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The conversation took place in an Indonesian Restaurant, where these four people had a relaxing dinner and talked about everything. From architecture, to working hours, to hobbies, foods, travelling trips, favorite artists, and so on. Kevin Mark Low KL , an architect from Malaysia, told us everything about his career, life, and opinions.

KL: No, there were two. One of them was a favor for my friend, actually. It was a house. I didn't charge him much money because we were friends for many years. KL: I think, I guess. But, the end was good as well. As long as they understand that you are not charging them—because you also need experience, you want to learn—I think it becomes a possible fair. And the real one I first took on was a house, it was a totally fresh client that I met at my old firm, GDP Architects an architecture firm based on Kuala Lumpur-red.

After I left the firm, I lost contact with the client. But he contacted me. So that was my first project.

KL: Budget. Because the budget was quite limited, and it was also good because the site was the smallest lot in the neighbourhood. So I saved the money for some special moments in the building. That's when I started to learn about details management. You do it in a place which matters the most.

KL: Not economic, but this specific economic of using the management of details to make the project more special. One of which is the entrance area, the staircase going up, the ground floor which have to be very opened, so I need special columns in several areas.

VV: I was wondering about the time consumption, in each project. You need time to develop each details. How do you manage your projects? One project for one year? KL: No, actually you find it in architecture projects that the time you are spending a lot of effort in one project happens in a certain period of a project only. It is the concept and the mid-term period, or what we called as a design documentation.

KL: Because projects have also different stages—sometimes if your detail is complete you spend very little time on that project—one time I can run about projects. If there is one very big project, then the maximum will be 4 or 5.

Another important thing is, I never bring works home. When I go to a meeting, I never bring homework back to the office. KL: A lot of meetings are for decisions to be made, and details to be issued, and I find what the missing thing is. You need time to think. Whatever questions the contractor has, I will answer with the detail or the response immediately. That way I never bring work back to the office. So my set meeting are very productive, it last an hour and a half, and all these drawings are done in the meeting so they can proceed to work.

KL: And also meetings. I always tell clients and contractors, when the project is being built, I must receive at least one phonecall from you everyday. Maybe two. And what will take two hours for a meeting will become less than five minutes.

If we spread all these questions in seven days, each day has only one question! You answer it in five minutes, the meeting disappears. So if you work alone, you have to work more efficiently.

There is also aborted work. When I started to work on my own, I was already years old. So I had at least 15 years of experience. A lot of drawings I did was always usable. They are not aborted, unlike in the big firms. When you work alone, you do the works which is immediately usable job. KL: Yes, I do all the drawings myself. Only that first settle point.

Which is to determined, where, which land point you want to make use. After that, everything can be done in A4 or A3. How you run your office is completely related to how buildings will end up. They might look a bit better, maybe from the outside, but it may not work efficiently in the inside. KL: No, rarely. It is only the work which is easy to do, which is very handy: bringing notebook. R: The hardest part of traveling away from home is to manage my time. I wonder how do you spend your time, discipline?

KL: If you start working on your own, the most important thing is to set the time to start and the time to end. You must run it like an office. And you break for lunch, only for an hour, not more. Just assume that you are working in an office. And by 6 o' clock, you quit, do not bring your work home. Sometimes I will completely not working on Monday because, it was completely on the bottom to me.

R: Beside your office works, how do you spend your time? Do you have any hobbies? The best snow in the world is in Japan. All the winds are from the south area and the winds are dry. When they get to Japan, they passed over the sea of Japan, which is just a small body of water, the winds are all saturated, but they are not over saturated. They just keep on dropping the snow all the time.

So, you can arrive and the first snow overnight is three feet deep. KL: Wow, from 8 to 4. I ski for 9 hours, with a break for lunch. I have a friend who is also crazy for ski.

When he go skiing, he wears a pair of pampers. KL: No, no, no. I am not into it. A mountain bike, but I also like road bicycles. I collect bicycles, I assemble them, I clean the part, the paddles, the saddles, the handle bars, and brakes. I love bicycles. And ukuleles, and movies. KL: I love reading. KL: Everything. But my favorite authors is a fiction writers, as well as people who write seriously. And my favorite nonfiction writers is all from Jewish, all Jewish. They all have the deepest disrespect of what the nation has done to the rest of the world.

All it takes to be a famous writer is one good book. VV: You mention before about your reluctance on using air conditioning, in living rooms and public areas. Is it hard to convince your clients not to use air conditioner in those area? KL: Not when I explain them the why and where. Like, living rooms and dining rooms, hardly require air conditioning because the hottest part of the day is usually afternoon. And you are used to be at work.

During the weekends, they usually go out for lunch. So the only time to use the living and dining rooms is at night when they come back. Or during the weekend, in which case they are using fans really well.

And when the night comes, the sun rays is gone. KL: Well, there is things called mosquito oil, which really makes mosquitos away. They can plug it to the house and turn it on, it really works very well.


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