homo faber MODELLING IDEAS
EDITED BY ALISON FAIRLEY ANDREA MINA PETER DOWNTON
the focus is not on the working model, or its method of manufacturing, but rather on the role that models play in representing ideas.
homo faber MODELLING IDEAS
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MODELLING IDEAS THROUGH MANUAL MEANS: AN ANALYSiS OF THE ‘MANUAL IDEAS’ STUDIO
PETER DOWNTON & ANDREA MINA
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MANUAL IDEAS: STUDIO MODELS
FROM IDEAS TO MODELS: AN INTROSPECTIVE REPORT PETER DOWNTON
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GIVING FORM TO IDEAS ANDREA MINA
POISE: AN OVERVIEW
CRAIG DOUGLAS & ROSELEA MONACELLA
RE-MAKING: IDEAS AND MODELS CRAIG DOUGLAS & PETER DOWNTON
A HOUSE FOR HERMES: THE HOUSE OF MY FATHER
DESIGNING OPTICAL GEOMETRY AND CREATING HOLOGR APHIC IMAGES MARTINA MRONGOVIUS
COMMUNICATING IDEAS SHARING INFORMATION DOMINIK HOLZER
DEVELOPMENT OF THE LED STICK M. HANK HAEUSLER
CONTEXT-SPECIFIC LIGHTWEIGHT STRUCTURES IN ARCHITECTURE JEROME FRUMAR
POISE DIARY: MOMENTS FROMS THE STUDIO
SCREENRESOLUTION PAUL NICHOLAS & TIM SCHORK
DESIGN MODELS FOR BKK ARCHITECTS MUMA GALLERY COMPETITION 2006 RORY HYDE
HERTZIAN SPACE: MODELLING SPATIAL PRESENCE MARK TAYLOR
EXPLORING THE ROLE DIGITAL MODELS SARAH BENTON
BEAUTY & BRAINS ABOUT MODELS JULIETTE PEERS
MICHAEL OSTWALD Like the architectural drawing, the architectural model is one of the primary tools used by designers to shape the built environment. While other design tools have been employed at various times throughout history, only the model and the drawing have retained their primacy today. However, in the last decade the relationship between the model and the drawing has begun to change. As computers blur the distinction between drawings and virtual models, and as physical models are increasingly manufactured by computer-controlled devices, these architectural tools need to be critically reconsidered. While architectural drawings have been featured in many exhibitions, the architectural model has rarely been the subject of the same level of scrutiny. This realisation was the catalyst for Homo Faber: a series of exhibitions, symposia and books reflecting on the changing role of the architectural model both in contemporary practice and in academia. Homo Faber is Latin for “man the maker” – a reference to the manner in which humans use tools to shape, control or understand the environment. In the first Homo Faber exhibition held in 2006 at the Melbourne Museum, the focus was on the way in which architectural models serve as working tools to assist in the development of a design. Major architectural practices from across the region presented their working models and took part in a series of interviews to find out how architects use rough models and why? A parallel theme in the first exhibition was the exploration of different modes of making and different scales of representation. To elucidate the second theme, the four curators exhibited models constructed using a variety of different techniques and for a range of representational purposes. In one pair of projects, exquisite hand-crafted, timber and brass models were exhibited alongside bright, plastic, computer-generated and rapid-prototyped models. In a second pair, large plaster models of building details were juxtaposed with miniscule organic models possibly depicting entire worlds.
In the second Homo Faber exhibition in 2007 the focus is not on the working model, or its method of manufacturing, but rather on the role that models play in representing ideas. For a person who has not been educated in architecture or design the very thought that models can exist, for some purpose other than to prefigure a completed building, is potentially anathema. Yet, every architect and architecture student learns that models can express a range of themes, ideas and desires none of which are necessarily constructable or even prefigure a design solution. Few of these models are ever seen by the general public and it is rare that an opportunity arises to gain a more detailed level of understanding about their production, application and meaning. The idea model is one of the most powerful examples of prearchitectural form that is available to the designer. In its more metaphysical guise it can embody complex philosophical ideas, it can evoke emotions or offer unique tactile or even aural sensations and it in no way has to resemble a building. In the form that architects more commonly call a “conceptual model” it can encompass the essence of a vision for a building. In this variation the model represents a halfway-house between the building and some formative idea that will thematically define the completed architecture. This freedom of expression is one of the most important qualities of the idea model and it is seen in many of the exhibited works that have been produced by students, professionals and academics. The Homo Faber project is led by a team of senior academics from RMIT University and the University of Newcastle. The members of the team are Professor Mark Burry, Professor Michael Ostwald, Professor Peter Downton and Associate Professor Andrea Mina. With the support of a major national grant from the Australian Research Council (ARC), the team is proud to present the second in this important series.
INTRODUCTION: MODELLING IDEAS AND THE POWER OF REPRESENTATION
MICHAEL OSTWALD In January 1979 American architect Philip Johnson was famously featured on the cover of Time magazine holding aloft a model of his AT&T Tower. At first glance the model is barely recognisable and to the uninitiated it more closely resembles a trophy or award. This reading is not inappropriate as any architectural commission for a high rise building could be considered a major prize and perhaps Johnson is celebrating his win. Furthermore, the sense that the model is a trophy is exaggerated by the way in which Johnson is photographed against a backdrop of New York towers. Johnson stands amongst these towers as an equal in power, presence and stature. His grey clothes mimic the colour of the nearby towers, his head and shoulders are silhouetted against the skyline. A close inspection of the base of the photograph reveals that Johnson is actually standing on a constructed set. He is both part of one model and supporting another; a feat which simultaneously questions the significance of scale and demonstrates the way in which models can be used to suggest power or superiority. Yet, with all of this happening in the image, it is easy to miss a minor detail that changes, in subtle but important ways, the reading of the cover.
Johnson is not actually holding the AT&T model up from his body, as if celebrating an award, rather he is holding it out from his chest, as if either offering the model to the city, or perhaps receiving the model as gift. There is a long history of the architectural model as symbolic offering. In the mosaic above the main door of Hagia Sophia in Istanbul the Emperor Justinian is pictured holding a miniature of the church and reaching out with it towards the Virgin and Child. In Gloucester Cathedral the Abbot Osric is depicted holding a model of the church to his chest and in Rheims there is a representation of the architect Hugh Libergier presenting a model of Saint Nicaise as an offering. These examples, which have much in common with the image of Philip Johnson on the cover of Time magazine, use models to represent the idea of architecture. The person holding the model is symbolically invested with the power of creation (either as designer or patron) and they offer up the object of their exertions as a gift to god or to humanity. The models in these examples are not used for developing a design, or for assisting its construction, they simply stand for an idea; architecture as offering. Yet, while working models
and finished models are important communication tools, it is the idea models which potentially possess the greatest symbolic power. While Johnson may appear to be magnanimously offering a gift to the city, the act of giving reinforces the extensive sphere of Johnsonâ€™s own influence. As this example shows, when stripped of its traditional purpose (of directly serving the design and construction of a building) the additional representational capacity of the architectural model is revealed. The history of the architectural model is typically structured around the presumption that models are first and foremost representational objects and that their primary power is in the communication of intent. Regardless of whether the model is a working detail to solve a construction problem, or a finished model for presentation to a client, it represents the desire to complete a building. However, many models, like the historic examples described above, have little or no connection to the production of architecture. A visit to any major architectural practice or school of architecture soon reveals a collection of so-called â€œconcept
models”. The common characteristic of these models is not found in their materiality or in their making, rather it is one of intent and distance. These models are demonstrations of the proposed essence of a design but they retain a clear separation from any suggestion that they represent an endstate. Concept models suggest the stylised kernel of an idea that may eventually find its place in a building, urban plan or interior. These objects are a protean attempt by a designer to embody or abstract, in three-dimensional form, an idea. Despite the fact that conceptual models have materiality, it should not be assumed that they are necessarily either architectonic or architectural. Some concept models bear a closer relationship to architecture than others. Those produced by students tend to be more abstract while those produced by practitioners often more closely resemble some aspect of the completed building. However, the degree to which the model resembles a building is far less important than its capacity to evoke the spirit of an idea. Consider the models featured in the present volume that have been produced by Jarrod Manevski, Phil Smith, Camilla Zanzanaini and Greg Teague. In terms of their intent, these are classic conceptual models. They offer clear and evocative gestures towards architectural expression while maximising the distance between their actual form and the possible form of a finished building. These models are passionate and compelling dreams of future worlds and experiences. The models described by Dominik Holzer in the present volume also fit into this first category; they suggest architectural qualities without defining a finished building. In contrast to the works of Manevski, Smith, Zanzanaini and Teague the models of Simon Pearson and Allison Claney are more recognisably architectural. Pearson and Claney present concept models with screens and walls that define enclosure, view-framing and qualities of light and shade. Yet, despite coming closer to an architectural form, these models still cannot be seen as an end product. In all of these cases the model serves to translate an idea from the designer’s mind into architectural form. There is a second category of conceptual models which could, more correctly, be described as miniatures. The theoretical shift delineated in this category is away from the supposition
that small objects inevitably prefigure large objects. The epistemological pavilions of Peter Downton and the interior realms of Andrea Mina might be examples of this approach. In the former case Downton’s objects are completed works. They possess the signs of a refined architectural language and they appear to be models, but there the similarities end. Downton’s miniatures do not represent future forms at some other scale. If they model anything at all, other than the refinement of architectural form, it is an interrogation of the relationship between thinking, designing and making. It could be said that these miniatures exist to model concepts and that any architectural by-product is simply evidence of the thought process. Mina’s works are similarly finished objects that also serve as catalysts for thought. They provoke questions about scale and interiority and they are primarily, as Mina says, “things unto themselves”. Each of Mina’s models has qualities and characteristics that are simultaneously organic and architectural. The miniatures are also undeniably mythopoeic; some forms become wing-like or appear as caves or insect hives, others look like lost utopian communities, trapped in amber. The models of Downton and Mina each have their own innate qualities and concerns that do not prefigure an alternative scale construction. Finally, there is a less common category of idea model where the model serves as the architecturalisation of a concept. In these rare examples an idea is modelled for the purpose of explanation or analysis. The intent here is not to suggest how some idea may be converted into a building, but rather to use the techniques of architectural modelling to interrogate a non-architectural subject. Artists, scientists and mathematicians all use architectural analogies, and often recognisable architectural models, for explaining nonarchitectural ideas. These too are concept models but not generally of the kind produced by architects. If then, in the context of architectural practice, the working models produced by architects qualify as examples of homo faber—models in the service of work— then perhaps idea and concept models might be considered under the banner homo ludens; the man who plays? If we remove the more wilful or frivolous connotations from the concept of play and consider
it in the terms described by the anthropologist Roger Caillois then this may be possible. For Caillois, play is the ritualised and repetitive tracing of cultural values and ideals in our everyday practices. Play is not wanton or meaningless; it is the often exultant or euphoric act of creativity that occurs within the boundaries of a community. If the community is one of architects and designers, then the conceptual model may be the result of the type of loosely constrained, yet energetically pursued, creativity that Caillois sees as a characteristic of play. Regardless of the definition, conceptual models are as much about what the viewer brings to them as what the designer has put into them. In this sense, working models and presentation models are about closing down the possibilities of interpretation while concept models expand them.
MODELLING IDEAS THROUGH MANUAL MEANS: AN ANALYSIS OF THE ‘MANUAL IDEAS’ STUDIO
PETER DOWNTON & ANDREA MINA INTRODUCTION Models in architecture, and most other design areas, serve as representations of design intentions. Frequently, such models are made after designing has been done by other means; sometimes designing is done while making models. In either case they serve a function in the overall process of designing something such as a building and bringing it to completion. In most cases the model serves as a communication device which enables the transfer of intent and information from one body to the next, be it from the designer to the detailer or from designer to the client. The emphasis in these models is on the thing – let’s assume a building – that will be constructed. Clearly, there are a number of ideas or concepts informing the design which are to be expressed in the design. These are often discussed in a design process, but they are not singled out for examination in their own right. The discussion here grows from an effort examine the modelling of ideas in a fairly pure form by running a design studio where this somewhat artificial task could be conducted as part of the overarching Homo Faber research project.
