Tag Archives: architecture

The Anime Film and Architecture

by Samuel Tan

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Angel’s Egg (1985), Mamoru Oshii

Following a boom in the 1980s, anime has continued to gain mainstream popularity in the West, spanning genres between sci-fi and ‘slice of life’. On the surface, it seems that the freedom of self-expression in fashion, music and lifestyle is so rich in its plurality that the individual has achieved precedence over the collective that once defined Japan, and indeed, many other Asian cultures. And while many turn to Japan as the holy grail of unique cultural phenomena that fascinate as somewhat foreign and exotic, and thus ‘individualistic’, there is hesitation to label them so.

 

The relationship between the anime film and architecture defines the parameters of this argument through a plethora of examples, particularly the sci-fi/dystopic sub-genre, where the will of the individual or a group of individuals is often portrayed against the monolith that is the urban entity. In a medium where story, character and place must be sharply defined without the luxury of long-form storytelling common in anime, the interaction between individual and architecture is of pinnacle importance in the establishment of ethos.

 

This fundamental device so deftly used by these filmmakers in the 80s and 90s seems to suggest a sense of ‘transcendent’ collectivism, not a direct foil of individualism, but a form of ideology where the many do not fear the plurality of one, something keenly urban and post-modern in nature. The collective may not be exalted, but neither is the individual. The following films outline various positions upon this ideological spectrum, and how architecture plays an indispensable role in elucidating such complex ideas, if it is not the very essence of this contemporary form of collectivism.

Part I: Ghost in the Shell

 

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Ghost in the Shell (1995), Mamoru Oshii

 

 

In November 1995, Ghost in the Shell, directed by Mamoru Oshii, was released in Japanese theatres, and would become a seminal film going on to inspire the likes of The Matrix, Avatar, and an uninspiring Western adaptation. Today, it has a cemented place in the Anime hall of fame, ranked alongside films like Akira and Spirited Away. But perhaps what sets Ghost in the Shell apart from the films in its periphery is its engagement in particularly lofty philosophical discourse, in a rampant dualism that dominates the film’s trajectory; between human and machine, man and city, mind and body, culminating in an existential question of identity: the individual vs the collective.

 

The film makes a persistent effort to depict the city not as an illustration of buildings, but as actual architecture, with attention given to the manipulation of space, materials and form to give rise to mood and atmosphere. The reality of its texture comes not from the artistic ability to render such frames, but adherence to a city inherently Japanese, yet inspired by Hong Kong, giving it a bricolage quality that comes across as a chaotic urban expanse familiar to the Japanese, but distinct in its untamed spirit.

 

This thread runs through the film, where characters are consistently depicted against this city they live in, subservient to it in an expression of the diminished importance of an individual in the context of the living urban organism. Essentially, there is the subject, and then there is context. No frame speaks louder to this point than one of the very first scenes in the movie, as Kusanagi awakens in a pitch-black room, her silhouette blacked out against the light flooding in that illuminates the city outside. The dualities discussed throughout the film become sharpened in these straightforward but beautiful scenes that juxtapose man and city.

In a 3-minute long sequence of shots throughout New Port City, we get our most detailed look of the city. Immediately, one is drawn to the stark contrast between the uncountable elements of the city, billboards of stark colours battling for attention, bridges sprawling over canals, buildings in completion and construction; there is no attempt on the film’s part to harmonise these elements. Yet, in the tension between them, harmony is achieved, in a realistic depiction that evokes a sense of ‘alteration’ of its real-life counterparts. Fundamentally, the film does not fall prey to gloss or indulging in visual spectacle.

 

A look at the 2017 remake illuminates the beauty of Oshii’s direction. Comparing this scene with its equivalent in the 2017 film, the anime film resists exchanging the representation of architecture for presentation, ie. the primary concern of the latter is that of space. Unlike its predecessor, the 2017 film relies on colour (in an analogous scheme of red, blue and purple hues), dynamic cinematography and the presentation of the object before the expression of space (holographic advertisements, futuristic cars etc).

