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portfolio Architecture Architectural Writing Geography Art

James Charles Mak AA RIBA (Part 1) BA (Hons) LSE

curriculum vitae

Ja me s Cha rle s Ma k

Architecture | Geography |

52 A Tower 1, Sham Wan Towers, 3 Ap Lei Chau Drive, Aberdeen, Hong Kong (+852) 98338005 (HK) | DOB: 17th September 1989


. Fervent interest in architectural and design solutions to issues of Development. . .


National-prize-winning researcher trained in the London School of Economics and Political Science, architect in training at Architectural Association School of Architecture. Founded a charity in Hong Kong to promote education in Cambodia and led multiple territory-wide organisation fostering international student exchange and environmental awareness.


ARB/RIBA Part (1), High Pass

Architectural Association (AA) School of Architecture

3rd Year - Intermediate School - Unit 13 - RIBA (Part 1) m Denys Lasdun Award for Excellence in Architecture in Third Year m Technical Studies Third Year High Pass m Nominated for AA Writing Prize


BA (Hons) Geography, 2:1 London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) Urban Planning, Politics and Policy; Environmental Economics; Political Geography and Development of the South


National Undergraduate Dissertation Prize Royal Geographical Society (RGS)-IBG Developing Areas Research Group


George and Hilda Ormsby Prize for the Best Dissertation of the Year, LSE


International Baccalaureate, 38 Li Po Chun United World College of Hong Kong


Hong Kong Certificate of Education Examination, Wah Yan College, Hong Kong

m m


United World College Scholarship. Bilingual Diploma

Yeo Chei Man Memorial Scholastic Awards

Work Experience 2014-Present

Extra窶田urricular activities

Community Project Workshop, Faculty of Architecture, University of Hong Kong

Research Assistant C Curating and producing a 3-week photo exhibition of Project Little Dream. Writing and editing of the 5-year commemorative book of Project Little Dream. 2009-Present Project Little Dream Ltd. (Volunteer Part-time) Chairperson, Founder R Founded a charity in Hong Kong SAR, supervising overseas operation to promote education in Cambodia by school- construction service trips, recruiting 50 student volunteers annually.

Awards 2014

m Popular Choice Award (Self-initiated Projects) A+ Architizer Awards m Special Mention (Student Projects) A+ Architizer Awards

2013 m Hong Kong Chapter Citation American Institute of Architects m Best of the Best Trophy A&D Trophy Awards - Perapective Global m Trophy in Architecture (Student Category) A&D Trophy Awards - Perapective Global 2012 m 40 Under 40 - Architecture/Interiors Perspective Global



Different but Same Same Photo Exhibition 2014 - Visitor Centre Gallery, University of Hong Kong AA Projects Review 2014 Inter Unit 13 Exhibitions AA Projects Review 2013 Inter Unit 9 Exhibitions AA Projects Review 2012 First Year Exhibitions if. Exhibition 2012 - K11 Art Mall, Hong Kong if. Exhibition 2012 - School of Architecture, Chinese University of Hong Kong


AIESEC in the London School of Economics Local Committee President

2006-2007 40th Joint School Science Exhibition Preparation Committee Chairperson C 5-day exhibition held in Hong Kong Central Library, est. 21000 visitors, 500 student helpers, 23 press reports released on Opening Ceremony, conducted by Secretary of Environment, Mr. Edward Yau.

