Saturday, April 29, 2023



A brief period in my overall story, but it still burns brightly in memory. The red and green zig-zag was a device that appealed to me long before I had any thoughts of moving to Zimbabwe.

I miss that guitar. Bought in a second hand shop on the Wicker in Sheffield for £39. That must be almost 50 years ago. So light with a wide fingerboard and distinctive tone.

I still wear the slide on my little finger but not a sawn-off version like that. Was I trying to play slide without changing the tuning? Probably. What tricks the memory plays.

These shots are from around 2000. A clean-cut me in my late 40s playing a Saturday afternoon gig in Harare.


Festoon, garland, swag. Originating in decoration of buildings on feast days with strings of leaves, flowers, fruit. It's a common motif in classical architecture and features in the shophouses of Singapore.

These two feature as panels below windows. I selected one and traced over it on my phone as a first step in simplifying the form. The second stage involves extrusions and revolves in Revit Family editor.


In a BIM context we have to decide on an appropriate level of simplification based on the specifics of the situation. In my case, I am doing personal research. There is no contractor or specialist subcontractor taking direction from my model.

All the same I may want to create a rendered view and to show this element at different scales on sheets, with annotations that display information embedded in the element. Firstly to deepen my own understanding of this building typology. Secondly to share my work with others.

Looking back at the original photo, I think I will make a second attempt at this abstraction process.



Two maps that try to capture the long duree of history. One by me, from 2014, using Revit. The other stumbled across in Wikipedia quite recently.

My map was created in preparation for a conference paper in New Zealand: an over ambitious attempt to study three famous office buildings using Revit models as the core really method.

It was influenced by a couple of books attempting to explain the extraordinary rise of the West and creation of the modern world. I was trying to give a back-storey to Casa del Fascio, Lever House and the Gherkin.


The second map delves back much deeper in time to illustrate the notion of successive waves of hominids spreading out of Africa to inhabit diverse habitats and climates.

Apologies to the americas. I trimmed you off 🤣🤣🤣 More about the proportions of the image than anything. I just like these kinds of diagrams.


Sunday, April 23, 2023


Always interesting to figure out what is precast and what in-situ.

The tell-tale joints are an obvious indicator. In this case, often flat panels, but with an exposed aggregate finish that benefits from the greater control of a workshop setting.

I'm guessing that the column caps were cast upside down in a two-part mould, maybe 4 part. To my eye, the moulding in the top right panel was run in-situ.

These shots were all taken at the condo development I was staying at in Singapore. Quality job all round for my money.


I think these are from the second day of my recent stay in Singapore. A family outing to Chinatown : brunch, walkabout, snapping away at shophouses, exchanging chitchat with Tom and Vicky

The range of variation is just vast and my limited energies spread quite thin. But it's good to have this image bank to draw on.


At first glance there is a pervasive flavour to all these buildings. They belong together. And yet, zooming in, there is that incessant variety. It's like some kind of magic trick. Unity and diversity all bound up together.

We need more of that.


Did I leave the house intending to take pictures? Sometimes it just happens. Early morning walk.

In some ways International City reminds me of the Barnsley that I grew up in. A fair amount of waste ground, unused plots, "failure to landscape" On the one hand a coal mining town in decline, on the other a dormitory suburb for lower to middle income aspirants in a global economy.

I love them both for their nitty gritty honesty. Barnsley has changed of course and I was just a child when I knew it in the 50s and 60s. Just hit 72 a couple of days ago. God knows how I ended up here, but it's OK, fun even 😜.


As a boy, I could always waIk to school, although many of my classmates after 11+ would take a bus from outlying villages. Here there are hordes of yellow buses, American style, distributing pupils to various fee-paying establishments.

There are strips of land between the plot boundaries and the pavement. Some businesses have put them to good use. Most lie barren, often with damaged kerbs from "informal" parking.

Outside my block there's a team of guys setting new kerbs. I live in hope that it's a prelude to some planting. Call me an optimist 🤣🤣🤣



Flashback to 2014. This work was done at the height of my obesity, just a few months before the diagnosis that would put me on a crash diet to lose 30 kg

I had done a study of sliding-sash windows a favourite from my 20s in UK and decided to follow up by looking at the steel windows I became so familiar with in Zimbabwe in my 30s and 40s

Revit is not designed for this kind of work but that never stopped me. The aim was always to deepen my own understanding of building technologies, architectural styles, construction processes... in short "the way we build"... which has differed widely in time and place. It's always interesting to speculate why and to delve into cultural and historical context.

But for now, just marvel with me at how my younger, fatter self managed to conjure up these forms using native Revit geometry. OK it's not that special but... Let's just say I rose to the challenge.





My brain is flip-flopping between Dubai and Singapore at the moment, which is actually a great feeling.

No prizes for guessing which one this is. Three different takes on the air-vent theme, spotted during my shophouse wanderings. Should I continue my BIM pencil work, studying this fascinating typology? Or will something else grab my attention.

The weekend beckons, so let's see how the spirit moves me. 🤔


Working on my shophouses.

"Blue Team" facade. Loosely based on a photo but not a strict copy. Just gradually building up the range of components and level of detail.

I guess at some point I will look at two or three alternative internal layouts, then set up some sheets. There are so many possible variations based on the reference material I have accumulated but need to keep my ambitions in check.

Let's see if I can find a natural inflection point at which to pause this work and do something else for a while.

Rhythm and balance. Approaching 72 years old. Try to get it right.


Added a turned baluster to the blue team facade this afternoon.

Did you ever get that feeling just after the burst of pride for how much you achieved today, a sinking sensation of how far short it falls?

Important to remind myself that the real measure is the process I go through. Learning by doing. Experiencing, observing, reassessing.

One more day this weekend for virtual shophouse world.



Dawn at six, out by 6.30, having set the robotic disc to cleaning the floor. Quite a pretty sky early on while the sun is still hiding behind the buildings.

I did my usual circuit, stopped off to buy

 milk, yoghurt and a mango, then climbed the five flights of stairs to my apartment. Now I'm sitting on the balcony with the last of my coffee. Mango and yoghurt eaten, robot finished for the day and charging.

What will I achieve today? By rights I should work on internal layouts of shophouses. The first one is reasonably well developed. I need at least one more, and it should be one with a straight flight of stairs down to a door on the street.

That was the configuration I saw most often last month in Singapore. Let's get to it.


Another day in shophouse world (the virtual one)

This morning I added lots more shutters to the facade families, played around with open v closed, rearranged the sequence of styles. Lots more can be done but... later.


Afternoon scramble was to make a start on another internal layout. This is one where the upper floors have a separate street door. Seems to be common in Singapore. I'm just winging it, but what's new?

Hopefully I have one more weekend in the tank to set up some sheets, which will necessarily reveal things that need to be fixed in the model.