 

The crux of Kusanagi’s existential crisis in both films parallels this difference between architecture and illustration of architecture, as a deviation in her conception of identity mirroring the existence or absence of ‘architecture’. In the 1995 film, what begins as a question of individual identity ends as a rumination of the question’s necessity, ‘all things change in a dynamic environment, your effort to remain as you are is what limits you’. It is both futile and hindering. We see the opposite in the 2017 film, a Major obsessed with a memory, or thought reliant conception of identity, in a permanent, solidified-state of identity that the film argues, cannot change. Comparing the rejection of Cartesian mind-body dualism in 1995 and the acceptance of it in 2017 reflects not only the values of the filmmakers behind the respective projects, but the superior sensitivity towards space in the anime, and the importance of environment in relation to individual, in taking precedence over the insulated persona.

 

It is this that Ghost in the Shell primarily seeks to impart on the viewer, that the identity of an individual is not determined introvertedly, but via its relationship with its surrounding elements, of which architecture comprises a sizeable portion. Kusanagi’s journey resembles that of urban praxis, acting upon the complex organism in a ceaseless change of transitory and translational phases, from a singular element to an interlaced system.

 

 

 

 

 

Part II: The Anthology

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Magnetic Rose (1995), Koji Morimoto

 

The system, however, ranges in scale and likewise, the depiction of the individual shifts. The anthology film is diverse in this respect of representation, with films focusing on single individuals, a small group of characters, or even no characters at all. A constant remains however, in an incomplete mode of characterisation, that maintains a gap between the knowledge of the audience and that of the characters’ histories. In other words, the thematic discourse is less dependent on individual personas than it is on action and interaction.

 

Part of the triple-billed film ‘Memories’, Magnetic Rose directed by Koji Morimoto details an SOS response gone wrong, taking place in a derelict space station. Internally, however, the station takes on a beaux-arts aesthetic, styled to be opulent and ostentatious. Functionally, Magnetic Rose is an example of architecture as character, literarily Gothic in nature, borrowing from canon such as The Castle of Otranto, The Fall of the House of Usher, and The Picture of Dorian Gray; the personification of the inanimate.

 

Material plays a large role in Magnetic Rose, signifying the station’s varying states of disrepair. A major motif is the literal veneer of luxury peeling away to reveal rusted steel workings, signifying the characters’ descent into the sinister truth of the space they traverse. The film’s dialectic with reality vs fiction is expressed through the transformation of setting, that deals with the authenticity of material in its architecture. What is veritable is considered unsightly, and therefore, hidden behind marble, gold and stucco. What is visible, is then, fiction.

 

Where in the Gothic, setting can be defined by objects, atmosphere, and pathetic fallacy, Magnetic Rose engages in architectural ideas to present the sense of place as objective, altered deliberately in the realisation of pretence. More importantly, the history and personalities of our protagonists are revealed through their interactions with space. In their first direct encounter with the intelligence behind the space station, the character Miguel activates a hologram that transforms a decaying cistern into a bright garden. The trickery fools him, and we see in that desperation, folly and a tendency for beguilement. The environment as character acts upon Miguel, and through the transformation of space, reveals the individual.

 

In this sense, while Magnetic Rose does not engage in the identity-focused discourse of Ghost in the Shell, it elucidates the filmmaking philosophy, where a story relies on architecture to carry its characters, and to characterise them. Priorities place the individual beneath the vitality of environment, and like Ghost in the Shell, looks to the interchange as crucial.

 

In a varied exploration of such an idea, Running Man, directed by Yoshiaki Kawajiri and part of the anthology film ‘Neo Tokyo’, set in a dystopic city, focusing on a racing circuit called the ‘Death Circus’. It is an intense depiction of obsession that borders insanity, and what that does to the individual.