IT Skills Excellent Excellent Excellent Good Good Basic

Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign Rhinoceros, 3Ds Max, V-Ray, AutoCAD, Sketchup, Vectorworks Microsoft Word, Excel, Powerpoint, Publisher, Outlook Statistical Package for Social Science (SPSS), Geographical Information System (GIS) Final Cut Express, iMovie, Windows Movie Maker Z-Brush

Language Skills Native Good

Chinese (Cantonese), English Chinese, Mandarin (spoken)

The Vitrine City Design Studio (2014) Architectural Association School of Architecture Intermediate Unit 13 3rd Year

Site | South Kensington, London, United Kingdom Also known celebrated as Albertopolis, the site is the district in London that displays and produces science and art. Theme | Vitrines and Voyeurs Pataphysics in Albertopolis calls for a critical viewpoint towards art and scientific artefacts being placed into glass vitrines. We walk around museum with our children in order to immerse ourselves to a journey where knowledge is exploded to museum artefacts behind glass vitrines. This projects challenges musuem-visiting as a socially ritualistic act that evolves around vitrines. From museum vitrines that store artefacts to a giant glass vitrine - Crystal Palace - that housed the Great Exhibition, glass is an ubiquitous material that binds human interaction with knowledge consumption in Albertopolis. The Vitrine City is the glass vitrine to its extreme - a horizontal datum layer that cuts across the site, hovering 27 metres above ground level, serving as a multilevel observational machine. This purely glass layer separates the city on the ground with steeples of the V&A and Queens Tower. On ground level, this glass layer creates a seamless interior of the current city. In the two levels between the glass structure, part of the city is being captured and displayed as an exhibit of the city. The new layer will join and reveal the previously fragmented institutions into a single unified museum - the vitrine of the city. The top layer of the project will present the city as the fossilised old world while defining a new roofscape for Albertopolis.

Moomins’ Madhouse Design Studio (2013) Architectural Association School of Architecture Intermediate Unit 9 2nd Year

Site | Säynätsalo, Jyvaskyla, Finland Standing alone from his masterplan for the island, Säynätsalo Townhall has become a monument of Finnish modernist regionalism. Alvar Aalto has left an unfinished vision in his hometown. Theme | The Finnish Mythology Fictional adaptation as a catalyst to bring together the productive quality of deconstruction. The moomins saw Aalto’s townhall as the symbol of human development and in their rage toring it down and grinded it into powder. The moomin structure is made by the very powder of Aalto bricks casted in resin.

The design project challenges the convention of architectural drawings and suggests a polemic narrative that deconstructs Aalto’s Säynätsälo Townhall. Aalto’s townhall disappears and the moomin structure at its fruition, materialising the ‘act’ of deconstruction.

Process | Re-interpretation of the legacy of Alvar Aalto This design unit is focused on the experimentation of drawing and modelling. Below are the experiemnts on porcelain ceramics and resin casting models

Cutting away the building form as if moving earth, building up organic masses out of rock-like planes, Alvar Aalto interpreted his sites not as a sculptor modeling clay, but analytically, like a surveyor describing a complex landform. The project comes full circle as Aalto’s townhall disappears and the moomin structure at its fruition, materialising the ‘act’ of deconstruction.

European Patents Office Design Studio (2012) Architectural Association School of Architecture FIrst Year Studio

Site | Union Steet, London, United Kingdom Union Street situated from Borough High Street to Blackfriars Road. The proposed site of the EPO will be situated on 100 Union Street, SE1 0NL. For EPO to be located on Union (High) Street marks the attempt to encourage knowledge production instead of pure consumption. Theme | Knolwedge Production and Consumption Horizontally spreading across the railway arches opens an entrance portal from North of the High Street to the South. Being a thread in the middle of Union Street, the progressive vertical development of the EPO will refrain itself from dominating the east-west axis of Union Street while responding to its growing demand.

In the attempt to revitalise Union Street as the ‘High Street’ of Southwark, the European Patent Office will serve as the symbol of the a new global order being projected in the locality. The office will be where European patent application takes place, where examination by expert scientists and engineers take information from a public patent archive, and patent lawyers facilitate the settlement of disputes. The archive will serve not only as a public archive of knowledge and invention disclosed to the public and inventors alike, it also serves as indispensible evidence in upholding intellectual property rights. Instead of a monolithic and static architecture that dominates a streetscape, the EPO in London is vertically growing structure both downwards and upwards. The growth of the building will mark the literal growth in volumes of patents established, hence, the growth of an international collaboration concretized.