The studio was named ‘Manual Ideas’ to express the connection of the hands and processes of thought, and centred on investigating the physical modelling of ideas. Strictly, ideas can be modelled by other ideas – this is part of metaphor. In the studio ideas were to be modelled by small physical objects. The process still entails metaphor, but a shift of medium is also required, and this was the process of greatest interest, focus and difficulty. The Interior Design students engaged in this design studio were predominantly from second year with a couple from third year. The projects set in the studio asked students to make physical models to say something about some rather unphysical ideas. As an initial project they were each asked to model an idea they selected from a provided list that included terms such as ‘comfort’, ‘responsibility’ and ‘isolation’; next they had to select and address in modelled form, two of these ideas juxtaposed in some way. For their third project students were asked to think of three spaces each with a different function and concentrate on modelling the relationships between the spaces and also develop the narratives surrounding the spaces and the ways in which they related. From this they progressed
to identifying three activities – one for a single person, one for five and a third for twenty people and modelling the relations between the spaces housing the activities and between the spaces and the site. The narrative in which the activity-housing spaces and their inter-relationships were embedded was also an enriching element. For their final project, students reflected on the idea of ‘home’ and sought to model this for themselves. While there was some universality in this, people quickly realised that the concept varied greatly from person to person and that they needed to focus on their own personal concepts. From this base, they were more able to explore the degree to which these were more widely shared and, by this means, at least offer echoes of familiarity and trigger feelings of recognition. It was evident throughout that the models produced were often the result of rich thought and complex ideas, but that there are great difficulties involved in giving physical form to a set of ideas not typically thought to have physical components. Frequently the pieces produced were soaked in metaphoric layers, but the intended readings could not be accessed without the author’s guidance. Once some small
insight into the approach was provided by the author, reading of the model and an understanding of the author’s modes of expression and exploration unfurled. Throughout the fifteen sessions of the studio, conversations around the ideas under consideration by each student were often quite personal and inevitably strongly felt. Studio sessions took the form of group conversations led by Andrea Mina and Peter Downton. These conversations covered the ideas themselves, their exploration and their subsequent representation through a three-dimensional model, critiques of the ideas and of the modelling, discussions of possible further directions of discovery and the materials and techniques for making. Actual making was done elsewhere. Karen Hamilton (both an interior designer and jeweller) conducted a workshop-based weekly session covering making, materials and techniques and requiring students to undertake some set making assignments. Andrea and Peter could also address such issues, but the principle focus of the studio sessions was about the ideas in each project and their development and expression in the models. Some of the issues introduced above warrant more detailed reflection and exploration; their expansion and discussion follows in subsequent sections.
MODELS AS FOCI OF CONVERSATION Students’ models served as foci of the weekly conversations; without the objects on the table the discussions would neither have been as rich or as interesting to the participants. Those sitting around the table showed their own work and appreciated, supported and critiqued the work of their peers. The fact of having invested personal concerns and effort in a model makes the producer’s interest in it considerable. If it has been undertaken with care and commitment, the author has intellectual and emotional attachment to the work, and an interest in promoting and defending it. In nearly every case, students had an interest in hearing thoughts from others about what might have been different and what might be done in a future model. Almost regardless of the topic and quality of a model, it served to facilitate conversation and hence learning. This can be also said
of designs that are described through images and pinned on the wall. However, in this instance, because the work is small and positioned on a table, a normal conversational situation is established. With drawings on the wall, the typical crit group is arrayed in a shallow semi-circle with the studio leaders and/or other critics nearest to the images while the remainder of the studio group is at various distances; this may indicate degrees of interest and involvement. It also means that the conversation is at the front and tends to be a performance watched by an audience. Circling models on a table, the studio members and leaders are in a more equal arrangement. People in this case often moved so as to get closer views – even if this meant they crouched or stood rather than sat. There is much to be said regarding the actual handling of an object in contrast to the detached viewing of an image located on the wall. This setting, and the attitude of the studio leaders, encouraged everyone to offer opinions and share concepts, techniques and experiences. Whilst the conventions of architectural drawings demand the author convert ideas and desires into a formal language, which is in effect an abstraction of reality, the physical model provides a more direct representation of intent which is more easily understood by others. In this way the students’ intent and subsequent outcomes as communicated by the models became readily available to all which in turn induced an atmosphere conducive to the free flow of conversation. This role of models as facilitators of a conversation is easy to overlook, but was shown to have considerable significance in this studio. That they were mostly small models – often around palm size – and therefore required fairly close examination is important. It led to reasonable physical closeness, concentration on the object and therefore the ideas under discussion, and these behaviours helped produce the observed richness of the conversations. Clearly the participants have to be motivated, thoughtful, appropriately verbally adept, and not overcome by nerves – as in any such seminar. The contention here is that the models helped the students to prepare and contributed in the ways discussed above. They thus aid learning. As designed works they played several roles in the learning of the studio participants. They focused
the thinking about the ideas; they were an integral part of the translation of those ideas into physical forms; they were central to learning about making; and, in addition, they were part of the process of learning from others. Of principle concern here is that through facilitation of conversations they encouraged sharing of knowledge and triggered ideas in different members of the group.
CONVERSATION’S ROLE IN EVALUATION The role of the models as facilitators of conversation and hence learning extends to their contribution to evaluation. In design, and more widely in practice, models are constantly assessed and evaluated against a wide array of criteria – some clearly specified and well articulated others that are intrinsic, unexamined and possibly unshared.1 Some evaluation is almost instantaneously carried out by designers and results basically in a yes or a no, a decision to continue with the directions represented by the model or to veer in another direction in the search space of design ideas. A similar and more protracted process is conducted by groups of designers, or groups involving others – maybe consultants or clients. In these cases conversation is necessary to share values, debate degrees of success and discuss alternative future paths. Individual designers parallel these conversations by conducting their own internally or even vocalise them and debate with themselves as a means of evaluating their progress. Again models have a role in conversations. In the studio circumstance there was also a frequent evaluative component to the conversations. This had at least two forms. Mostly evaluation played a role in discussions about what could be better. Obviously this entails values and positions about what should be the case. The studio leaders attempted to provide a democratic space of engagement and conversation by trying to argue these positions rather than asserting them as unchallengeable certainties. We also encouraged students to reflect on, and openly report, the values they brought to their evaluations of the work of themselves and others. In this way conversations quickly spread to encompass ideas that were not about a model although brought into being by a model.
Each model, and the process around it, had to be assessed for the purpose of awarding a grade to each student. Four of these periods of evaluation and grading were conducted as part of the final presentations on each model. In one session each student was required to submit a grade for every model presented including their own; these results were averaged and formed part of the overall grade of that project. The final project assessment was a special event with guest critics and reduced input from studio members. In physical layout and relations of people to work, it mirrored the crit panel outlined above. Utilising these processes, the models again served as facilitators of conversations – between students, students and staff, and between staff (including guest critics) – they were conversations debating values and degrees of success.
IN WHAT SENSE ARE THESE OUTCOMES MODELS? It is simple to call the objects produced by the students in the studio models because they are small, carefully made, and can be understood as representing something. They look like models. This is somewhat simplistic and it is revealing to consider why.
VAUGHAN HOWARD BRIEF #5
Most of the literature on models is traditionally a science and philosophy literature concerned with their role in discovery. It concerns the relation between the model of something and the original being modelled. Good exemplars are the use of knowledge about the flow of water in pipes as an early model of electricity in wires or the planetary system as a model of the atom. In each case the model is a model of something that is less well understood than the entity used as the model. What are these things made in the studio models of? Nothing at all – they do not represent something that is extant. They are not models of works from the canon of architecture or interiors for instance. Compare them with the types of models seen in design practices and which take their place as part of a design process intended to result in perhaps a building or a product. These models may be made during the designing process as thinking and designing tools, or they may be made after at least initial designing, as representational and communication tools – usually for showing others (probably
clients) the present state of the design. This class of models is projective. Such models are intended to describe what will come into existence in the final product or building; they serve a function in making the final building exist. Effort is spent to make the final outcome like the model. The model represents an intention; the outcome can be understood as representing the model. None of this is true for the models made in this studio. Some of the pieces could, with various degrees of structural and detail effort, be scaled up one, two or even five hundred times and made into a (small) habitable building. This was never specified in the studio. In two of the projects there was a specification that spaces for an activity or for a number of people be designed, but the focus was on these and their relations to other spaces, not on the production of the remainder of the elements required to form an entire building. So, the pieces were not models of extant buildings, nor were they models for intended buildings – even if some could potentially become so. One useful descriptor of a model is that it can be used to answer questions of interest to an interrogator that could be asked of the thing or system modelled. It can be seen that a model of an existing building, or a model representing an intended building, can both be used in this manner. It is difficult to say whether-or-not this is true in the case of the models of ideas in this studio. The answer hinges on the degree to which the relations between the ideas and the model can be understood as well as the qualities of relations. Two other uses of the word ‘model’ can be considered. ‘A model student’ is one displaying characteristics that are desirable to see emulated by other students. ‘An old model computer’ is a phrase that could be applied to an individual example of a particular type of computer. Each computer type probably had a production run of tens of thousands. In this example ’model’ refers to the type and not strictly to the instance of it; more correctly, this is a token. Neither sense illuminates the nature of the models made in this studio other than to define them as not conforming. However, one sense of the word ’token’ is helpful, for a token is an emblem of something abstract. We are used to emblems standing
As physical things they do not represent other physical things; they are themselves.
for brands, organizations or countries. They are symbolic representations of an abstract concept or idea. These models are laden with symbolic representations, with visual metaphors and metonyms for the abstract ideas they were intended to model. The activity of forming these is central to this discussion, but difficult to illuminate. One last examination of the characteristics of these models is necessary. That they are models of something existing or something intended was ruled out above. As physical things they do not represent other physical things; they are themselves. There is thus no possible mapping of attributes between physical things. These models are ends in themselves and in this sense are not models at all, but final outcomes. Such objects are common in design schools. They are easier to produce in terms of time and resources than buildings or products. They do not have to satisfy the dictates of construction, costs, clients or regulatory requirements that intended future objects are subject to; rather their ends are educational. Full size objects occasionally get constructed in architecture and interior courses, but they are typically portions of a possible whole or something such
as a small shelter. Size and time (where plants are involved) are major issues in landscape architecture courses with respect to full-scale productions. In the case of industrial design concerning products, size is infrequently such an issue – here the problem is expense and complexities of materials and manufacturing processes. Fashion is different; students can deal with the full size and often the materials and means of making of their designs. There is sense in which the studio models are full-size; they are the size they were asked to be. They are in their intended materials, not in a material chosen to simply represent a future building material. If they are regarded as being at a scale smaller than one to one and at least tentatively considered as potential full-scale structures then a range of adjustments in the way they are viewed is necessary, as sizes, thicknesses and fixings all become items requiring detailed consideration. Armed with this cloud of ideas about the term ‘model’ and even accepting doubts about whether it is the right term to describe what the students made, we will continue to use the term as it is the word most likely to be applied to them by others. In some instances they could be small sculptures or large pieces of jewellery.
MATERIALISATION Regardless of what the ‘models’ are thought to be, their makers confront the same issues. They had to establish a way of understanding the idea or ideas that were the givens of any one of the projects – whether these were prespecified or self-selected. They also needed to find a way of dealing with their particular views in a physical form, what materials to use and how to make their model. Such things often do not evolve sequentially, and if they do, the order in which they unfold may vary instance to instance. It seems that most often these matters at least partially co-evolve and mutually inform and shape one another. Surrounding each student’s discoveries and decisions is a narrative giving an account of their idea, the ways they are been seen, what is significant and how the whole, or a particular form or material, symbolises an idea. Confronted with a mute object the viewer can conjure concepts concerning
the ideas embodied in the object. These are easily at odds with the intentions of the maker. Minimally, the maker needs to provide a small key to unlock their intended ideas pervading the piece. Once there is this understanding, the relation between the ideas being dealt with and the model presented can be unravelled, enriched and explored by the viewer. Once this narrative is shared, the viewer’s ability to understand the piece entirely in their own terms is reduced, while the maker’s intentions become available in varying degrees. The reading is then potentially played out as a resolution of the tensions between the two understandings. Additional inputs from others, as in the studio, enhance the possibilities. The processes of moving from idea to physical form entail many possible choices, decisions and evaluations. How arbitrary are choices of forms and shape to express ideas? On what grounds, for example, does a designer decide that something round (maybe a circle or a sphere) symbolises or represents the universal, or completeness, or calmness? Sometimes the choice involves selecting an historic cultural archetype that has been valued in one or more cultures for centuries; sometimes the choice rests on an original argument. There are positions in between. There are variations in the degree to which the representational form can be shared. In the case of the argued representation, new insight or understanding may be offered as an alternative to the comfort and ‘rightness’ of the culturally entrenched form. The choice process can be predominantly emotionally driven or it might be essentially intellectual. There is a history of claims about a form equalling an idea just as there are similar, although disputed, claims concerning blue being a cold colour whilst red is warm – these things are not universally agreed. Particularly post-1980 there are welldocumented elaborate arguments often drawing on philosophic or literary theory to pin architectural outcomes to complex intellectual programs.. The process of deriving form from idea, or at least offering a post-rationalisation of the form based on an a set of ideas, can be characterised as a game in which the designer sets up some rules and then continues to play out the consequences: if round things are taken to represent universal calm,
BRIEF #1 (FROM LEFT TO RIGHT) VAUGHAN HOWARD KATIE COLLINS
then various other attributes of the ideas or the brief follow from this and an audience is asked to read and understand the outcomes in light of the original generative rules. Designers derive forms for their current task from their personal catalogues of forms, re-using, re-interpreting and evolving prior forms. This behaviour may support the cultural archetype or the intellectual argument approach or anything in between.) Part of the success of the mapping of form onto idea results from the degree of literality employed. Too much abstraction leads to unintelligibility; too little results in cringe-worthy banality. The tasks for the students in this studio entailed pitching their ideas and physical mappings at an appropriate level of literalness. Even when this was successful, consistency in following through the consequences of the self-imposed rules, or the full ramifications of the metaphors established, led to stronger outcomes.
