Saturday, February 9, 2013

Allahyarham Dato' Ruslan Khalid

I wanted to pen down on the achievements, trials and tribulations of a well known architect Allahyarham Dato' Ruslan Khalid after reading his memoir - "Quest For Architectural Excellence - A Malaysian Experience, not until today that I have the gut to do so.

I have heard of him for sometime but was unfortunate to not being able to meet him in person.  To fathom his thoughts. To share the experiences.

The late Dato' Ruslan Khalid walked the path, a long winded one though to fulfill his dream. I am trying to put myself along the path but I must admit that it is not close to what he had treaded. There are, however,  a few common  milestones that I can reflect.

Allahyarham took more than 10 years to be a qualified architect after graduating from AA. Not that he could not make it much earlier (he started reading for architecture in 1954 at the Regent Street Polytechnic, London). No, he could have graduated earlier, if not for his idealism and unhappiness days at the Regent Street Poly. He dropped and spent time workind in architechtural firms in London and Lusane, Switzerland before decided to continue with his studies at the world renowned AA.

I share the common path as I did not have the opportunity to complete an advance diploma  or post grad degree in architecture ( to qualify for part 2). I did manage to obtain a BSc in architecture at HBH USM in 1976 but chose a slightly different path. Until now I regret for not pursuing the part 2 qualification to be an architect ( although I have a PhD in architecture to boast about). I still long to be a qualified architect even at this ripen age of 64!. If only I have the chance to further my study in the field at AA of my dream.

Allahyarham Dato' Ruslan narrated his experiences while in he lived London. I too am familiar with this great city after living there for awhile. The Malaysia Hall that he mentioned in his book many times is also dear to me. What more, as the Director of Malaysian Students Department for the UK and Eire (2000-2004), the hall was under my responsibility. Even before that, since 1978 when I read for my master at Edinburgh and my PhD at Cardiff, I frequently visited the hall and have fond memories of it. The places in London he mentioned are familiar to me as well.

He also noted several well known architects that he met, like Peter Cook, Buckminster Fuller etc. Well, I too came across some. Bucky Fuller, in 1975 while he visited Penang, Lord Foster, when I read for my PhD, Datuk Dr Ken Yeang (a good friend of mine), to name a few. I was trained by Professor Carrow who was trained by Mies Van de Rohe and Professor Ekroth who was a student of Louis Kahn, among others.

By the way I am no near the late Dato' Ruslan. Far far away. But I guess I share the same idealism and holistic belief in architecture.

Long before this, knowing the field that impact human lives, I did not have the confidence of qualifying myself as an architect. I felt that I need to know more, experience more on this special field. It took me 36 years of soul searching to understand architecture and now that I am ready to pursue a post grad course to be a qualified architect. At 64?you may ask. Yes!

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