The office house uneasily a range of expertise and activities, notably a public patent archive, a media/press room as a site of information dissemination, and the highly confidential but publicly visible courtrooms where legal proceedings will take place. This brief challenges the arguably homogenous treatment to courtrooms in London by exploring the possibility of hybridizing a public access to the conventionally private courtroom. By investigating the potential of porous material, the EPO in London is an attempt in realizing a thread of interpretation to the time-space compression driven by globalization. EPO London is also an attempt in situating and representing the highly adaptive and fluid multilateral community in a local context.

Thon Mun Community Centre Built Projects (2011-12) Project Little Dream Chairperson and Founder

Site | Thon Mun Village, Takeo, Cambodia Thon Mun Community center is situated east of a small town called Takeo in Cambodia. Theme | A permeable public community Centre Thon Mun Community Centre provides free classes to children and offers a public gathering place, activating the local pagoda complex into a public arena. With 65 volunteers and local craftsmen the center was completed in two winter phases. The project is composed of two classrooms on a raised platform, enveloped by a series of porous bamboo screens. The ceiling bamboo screen extends between the two volumes connecting them to create a shaded corridor overlooking a horizon of rice fields. While maintaining the simplicity in form, the gabion wall of the sanitation facilities signifies the volunteering efforts. We collected the rubbles of temples destroyed in the area to fill up the wire cages. The gabion wall became a manifestation of historical strata reconstructed as the future of civility and social cohesion.

Project Little Dream is a student-run registered charity since 2009 that designs, builds and runs village primary schools in Cambodia. Thon Mun Community Centre provides free classes to children and offers a public gathering place, activating the local pagoda complex into a public arena. With 65 volunteers and local craftsmen the center was completed in two winter phases.

Project Little Dream 40 under 40 (Architecture) Perspective Global Founder and Chairperson 2008 - present

Kh’na Rong Village School Built Projects (2010) Project Little Dream Chairperson and Founder

Site | Kh’na Rong Village, Takeo, Cambodia Khna Rong Village School is situated north of a small town called Takeo in Cambodia. Theme | A local village school Having built its first village school in Prey Run one year ago, Project Little Dream was equipped with experience of school construction and working with local builders. As a result, the design of the school was improved, both in terms of its usage of space and ability to respond to environmental conditions. Team members were able to better gauge the requirements of the school and to satisfy these conditions. In view of the fast expansion of the Prey Run village school built in 2009, the school was designed to accommodate a maximum of 150 children in a 72-metre2 space. As the site of the first exposure to education for many local children, the school was designed under a concept of “The Hall of Learning”, with a wide and welcoming entrance inviting them into the interior classroom. In the middle of the classroom hangs “a droplet of water”, formed by a thousand hanging wooden plaques with pictures and words of encouragement and blessing written by donors, volunteers and local Khmer children. On the two sides of the school, immensely large openings allow light and fresh air to freely enter the classroom, and also frame a beautiful view: rice fields and a small pathway leading to the school. Emphasis was placed on the openness of the school – a welcoming gesture to every child passing by to enter and join the lessons, especially when they hear their fellow village children practicing newly-learnt vocabulary by chanting aloud across the field.

AA Projects Review Exhibition 2013 Exhibition Design (2013)