VAUGHAN HOWARD BRIEF #3
The richness of thought and content in the work produced is best discussed by contrasting the different approaches adopted by Vaughan Howard and Katie Collins. Vaughan’s response to modelling the idea of complexity was to engage with the idea of a complex ecological system composed of a number of number of disparate elements which through their inter-dependent relationships form a coherent and harmonious whole. This was manifest through the making of a sphere composed of many parts made from contrasting materials. The junctions between these materials were in themselves formed along highly complex edges further adding to the articulation of complexity. Katie, set the task of modelling the idea of isolation, used her model as a form of machine which demanded the active participation of the viewer to articulate her intentions. Through the use of pulleys and thread, fourteen small components initially located as a unified and interlocking whole at the centre of a sphere made from five circles of wire, were able to be individually moved apart to the edge of the sphere. Her machine enabled the generation of space through distance with isolation manifest as the gap in-between.
In response to brief #3 Vaughan modelled the activities of reading, story-telling and watching. His composition of spaces is held together by a series of curved ribs from which varying sized circular platforms are suspended. The watching space dominates the composition being accessed via a spiral staircase. The story-telling space is located below in a space illuminated by light filtering through the open lattice structure. This space is privileged by its central location and large scale as it serves as the forum for social construction through the dissemination of the stories and knowledge gained from the reading space which is located at the foot of the composition. The reading space is conceived of as a quiet and introspective space. Katie addressed the idea of a dinner party narrative through her machine. This involved the narration of a linear timeline experienced by the host involving the spaces of preparation, dining and cleaning. The artefact described a linear movement from one space to the next working with the ideas of one space coming into being on the pretext of that which immediately preceded it, neither being able to be simultaneously occupied. These spaces were described by the space contained between two timber rings joined together by flexible brass plates allowing for the expansion and contraction of the central space. The preparation space is manifest through this space in its enlarged configuration followed by its contraction during the time of dining and by its ultimate collapse at the conclusion of the event. The inspiration for Vaughan’s response to brief #4 is from a quote by Thoreau who had three chairs at his cabin in Walden, “one for solitude, two for company, and three for society”. He has modelled some of the elements which make up a community. The large communal singing space for twenty is made from aluminium shingles positioned to face upwards in the evocation of the upliftment of music with the suggestion of an aspiration towards a higher level of being. His space for five is a dining space intended as a space of interaction, ritual and enjoyment, made with the shingles facing downwards in an effort to communicate a sense of grounding. The space for one is manifest as spherical; unique and individual yet made from the same shingle-like building
KATIE COLLINS BRIEF #3
blocks used to make up the other spaces. The composition is held together within a metal cuboid shaped frame which may be read as representing the universal nature of that required to make up community. Of interest is the linear nature of this outcome in contrast to his previous artefacts which have a dominant curvaceous characteristic. This can be attributed to the fact of his being encouraged to engage with materials that are not as conducive to carving from a solid as had been his previous practice; a demonstration in the powerful influence materials have over outcomes. Most of the projects were done over three or four weeks each. In the first studio sessions for each project we discussed the ideas to be focused upon and the conversations covered each person’s initial views of what they might deal with. Inevitably their approaches evolved – sometimes greatly; sometimes there was refinement rather than a change of approach. Hearing the initial intentions of others and discussing
the array of concepts circling the ideas led to an enriched conversational field which gathered momentum as the sessions continued. There became both a conversation concerning the particular project and a larger enveloping one for the studio as a whole. As inter-personal trust increased the character of this conversation could become more open and personal. Throughout, however, there was a sufficient level of trust that most people could be fairly comfortable in putting their ideas to the others for general discussion. We made clear the notion that no one student held a patent over an idea but that ideas were accessible to all and it is in the physical manifestation of the idea through the use of particular materials and their relationships that the authors could lay claim to the ideas.
written documentation of the projects were also required. These emphasised designing and making processes and later ones also sought reflection upon, and curation of, prior work. Through the conversations surrounding the development of the model and its final presentation, students were very conversant with one another’s approaches and work. The models were thus enriched in complex ways. Layers of conversation encapsulated each of them. Connections between the one student’s five models could be clearly seen, but throughout there were increasingly rich connections between the work of many of the students in the studio. There was also a group conversational memory able to be drawn upon for commentary and comprehension.
Usually in the second session of a project there were sketchy design ideas appearing – mostly on paper. By the third session these were more detailed, sometimes ideas were presented in the form of a modelled mock-up and sometimes there were the beginnings of a partially-built final model. For the last project a rough model in an easy to use material was specified as a required step. The final session for each project involved presenting each model to the group. Throughout, visual and
Another albeit abstract form of materialisation was achieved through the photographs taken by the students of the spaces contained within the models as distinct from imaging the models as objects located on a surface within space. These photographs provided beguiling effects through their dissolution of scale and their abstraction of the materiality of the surfaces describing the spaces. Considering this was a studio for interior design students we felt it important
to direct the conversations towards the making of spaces as distinct from the making of objects .
MATERIALS Except for a mock-up or when used in an exciting or entertaining manner, the common materials seen in studio modelling were banned. Card, balsawood and paper, typically asked to represent sheet and mass construction materials, were forbidden; foam-core was frowned upon. Students were challenged to investigate the expressive potential of any other material. Timbers, metals, fabrics, plaster, and clay were used in a range of ways however as the studio progressed the use of plaster became something to avoid. Far more unusual materials were explored – fish scales and bones, leather, Vaseline, oven-baked modelling putty, toilet paper and wax. Materials were mostly glued, but precise friction-fitting, and riveting were employed. Materials were cut, bent, carved, sanded, vacuum-formed, woven, knitted, crocheted, moulded and machine routed. The large materials palette aided expressive possibilities when compared to those materials that were banned. A fabric might be much more useful to convey the idea of ‘comfort’ for instance than is card. In the main, however, the relation between the materials chosen and the idea dealt with was not this direct. It is frequently the case that the kinds of materials used result in a more seductive outcome than can be produced by card or balsa. There is some danger in this – perhaps the making and materials are seducing the viewer, but the ideas embodied are ordinary. When, however, the ideas and the object are working in unison, the deployment of a fascinating and carefully chosen collection of materials supports and enhances the modelling of ideas.
VAUGHAN HOWARD BRIEF #4
Asking students to engage with material palettes that were in the main new to them, encouraged the production of forms and spaces that managed to negate preconceived solutions. Of more interest was the manner in which these different materials were joined. The common use of glue was in many instances unsuitable which in turn led the students to develop jointing techniques which in themselves began to influence the nature of the forms produced and their
contained spaces. For example a circular form made from pieces of mirrored acrylic joined by metal rings produced space defined by the irregular angles of the planes of acrylic relative to each other. This in turn produced an interior space composed of multiple reflected images.
CONCLUSION As the production of work progressed through the studio a sense of frustration in the studio leaders began to develop due to the enormous potential for design development contained within the models. In so far as the models were effective tools for the exploration and communication of ideas and consequently the production of meaningful conversations, they also provided glimpses of future possibilities which were intentionally not further developed. Perhaps this provides the foundation for further research into the use of modelling as part of the design process.
Several of the papers in the catalogue for Homo Faber: modelling architecture addressed the roles of models in architectural practice. Downton, “Temporality, Representation and Machinic Behaviours: model dialogues with self, collaborators, clients and others” (p.33), specifically addressed the conversational role they play with respect to practice. 1 See Marvin Minsky, ‘Matter, mind and models’, in Marvin Minsky (ed) Semantic Information Processing, Cambridge Massachusetts: The MIT Press, 1968, 426.
Professor Peter Downton Assoc. Professor Andrea Mina
Ahron Best Katie Collins Bethany Daniel Lauren Goodman Vaughan Howard Takako Kajiya Bradley Kilsby Mary-Jane Jean Catherine Jones Rebecca Law Melanie Muraca Jonathan Ong Myvanwy Purwo Elizabeth Schofield Anchalee Sroison Eric Yang
Generally models are made to represent something that will be constructed in the future. The models displayed here originated in an Interior Design studio named ‘Manual Ideas’ to express the connection of the hands and processes of thought. It was centred on investigating the physical modelling of ideas, rather than designs or things. Students made physical models to say something about some rather unphysical ideas. As an initial project they were each asked to model an idea they selected from a provided list that included terms such as ‘comfort’, ‘responsibility’ and ‘isolation’; next they had to select and address in modelled form, two of these ideas juxtaposed in some way. For their third project students were asked to think of three spaces each with a different function and concentrate on modelling the relationships between the spaces whilst developing the narratives surrounding the spaces and the ways in which they related. From this they progressed to identifying three activities – one for a single person, one for five and a third for twenty people and modelling the relations between the spaces housing the activities and between the spaces and the site. The narrative in which the activity-housing spaces and their inter-relationships were embedded was also an enriching element. For their final project, students reflected on the idea of ‘home’ and sought to model this for themselves in such a way that more universal ideas of home could be understood by others.
(CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT) MYVANWY PURWO ANCHALEE SROISON VAUGHAN HOWARD KATIE COLLINS
MANUAL IDEAS BRIEF #1 Students were asked to produce a three dimensional piece of work that modelled an idea they selected from a provided list. This list included the terms â€“ calm, care, connectivity, comfort, complexity, flexibility, health, heaviness, history, honesty, hope, isolation, lightness, pattern, peace, protection, responsibility, richness, rigor, rigidity, sparse, speed, time, truth and waste. The piece was to be complete in itself, structurally stable and no bigger than 200x200x200 mm. It had to possess particular characteristics which would enable the articulation of one, if not many stories about the selected term/idea whilst also demonstrating an allegiance to the interior design discipline in which it is located. A demand was made for the highest standards of craftsmanship.
(CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT) CATHERINE JONES LAUREN GOODMAN KATIE COLLINS VAUGHAN HOWARD
BRIEF #2 This brief asked students to construct a three dimensional piece of work that modelled the juxtaposition of two words selected from a provided list. This list included the terms â€“ calm, care, connectivity, comfort, complexity, flexibility, health, heaviness, history, honesty, hope, isolation, lightness, pattern, peace, protection, responsibility, richness, rigor, rigidity, sparse, speed, time, truth and waste. The piece was to be made from more than two materials (balsawood and card were prohibited) and be no bigger than 200x200x200 mm. These objects had to have the ability to project the narratives of the relationships between the selected ideas and the choice and juxtaposition of materials. The production and articulation of interior space was of paramount concern. A demand was made for the highest standards of craftsmanship.
(CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT) VAUGHAN HOWARD ELIZABETH SCHOFIELD BETHANY DANIEL KATIE COLLINS
BRIEF #3 Students were asked to model a complex of three spaces by concentrating on the ideas which dictated the characteristics of each space and determined the relationships between the spaces. The connections or transitions from one space to the next were of critical importance together with the narratives that could be articulated about the connections and the complex as a whole. Unlike the previous exercises there was a requirement to identify the function and performance of the space prior to commencing modelling. There was no limitation on height but a specific requirement for the location of the object on a 200x200 mm base. Another requirement was for the object to have the appearance of a unified whole although comprised of more than three spaces. Once again card and balsawood were forbidden modelling materials. A demand was made for the highest standards of craftsmanship with the priority being on the communication of spatial ideas in preference to privilege the appearance of the model.