 

Zack Hugh, individual in question, is a racer, and remains undefeated due to telekinetic powers that allow him to win all his races. In the film, we see him lose control of this power, in his fervour for competition. This takes place on the track, as Zack is surrounded by both spectators and the city they live in. The use of his power affects destruction in each instance we see in the film, yet the environment remains undisturbed. While he manipulates objects, individuals, and even himself, he remains unable to affect the city, or even his immediate place. In the wake of his destruction, the track remains intact, his residence, the grandstands, all unscathed by his exertion of power.

 

There is in this a threshold across which Zack is unable to traverse, limited in his efficacy as an individual entity. Personified, this is seen in the dichotomy between performer and spectator, the mass of people (the collective) in fascination of an individual of extraordinary ability but removed from him. The concentric circles of the track that end in the ring of spectators physically disconnected to the track realises this idea visually, and spatially. Zack, an aberration of society, has no power over the greater whole.

 

The exploration of the power dynamics between an individual with an irrefragable ability to manipulate what is around him, and the city’s resistance of that destructive force recalls Kusanagi sitting against the window, in a more literal expression of the subservience of the individual to the city. While Magnetic Rose suggests that space can shape us, or at the very least, reveal what is underneath, Running Man posits that a single individual’s will and power is insufficient in affecting space. In either case, the value and power of the individual is diminished in favour of context; a cautionary tale, artistic dialogue or propaganda, its purpose is largely ambiguous.

 

 

Part III: Akira

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Akira (1988), Katsuhiro Otomo

 

Conversely, a film often thought to be explicit in its themes and message is 1988’s Akira, directed by Katsuhiro Otomo. Considered the film that triggered the global proliferation of Japanese pop culture, Akira convinced audiences that animation is not simply for children, paving the way for the complex storytelling as seen in the likes of Ghost in the Shell, Evangelion and Cowboy Bebop.

 

Set in a city called Neo-Tokyo, after the destruction of the original city, the film’s connection to architecture is immediately visible in its depiction of a dense, dystopic, cyberpunk city, differing from the previous films in its authoritative and utterly oppressive nature. Beyond this, though, the transition between different modes of space is perhaps the more abstruse engagement of architectural thinking in Akira, driving the film in an esoteric manner.

 

Much literature points to Akira being a story of youth and rebellion, and the corruption of authority, poising it to be a film that encourages individualism, in praise of the power one can hold over the whole as seen in Tetsuo, and the spirit of Kaneda and company. Arguably, the film’s message is more nuanced than an unequivocal endorsement. It refuses to romanticise the destruction caused by Tetsuo, nor the brashness of Kaneda, and the affects of their actions are up to interpretation.

 

It is in this destruction, and the events leading up to the destruction, that Akira engages different modes of space, beginning with a standard urban model, to one of decomposition, at the mercy of assimilation, to non-space, and finally, a mode that is programmatically tabula rasa.

At the beginning of its third act, the film depicts Tetsuo’s destructive influence on Neo-Tokyo, and in his desperation, the beginning of the loss of his humanity. Destruction turns into assimilation as Tetsuo, no longer in control of his power, begins to consume the city around him, affixing all forms of matter to himself as his physical body grows, grotesque. These scenes outline the dehumanisation of Tetsuo in an inverse relationship with the city; the more Tetsuo loses, the more he consumes, the less remains of the city.

 

Otomo portrays this process as disturbing, through body horror, death and cataclysm, as the individual who has risen up in selfishness and narcissism faces the consequences of such self-seclusion and arrogance. In other words, the individualistic imperative behind Tetsuo’s actions leads directly to his downfall. The engagement of architecture as a device is in its function as a scapegoat for Tetsuo; the significance of the moment is his loss of humanity, but the representation of this is done allegorically through the flux in spatial mode.

