Thinking about the Box

One of the main challenges in architecture is geometry. The choice of implementing either rectilinear or curvilinear designs would bring with it its own set of considerations. A curvaceous structure is usually seen as more wasteful and expensive because of its complexity and thus, its difficulty to build. However, with the recent advent of parametric computer software, most of the problems mentioned can be solved relatively easily.


I decided on a simple box as the expression for this compact house, which is located in a compact suburban neighbourhood. When I visited the site to inspect the installation of steel frames for the timber screen, I complained to the builders on the lengthy time required to complete the necessary components. As the house has simple rectilinear geometry, I surmised that it could be erected quickly because all of the requisite components are flat and not curved. However, after he suggested a series of refinements and revisions we had discussed with the clients over the course of the construction, I felt like I could only smile and give him some words of encouragement.


I think when the design is simple, there is a tendency for the architect to focus on the nitty gritty and engage in what some may call "detailing to death". I concluded that from the design concept til the final building, it is a process of one refinement after another - much like evolution - until its eventual completion. As such, the process of realising a building's design will always be long and arduous regardless of the geometry adopted, so I should just embrace it and enjoy it, despite occasionally agonising over some choices we had made.

Having said that, the result for this house is rather refined and the client is happy… so far.