply, I listen and watch and somehow I see myself. You just know it when something connects to you at that time and it gives you commiseration just like when you are coming back home after school followed by an enormous amount of time spent on napping or perhaps the familiarity of routines you are used to everyday – and while it may not necessarily make me feel less alone, it certainly makes me feel okay in that lonesomeness. Adulthood is only isolating only if you want it to be, to be able to find pursuit in happiness with the things that you are passionate about which ultimately brings out the character in you – be it through designing, architecture or fashion. Finding harmony with your general interest and your field of work is rarely achieved amongst us, so any time I see the opportunity to be in sync with the sentimental value and artistic aspects in life, I feel the deep need to cling to it. Architecture has opened up borders in so many aspects just to achieve one thing – comfort. They say design for the comfort of living but how do we design something if we do not unravel the feeling of comfort ourselves?
NYALA 31st Architectural Students Workshop + Built Environment Exposition 2019
NARA Prefecture, Japan
Obachan [o. ba. cha. n] – grandmother
Pagoda – tiered tower with multiple eaves, built to have a religious function
Entrance to SHURI Castle, Okinawa, Japan
Fushimi Inari Taisha, Kyoto, Japan