 

At this point, Kaneda and Tetsuo’s are thrust into non-space, as Tetsuo is removed from physical reality, pulled into the extra-dimensional by Akira. This spatial limbo acts as a punctuation, exchanging Tetsuo’s calamitous and violent destruction for a blinding, all-consuming form more inclined to the idea of removal, mirroring the original destruction of Tokyo. The pause is the threshold Tetsuo crosses where his humanity (or lack of it) is exchanged for something entirely different, manifesting as the metaphorical rebirth of Tetsuo and the physical rebirth of Neo-Tokyo.

 

We see a similar sequence of birth in the opening of Ghost in the Shell, employing the digital as non-space, where Kusanagi begins her formation, before she transitions to liquid (uninhabitable space), and finally, a standard programmed space. In both cases, non-space is employed as the juncture between states of humanity and something completely different. In Tetsuo’s case, he recedes from humanity into a higher being, and for Kusanagi, the digital into somewhat human. Aptly, Tetsuo’s world is a blank white, and Kusanagi’s, black.

 

The final scenes of Akira depict Kaneda and gang riding off into the ruins of Neo-Tokyo, a blank slate in all but physical structure. This is the mode of tabula rasa, that awaits the rebirth of the city. The characters seem rather pleased with themselves, but only devastation is left in juxtaposition to the rebellious spirit. Akira poses a difficult question, as it pegs a collective rebellion and an individual simultaneously responsible for the state of Neo-Tokyo at the end of the film, in the value and importance of either.

 

This weighted view on the interaction between seemingly opposing entities is perhaps what defines a possible ‘transcendental’ collectivism. The film portrays the individual as both powerless and omnipotent at the same time, in Kaneda’s inability to save Tetsuo via sentiment, and the espers Tetsuo and Akira. This is the importance of the city, and thus architecture, in Akira’s conception of the individual-collectivist dialogue, a conduit through which a diversity of individuals may form a collective unapologetic for its plurality.

 

The intersection between identity, power, space and transformation plots itself on Akira, as the culmination of Tetsuo’s journey. As with Running Man, there is a limit to individuals with power. As with Magnetic Rose, individuals are defined by the metamorphosis of space. As with Ghost in the Shell, the question of identity is unimportant in relation to choice. As Akira closes and he gains control of his power, creating a new universe, he simply says ‘I am Tetsuo.’

 

 

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NUS CITY EXHIBITION 2014

City Ex 2014

NUS City Exhibition is the annual showcase of engaging design schemes from NUS Architecture School, and we would like to share our take on space with you, at various scales. It is through these works will we be able to visualise and re-imagine our ideals for architecture and the built environment of the future.

Opening night: 27 June from 7-9pm

Exhibition duration: 27 June – 25 July, 8:30am – 5pm
Closed on Sundays.

Follow CityEx on Facebook!

And watch out for the annual TAS Debates the week after CityEx’s opening!

TAS Debates

Cloud Library

In a bid to bring more books and resources to Architecture and Industrial Design students, TAS and MINUS have collaborated to give you the Cloud Library!

The library currently houses books, newsletters and magazines that have been generously contributed by tutors and firms. We certainly hope that these resources can help inspire you further in your design. Come and browse through some books when you’re stuck, or when you’re in studio too early and need some interesting reading! Please return the books to the library after browsing, so that other students will be able to use the books.

Also, do look out for occasional giveaways of publications, eg Paperspace, under the ‘giveaway” section of the library.

The Cloud Library is located at the Lvl 2 studios entrance, beside Scalebar.

TAS Welfare Pack and SIA Student Membership sign-up

Good news!

The TAS Welfare Pack Giveaway is here!

See you at SDE Foyer Lvl 2 next Monday, 7 April, to collect your welfare pack.

TAS WELFARE PACK

In addition, students can sign up for the SIA Student Membership by downloading the form https://www.dropbox.com/s/ht0kqqdnag2itpx/SIA_Application_Form.pdf  and submitting it to us at the booth next Monday. Complete the form, print it and submit it together with a passport sized photo.

