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Khoo Kongsi [Hybrid]_farah.jpg
Merdeka Square [Hybrid]_updated.jpg
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NOTHINGNESS and fullness

project year


project team

; 2019
; edric choo poo liang
  Farah Baharuddin
  Ng Yi Meng



In a world overwhelmed by objects and materials, it results in the production of architecture unconsciously and thoughtlessly, architecture today should instead dissolve into nothingness. It should attempt to reject its object-ness, attempt to distill itself down to almost nothing, and eventually form a new relationship

with its surroundings to become an architecture that is thoughtful and

meaningful by nature.


This ideology isn’t anti-architecture but expresses the idea of nothingness as a resistance and a pause in a chaotic world. A still point brought into the realm of experiencing through an architect's mindfulness works.


“Nothingness” is a state where nothing is present, or where nothing exists that is important or gives meaning to life (Cambridge Dictionary)


“Fullness” is the state of having or containing a lot of something; the quality of being whole or complete (Cambridge Dictionary).


Lucy Lippard once wrote that if nothingness was “The absence of presence…it has become clear that [it] can assume a resonant presence if properly manipulated…in a Zen sort of way, [it] ends up by coming full circle into everything (fullness) … [it] is a form of utopia” Everything that is created comes out of Nothing; Without Nothingness, there cannot be Fullness; and only with Fullness can there be Nothingness. It is a perceived illusion.


All these likenesses seek to say that God dwells in emptiness. They are good in so far as they succeed in bringing “emptiness” nearer to human comprehension’ (Kitaro Nishida, Tokyo:iwanamishaoten,1947,vol4,p219 )


Buddhist monks have long been known to contemplate nothingness.

For them, the idea of ‘finding God’ is essentially finding nothing and

understanding that it is nothing that is God. Michel de Certeau spoke

with a monk who explained that “to see God is, in the end, to see

nothing, to perceive no specific thing. It is to take part in a universal

visibility which is no longer made up of the fragmented, multiple, separate, and interchangeable incidents of which our perceptions consist” (Bonardel, 2009, p. 176). This understanding comes from the path to nirvana (Nibbana - in Sanskrit translates as ‘release’), which includes seven stages of ‘purification’ - by which the monk is purified of the world and retreats deeper and deeper into a realm

of nothingness.


For Nishida, one way to escape this conundrum of double binding – nothingness is either nothing or something, or it is nothing and at the same time something – is to consider nothingness as ‘ the ultimate place” of experience, on which the subject of judgment himself stands and from which the perceiving subject and the object to be perceived emerge concurrently. Nothingness is thus an experiential horizon that embraces both the objectifying subject and the object as unified, internally transcending the dichotomy between two parties.


With our naked eye, we perceive space as Nothing… but is it nothing?


Are Fullness and Nothingness referred only to the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd physical dimensions? How about the 4th,5th, 6th, and 7th sensory dimensions?


1st dimension – between 2 Lines.

2nd dimension – between 2 Planes.

3rd dimension – between 2 Forms / Objects.

4th dimension – between 2 Times.

5th dimension – between 2 Experiences, Atmospheres, Environments.  

6th dimension – pauses in-between Arts.  

7th Dimension – Relationship in society.  


The concept of Nothingness and Fullness in space can be translated into a physical design. We seek this design interpretation in Architecture and the buildings in Kuala Lumpur and the Penang city area.





The 15,000 m2 Merdeka Square is a flat open area in the middle of Kuala Lumpur, resembling nothingness or a void in an urban setting. The Merdeka Square plays an emblematic role in Malaysia’s democracy as historically, it witnessed the replacement of the Union Jack flag with the Malaysian flag on 31st August 1957, declaring Malaysia’s independence from a British Colony. The ‘Padang’ in the city is a stage where the drama of our communal life unfolds - a gathering place for the community, a playground, a political protest, and a home for the homeless.


The NOTHINGNESS in ‘Padang’ allows the FULLNESS of the activities, events, urban life, memories, social interaction, happiness, sadness, and history to take place.






Can the fullness of an object/Building/Architecture concede to Nothingness?

We found it in Khoo Kongsi - the grandest clan temple in Penang. Khoo Kongsi is an architectural masterpiece created from a society that richly encompassed culture and tradition; and self-governed itself by building educational, financial, welfare, and social organizational institutions. It was a building that was full of purpose.


Nowadays, the Khoo Kongsi has lost its usage and has become a display for tourists and locals who only come to admire the Chinese architectural grandeur. It has lost its function, purpose, and soul; just like a piece of artifact in a museum, on display, containing the memories of the past and left alone to rot.


The FULLNESS in ‘Khoo Kongsi’ has become NOTHINGNESS through time.


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