Passion over pressure

CapitaLand scholar Htin Aung is moving towards his architecture dream one step at a time

Issue: Dec 2009

Htin Aung at the BCA-Industry Built Environment Scholarship Award Ceremony in 2008

To Htin Aung, his studies are not just a stale and boring part of life, or a taxing chore. On the contrary, the 23-year-old scholar enjoys what he does and is milking every moment for what it is worth. Htin Aung is currently studying architecture at the National University of Singapore (NUS) under the BCA-CapitaLand Scholarship. “Architecture is enjoyment,” he said, “because the projects we do are fun and interesting.”

Due to his father’s job, the Myanmar boy migrated to Singapore with his family when he was nine. In Myanmar, vernacular architecture plays a huge role, and so Htin Aung is particularly fascinated with the subject. Although he hasn’t been back to his hometown for the past 10 years, he is still largely influenced by its architectural culture. Vernacular architecture is a construction technique which emphasises locally accessible resources and traditions. Htin Aung feels that it shows a lot of respect for local climate and lifestyle.

Htin Aung especially likes that architecture in general allows for creativity and that the answers are not simply found along a one-way street. “In design, the process of problem solving is an open channel and one can solve the problem from many approaches,” he said. “I like the fact that we can set parameters for ourselves and provide design solutions by fulfilling them.”

The scholar (center, in white) with his course mates in NUS

Take for example one of his project briefs: To design a bathing experience. “I took it as designing a set of spaces that will make a person feel like he has bathed – feeling refreshed – after he has gone through them,” he explained. “It is fun because there is no right or wrong.”

Building a career

The scholar reckons that CapitaLand would be the ideal place for him to build his career path as it is one of the leading property developers in Asia. The Group has created remarkable buildings and he wishes to be a part of that. He explained, “Many CapitaLand buildings, such as the ION Orchard, are like icons of Singapore.”

“My all-time favourite building is Raffles City Singapore, designed by I. M. Pei,” said Htin Aung. “I think it’s one of the most beautiful buildings in Singapore – simple and elegant without being too loud or attention seeking.”

Htin Aung hopes to do design management for the Group. He was told that his future job could involve rubbing shoulders with architects and engineers on building construction management. He is excited about meeting and greeting famous architects.

Life’s Inspirations

Built in 1951, the Farnsworth House stands as one of the representative pieces of modern architecture
Credit: Alan Prather
Htin Aung can also be found taking leisurely strolls around town occasionally, all in the name of architecture. He believes that architecture is everywhere and taking a simple walk in town can be very inspirational.

He draws strength and ideas from the late Ludwig Mies van de Rohe, a world renowned German-born architect. One of his more notable works is the Farnsworth House – a glass pavilion located in Chicago, now a public museum. His creation sparked off a trend of modernist glass houses which were built one after another. “His buildings are some of the best that modern architecture has to offer and are still being emulated and studied by architects today,” the scholar said.

Htin Aung also looks up to his mentor Mr Gerald Lee, Deputy CEO of The Ascott Group Limited. Htin Aung said that the friendly Mr Lee has shared with him advice on internship opportunities and invaluable information on the structure of Ascott, as well as CapitaLand.

On the Sidelines

The active scholar enjoys doing laps in the pool and jogging to work up a good sweat. However, he hasn’t been able to do much because of his hectic schedule. “Now I’m just getting fat as I have too many projects to do,” he said in jest.

“My record is four nights in a row with minimal sleep – less than two hours per night – to complete assignments.”

When he is not caught up in his studies, Htin Aung finds entertainment in board games. Along with his friends, they have bought enough game sets to set up their own games café.

One Step At A Time

Htin Aung focuses a hundred per cent during project seasons
Htin Aung has periods when his assignments pile up furiously even before he can pick up the pen. However, the composed scholar does not wind up in panic mode like most do; instead he chooses to approach each assignment calmly and systematically. “I cope with stress by taking things slowly, setting priorities and settling one problem at a time,” he shared.

After all, haste makes waste, so adopting a composed attitude in the face of difficulties might work out better. Or at least for Htin Aung, it does.

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