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portfolio zeno lee

A portfolio featuring 6 projects that shows my growth in an architecture school, picking up skills and acquiring knowledge that were once strange and new to me. But more is yet to come, and more is yet to learn.






Walkability Town Study Drafted in collaboration with Keio University, Japan     Prologue As a result of functional specialization and progress, urban spaces are becoming more segregated. Spaces  for pedestrians and cars are separated, as are the spaces for commerce, life, and work. Shopping centers are  spaces that specialize in shopping and leisure. Outdoor spaces cater to cars and indoor spaces cater only to  pedestrians. Thus, indoor and outdoor spaces are completely separated. In shopping centers, various shops and  amusement facilities are compactly gathered, and many people can stay there comfortably and safely for a long  time, which is why many people are eager to visit shopping centers.  On the other hand, the central districts of old towns have not been developed in the same way, and are  therefore not usually separated functionally. Both pedestrians and cars are spatially mixed, and housing,  commercial, and business districts coexist. In such areas, people can feel culture and history, but in reality they  do not tend to visit these places very often for shopping, and therefore such areas are gradually declining. The  picture above is Jiyugaoka town in the suburb of Tokyo. The town is traditionally a mixed area with different  modes of speed, such as those of pedestrians, bicycles, and cars, and different functions, such as those of  residences, offices, and shops. The walking environment seems to be relatively good, and people can walk  rather comfortably, but in fact the number of visitors is decreasing because people are going to shopping  centers instead. Therefore, such places need to be more attractive to draw people in and become sustainable.  Since it is less comfortable or less appealing to walk around these areas than to browse shopping centers,  such towns have to become more comfortable, more convenient, and more attractive. They have to become  places where people enjoy shopping and walking around, with atmospheres of culture and history cultivated by  some intervention of new architectural and urban design. Such architectural proposals should attract more  people to gather, walk around comfortably, and enjoy shopping.

P.O.E.T.S. analysis of site

Proposed construction over site

Assignment This assignment is to make a proposal of spatial intervention for the improvement of the  comfort and attractiveness of a mixed town. The site for the assignment is the area inside Little India.  As Little India is a mixed­use town with housing and commercial functions, the residents of the  shop­houses have left, and only commercial functions and HDB housing, which are in separate  blocks, remain in this area. Cars, trucks, and pedestrians coexist on the streets, and there seem to be  many issues with security, safety, comfort, and attractiveness. Some new vision for the future  architectural and urban design is required in such a mixed-use environment.  Consider the design intervention by following these three steps. The first is to investigate and  understand the current condition of the town. The second is to discuss the issues to be improved and  find the design theme and goal within the group. The final step is to consider and make a piece of  design work as a proposal.


Original site


Biomimicry for Our Built Environment Prologue Our planet, Earth, faces devastating environmental challenges. Its surface has been severely damaged, and much wildlife has been destroyed. Natural resources have become dangerously scarce, to the point where they can no longer sustain the whole population of the planet. The population has risen to over 10 billion, and wars and food shortages have displaced millions of people, forcing them to migrate to urban areas. Most people have also been forced to live in urban areas to help the planet’s natural resources renew themselves. As a result, urban areas have required high-density development to accommodate the large numbers of people. People are living in super high-rise towers in these areas – towers that have been designed to perform like a bio-organism, to seamlessly integrate into the lives of humanity. These super towers have been designed to provide the population with five basic, essential needs: Air (wind), Water, Sun, Soil (ground), and Trees. The super towers act like wind/water/sun catchers, harnessing energy and natural resources. The super tower has its own cycle of ecology, and the five so-called ‘elemental super towers’ (one for each basic need) have been designed according to the principle of Biomimicry. The principle of Biomimicry has three levels: the Organism level, Behaviour level, and Ecosystem level. Each super tower has been designed to perform at least one level of Biomimicry, and a variety of super towers have been designed for and constructed in severe environmental conditions.

Assignment With this undesirable yet plausible scenario in mind, the future architects are asked to come up with the design of the five ‘elemental towers’ according to the principles of Biomimicry. The task is to define each element in terms of the natural resources required, then to design each super tower to be able to harness its resources. Each tower is rather mono-functional. It does not have to address all the elements, but can be focused on dealing with just one element. The tower should be 1,189 metres tall and the building’s exterior parameter cannot exceed 841 metres. For this exercise, the towers can essentially consist of the skin and the building envelope, and therefore articulation of floor plates and structure is not necessary, although they can be articulated and incorporated if desired, the structure can be like a tube. Each tower is to be designed by a pair of students, so there should be five pairs of students in each studio (if there are 11 students in each studio, one team can have three students); each studio therefore needs to cover all the five elements. Each studio can modify the senario a bit and have its own theme – please discuss among studio and with your tutor.