BRIEF #4 This brief dealt with ideas of scale. Students were asked to identify three different activities and the spaces required to accommodate these activities. The three spaces were to respectively accommodate one, five and twenty people and to house dissimilar activities to those worked with in brief #3.. The requirement was to model the ideas of the relations between the spaces housing the activities and between the spaces and the site. The narrative in which the activity-housing spaces and their inter-relationships were embedded was also an enriching element. The model was to be no larger than 200x200x300 mm and in this case paper, card, balsawood and plaster were prohibited. A demand was made for the highest standards of craftsmanship with the priority being on the communication of spatial ideas in preference to privilege the appearance of the model.
(CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT) KATIE COLLINS CATHERINE JONES JONATHAN ONG ANCHALEE SROISON
BRIEF #5 For this final brief students were required to model the idea of home. This was to be achieved by contemplating what the idea of home meant both to themselves and in a more generic sense. Students were asked to consider what minimum set of elements was necessary for somewhere to feel like ‘home’ to them; what were the things, relationships, characteristics or attitudes they needed to establish or find in order to create home for them? How universal were these and did they vary with different cultures and age groups? They were asked whether one could generalise the concept ‘home’ from personal experiences to a concept that would be recognizable and of value to other people. Considering the project was located in an Interior Design program students were expected to deal with those aspects of ‘home’ that fell within the realm of Interior Design.
(CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT) VAUGHAN HOWARD LAUREN GOODMAN MELANIE MURACA
(CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT) KATIE COLLINS CATHERINE JONES ANCHALEE SROISON MYVANWY PURWO
FROM IDEAS TO MODELS: AN INTROSPECTIVE REPORT
PETER DOWNTON This is a tale of two models. Both are driven by ideas, but the ways in which these ideas were given form and the relations between form and ideas, differed instructively in the two cases. The model making was set up intentionally to inquire into the differing relations the two approaches would entail. An account of the explorations and the findings is offered here. The two models are part of a series of ‘Epistemological Pavilions’ that I have made since 1996 to investigate aspects of designing and making. Number 11 in the series, Music Bridge: a chamber of iterative interpretations utilises forms derived from items involved in the production of music, while number 12, The Pilgrim Temple of Canonic Desires, investigates re-use by employing elements of various works of architecture. Aspects of the processes of translation and transformation can be ascertained in both instances by following the paths of ideas as they became physical form.
MUSIC BRIDGE: A CHAMBER OF ITERATIVE INTERPRETATIONS The site for this model is a 270mm length of Stegbar cedar window-sill. It takes a base for a window as the base of
an inquiry into researching through the designing-making of a model. The voyage began by forming a Plasticine mould for a papier-mâchè shell roughly in the shape of half of the back of a cello – certainly enough for it to be recognisable as a cello or violin. I had the idea of this being raised on a frame and sheltering whatever grew beneath it. What developed below the cello was a three-element bridge sloping up to an elevated raked gravel garden held in what might be a timber boat hull with the plan shape of concert grand piano. This was made from wood found in a street skip. This melding of hull, Japanese (or possibly Parisian) gravel and piano hopefully calls for questioning on the part of a viewer and a need to resolve the combination produced through conflation. There is a fourth element: sound waves propagate through the gravel – perhaps as a result of performance on the piano. The characteristics of the bridge are derived from the remembrance of Scottish castle drawbridges with hints of other bridges that raise or open as in Amsterdam and of working cranes such as those used on container wharves. The three timber bridge sections were also influenced
by Mark Goulthorpe’s bronze hearth in the Haddad apartment, Paris, 2001.1 The mechanisms for the bridge are predominantly made from parts employed in hard disks – items inevitably involved in the recording, reproduction and performance of music. There are also plugs, pieces from within hard drives, and brackets for memory on motherboards. In an early mock-up, the cello form sat beside a skillion-roofed shed. This idea persisted, but the initial shed was abandoned as at odds with the more unusual things happening in the model as it formed. Under the influence of images by Bernd and Milla Bechers this part became most like an industrial hopper as I worked on it in mock-up and final materials. Its colouring and surface hopefully suggests a hint of signal boxes by Herzog and de Meuron. This is one of the forms with connections to architectural ideas, or ideas drawn from the physical environment. The elements of the piece were not selected or formed in the order described above. I had various, partiallymade parts and assorted possibilities in mind and sought commonalities, threads of integrative ideas that could be characterised as tying them together. My explorations
PETER DOWNTON MUSIC BRIDGE: A CHAMBER OF ITERATIVE INTERPRETATIONS
PETER DOWNTON MUSIC BRIDGE: A CHAMBER OF ITERACTIVE INTERPRETATIONS
led to music becoming the principle idea that linked them. As this idea became more certain, the search for ways of transforming music ideas into forms for this pavilion gained focus. The discovery of new, music-related, ideas led to physical expressions of a fairly literal kind; a model-making idea sometimes began a connective chain to a musical idea by filling in gaps in the music theme. Likewise, the music theme made sense of some ill-formed modelling notions. Ideas about music and modelling shaped one another. The process was iterative. The forms are fairly direct translations from music to architecture – even when the music form is used in unusual ways or compounded by cross-pollinations as in the piano. If a more abstract approach to music had been employed the outcome would have been entirely different. For instance, suppose I had attempted to map a physical form onto a sonata form, I would have had to find physical analogues for the musical ideas of development, recapitulation, keys and thematic material – a much more difficult task than the re-use of shapes and components. Where can such analogues be sought? What are the grounds for arguing that a physical form in some way equates with a musical form? Against what criteria can the success of such mappings be judged?
THE PILGRIM TEMPLE OF CANONIC DESIRES The other 250mm of the remnant window-sill had to be used. The first idea mocked-up was for a small pavilion sitting before a sloping deformed oval platform with no obvious derivation other than previous shapes I had used in other models. In its second iteration a hole was cut in the platform for a tower to rise through. Perhaps this tower idea was a precursor of those that were later built. Pavilion 12 began to take on the theme of re-use when I decided to replace the initial shape with most of the roof plan of La Chapelle-Notre-Dame-duHaut at Ronchamp by Le Corbusier (1950-1955) used as a floor. There was no theoretical rationale for this. The idea of using the plan of an existing building led to a very short mental search that resulted in trialing this choice and assessing it as worth pursuing. My version of this plan displays both bending and mild warping – an exaggerated version of the sloped floor of the actual building. A level platform leading
to it is sheltered by a roof derived from any of a number of houses by Frank Lloyd Wright – the only idea from the first mock-up to survive to completion. (Wright’s houses that utilise this roof form and pitch include the Ward Willits House (1901), the Frederick Robie House (1906), the Avery Coonley House (1907), Taliesin (1911) and the Harry Adams House (1913).) The intentional referencing of these made only minute difference to the form originally formed in card. With these two forms in place, the search for other useful building blocks began. The pavilion is predominantly a compilation. I explored the idea of using a plan of Francesco Borromini’s San Carlo Alle Quattro Fontane (1638) chapel by adding it above the sloping floor, but concluded that a greater sense of interiority could be attained by letting it into the Ronchamp-based platform and having its sixteen pilasters rise from there. These pilasters transformed into columns made of clear Perspex reminiscent of the glass columns of the Paradiso Hall of Terragni’s Danteum project of three hundred years later. This was a translation of a translation as the Danteum is a rich re-working of the poetry of Dante into an architectural project. 2 Entirely by coincidence, as far as I know, sixteen columns also support the roof at Ronchamp; there are twice the number in the Paradiso room, plus one in its entry. My pavilion scheme had acquired a magic number. A reversed, bent and beaten metal version of the Ronchamp roof plan, punctured by a selection of the windows from that building’s south wall, hangs above the Perspex columns, as they intentionally fail (by various amounts) to touch the roof. Positioned where the towers at Ronchamp occur, there are two brass-framed towers, one of which is structurally irrational. Proportionally, the height of the larger one is appropriate for the size of the plan; otherwise they are probably beyond what could be reasonably considered a transformation, as they are frame rather than mass construction and their forms are dissimilar to the originals. The final major element is a re-working of the original scheme (rather than using the simpler built-version) of a folly at Osaka by Morphosis.3 On the towers and on extensions of the folly, there are cranes – again made from hard drive components. The two roofs hang from the cranes.
PETER DOWNTON MUSIC BRIDGE: A CHAMBER OF ITERATIVE INTERPRETATIONS
The common threads among these diverse architectural elements are membership of the canon of architecture for at least some of them and their selection here by me. The chosen works share little in the way of stylistic, formal or theoretical concerns. These were not their grounds for choice – rather they were selected from my repertoire of known works on the basis of their formal usefulness. They have been coerced into contributing to a new work – a viewer may judge how successfully the collection, or sampling, forms a whole. For me this whole came to be about producing a piece concerning the idea of canonic works as metaphoric temples, places of pilgrimage in both physical and intellectual landscapes. Although bringing them together makes a new entity, no new relationships between the parts is necessarily elucidated simply through juxtaposition or conflation. Here, I wanted to inflame the desires that architectural pilgrims harbour to visit such canonic temples and begin a debate about the translating entailed by taking elements of architecture and re-using them. PETER DOWNTON THE PILGRIM TEMPLE OF CANONIC DESIRES
The originals are more-or-less able to be recognised even though there are varying degrees of abstraction and mutation. Number might be preserved while the construction materials and colours vary. Elsewhere, number, position and proportional size are preserved, but not form or materials. Selection must be carefully judged – aspects require an appropriate degree of inclusion and maintenance if recognition of the original is to be possible. (From the limited tests conducted, it seems that the roof plan shape of Ronchamp can be recognised by architects; presumably others will need greater numbers of clues, or will need it fully explained.) The maker has to evaluate how much of the original must be maintained, and in what way, to allow recognition – if this is desired. Clearly, an original can be used for the designer-maker’s own purposes and, in this case, it may not be of concern if it is recognised or not. Finally, someone viewing the piece may discern an unintended allusion. The selections, substitutions and preservations that are intentionally made, parallel translations of texts between languages. Here, the translator may endeavour to address the alteration of a cultural context and a set of meanings surrounding the text and then offer a parallel rendering
in another language and culture rather than give simple substitutions for the words in the original. This results in a new work possibly extending the original.
FROM IDEA TO PHYSICAL FORM In the two pavilion models, processes of translation and transformation can both be seen; on the one hand a certain stability of ideas from original to new work is discernable, and on the other, change, evolution and alteration. These ideas and elements are treated like ingredients in a brew requiring combination, appropriate mixing and a period of fermentation to achieve something beyond the original parts. While there is no recipe, there is constant judgement on the part of the designer-maker – constant evaluations lead to additions, decisions to go no farther in a particular direction and even decisions to retreat. The Music Bridge pavilion deals mostly with ideas that are not architectural and attempts to make something architectural from them, while in The Pilgrim Temple of Canonic Desires nearly all the informing ideas derive from examples of architecture. In this second case, as discussed above, the puzzle is to maintain and/or alter existing architectural ideas and forms. In the first case there is a mixture. One clearly musical shape is used – a cello. Similarly, a somewhat transformed piano shape is highly legible, but is then subjected to strategies likely to confuse an overly literal reading. The use of computer parts and claims of their involvement in music are less literal; their use as mechanical elements in the piece involves further abstraction. The overall form is not strongly shaped by the informing ideas in either of the pavilions. In both there are parts that are not derived from the idea set for the piece; they are a separate set involved in composing the whole or contributing something to the idea of a pavilion that could potentially be occupied – a ramp or a seat, for instance. Overall there are decisions about materials and colours that are not driven by the informing ideas, but are drawn from the interests and tastes of the maker-designer. These contribute to each work being a whole and to them each fitting into a set of works formed from my prior pavilion pieces. Additions, or choices, such as these
PETER DOWNTON THE PILGRIM TEMPLE OF CANONIC DESIRES
cannot be avoided or denied; there is no possibility of a direct transformation of an idea into an architectural form without such interventions.