SIA Student Membership

What I like about studying in ETH Zürich?

Apart from the incredibly scenic city, trams that are always on time (a minute earlier in fact), swimming in the Lake Zürich/ chilling at Zürich West during summer, how beautiful the city becomes when it snows, great student apartments (apply for Bülachhof or Max Bill Platz!)….

What I admire about the ETH is that the school is serious in investing in every single student in the cohort (and not just a select handful), making sure that the overall quality of work in each class is of a consistently high standard. Also, each and every program has been approached by all involved, both lecturers and students, with a level of seriousness, rigor and depth, and their love for the topics involved is a great joy to watch and be a part of.

P.S. Do sign up for Petra Blochlinger’s German classes! She’s super cynical and funny, it’s the one lesson we look forward to most every week! You’ll love her for sure!

Article contributed by Joel Tay

About Chalmers

Chalmers University of Technology is a university known for her stance towards sustainability and having a vision as an institution to educate students to continually be conscious about the environment in whatever field they pursue in the future. This is particularly so in a country such as Sweden that focuses as a nation and community towards living sufficiently without compromising the resources for future generations. You could read up a little more on what their focus is here: http://www.chalmers.se/en/Pages/default.aspx

Semester work

The semester started off with two courses, one of which looked at sustainable development and the design professions, and the other a thesis-writing course based on any topic of our interest in the field of architecture that focused on honing our research and writing skills. It was an excellent opportunity through these two courses to understand about the role of our work in our field of studies in relation to other professions such as those in the engineering field, and the impact on our work on the environment.

The second part of the semester consisted of 2 other courses that looked into urban and architectural design and detailed research and design of a contemporary challenge in architecture today. The projects from these courses were conducted on a group-work basis, working with other students to analyze the city of Gothenburg and propose interventions to deal with existing problems and imminent changes in the future.

School facilities

If you’re currently worrying about printing and materials purchase and all, fret not. The school provides basic materials like greyboard, Bristol etc. which you can purchase at the school workshop. They have a good range of woodwork machinery, laser machines, spray room and experienced staff who can help you out. The best part is they have quite a few printers in school for you to print your own A0/A1 etc. 24/7. Each student gets a number of printing credits courtesy of the school, which you can use. More details will be given during your introduction tour to Archi School, so do head down for it! Really important as well as that’s when they’ll brief you about the course details and any other administrative matters you would need to settle.

Living in Gothenburg on exchange

Eating out can get pretty expensive, close to maybe S$15 (~75Kr+) average for a meal, so you may end up cooking quite often to save on costs. There are quite a few supermarkets there, cheapest being Willy’s and Lidl. (The cost of groceries is pretty decent, almost comparable to cooking in Singapore) So start learning how to cook, or make sandwiches. Transportation: Gothenburg is a really bike-friendly city, so you may want to consider buying a second-hand bike to travel. It’s pretty safe and there are quite a decent number of cyclists over there. There’s a second-hand website http://www.blocket.se where you can look for second-hand bikes, furniture, anything you name it. If you aren’t too keen about cycling, not to worry as the tram and bus system there is really efficient. There are different pass options, like 1 month, 3 month payments and unlimited rides for that duration. However, Chalmers has a student offer you may want to consider, for unlimited rides on bus 16 only, along a certain route that goes past the campus. You will be able to purchase this card at the campus bookstore (more details about it will be given during orientation day).

Other thoughts

Having the opportunity to go overseas for an exchange is a wonderful time to really discover more about how others in the world do things and also sort of find our own voice and opinions, and learn a little bit more about ourselves in how we have seen the world. For those going on exchange in the future, here are just some thoughts I would like to share that maybe you could use to mentally prepare yourself before embarking on this journey.