Architectural Association School of Architecture Exhibition Design in Charge

Site | Bedford Square, London, United Kingdom The annual exhibition of the AA that displays the works of students on campus. Each of the design units are given a space and the exhibition was designed and constructed by students. Theme | A White Forest In Intermediate unit 9, archive and current drawings intermingle in space and time. Inspired by the Finnish forest, models hang from the ceiling, reflected by the Perspex mirror on the floor, allowing threedimensional appreciation of the delicate laser-cut and ceramic pieces. Meandering through the hanging models, you find yourself at home and interacting with the creations, instead of viewing a display from a distance. In this forest maze, you can see the drawings, but only if you look through the experimental models that inspired their creation. The drawings of the students are displayed alongside framed drawings from the AA Archives, including those by Ben Nicholson. This is Inter 9’s contribution to the AA’s long legacy of drawing architecture, through making, modelling, experimenting. The myriad of line drawings overlap each other, neighbouring the framed archive drawings, all sharing the same language of architects. These drawings seem to be holding a conversation between contemporaries and legacies of the AA, a conversation you’re invited to join. Projects Review is an occasion to introduce the work of students to you within their home, displaying architecture in the context of time and space. Architecture is a culture of conversations, and this exhibition is an invitation to visit and see what architecture has to offer – from the old to the present, from the present to the future. Essay published in AArchitecture 20: TIME

Re-mix Cube This universal geometry - cube - holds six different manifestation of the contested contemporary architectural discourses: (1)construction vs. deconstruction as architectural element, (2) scale vs. scale-less as grid, (3) machine vs. landscape as diagram, (4) classicism vs. craftsmanship as details, (5) medieval exteriority vs. modern domesticity as plan, and (6) man vs. nature as texture. As a point of departure, three images were then collaged into a painting and serve as a base reference for a three-

Media Studies (2012) High Pass with Distinction Architectural Association School of Architecture

dimensional model. On one hand, the models is a result of the different level of experimentation using the 3D modelling softwares 3Ds Max and Z-brush , on the other hand, the method of production gives an autonomous identity to the six respective architectural contestations.

The Re-mix cube is then formalized with the six individual models facing inwards to the cube. Not only does the model reflect the chaotic realms of architectural representations, the re-mixing of the such representations also suggest that one can capture momentary spatial qualities in the world of conflicted architectural discourses. How can one be lost in translation? How can one take on yet another further manipulation of the 3-dimensional creative process?

Articulated Volumes Through series of resin casting, this project searches for a methodology of crafting volumes that liberates digitally-determined material expressions that tend to follow 3D-printing and laser-cutting. This project chronicles a range of experimentation in resin-casting. They investigate accordingly (1) Materiality and Embedment - optical results and characteristics of stone/metal fillers, (2) Form - 3D-printing and casting in silicone moulds, (3) Duality of Colours, Translucency and Finishing - colour gradient control and sanding techniques, and (4) Composition and

Media Studies (2013) High Pass with Distinction Architectural Association School of Architecture

Crafting Atmosphere - the final articulation. The proposal was orginated from a 3D model in studio work. It was a result of following a contour in Alvar Aalto’s Experimental House temperature mapping across time. The contours were vertically examined and lofted. The models were porcelain-slip-casts and

3D-printed and cast in silicone which were used as moulds. Running in parallel, Inter 9 studio encourages model-making as an operative means to suggesting architectural proposals. Not only did clear resin-casting become an effective tool in analysing the model’s formal character and viewing relationship, it also became a progressive means of conveying the essence of the studio project. The most treasured lesson in this course was controlling the distillation of motifs and understanding how resin-casting can be used as a medium to craft ambiguity and ambience.

The notion of space … is produced via competing discursive claims, usages, and material practices. (Lefebvre, 1991)

Junkspace. This term has attracted tremendous polyvalence since its coinage by Koolhaas (2002). The initial inquiry of this project carries an ambition to critically engage and decipher Junkspace. However, the project is primarily interested in the strategies of representation from Koolhaas (2002). The peculiar choice of literary devices and form of writing to deliver a spatial discourse perhaps demands closer scrutiny and exploration. Koolhaas fought fire with fire; junk with junk. In volarizing Junkspace, he made his readers choke with his roller-coaster ride of split-second everyday imageries. As a reader, you are almost not meant to pause and reflect, but to be dragged into this vortex of spatial imaginings. This project devotes to attempting to pick up where Kookhas left off, to exemplify that the mode of representation of this polemical text spatialises Junkspace. Constructing Junkspace suggests that the text, ‘Junkspace’, is space.