PETER DOWNTON THE PILGRIM TEMPLE OF CANONIC DESIRES
How does an idea become a physical form? I suggest above that translation and transformation are involved. In fact, dictionary browsing suggests a number of concepts labelled by words with the prefix ‘trans-’. It is the work we make the prefix do that seems significant. It suggests crossing something, moving through and changing from one state to another. As well as translation and transformation, we can call on transposition, transferral, transportation, transcendence and transmogrification as descriptors to illuminate the migratory passage from idea to model. Each term can contribute something, but not one of them is entirely convincing when operating alone. Two that deserve a little elaboration are ‘transposition’ and ‘transmogrification’. The first has similar senses in a number of fields and involves transfer of the original to another position – a change of key in music, the re-positioning of a number in an array or in an equation in maths, or the transfer of a DNA segment to a different position in a chromosome in a biological use. In the case of the models, a re-positioning is also apparent, but this is a change of system or context, not a change contained entirely within one system such as these examples suggest. Transmogrification also entails an alteration – in this case within the thing itself, as it is a change in the appearance or form of something. Moving from idea to form, as examined here, requires crossing from the realm of ideas to that of things. Although both ideas and models can be understood as human constructs, they display sufficient differences to be characterised as separate systems. We can paint the move from idea to physical model as being examined in one system and made in a new form in another system; there is a change of system, not simply a change within one system, or a change within one element of a system. Although there is beguiling resonance with various concepts labelled with the prefix ‘trans-‘, the idea of translation seems to best parallel the processes that have been described. The way in which the translator has an idea that might ‘translate’ the original in a new system is not much illuminated, however; the slower
process of evaluating and perhaps accepting the suggestion is more obviously amenable to scrutiny and less reliant on the apparently magical. Evaluation also requires ideas such as ‘testing’, ideas underpinning means and methods of testing, and ideas of making – a rich swirling of ideas of differing types around the entity finally taking form as a model.
1 Seen in an illustrated lecture given Mark Goulthorpe, 2004. 2 See Thomas Schumacher and Giorgio Ciucci, The Danteum, Princeton Architectural Press, Second English Edition, paperback, 2004. 3 Detailed drawings of the unbuilt version appear in Arata Isozaki, (with various contributions), Osaka Follies, London / Tokyo: Architectural Association / Workshop for Architecture and Urbanism, 1991.
GIVING FORM TO IDEAS
ANDREA MINA INTRODUCTION Small scaled objects and manual modelling are at the core of my research which is being undertaken through a doctorate which at present has as its working title ‘Intimate Immensities; miniatures, an interior architecture’. The central focus of this research investigates the manual making of small scale objects which for the ease of this discussion may be referred to as miniatures. However these objects do not refer to a larger scaled version of something else nor do they reference any particular precedent. They are ‘things’ unto themselves and are made at a scale which is in fact one is to one. In this sense it is preferable to refer to them as objects rather than as models as the reference to models would have the implication they are smaller scaled versions being used to represent something else which would be manifest at a larger scale. This discussion is made more complex by virtue of the fact that in this particular instance the objects were used to run a parallel investigation to that undertaken in the design studio offered together with Peter Downton for second and third
year interior design students titled ‘Manual Ideas’. The specific aim of the studio was to investigate the modelling of ideas through manual means as opposed to the modelling and communication of specific designs. This paper discusses two objects produced in response to these concerns.
IDEAS OF MAKING: REDUCTION The two objects employ two diametrically opposite ideas of making, those of reduction and those of assemblage. In the first instance the idea of the process of removal or subtraction is employed. In this case the body of its architecture has been sculpted from a block of balsawood. Form is given to the block through the reduction of its material content by the removal of its surface area. As a reaction to previous work which was constantly being referred to as reminiscent of ‘shell-like’ forms the body of this object was worked to produce a ‘different kind’ of form. Although a conscious effort was made to move away from the ‘shell-like’ forms there was no premeditated idea of what this sculpting would ultimately result in. However it must be stated there is always an abiding idea of producing objects that carry with
them the resonances of architectural form. As it transpired the form engaged the ideas of a continuous surface defined by compound curvatures which are governed by symmetry about the vertical axis. The idea of achieving compound curves is a logical extension of the manual manipulation of the material and a bodily desire for a close and comfortable fit of the object into the palm of the hand during its manipulation. Sharp edges are naturally uncomfortable in one’s grip and induce unnecessary bodily distractions during this process of making. Two ‘tower-like’ extensions emerged as a result of introducing a further curved negative form which was achieved by removing a central portion of the apex of the object. As my research is also concerned with ideas of the production of interior space the next step involved the removal of interior material from its containing form. The process of removal to produce interior space engages with an abiding idea that architecture has as one of its most fundamental principles the making of space for human occupation. Solid form simply cannot satisfy this. There are pervading simple rules which govern this process of removal. First is a desire to work the material to the finest thicknesses possible especially at all
ANDREA MINA OBJECT #1
exposed edges because it is at these areas that thicknesses are perceived. This is in order to achieve a material thickness which is in keeping with the small scale at which the objects are made. The process is in turn governed by removing as much material as possible up until that point of rupture when the surface of the form dissolves through lack of its material substance. To my mind this ultimate moment of resistance produces openings which have a sense of authenticity. However in this case there was a preconceived idea of producing an opening which ran the full height of the object in order to achieve a front elevation for the object whilst also fully exposing the interior space of the containing architectural form. For ease of the discussion this object will be referred to as Object #1.
IDEAS OF MAKING: ASSEMBLAGE In contrast to object #1, object #2 has been made through the assembly of parts. In this case the object slowly evolves through the accumulation of parts which are assembled in response to what has preceded their inclusion. The inference here is there are no preconceptions regarding the form that is to evolve other than a knowledge something will emerge through careful engagement and refined sensibilities. This method of making bears its genesis in the habit of doodling which I have nurtured over the past forty years. My obsessive wanderings with pen on paper have developed into a three dimensional doodling which involves making a ‘mark’ and responding in some manner to the initial and subsequent actions. This type of drawing has no embedded narrative and serves no purpose other than to satisfy an innate craving to put pen to paper during moments of reflection or during times of the many excruciating meetings which are part of any professional life. Experience has taught me the most successful doodles are those whose beginnings are in response to a given condition whether it is a smudge of ink or crease or tear in the surface of the paper. This may be an answer to the dilemma of the artist confronted by the tyranny of a blank canvass – how and where to begin?
ANDREA MINA OBJECT #1
In essence my three dimensional doodling is governed by a sense of composition whether it is achieved through
symmetrical or asymmetrical balance. Rhythm is achieved through the repeated use of particular elements which are not necessarily exactly the same in size or shape. Contrasts are achieved through the juxtaposition of different and at times opposing materials, for example transparency against opaqueness, robustness against flimsiness. Scalar shifts between elements are used to induce not only contrast but to enhance a sense of interest. Differing areas of density further add to a sense of interest. Sometimes a conscious effort is made to obscure the clarity of detail in order to produce textured surfaces with the hope of affecting haptic viewing. Object #2 had its beginnings with my fascination in the structure and beauty of cicada wings. The first move was to select a wing that basically corresponded in size to that of the size of the object I was contemplating together with the decision this would be a tower of sorts. This contemplation produces a fuzzy mental image which is void of detail and loose enough to accommodate the myriad of opportunities which arise during the making. Keeping in mind the working title of my PhD and the reference to miniatures I have been endeavouring to make smaller and smaller objects whilst still retaining the characteristics of the initial pieces which are possibly between five to ten times the sizes of the piece I had in mind. With a little poetic licence it may be envisaged I am in effect producing miniature scaled versions of the characteristics of the initial body of work. Having selected the most appropriate wing the objective now became to undermine the visual reading of the object as wing in order to move ‘it’ more towards a reading of an architectural element. This was achieved by adding a skeletal truss-like structure made from cactus spikes to one face of the wing upon which pieces of iridescently coloured butterfly wings were overlaid. The idea of using iridescent coloured wings was to achieve surprise and wonder through the startling effect the iridescence has through the visual movement and changes that take place as the angle at which they are seen changes. From one angle there appears to be a dull surface behind the transparency of the wing which suddenly bursts into an electric blue as one changes position about the object.
ANDREA MINA OBJECT #2
At this point a series of small flat cuttlefish-shell pieces were glued to both surfaces together with cactus-spike supporting structures in an effort to evoke the idea of planes for occupation and to further undermine the visual reading of wing With the wing established as a prime element efforts were now made to hold the piece in a vertical position. This required the use of a smaller section of wing located at right angles to the main element and again positioned vertically. Cactus spikes were again used to connect the pieces. As a response to the curvature of the base of the wings I decided to complete a tripartite composition by introducing a third but angled wing thus forming the base of the tower and enclosing what I imagined to be a relatively enormous civic space. A decision was made to angle the placement of this element in an effort to provide a sense of visual movement from the base up towards the apex. In contrast to the prime element this
structure is completely transparent thus providing visual access to the enclosed space. Because the production of interior space is one of the fundamental ideas driving the making of these objects care is taken to reveal these spaces and to not obscure the interiors by completely enclosing space with opaque materials. Once the object could stand upright without external support other smaller wings and more cuttlefish shell plates were attached at various points to this structure. At this point vertically positioned cactus spine was introduced to induce the visual perception of columns supporting these plates. A decision was made to introduce a number of longer red cactus-spikes with the aim of reinforcing the vertical whilst simultaneously complementing the vertical green stripes contained within the cicada wings. In this manner the composition was built up to achieve the desired density; the measurement of which is determined by what appears to satisfy my sensibilities. Much in a similar manner to my doodles I decided the iridescent colour needed to appear in other areas of the composition. This resulted in the insertion of a prefabricated
rectilinear container bound by horizontally placed cactus-spikes at the top of the tower. This shape was intended as a contrast to the curved wing forms at the base of the tower, the horizontal spikes meant as demarcations of possible floor plates. Perhaps the most perplexing aspect of making through assemblage is in achieving that point of resistance which signals completion. Unlike making through reduction and its companion moments of rupture assemblage may proceed unabated. In this instance closure was achieved through an abatement in my patience with and interest in the object. With the wing established as a prime element efforts were now made to hold the piece in a vertical position. This required the use of a smaller section of wing located at right angles to the main element and again positioned vertically. Cactus spikes were again used to connect the pieces. As a response to the curvature of the base of the wings I decided to complete a tripartite composition by introducing a third but angled wing thus forming the base of the tower and enclosing what I imagined to be a relatively enormous civic space. A decision
was made to angle the placement of this element in an effort to provide a sense of visual movement from the base up towards the apex. In contrast to the prime element this structure is completely transparent thus providing visual access to the enclosed space. Because the production of interior space is one of the fundamental ideas driving the making of these objects care is taken to reveal these spaces and to not obscure the interiors by completely enclosing space with opaque materials. Once the object could stand upright without external support other smaller wings and more cuttlefish shell plates were attached at various points to this structure. At this point vertically positioned cactus spine was introduced to induce the visual perception of columns supporting these plates. A decision was made to introduce a number of longer red cactus-spikes with the aim of reinforcing the vertical whilst simultaneously complementing the vertical green stripes contained within
the cicada wings. In this manner the composition was built up to achieve the desired density; the measurement of which is determined by what appears to satisfy my sensibilities. Much in a similar manner to my doodles I decided the iridescent colour needed to appear in other areas of the composition. This resulted in the insertion of a prefabricated rectilinear container bound by horizontally placed cactusspikes at the top of the tower. This shape was intended as a contrast to the curved wing forms at the base of the tower, the horizontal spikes meant as demarcations of possible floor plates. Perhaps the most perplexing aspect of making through assemblage is in achieving that point of resistance which signals completion. Unlike making through reduction and its companion moments of rupture assemblage may proceed unabated. In this instance closure was achieved through an abatement in my patience with and interest in the object.
IDEAS OF EMPTINESS AND DECORATION As previously mentioned the form of object #1 was consciously worked to produce a shape unlike an egg form. Subsequent to the removal of its interior material I was struck by the idea of emptiness and the vast potential inherent in void space. Contrary to the idea of void space being empty this space is in effect charged with the potential of its futures and thus becomes a site for engagement and the opportunity for new manufactured interventions. However this potential is immediately dissipated once any actions are taken to materially occupy this space. Material occupation determines a specific condition within the void hence limiting future options for interventions within the space. With this in mind I determined to intervene in the least possible intrusive manner in an attempt to maintain the charged nature of this void interior space. My concern now became how best to fill interior space whilst maintaining its characteristics of
ANDREA MINA OBJECT #1
ANDREA MINA OBJECT #1
emptiness without limiting its potential for future occupations. One possible course of action was to address the enclosing surfaces which define this void space. By only addressing the surface without altering its form the void remains intact through the maintenance of its volumetric integrity. To achieve this status quo I decided to employ the techniques of decoration, that most ancient of all artistic practices. It has often been quoted that Architecture is ‘the mother’ of all arts. One need only contemplate the practices of prehistoric populations decorating the surfaces of caves to appreciate the fallacy of this of this quotation. In effect we may consider Decoration to be ‘the mother’ of all arts. Considering the aforementioned I decided to appliquè butterfly wings onto the enclosing surfaces of the void space. This was an appropriate strategy given the cave-like appearances of this void. The choice of which wings to use was influenced by their patterning and not so much by their colourations. Portions of wings with simple dot and circular patterns were selected for their simplicity and the possible interpretations of the dot and circle as prehistoric and universal symbols. Their different shades of brown were an appropriate fit against the light shade
of brown of the balsawood in that there was no discordant visual relationship between surface and decoration. A contrasting approach was adopted with the decoration of the external surface of the object. In this case an effort was made to use colour to highlight a specific area on the surface of the object for the purpose of subverting the visual apprehension of the shape of that area. To this end the semicircular concaved shaped area at the top of the object was covered with strips of iridescent coloured butterfly wings. The idea was to exploit the strength of this vivid magical colouring in conjunction with the resulting striped patterning in the hope for the vivid colour to be visually projected out from its defining surface thereby undermining the concavity of the surface. It is contestable whether this idea has been entirely successful in its execution, however the affective qualities of iridescence add further dimensions of surprise and delight when encountering the object.