  • Firstly, be willing to just try most things, of course within the safety boundaries that you will always be control of.
  • Always look out for opportunities, take the initiative, be it talking to others or looking for activities to do. Just be daring and try to be the first one to break the ice. There is nothing much really to lose, but the opportunity to expand your horizon if you had not dared to try. Others are equally eager to make friends and find out more about the rest, just as you are.
  • Sometimes if the opportunities don’t arise, create them. Organize your own activities to get to know others more. Don’t stay in the hostel, go out to school, go explore the town you are living in. This is one of the best opportunities to discover how people in other parts of the world function and what kind of lifestyle they live or what kind of environment they live in. Try to experience it less of a tourist but more like an inhabitant of that town or city.
  • Talk to different people and always be curious. You gain a lot of perspectives talking not only to the natives but also other international students.
  • Expectations. I believe all of us would have high expectations and built up visions of what we hope to gain or learn out of the entire exchange experience, especially since this would probably be the first time most of us would have the opportunity to live and study abroad for a decently long period of time. However, be prepared that there would be some things or expectations that would probably not be met due to circumstances or were just not realistic to achieve in actuality. Yet, embrace these experiences as well or whatever that comes along, for an overseas exchange would probably not be something new if everything we expected came true or happened. Spontaneous is probably the word that might come up often. It’s good to have some expectations of what you would like to learn from this exchange, as it serves as a good motivation point to get you to step out of your comfort zone and discover more about the world and how others do things. However, don’t beat yourself up if sometimes these expectations don’t turn out the way you hoped it would. Just enjoy every moment you are overseas, because that in itself is already an accomplishment and whatever you gather, see and hear during your time there, will probably enrich you as a person at that time and for the future.

Article contributed by Lina Heng

Glasgow

Preparation for University of Strathclyde

1)     Visa

If you are a Singapore citizen, congratulations! There’s no need for a Visa. If not, a Student Visitor Visa usually suffices. Check out http://www.ukba.homeoffice.gov.uk/countries/singapore/fees/?langname=null to confirm the type of Visa you need. It usually takes about 2 weeks to process your Visa application, and your passport will be kept by them, so do plan ahead to make sure you have ample time. Prepare all the documents you need (be kiasu!) so that there won’t be any hiccups. They would require both originals and photocopies, and the photocopy machine there charges quite a high rate, so make your own copies before heading down.

2)     Accommodation

The university provides student accommodation within campus, and exchange students usually get allocated to Birkbeck Court (http://www.strath.ac.uk/accommodation/virtualtours/birkbeckcourt/). Each flat has 6 individual rooms with a shared living room, pantry, toilet and bathroom. The pantry has most things you would need, except a rice cooker! So if you can’t survive without rice, bring your own mini rice cooker.

3)     Insurance

There are a number of insurances available, but we would recommend the AIG Student Assist Insurance (http://www.aig.com.sg/chartisint/internet/SG/en/files/student-assist-brochure-web_tcm1030-229012.pdf) as it covers both studies and travels.

4)     Getting to Glasgow

There are currently no direct flights to Glasgow, but quite a few options with only one transfer i.e. Emirates, British Airways and Lufthansa. Before you set off, register at http://its-ewds1.ds.strath.ac.uk/iswelcome/AirportWelcome/tabid/1368/Default.aspx to inform them of your arrival details. There will be a booth at the airport arrival hall, jointly set up by all 3 universities in Glasgow. They will direct you to the shuttle bus that will bring you to the city centre.

At University of Strathclyde

1)     Getting around Glasgow

The university is about a 15 minute walk from the city centre, so there usually isn’t any need for public transport. There is a subway line that would bring you out of the city centre, but the system is not as extensive as the ones in Singapore.

As long as it’s not raining, the weather should be pretty comfortable for walking up to half an hour or even more. When it is raining, do take care! As temperature dips, you might find frost in your shoes.