Resource, Sustainability, and Tropical Climate Tropical Paradigm Drafted in collaboration with Dr ​Abel E. Tablada de la Torre and Dr Chang Jiat-Hwee



“Are those involved aware that they have perhaps unwittingly legitimised the primacy of the cube and the surface plane as the language of form and space applied to the problem of tropical aesthetics notwithstanding the physics of tropical design?” Tay Kheng Soon

Tropicality Discourse and Debate:​ Please form two teams of 5–6 students in regular studio. Based on the reading assignments, discuss and debate the opposing positions on tropicality in architectural design by Tay Kheng Soon and Chan Soo Khian. One team will therefore take Kheng Soon’s position, and the other will take Soo Khian’s.

“‘Neo-tropical’ had the motive not only to restore but also to challenge the current status of topicality. We are, in no way, claiming higher or a totally new ground. However, it is timely to challenge certain comfortable notions of the all-important issue of identity usually tied to the vernacular. What is Singapore’s vernacular anyway?” ​ Chan Soo Khian “It is important that architects and students of architecture from hot-humid South East Asia understand the climatic factors which influence building design and structure and find appropriate expression of this in the context indicative of our tropical region and our associated culture. Because of the lack of sufficient written material on tropical architecture, there is a danger of students merely regulating images from foreign magazines that do not address the regional issues of this climate, culture and context.” ​ Jimmy Lim

Tropical Paradigm:​ Each team is to compose their own statement defining tropicality in architecture and city. Tropical Architecture: ​ Based on the statement, create an envelope that encloses a square void of 800 mm x 800 mm, following the basic rules from the previous assignment. You may also incorporate ideas from the previous assignments. Please set a base into which you can poke your head to experience the inside of the envelope. The model can simply be placed between two tables for this. Evaluation: ​ The success of the project will be evaluated on both a quantitative and qualitative basis. Quantitatively, we will test the envelope with an electronic fan and spotlight, placing a flag in the middle and testing if the flag can sway in the wind while protected from direct lighting. The flag should sway as much as possible and have as little area under direct lighting as possible. Qualitatively, we will experience the envelope by putting our heads inside it and evaluating whether the experience constitutes a successful manifestation of the statement on tropicality in architecture. Lighting effect at night: ​ Please also consider the effect of lighting on the box. The box can be lit from inside or outside. Please propose effective lighting along with the design of the box.

As prospective architects educated and trained in the tropical region, how would you weave the threads of the language of form and space to define architecture that is deeply rooted in the climate, culture, and context of Singapore?



1 2 3 Porous translucent roof filters direct sunlight and allows rainwater into reservoir.


Water reservoir with porous ceiling collects rainwater to cool air in wind tunnel.



Wind tunnel with porous walls and floor allows hot air from the box to rise and cool or escape.


Curtains made of strings to create sensuos space. The outer layers guide rainwater to the ground.


5 Drainage drains rainwater away from the structure


Proposed scale for head to enter

Proposed scale for interactive structure



City Drafted in collaboration with Prof. Tay Kheng Soon Prologue: The general meaning of the term “morphology” is the systematic description of shape and form. In biological usage, the comparative classification of the shape characteristics of an organism is called taxonomy. Morphology, when applied to urban architectural design, is about the specific characteristics of form, i.e. the height, the width, and the length of a building, and its footprint on the land. The comparative characteristics of different building morphologies are collectively referred to as “typology”. The purpose of this introductory studio on morphology is for students to gain, at an early stage of their architectural education, a grasp of the relationship between quantity and quality, or between form and concept (meaning). Urban architecture must understand the relationship between form and density. This kind of knowledge is important but too often neglected in architecture schools everywhere. environmental conditions.

Assignment Students will select from Google Earth a location they are familiar with in Singapore. Thus they will generally know its quality, i.e. its density, appearance, openness or compactness etc. They will then draw a 500 m circle around the target area. This is the “gross site” area. They will calculate the total floor area by measuring the plan area of all the buildings within this site, then multiply this by the heights to get the total floor area. This will be multiplied by the average storey height (3 m) to obtain the total volume. Students will redesign the layout with the same volume by making different layout models at 1:500 scale. They will do this by making strips of floor widths and thickness at 1:500 scale and deploying these within the 500 m site at 1:500 scale. The standard width is 13m. If too wide light and ventilation will be compromised. Students will work in groups of 3–4 with 3 teams per studio. There will be many different layouts and building morphologies. These can then be compared and discussed as to their liveability and the quality of the public spaces. In doing block forms it is important to understand that every housing unit within the block must have enough light and ventilation. This is measured by a view and ventilation index - VVI. The index is determined based on the total surface exposed to the outside for a given flat size. Party walls are not counted. For example an ideal square shape bungalow of 100m2 will have 40m exposed to view and ventilation. A circle of the same floor area will be less, a triangle even less. The best shape for the same floor area is a long rectangle but this may not be liveable.