IDEAS OF STITCHING I began to apprehend anthropomorphic qualities in the final form of object #1 with the emerging dominant image being
that of a headless human torso; this possibly due to the curved symmetrical nature of the form, its tapering shape from ‘shoulders to waist’ and the image of shoulder blades manifest by the concave semi-circular excavation at its apex. Not being comfortable with this image, especially the idea of an opened and empty medical cadaver, I decided to intervene through the idea of stitching the surfaces together along the length of its continuous vertical opening; a redemptive gesture of healing intended to secure the interior of the form by intimating the making whole of its ruptured surface. To this end I introduced white coloured cat hair to span the gap between surfaces with the hope their slightness, stiffness and straightness would elicit visual readings of tension. It was never my intention to produce an overt medical reading of stitching but to rather work with the word as a verb describing the process of joining together. As a result the hairs were cut short both in keeping with the scale of the object and for the purpose of being subtle in the communication of my idea. Consequently this necessitated joining the hairs across the breadth of the opening whilst also providing a degree of structural stability to the hairs and joints during this process
of fabrication. Despite the fact of their relative stiffness it is no easy task to keep the end of a very fine piece of hair stationery in an exact spot in space for long enough to join another piece to it at exactly the correct spot.. The fundamental principles of triangulation were employed to provide stability which in turn produced visual readings of a type of trussed structure in keeping with the architectural nature of the object. Small pieces of red sea-urchin spine were used to locate the points of connection between the hairs and the objectâ€™s surface. In a similar manner more of the domed ends of the spines were used to articulate the points of connection between the hairs with the added intention of encouraging visual movement across this complex surface.
IDEAS OF LIGHTNESS An idea of lightness was central to my thinking throughout the making of object #2. This was obviously influenced by the decision to work with cicada wings however it also became a guiding principle against which decisions could be made. The transparency of the wings together with their inherent fragile characteristics provided an immediate sense of lightness. This metaphor was complimented and made more complex
ANDREA MINA OBJECT #2
through the combination of cicada wings with iridescent coloured butterfly wings. Both wing types have an immediate and direct connection with flight thereby establishing an association with air and its evocation of lightness; as light as air. Once one apprehends the iridescent colouring of the butterfly wings, for a nanosecond the effect of shimmer and sparkle has the propensity to project itself beyond the surface of its being. Lightness is thus manifest through this visual radiation and its sense of upliftment. The manner in which the object touches the ground was limited to the minimum number of points. This was further exacerbated through the curvature of the wings effectively limiting contact in each to a single point thus allowing the object to stand above its ground plane. This is unlike object #1 which is firmly grounded by the continuous contact between base and ground plane. Perhaps the idea of lightness is best manifest through the diminutive size of the object and its negligible weight.
ANDREA MINA OBJECT #2
POISE: AN OVERVIEW
MARK BURRY The ‘Poise Studio’ ran for the first semester of 2007 and involved students from the Architecture, Fashion, Industrial Design, Communication Design, and Landscape Architecture programs, in broadly equal numbers. The studio had several objectives. First and foremost it was an investigation into the status of the concept as part of the design process, and especially the role of the model in spatially articulating concepts both from a view of aiding the individual’s singular thought processes through to their desire to communicate their design intentions to others. Secondly, the studio looked at how conceptual 3D design differed, if at all, between related and less obviously related design disciplines. Thirdly the studio looked for benefits in a transdisciplinary approach to design development, and the status of ‘authorship’ in that regard. There were two objectives to the studio: one abstract, and one concrete. The concrete objective was to work around the theme of the politics of water – by the end of the studio, mixed discipline groups had worked together through projects at the scale of buildings on, near and / or about water. The abstract theme was also the driver: poise. How many iterations might be necessary in order to mature
a concept into a design, how do we recognise the optimum ‘stopping point’, and how do we know when we have gone off beam? This quest for poise highlighted design as a process rather than celebrating any particular designed outcome. Students worked on individual projects for half the semester, and collectively for the remainder.
MODELLING CONCEPTS Having observed an apparent predilection for representational modelling at the first Homo Faber exhibition held in June 2006, we were interested in learning a little more about the status of the concept, and modelling concepts. Was practice shy about revealing its working or ‘dog’ models in a public forum, favouring more finished outcomes? Were practitioners so experienced in ideation that they could leapfrog over an exhausting process that can keep students busy for the majority of the semester? Were students more shy of making the commitments that practitioners routinely make in nurturing ideas through to completed building, or simply more indulgent through not having more capital-driven impediments? As a set of questions, answers could not be sought in
a single studio, but at least we could thoroughly investigate ideation, conceptualisation, and design development in a time frame that a typical architectural practice cannot routinely afford. Furthermore, by assembling a diverse group of designers, initially looking at more abstract themes such as ‘poise’ and ‘self’ and ‘water’ rather than ‘library’ and ‘hospital’, we could look across disciplines and assess the role of conceptualisation more generally without the influence of ‘partisan contaminants’ that an architectural (or any other design discipline) perspective would most likely bring to the mix. Mark Burry, Alison Fairley, Juliette Peers formed a team and we ran the studio together seeking collaboration from the participating disciplines for the several design reviews that punctuated the semester. The studio ran in a progressive mode starting with individual enquiry and leading steadily to transdisciplinary group work. In terms of a thematic, students began with an introspective focus to their design research through to working in groups with an imaginary clients in mind, and developing designs for projects in teams within which the project’s original designer was not included.
The following account documents the studio from start to finish, and the accompanying images give voice to the outcome.
PROJECT 1: PERSONAL REAL ESTATE How best to get a group of twenty four students from 5 distinct disciplines to meld together into young and enthusiastic groups of committed design researchers? The first project was designed as an ‘ice-breaker’: each student was asked to create a vision/self portrait of “yourself through the metaphor of your design discipline/training”. Using a 150mm square footprint, each student produced a 3D tableau that provided an insight into his or her world, personal history and preoccupations. At the end of the week, each model was presented by its maker to the rest of the class of which at least 80% would have been ‘foreign’ to them through virtue of having come from other disciplines. The purpose of the first project in terms of pedagogy was to “learn something of ideas and aesthetic priorities of everyone in the class, see a variety of different approaches to creating models and prototypes, combine individual pieces of design work into a whole, and explore context and interaction of different models as a ‘studio cityscape’ is constructed”.
PROJECT 2: SPATIALISING WATER Moving from a purely personal take on the world, students moved to a more abstract theme: water, and the politics that go with it. They had three weeks to produce a model that captured their take on water as an element, as a subject literary or otherwise, as a polemic, and as a life force. Their assignment in detail was as follows: ‘Students should think about the politics of water not only as an environmental issue but as a social, cultural and artistic concern. The topic is wide and you are not expected to become an expert in the field. Perhaps you could think about such things as water sourcing and collection, disposal and recycling, irrigation and garden sprays, waste run off and water borne pollutants, salination and drainage. Water plays a part in many aspects of our lives from health
to recreation. Yet water has strong symbolic and poetic references as well as unique physical characteristics. Our traditional understanding of boundaries, borders and edges as contained and fixed might be challenged by addressing and considering water’s characteristic flow and fluidity. What insight and hints can water offer to our understanding of practice and the design process? This assignment will provide an important initial phase which will form a basic foundation to be developed in the latter stages of the studio. A 5 minute (maximum) presentation of your research into water, your research can be on anything to do with water. It should reflect your interests in the topic and will form the basis for the rest of your semester. The presentation should be in either a PDF or PowerPoint presentation. You can include images, movies, research sourced from the Internet (YouTube, Flickr etc.) Note: Everyone will be heading for Wikipedia first, so do think twice before basing your research on the water article… Model making: the student will; represent quality of water by providing a digital and or physical model representing an aspect of water and its many functions and contexts. You may address water in a number of ways such as its gaseous, liquid or solid state; high speed imaging; magnification; surface properties; subsurface currents, splash patterns etc. You can develop your idea within the boundaries and language of your own discipline – please support your model with a visual diary of working sketches and idea development – material can be posted on the ‘Poise’ wiki as well Position your thinking relative to water in any respect, for example, sourcing treatment and supply, surface tension. Please do this by providing a short written statement evidenced by researched material. (800-1200 words) and provide a comprehensive list of source materials that you consulted While certain themes emerged as common concerns, each presentation was uniquely informative, and provided an extraordinary array of ideas and sensibilities sponsored from a single word subject.
DAVID DANA WATER MODEL
PROJECT 3: WATER BY DESIGN Moving from concept, students migrated to forming projects individually based on their research into water. Their tasks were formulated as follows. ‘Taking the driving narrative content as water: ‘make visible and explore in 3-D design-based thinking issues around the process of design itself. • Write their own brief, it should be within your own discipline but with thought to possible interaction and connections with the other disciplines • Brief and resulting design should springboard from your original research into water • Brief and resulting design should respond to the content of your original research and place it in a context relevant to your discipline • The design outcome should find a state of poise on the border between concept and design. (i.e. Designs should not be fully realised, or finished) • The design project should address questions that we are already discussing around design and its processes • The project should explore the role of decision making and judgement in designing • The project should explore the stopping point or the tipping point in the design process. Students to work in any medium, virtual or physical, and in any combination. The outcomes should follow the stipulation of the brief as they have been set out in conjunction with your home discipline. The level of finish and the format of the outcome in your home discipline should be adhered to. Back up documentation: Throughout this second project – as well as producing a model - students will record, document and map their design process in a design diary – sketches, research, and reflections, which can be physical or virtual (wiki-based).
The visual representation will capture a critical aspect of the project and be used to demonstrate the desired intention. Support and preparatory material should be included as textual back up and as charting the design process.’ Obviously with so diverse a group of students, at this stage we invited them to work within their own areas of discipline expertise. We made suggestions on how to proceed on that basis as follows: Prepare models (physical or virtual) that produce the following: 1. Function / Program (what is it you’re designing. It should connect with the concept of water in some way. This can be VERY LATERAL) 2. Concept (what is driving the design, what is it you wish to achieve with it, it should also connect with the concept of water in some way) 3. Site (only applicable to Architecture and Landscape, but the other designers might wish to have a site as well. The site must be in the Greater Melbourne area and have some connection to water.) Architecture Design an inhabitable building. The building must have a use that relates to water, i.e. a water treatment plant, a swimming pool, a water education centre. You must pick an appropriate site that also has a close relationship with water within the greater Melbourne area. Think about connections your design could have to other disciplines, i.e. could it make a fantastic chair, or landscape, or book if scaled down and altered in small ways? Landscape Design Design a landscape. It can be of any size and any scope. The landscape must be influenced, created, contain or inform water. You must pick an appropriate site that also has a close relationship with water within the greater Melbourne area. Think about connections your design could have to other disciplines, ie, could your contours inform a dress pattern, or your design become inhabitable and turned into a
TRAZ POON TRANSFORMABLE WATER PONCHO
R’M’B FLIPBOOK ANIMATION
building if altered in small ways? Fashion Design something that has connections to the body and water. It should deal with materiality, i.e. surfaces, membranes and materials that deal with water, either keeping it out or keeping it in. Think about connections your design could have to other disciplines, i.e. could your patterns be scaled up and form a building? Could your material choices also be used for book coverings, could your outlines inform Landscapes? Communication Design Design something of your choosing that communicates water in some way, i.e. a book, a series of catalogues, a way of communicating an aspect of water to the public. This work can push the boundaries of what these designs are supposed to be, especially in the areas of scale and materiality. i.e. a giant book, an underwater marketing campaign, a liquid catalogue. Think of connections your design could have with other disciplines i.e. Could your design inform textiles, could your graphic
be embedded across a whole landscape? Industrial Design Design an object that has some relationship to water. It can be of any size, scope, materiality and budget. i.e. an umbrella, a water bottle, scuba gear. The design can push the boundaries of what is possible or what is commonly done i.e. a giant umbrella that shields 10 at a time. Think of connections your design could have with other disciplines i.e. Could your umbrella become a permanent feature of the landscape, a pavilion from rain? Could your bottle design inform the shape of a piece of fashion?