2)     Grocery shopping

The closest and cheapest supermarket is Aldi, located along High Street, about five minutes’ walk from the Campus Village. There are also a few smaller ones like The Cooperative Food and Sainsbury’s Local along George Street. For a larger supermarket with more varieties, head down to Tesco Metro along Sauchiehall Street. Tesco Extra at Cobden Road is a 2-storey hypermarket, with products ranging from groceries to clothes to electronics, but it is also a half an hour walk away.

There are 2 Chinese supermarkets in Glasgow, selling groceries and food products from China and Southeast Asia. All your sauces, not only limited to Chinese product, can be found in these two stores. Chung Ying (中英行) is located along Dobbie’s Loan, and is about 20 minutes’ walk from the Campus Village. See Woo (泗和行) is further away, at Saracen Street, which is about half an hour’s walk away. There is a fresh fish market down in High Street, at the junction near Glasgow Green Park.

3)     School facilities

They have an A1 plotter for plotting line drawings in DWG or PDF format, but you would need to bring your own A1 paper. Use the thinnest A1 paper to avoid jamming the machine.  It’s relatively cheap, at only 50 pence per A1 paper. You can get the A1 papers from the Art Store (see below). The computer lab is pretty much equipped with the necessary software, but for more sophisticated programmes like Rhino, you would have to use your own laptops.

A gym membership allows you unlimited access to the exercising facilities in the school gym. The membership fee is relatively cheap compared to other universities, at 50 pounds for a semester. Facilities include a badminton court, a squash court, a basketball court and a swimming pool. There is no tennis court in the school.

For Starbucks addicts, there is one right at the Student Union building and another in the library building. You are allowed to bring coffee into the lecture halls and computer lab.

Laser engraving and laser printing is available in school, but the technician will do it for us. Submit your cad file with the layers properly labelled (to laser – in red; and to engrave – in blue). The laser machine can only take materials up to 3mm thick, including grey board and corrugated board. Beyond that thickness, you will have to outsource, which is much more expensive.

4)     Eating out

There is a fish and chips store at the junction of High Street and Ingram Street, which serves really good (and huge) servings of fish and chips for less than 4 pounds. There is also a Chinese eatery called Lao You Ji (老友记茶餐厅) right outside the school compound, also along High Street.

If you are craving for Singapore / Malaysian food, check out Rumours Kopitiam at the junction of Bath Street and West Nile Street.

Most fish and chips store would offer the local Scottish delight of fried mars bars (or fried pizza or fried anything you can think of), even if it’s not on the menu. But most would only do it at the end of the week, right before they switch to a new batch of oil for the new week. There is one store called Laquila, located at Dundas Street, right next to Queen Street Railway Station. They have a wide range of fried things on their regular menu.

The Marks and Spencer department stores all come with a café and they are good and cheap.

There’s a Jamie Italian down at George Square and a Thai food restaurant in Buchannan Street. And for a cheap quick bite, you can try Gregs for a quick breakfast bite. They sell sandwiches, pies and muffins for a very affordable price – from 2 pounds to 3 pounds.

5)     Architecture and art in Glasgow

Glasgow has a wide range of interesting architecture. For a taste of its Victorian architecture, visit the University of Glasgow or the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum. The Glasgow Cathedral is also a must-see.

The most famous architect in modern Glasgow is none other than Charles Rennie Mackintosh. Check out the website http://www.crmsociety.com/ for a list of buildings designed by him. Some of these places provide guided tours for free, but would require booking in advance.

The Glasgow School of Art is magnificent gem of architecture. Sign up for the tour at the school to see Mackintosh’s famous library and the inspiring studio spaces. A new extension to the school, designed by Steven Holl, is being built.

For a vantage view of the city, check out The Lighthouse. From the Mackintosh Interpretation Centre, climb up the spiral staircase to the top of the tower. Admission is free!

Take a walk down River Clyde to see a cluster of modern and postmodern buildings, by starchitects like Sir Norman Foster and Zaha Hadid.