Site coverage




View & Ventilation Index

Sky factor

Original site

my iteration

Iteration 1

selected iteration

Iteration 2

Iteration 3

Iteration 4

Each of the team member came out with their individual iterations and inspected them based on site coverage, greenery area, wind direction, sun and shadow, view and ventilation index, and sky factor. A general form is picked from one of the iterations and improved on by integrating features of other iterations which help refine on each aspect. 18






Project 2: Architecture (Apprenticeship version) Drafted by Junko Tamura, Tomohisa Miyauchi



Architects have ideas and concepts for designing things they dream of… but most often they design for clients. But then architects do realise their visions using client money and resources! The client asks the architect to realise his/her dream too, and this should be the priority of design. Each time, the architect designs a building that is unique to each client and situation, basically designing and selling something more special and expensive than a Ferrari … which is to be owned by the client. How can a client trust an architect to design something that has never been seen before and is more expensive than a Ferrari, and that no one is sure will really work? This is a somewhat exaggerated comparison, and not a moral question, but is still interesting to think about. For each new project, the architect has probably never created and realised the exact design before, but just projects the vision that should work based on his/her education and experience, or takes a leap of faith. Architectural experience should count, but, in a sense, every project represents a new and unique situation for the architect.

As a young architect, you are under the apprenticeship of one of the following master architects, and your task is to be in charge of designing his/her client’s house, based on your master’s philosophy and vision of architecture. Please select your master (Annex A), with no duplicate selections in the studio:

To be an architect, obtaining a university education is barely sufficient in terms of developing the skills. University is not a vocational school, however it does give students an orientation to understand the world, so they will be able to adapt and change even with the advent of new technology. University also asks architects of the future to be open-minded. If you are a young architect, in order to develop your skills, you will work under a senior architect as an intern for on-the-job training in addition to your university education. That is when you will really learn the real industry skills needed to construct a building. When you work under a master architect, you will be an apprentice following the ideas and philosophy of the master architect, and designing everything according to the master. Then you will ask: Am I serving the client or serving the master? Again, it is interesting to think about what architects do!

You will also act as the client (owner). Please draft a program of your “dream” house. It can be your family home, rental condo, Airbnb, vacation house, SOHO, art studio, shophouse – anything you wish to live in! Then please appoint your studio mate as your architect to design it. Each studio will be given an urban site of 50 m x 50 m, which needs to be subdivided into 10 lots (if 9 students, leave one lot as a park. If 11 students, one lot can be just used twice), with a street and public area. As a studio, please plan the configuration of the lots, street, and public area to define the quality of the neighbourhood. One lot will then be assigned to each client. The site is a mixed-usage site (meaning it can be residential, commercial etc). Plot ratio can be decided and fixed as a studio. Lot Size X Plot Ratio = Gross Floor Area (GFA), which is the maximum space you are allowed to build on. Only covered indoor areas are considered part of the GFA. The site is flat and has no height limit, but underground structures are not allowed. As the architect, please consult the client to understand the program so you can meet his/her expectations/requirements by producing sketches and drawings (1:50) to communicate your design intent. On behalf of the client, please resolve any issues, such as adjacency with neighbours. Other conditions are subject to the development authority (tutor). The architect has to gain basic approval from the authority for the premise of the project. All the final drawings and the model are to be produced in 1:50 scale, and the architects are free to communicate with clients via meetings, email, phone, sketches etc. for the success of the project. Each student will take the two roles of Architect and Client for others.



Client Jane Brief Spacious (feeling of spaciousness), well-lit but cooling, can feel the warm glow of sun but not scorching, breezy and well-ventilated, natural, silent with occasional sounds of nature, neutral colours with hints of warm and earthy tones, clean cut and structured

Translation of brief Large openable etched glass walls Asymmetrical geometry to create illusion for spaciousness Skewed alignment on plot to exploit space and view Steel structure walls cladded with concrete Steel structure floors cladded with wooden panels

Precedental studies



The Pleats, a house designed for Jane based on precendental studies on Villa Dall'ava by Rem Koolhaas. Concept models were made to put translation of client's brief into physical spaces, exploring ways to materialize Koolhaas' design language. Asymmetrical geometries were explored to create surreal and complex open and enclosed spaces.







Internship Portfolio for BHATCH Architects  
Internship Portfolio for BHATCH Architects