PROJECT 4: TRANSDISCIPLINARY UNDERTAKING For the final project, students came together in transdisciplinary groups. Five projects were selected from the pool of more than twenty deemed most likely to afford design teams challenges that reached-out to all their various discipline strengths. Each team (in most cases) had no more than one representative from each participating discipline. And each team worked on a project without the benefit of the original
author, who was participating within a separate group on the same basis. At the final review, each group presented their projects fully to a suitably diverse range of critics. At no point was it clear to the visitors who was who in relation to their core discipline judging from the work itself.
CONCLUDING COMMENTS Only tentative conclusions can be drawn at the time of writing, as the project has only just finished. From the students’ point of view, it was an outstanding success judging from the feedback we received. The last three weeks of the semester were characterised by night and day activity within the studio space dedicated to the assignment with many of the students prepared to work in areas that were beyond their experience in terms of their previous learning experience. The results speak for themselves: while finished projects some may well lack the degree of polish that each discipline might assume to have been an outcome were the studio dedicated to that discipline, there is a different kind of maturity evident in the work. As a research endeavour into the prominence of the concept and its associated modelling, and the enrichment that working
36 (CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT) JESSE NEWSTADT CAITLIN SMOOKER BEN OLIVER
POISE PERSONAL REAL ESTATE In the first exercise students in the School of Architecture and Design together with students from the School of Applied Communication created their personal stories in a model format. The project brief asked students to use typical materials and techniques associated their home program. Apart from a maximum dimension of 150mm x 150mm for the base, there were no restrictions. Students worked alone on their models and brought them into the class where they were discussed by lecturers. For the final step the models were assembled into a “city scape” to form a collective group portrait. These personal models introduced students to each other’s creative ideas and demonstrated many different approaches to creating models and prototypes. Combining individual pieces of design work into a larger entity launched the process of cooperative sharing of ideas and skills.
(CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT) TZE EK NG CAMILLA ZANZANAINI INGRID RIDDERVOLD ANDRIA SKOUMBRIDIS GREG TEAGUE DAVID DANA
(FROM LEFT TO RIGHT) JARROD MANEVSKI PANLIKIT BOONYACHAI
POISE SPATIALISING WATER Water was the theme through which Poise studio members explored model making, design development, and solving the “stopping problem” of finding the right design solution amongst multiple alternatives. Students were asked to model water in digital and physical formats. Water is a fertile source of design ideas. The physical characteristics of water are unique. For instance, as a liquid, it has unique surface properties, subsurface currents and splash patterns. Water makes an impact on many aspects of everyday life from health to recreation. Moreover, it has an equally strong symbolic and poetic resonance. Current popular opinion focuses on the political issues of water: supply, wastage, shortage, recycling, disposal, pollution and salination. The models developed by the students represented such issues. Water was not only a topic for research. The fluidity and flow of water offered insights into the design process itself. From their focus upon the nature of water, students began to question certainties and broach the comfort zone of familiar ideas. The models of water were developed within the boundaries and language of the students’ particular disciplines and were supported with a visual diary of working sketches and idea development.
(CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT) ANDRIA SKOUMBRIDIS PHIL SMITH JARROD MANEVSKI INGRID RIDDERVOLD
(CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT) CARLOS BUENO CAITLIN SMOOKER DAVID DANA TZE EK NG
(FROM LEFT TO RIGHT) CAMILLA ZANZANAINI GREG TEAGUE
(FROM TOP TO BOTTOM) JESSE NEWSTADT MICHAEL ASBOECK
THE FINAL ASSIGNMENT
Professor Mark Burry Dr. Juliette Peers Alison Fairley
DESERTLEAC Lauren Gillard Anette Gunstensen Tze Ek Ng Caitlin Smooker
The final assignment in Poise involved two tasks. Firstly, students were required to develop the concepts of another designer. Secondly, they were required to work with designers from different disciplines working on a single project. Students were asked to form themselves into teams where every member came from a different program in RMIT. Models were made in various scales, from reduced scales to one-to-one detail. Working in different scales revealed how changing the scale of a model impacts not only upon its physical properties, but upon the information the model communicates. Students were required to select the detail of construction that suited each type of model, with particular attention to how their choices affected the information value of the model.
KIDIAMI Michael Asboeck Diane Baini David Dana Kin Li JAC’T Jesse Newstadt Traz Poon Andria Skoumbridis Camilla Zanzanaini R’M’B Panlikit Boonyachai Ricky Lau Hin Yau Ben Oliver GROUP ONE Carlos Garcia Bueno Ingrid Riddervold Greg Teague DIESES MOGEN Julian Faelli Jarrod Manevski Timothy Derreck Massuger Phillip Smith
DESERTLEAC CONSTRUCTION OF ‘POD’
DESERTLEAC The Desert LEAC group are fashion student Anette Gunstensen, communication design student Caitlin Smooker, landscape architecture student Lauren Gillard and architecture student Tze Ek Ng were assigned a project by architecture student David Dana. He designed a community sports centre at Docklands. The centre is embellished by a decorative motif abstracted from the complex lines of turbulence and stasis that can be measured in moving floodwaters. The group decided that the dominant curving elongated forms created as the water spread though the flood plain would sit better in the elevated landscape of the Kings Domain than in the flat paved and industrially degraded landscape of Docklands. They also felt that the growing residential community around South Melbourne City Road and the established community around Domain Road needed a public library. Desert LEAC’s vision is of a library that welcomes visitors— “an active … source of inspiration. Libraries should be door-openers showing visitors new ways of learning and experiencing”. The spaces in this new library are warm and inviting. They include the moveable pods for group study and a series of outdoor rooms with grass seats echoing the flowing forms. The water patterns also reflect the behaviour of the building’s users, media and staff—they form different patterns and flows. Thus the centre’s public spaces are flexible, easily transformed either temporarily and permanently to respond to new patterns of use.
(CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT) PRELIMINARY CONCEPT MODEL POD CONCEPT MODEL FINAL 1:2 SCALE GRASS CHAIR MODEL (1200 X 900 X 500mm)
(FROM LEFT TO RIGHT) FINAL 1:100 SCALE BALSA MODEL OF LIBRARY CLOSE-UP OF FOLDING ROOF CONCEPT MODEL
KIDIDAMI FINAL !:200 MODEL OF DESIGN CENTRE
The KididAmi group: landscape student on exchange from Germany Michael Asboeck, landscape student Diane Baini, communication design student Kin Li, and architect student David Dana were assigned a project by communication design student Camilla Zanzanaini, a large scale projection of words, music and visual imagery intended to be shown on public buildings or even large bodies of water, “beautiful, sensuous, moving [projections] that make people stop and think about the beauty of water”. The group took the basic concept of large scale projections onto buildings and married it to the proposed Centre for design at RMIT on the old CUB site. The design centre was envisaged as a complex of multifunctioned buildings for a variety of short term projects that collectively formed a screen for multiple projections. These projections can be curated as art or design events, long or short term, or they can alter content in response to movement and activities in the buildings at different times of the day or deliver alternative, contemporary approaches to signage and direction around the site, or even fuse these varied functions. The buildings were laid out to suggest a liquid flow of people through the slight from the slighter higher North end to the south portal to the city, as streams flow over rocks. Landscaping proactively emphasised sweeping, water-like movement, and the lyricism of Zanzanaini’s fusing of words, images and music around water. The models drew upon the discipline practice of their makers including traditional architectural layouts in cardboard and perspex and a rich oeuvre of digital artworks, which were projected onto the cardboard models and then filmed in a further layer of model making. The governing narrative of the project across all the media was creating a contemporary design aesthetic matching the predicted future-looking quality of the Centre for Design itself.
EXPERIMENTING WITH PROJECTIONS ON CARDBOARD MODEL OF DESIGN CENTRE
(FROM LEFT TO RIGHT) FINAL 1:1 SCALE MODEL OF ONE OF WALL PANELS 1:50 SCALE MODEL OF ONE BUILDING
R’M’B BUBBLE ROOM ANIMATION INTRO REEL TO INTERACTIVE BIKE PARK
DIESES MOGEN WORKING MODEL OF TURKISH BATHS: ATMOSPHERIC IMAGES
JAC’T (CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT) 1:2 SCALE SECTION OF PIPE 1:200 SCALE MODEL OF TRANSPORT HUB PROFILE CIRCULATION MODEL
GROUP ONE FINAL 1:200 SCALE MODEL OF UNDERGROUND STREET ART GALLERY
POISE DIARY: MOMENTS FROM THE STUDIO
JULIETTE PEERS The last few days when we all spent crazy amounts of hours together, there was such a sense of family, if you needed something and another group had it there was no hesitation in handing it over.
FIRST PROJECT WORKED ON BY STUDENTS AS INDIVIDUALS
Faced with a topic that was open and abstract and a group of students of different disciplines, what would happen when they were asked to make models, some for the first time during their study at RMIT? The first presentation of work, two weeks in from the start of class would give an indication of future progress of the students as a collective organism and the studio as a whole. Whilst architectural students were familiar with a vocabulary of balsa wood and laser cut cardboard, other students had not presented their ideas in a 3D format before. Although the process was not fully alien to the students as some form of provisional and experimental productions are inherent to all the design disciplines represented in Poise: “as a comm designer I am constantly making models of a different type, prototypes maybe others
Mark Burry has given an account of the Poise Studio, its learning outcomes and its exercises in bringing students together with the model and seeking some reflection of the importance of modelling in the contemporary design process. From a large oeuvre of documentary material and from a range of observations of each week of the studio here are some more intimate views of moments within the studio focusing on models and the processes of design and the academy.