Constructing Junkspace History and Theory Studies (2012) High Pass with Distinction Architectural Association School of Architecture

Junkspace started as a speculation of a multi-scalar phenomenon of spatial transformation in this century. It can be crudely described as “a fierce philippic on economic monoculture and the destruction of the social realm by badly overdesigned consumerism and its success” (Katti & Latour, 2006, p. 110). It can also be considered a discontented response to the accelerated time-space compression and the capital’s preference for the autopoiesis of homogenous urban conditions. Spatialising such phenomena is not new and has been extensively explored by the radical geographer - David Harvey (1992; 2000; 2007). Urbanization and modernization have been the key means for absorbing capital and labour surpluses throughout capitalism’s history (Harvey, 2012). Through the Marxist

geographer’s eyes, Koolhaas may have simply reiterated the phenomena of capital accumulation. Architecture is copied, pasted, multiplied and re-assembled to follow the capital movement. Nevertheless, the two authors of space differ greatly from one another. Capitalism’s maximization was Harvey’s Marxist analytical rationale for the spread of urbanization. Koolhaas had no intention in offering a rationale. Rather, Junkspace is a visually provocative depiction. This project explores five possibilities of extending Junkspace into space. Borrowing Koolhaas’s strategy, each of these attempts are analyses of the text, just as he used his text to analyse urban conditions. By re-presenting the spatial metaphors and vocabularies that were used in the text, these drawings are respectively the five essences of Junkspace. These five attempts are by no means an exhaustive collection of ‘constructing’ Junkspace. They are merely an experimentation of representational strategies that can be employed to spatialise a spatial discourse. As authors of space, architects should be acutely aware of the supremacy of competing discursive claims and usages in the production of space. 


Progression Junkspace can easily engulf a whole city.

2 Geometries Its geometries are unimaginable, only makable. 3

Continuity Continuity is the essence of Junkspace.

4 Repetition Can the bland be amplified? The featureless be exaggerated? Through height? Depth? Length? Variation? Repetition? 5 Disperson Junkspace is additive, layered, and lightweight




A City Misread History and Theory Studies (2014)

At the end of Peter Eisenmen’s commentary on Terragni’s Casa GiulianiFrigerio and Casa del Fascio, he posed the question of whether certain types of architecture are more open than others to complex textual readings. Is such a quality inherent in architecture or in the methodology of reading? (Eisenmen, 2003) The intent of this paper is to challenge the limits of writing as a critical tool for a propositional design strategy. While the textual reading of Terragni’s architecture for Eisenmen is specifically a formal discourse, this paper opens up such a reading to a city plan.

Expected: High Pass Architectural Association School of Architecture

case studies, but also displace the conventional notions of reading. Employing a series of deliberate re-readings of the works of two architects, Ivan Leonidov and Rem Koolhaas, the paper will ‘re-write’ the future of a city plan that characterizes the hyper-corporatism we see today. These include unique working environments such as that of the Googleplex with almost 3.1 million square feet of working space, Apple Campus and Facebook Campus, city-

A deliberate ‘re-reading’ will not only entail the internal recognition of two




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1 The Cabanon 2 Mono-Cell 3 Silver Factory 4 Hakka Toulu 5 The Institute 6 Playboy Pad 7 Mansion House 8 Phalanstery 1DUNRPÀQ 10 Charterhouse 11 Housing Tower



Genemes of +City



scale ownership of international corporate monopolies. They are livelihoods and neighbourhoods that amalgamate work with life. From working days to weekends, laundry to dining; monolithic corporate urban campuses begin to take shape as an alternative mode of elitist employees. The end of this paper offers a dystopian vision, +City – an accumulative and climax layer of capitalistic urbanism that is valorized through a critical re-reading and rewriting of Leonidov and Koolhaas. Simply put, this is a project that pursues writing as design, pushing forth its role as a productive and progressive work of architecture.

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Portfolio 2010-14

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Portfolio 2010-14

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