Photoessay: PAM, part II

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Continued from part I

The way bright sunshine projects through the space through its various apertures and orifices is the kind of thing that is practically begging for a high contrast monochrome series – in person, the actual interior is much more similar to the first set of images in brightness as the concrete reflects and diffuses a lot of those hard beams. I imagine it’d be a very different space on an overcast day, with none of the drama and detail seen at the time I shot it. The horological side of me couldn’t help but think some of those floors would be great with calibrated scales to allow the light to be used as a sundial of sorts… MT

This set was shot with a Nikon Z7, 24-70 and my custom SOOC JPEG profile pack.

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Prints from this series are available on request here


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  1. Buki Oloruntoba says:

    Thanks Ming. I learn a lot from your images and the intellectual discourse that follows. Great space for learning and insights I reckon.

  2. Fabian Fabrega says:

    Great set of pictures combined with contextual insight, as always. Regarding the negative comments about the building design, it hurts my feelings to read them from fellow photography lovers. They remind me of when I hear that such a picture is “sadly blurred” when it was intentionally shot at a very slow speed, or that such a picture is ruined because a few people in there got their legs cut off by the framing. It is amazing how our concept of quality changes after we learn about the subject. Yes, I too would have had said that this building was ugly, but that would have been before I studied about architecture. And not only our concept of quality changes, but our overall concept of beauty too. I thought a couple of watches were nice looking, but that was before I got to read about Ming´s horology. I am ashamed of having even thought that the native vegetation from where I live was ugly because it is full of acute thorns and splinters. But that was before I started studying a master degree in landscape architecture. Thank you Quentin Newark for sharing technical information, and thank you Ming for keeping us inspired.

    • There’s a lot of personal preference involved in architecture, too – much as with anything else. Nothing wrong with that. But sometimes I feel held responsible for the building design, which definitely feels odd 😛

      But: our pleasure; showing another side of the world is what photography is all about, ultimately!

  3. No doubt that the play of light through the day is a photographer’s delight and you’ve captured that well. More buildings need wonderful light. Beyond the light, my ears almost hurt looking through the photos. There is little sound absorbing material in the atria and hallways; I can just hear the sounds reverberating as in a parking garage. Natural light aside, the building does seem to have a 1960s-vibe in its use of materials. And, I agree with the commenters who have mentioned prison-look.

  4. This photo is great, it looks like a common picture. But it isnt . The shodows and light are good. But it s not the best point. Simetry and meaning, math photo

  5. The composition, light, shadow, contrast and details are great as usual. The space available is splendid! However, there seems to be quite some scope for improvement in workmanship for a building being the home of architects!

  6. Kristian Wannebo says:

    O.T. – somewhat.
    Administrative buildings tend to be bigger than the previous one…
    ( Parkinson’s law, etc. )

    I’ve seen one counterexample.
    In my youth I accompanied my father on a visit to a friend of his, then CEO of Kopparfors. A manor house was – by tradition – his residence and used for representation.

    He told us that the administration was housed in one of the two side buildings and that they always complained of being too crowded. But, he said, he wouldn’t give them more space as then they’d only expand…

  7. Kristian Wannebo says:

    This building seems to be something like a photographer’s paradise?

    But also in parts rather a strange place.
    The wall in #1 in Part 1 just looked like a decoration was added until I saw the lovely interior in #7.

    And I agree with some comments to Part 1, some of the interior photos made also me think of prisons.
    Partly because all that grey concrete needs more objects of colour for mutual emphasizing.
    Here in Part 2 my thoughts go rather to The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari…

    But seriously, that much natural light indoors must be great to work in! At best that is otherwise only found in combined entrance / staircase halls.

    And the photos?
    A very interesting (as usual…) mix of documentary and artistic (often both) photos!

    ( Btw., #1 in Part 1 is to me a good example of the incompatibility of perspective and geometry. The composition does ask for verticals parallel to the edges, but the building then looks very top heavy. On the other hand that does emphasize the plants in the wall.)

    • I’m certainly not complaining about the light and shapes, and the contrast that lets me do things with shadows – but the rest – well, each to his own I guess?

      • Kristian Wannebo says:

        Yes, you’ve seen it, I havent.
        All those narrow stairs…
        But that interior in #7 /Part 1 is great.

      • Lots of comments against the architecture, the design of the building. What they have done is maximise their budget with very simple poured structure which also gives all the surfaces (saving hugely on fit out), and then wrapped that with a simple brise soleil-style shadow-creating exterior cladding.

        The ‘unfinished’, raw concrete is strongly influenced by the Japanese masters Toyo Ito and Tadao Ando (look at his Church of Light), who used raw concrete in many of their signature buildings, so much so, “as Carrara marble is to Europe, so concrete is to Japan”. And Japan is where many architects in Asia look to. They will have worked hard to get the balance of smooth areas, and rough!! That is not poor workmanship, but the same kind of ‘energy’ in the mix between rough/smooth, shaped/accidental you find in the Korean handmade pottery prized by the Japanese tea masters as the most aesthetically perfect.

        The designer/s have also gone for thermal mass, very thick concrete structure without direct sun falling on it, which should retain coolness throughout the day, and as you pointed out, lots of spaces for hot air to rise up through the structure and escape through apertures avoiding aircon. Another aspect of such a raw interior, is it has the feel of something in progress, not entirely tied off and decided, it has this in common with artist’s lofts, modern museum spaces – creative people love potential rather than a space with a settled design. Its also a good way of creating a space for many architects with different ideas about the detail of finishing; club chairs and rugs, or dark wallpaper and concrete furniture? (The moment you pick a strong and particular interior finish, you trap yourself time-wise too, the interior would need complete revision in a few years… whereas a neutral interior has less that can fix it in time, look at Donald Judd’s Foundation in Marfa, try and date it.) The industrial light fittings, the simple steel balustrades, these are both low cost, and somewhat devoid of “taste”, not tasteless, but undecided in an overt interior design sense. By keeping the space ‘open’, everyone’s imagination can roam.

        So I think the design references the modern masters all the PAM members will know and admire, it maximises what they had to spend, it aims at being ‘green’ and efficient energy-wise, it aims at timelessness and universality taste-wise.

        • I’m glad to read at one positive comment about the architecture here – thank you for explaining it in a better way than I know how. I am sure it wasn’t designed for the majority, and in that alone – the narrower the application, the more polarizing the design. But without at least trying, there’s no result. And no collective advancement of at very least asking ‘what if?’ 🙂

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