For those of you who love art and history, there are a number of museums scattered around the city. Other than the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Musem, you should also not miss the Hunterian Musem and Hunterian Art Gallery. Both are located within the University of Glasgow. The Gallery of Modern Art is also worth a visit. There, you will also see the iconic Wellington Statue with the cone on his head.

6)     Shopping and other cheap deals

Glasgow has a network of pedestrian shopping streets such as Sauchiehall Street, Buchanan Street and Argyle Street. Most international brands can be found there. There are also two shopping malls (Buchanan Galleries and St Enoch Square). But remember that shops there generally don’t open beyond 7pm.

The Glasgow version of Art Friend is known as Art Store, but the prices there are pretty steep, and some of the materials that we are familiar with (such as Bristol board, art card and plastic sheets) are not available there. Check with your studio mates on where to get cheaper (or even free) alternative materials. Also, bring extra blades for your penknives as they are seldom used there.

The City of Glasgow College provides haircut services by their students, at a very affordable rate of just one pound! Just go up to their hairdressing department for more information.

7)     Recreation

For movie lovers, there is a cinema complex called Cineworld near our school. Each ticket costs 10 pounds, with free seating, and you are allowed to bring your own food in.

Theatre in Glasgow is pretty vibrant as well. The King’s Theatre often hosts various international musicals. They hosted Wicked and Jersey Boys. It is around 20 minutes’ walk from school. Tickets range from 20 pounds. New venues like the O2 arena also hosted musical, such as Jesus Christ Superstar and many concert. There was a Jammie Cullum UK tour when we were there 😀

Glasgow is known as the student city, simply because they have a vibrant student night life in the city centre. Many clubs and pubs are located around Sauchiehall Street. If you do want to try these pubs, go with international student society for pub hopping weekly and enjoy some company.

During our year, there was a céilidh organised after the “red-pen day” (the last studio session before final crit. It’s a fun-filled event whereby your peers will come dressing in kilts and dancing to Scottish music. It only cost 5 pounds, and was followed with a clubbing session in a nearby club (some of the local students might have free passes to share).

Both the Kelvingrove Park and Glasgow Green are huge public parks where you can picnic or simply take a stroll through. Stay away from them after dark, though.

The Necropolis is also a gem within the city, and is just a short walk away from the campus.

8)     Travelling out of Glasgow

There are 2 main railway stations in Glasgow (Glasgow Queen Street Station and Glasgow Central Station) that connect to most cities around UK. Virgin Train, among other train services, is a good option to travel with. The Glasgow International Airport is a 30 minute bus ride from the Buchanan Bus Station. Tickets for the airport shuttle cost 6 pounds for single ride, or 8.50 pounds for a return ticket. The city is also connected to the Edinburgh Airport via its own airport shuttle, giving you more options when flying out of Scotland.

For a cheaper journey out of Glasgow, you can go to the Buchanan Bus Station to check out their bus routes out of the city. But do bear in mind that a bus journey from Glasgow to London will take 7 hours. Not for the faint-hearted. And such long-distance bus rides will stop at various points, so keep a lookout of your belongings in case they get removed from the buses at these stops..

Check your emails regularly when you are there, as there will be updates on the latest tours conducted by Student Tours Scotland. The organiser and guide, Gary, is a really awesome guide who always has lots of interesting stories to share. He organises tours within Glasgow and to major attractions around Scotland at very affordable prices. But places are limited so book early!

Coming Back

1)     The exam period over there will overlap with the first week of your semester 2 back in Singapore, but for most architecture modules there, there won’t be any exams. However, the final crit might be uncomfortably close to the start of the new semester, so do talk to your tutor and the level coordinator to check if you could push your final crit forward, preferably before the Christmas break.

The following map shows most of the locations that were mentioned above: https://mapsengine.google.com/map/edit?mid=zJbOAUe3VZos.k2ioIYKj7F48

Article contributed by Yeo Zheng Hang and David Octavianus