“WHO ARE YOU ANYWAY…” THE MODEL IN A FACEBOOK ERA Create a vision/self portrait of yourself through the metaphor of your design discipline/training
would call them, but a mock up of a book, to play with size shape and layout for example”. Likewise fashion students mostly work on a one to one scale and for final assessment produce finished objects rather than drafts; students’ work is expected to be able to stand up to the rigours of the runway in a show or competition. They also make use of toiles – a version of a given set of pattern pieces in a plain cotton or other cheap fabric – to test that the pattern does achieve in 3D what was envisioned in 2D. The cheap and plain fabric allows for the structure to read without extraneous embellishment and does not waste expensive fabrics on proto-typing. Modelling and testing practices from discipline to discipline had variations in format and usage. Throughout the studio, the students began to learn of each other’s processes. The lecturers knew that the Poise experience was going to be fruitful and valid when the first models were brought in. They deployed a whole lexicon of the possible life of hand skills in the current era, from sewing to carving. Concurrently other students presented computer driven outcomes. Materials employed range from homely substances or even the scavenged and recycled, whilst other models were finely
finished. The physicality of the substances also ranged from the solid wood and metal to fabric and paper. Narrative tone was almost as equally varied from the factual to the playful, from the intellectualizing to the expressionistic, from the extrovert to the introspective. There was a shared theme but infinite variations of approach and vocabulary The student group laid on the table models of eloquence, beauty and sometimes a touching openness in a world where true sensations are increasingly mediatised. Conversely was it the near universal mediation of personality and selling of self, that sense of ongoing suave performance of the performed not-me which is also me from blogs and from chatrooms that gave the sense of veracity and self confidence to these models? The model was not dead in the age of Facebook. The wiki pages maintained by each student, not only provided backup materials, working drawings and 2D support for their modelling activities, but also continued that engagement with actualising, ordering and choosing ideas and putting them forward for discussion than threaded through the course. Modelling in the public context of the class, in which it was always assumed and expected that every gesture was to be made in an open context of mutual respect and offered for comment by peers and lecturers, was a similar process of publication and self-commitment to ideas set in circulation. One could also pause a moment to consider the issue of self. Students drew on a wide range of vocabularies and constructs. Some conceived very direct images of themselves. Others saw themselves as made up of the sum of their personal interests and concerns and drew imagery for their model from hobbies and leisure time activities. Others used the model to describe the current state or phase of their lives, or perhaps to actualise their interpretation of the current state of their lives. Some passed up psychological and personal mapping to create models of ethical and political values that engaged them. Another approach was to situate the self geographically – referencing journeys, distance, national and cultural elements that may distinguish them from their peers. The students revealed a degree of cosmopolitan backgrounds – not only the most obvious candidates of the overseas and exchange students, but also some of the “Australians” had
spent time overseas in childhood, as well as in more recent work and travel and drew upon folklore/imagery and the physical experience of these different places to inform the personas which they constructed. This alertness to a global and interconnected world would especially later come to the fore in the more intellectual exercise of researching water where comparisons were frequently made between the Australian patterns of unthinking and hedonistic squandering of water and the developing “crises” of water in other countries Another moment of revelation was when the models were placed together on the table top to make a single entity, a Poise cityscape. The only real restriction that was written into the brief was the base was to be 150 x 150 cm. This allowed for a shared fixed point between these very diverse interpretations of modeling the self. The laying out of the models side by side and also manipulating the lighting on the models indicated how much the physical nature of the model does impact upon how the model is read, how the audience views the model and also what information is drawn
SECOND PROJECT WORKED ON BY STUDENTS AS INDIVIDUALS MOZART, HITLER AND WATER For this part of the assignment students should think about the politics of water not only as an environmental issue but as a social, cultural and artistic concern. Students had two tasks to complete to present to the class on successive weeks with a research project to act as supporting documentation. This project moved the question from the model as the telling of the self to using the model to represent a story of wider cross-reference. Partly this step meant a return to a more familiar type of research activity, the gathering of information, rather that the actualising of it as a model. Rather than focusing on and interpreting the self, the process involved the familiar study task of locating a problem/issue, gathering of information and the answering of the question. As water is now a universal subject for concern in the popular press internationally, there was no shortage of current information
DESERTLEAC POD UNDER CONSTRUCTION
DIESES MOGEN TIM MASSUGER HARD AT WORK
and the Powerpoint and PDF-supported spoken presentations generated lively and thoughtful debate amongst the class. Beyond the issue of modelling, lecturers and students had a fast track education in arcane and surprising facts about water at a local and international level. There was a strong undercurrent of concern about sustainability, which perhaps is not surprising given the increased prominence of these issues in both education and journalism. Consideration of spiritual and ritual aspects of water was frequently foregrounded even though the stress of the class was on practical issues around the role of models in the design process. Could this tendency towards a spiritualising interpretation be a commentary on the current zeitgeist, or a manner of thinking amongst younger generations, who are drawn to a more holistic approaches than older constructs of formal post-enlightenment thought? The work of Dr Masuro Emoto’s water crystal experiments around the emotional properties of water, and the possibility for Mozart’s music to cleanse water whilst photographs of Adolf Hitler set molecules into a frenzy, appeared concurrently in the presentations of a number of students with no apparent collusion other than they all as individuals found that Emoto resonated with their own feelings about water. Though appealing, some quick internet research revealed – at least for this author - that Emoto’s experiments have not yet been repeated outside his laboratory; his published accounts of them often lack sufficient experimental controls although sceptics have offered large cash rewards for anyone who can provide verifiable and repeatable results. Lest anyone think Poise was a crucible of “bad science”, or “post-modern physics” other students tracked high level scientific research into water by organisations such as NASA. The second assignment returned to an easier series of constructs and more familiar study and research patterns. However this step brokered more visible difficulties. The pitfalls that became apparent were in moving from the relatively easy task of communication via text – which was something that all the students had been engaged with throughout their tertiary years – towards simultaneously producing a model that represented an essence or core of the contention. Whilst everyone is nowadays expected to be able to talk fluently
about themselves, the second assignment offered the hardest briefs. The translation of ideas from conventional lecture presentation to distilling these ideas into formats and images that could be conveyed through modelling was a particularly complex one that required a mixture of analytical and intuitive skills. Many of the best models also had a sculptural, fine arts presence, with a subtle appreciation of the materials in a formalist sense. Again it is possible, as with the spiritual aspects of the Poise experience, this was not an intended outcome, but the sculptural, like the emotional established a toehold in the outcomes of the studio. The downside at this stage of the studio was the likelihood of students of being unable to locate the right balance to achieve maximum communication. The verbal presentations were densely packed with content, but it was more difficult to be able to conduit that content into the model, and in some cases the presentations could become top heavy in relation to the model. The relationship of the model to the carefully researched presentations could be obtuse, haphazard or even somewhat trivial. There was a sense in some cases of model making being a secondary consideration after all that exciting time on the net and in the library. The model seemed unable to sustain and communicate all that heartfelt research. One of the skill bases that consolidated with greater experience as the studio progressed was a greater capacity to match model to intention, to shape ideas so that they could be effectively communicated as a model. Many students sought to make the often subtle and ineffable qualities of water visible through their models. Those who achieved this aim in a plausible manner provided much fascinating evidence about how selection of formats and imagery facilitates communication of ideas and concepts via models. With a maker/designer who is alert and adept in both conception and physical process, no idea seemed beyond capture by a model. The richness and variety of student responses to the brief was notable. Failures could be as informative as the poetic and sculptural successes – such as the attempt to freeze water into architecture, by dripping liquid plaster through cloth. This model was a failure in practical terms as the plaster
was too liquid for the shell to survive for long before it shattered, but photographs of the model before it set testify to the interesting questions that it set up by this and the ambitiousness of the nearly realised project. Again materials ranged from those traditionally highly expensive and prized such actual gold leaf and silk, substances that have been prized in many eras and cultures, to discarded plastic bottles (themselves a comment upon waste and land degradation), from stone to wax. Models were not only present in the room. Students posted their models as films on the Poise Wiki and You Tube as an element of their search to find processes and formats that communicated their ideas as models.
THE FOURTH ASSIGNMENT: A-HA WITH DESERTLEAC AND PLAYING DOWN AND DIRTY AT THE SWIMMING POOL
Our process, as you say, was very fluid, we didn’t allow ourselves to be held back by time/cost/space requirements Caitlin Smooker
The fourth project was the penultimate, students forming groups who worked on a project from the previous assignment. There was an extended period of work on this assignment, allowing for testing and revising. There was the overall development of the concept. There were also the micro tasks placed upon the students in that they had to explore certain scales of modelling and finally produce an element of their project in a one to one scale. Models provided an essential driving energy in this project which deserves an essay to itself. No better demonstration of the role of models in the design process emerged than the work of the DesertLEAC group, which had taken some false steps at the very start of the fourth project. Models not only brought a potential disaster to heel, but offered up an extraordinary range of different explorations of a single issue through alternative models,
which starting from different premises, began to interact and inform each other. DesertLEAC produced some startling outcomes, architecture from fabric and seating from turf, which were brought to a high degree of completeness as one to one models. Conversely Dieses Mogen who were accomplished model makers enacted a mannerist attention to their extraordinarily dramatic model. This model almost drove the makers rather than the other way around. The model generated its own creative energy and dictated terms to the makers and became a site for reflection rather that prototyping. That the model, which was highly architectural, did not convey much of the information expected from such a classically formed structure never quite registered on viewers, as the documentation took on a cinematic poetic impetus, enhanced by photograph and films. The studio was given a lesson in power of model making, not so much in making a model of a specific item, but how models could transcend the relatively simple technologies that produced them and create illusions that offered more avenues for thought. The inconvenient truth that the building could never exist for OH&S and public safety reasons was
banished by the total illusion of credibility and purpose given out by the model. Nor was there any hint of the public unease that in real life would have greeted a building that combined the Baths of Caracalla with pre-aids New York, with vaulted Victorian sewers and the local municipal pool complex with the social function and self consciously eye catching avant garde architecture of a bar - all on a walk up basis for fee paying customers. It was fairly solid for a model, and in some ways quite pompous and demanding in its footprint, especially in its massive physical quality. Quite the opposite to the evanescent, shimmering structures of Andrea Mina, yet the baths captured the emotions as readily, through strategies of representation. Dieses Mogenâ€™s project raised questions about the real versus fantasy, the functional model versus the dollshouse and offered the possibility that both these strategies were valid and could be informative about spatiality. All of the architecture was interior, the outside of the model was in effect buried deep underground. Moreover no questions were asked about the energy and piping that would service these labyrinthine series of dark and moist spaces. As in love and war, is all fair in model making, when done with panache?
STUDENT REFLECTION FROM POISE COOPERATION/DISCIPLINE MIX As one of the lecturers I could note that not only did Poise combine students from five different programs but it also combined local, overseas and exchange students and enriched their understanding of practice. This intermingling does not always happen at a personal or a project level in the class, often students stay in their particular friendship circle. Personally I took away, a better understanding for working in different medias. I also walked away with a greater knowledge of working in a group â€ŚIt was so good to work with other students from other disciplines, I learnt a lot from others in this studio. It made the semester a lot more interesting. It also made me appreciate, other design fields. Lauren Gillard The interdisciplinary aspect of the studio was one of the biggest highlights. After three years in any design program at RMIT, you already know how most people in your year level operate. Disciplinary conventions have already been adopted
and there in not much impetus for experimentation...you put your head down and do the work. Immediately when put in the situation of working outside your discipline you have to be on the ball again, start listening and learning. It was interesting to see the group dynamics unfold during the first few weeks of the group work. Who was going to do the work? Who turns up on time? It all was sussed pretty quickly in our group, after a few beers the first week we got the project. The majority of the group was fairly committed. In the studio on weekends... happy to take phone calls early in the morning etc... This studio atmosphere was great and unlike and other studio I have taken at uni. Julian Faelli Understanding of collaborative work has skyrocketed. A lot of people learnt some valuable lessons in this respect… An amazing experience. Having idea’s thrown at you that u would never think of was very prosperous and made design quite easy sometimes. I guess u could call it a much more streamlined process. Timothy Massuger It showed that designers can work cohesively together even if they aren’t from the same discipline, also that sometimes it’ll be the industrial designer who comes up with the best graphic representation and vice versa. Caitlin Smooker The most valuable achievement is the experience through working with different design students. A lot of ideas and presentation methods were being exchanged and developed through the processes of the studio … my design techniques have developed because [so many] ideas [were] being renewed and exchanged within the group. It is really different but special… because the studio provided a good environment for students who can [listen to] and communicate with different kinds of students and teachers. Traz Poon
MODELS DESERTLEAC JULIETTE PEERS RELAXING IN POD
Working with models, was the best part of the studio. Lauren Gillard
Models give people an understanding of an idea that would not be conceivable on screen or paper. It leads to new ideas and makes you see the flaws or notice the details. It also creates a connection with the work. Camilla Zanzanaini With models people relate more to things they can move around, and feel. Models can have a strong presence, but work very well when captured with a good picture. Carlos Garcia-Noriega Bueno Working with models was central to the whole studio. I really enjoyed spending the majority of my time at uni, doing something physical and tangible. Not in front of a computer. Such a refreshing and liberating thing to do. Developing the skill to stop being so anal about them. Pushing them out one after another... quickly testing and developing your ideas. I am still not mercenary enough with my time to do this. However, labouring over them does give you time to think a little harder. Who knows which approach has the most merit? Models are particularly suited for spatial visualization, proportions, idea generation and finally used traditionally as a tool to communicate a concept. Julian Faelli Models communicate a range of ideas, aesthetics, and problems. They are also a good tool to test possibilities that drawing and digital aids may not [help]. …They are amazing tools in design. Allowing other people to see quite fast what someone could only ever explain in a [longer] time. What can be gleaned from 5 seconds of staring at a model is so much more than any type of medium. Timothy Massuger One of our earlier meetings when we had decided on the site and what we were going to build, and Anette, Ek and I just cut random bits of board and started to develop our building, as a model sketch, a medium we could all work together on and then stand back and say ‘no don’t like that part’, remove it, discuss, it created a forum where we were all equal. If the models hadn’t been part of the studio I don’t think I would have got much out of POISE, the building of models put us all on even ground and forced us to talk and work together. I
POISE STUDIO STUDENTS HARD AT WORK
DIESES MOGEN 1:20 WORKING MODEL
learned that you never really know how an idea in your head is going to work until you have attempted to make it work. Models communicate sometimes more than what you as the model maker think, for instance, in the final submission/crit session I was afraid that it would be difficult for the board to see the way the graphic thought was coherent throughout the project however it was one of the first things observed. It was also pointed out in that session that for our group they would not be able to tell who had done what, and the use of models helped us to achieve this as we could communicate amongst ourselves through the models and what we brought into talk about from week to week. Caitlin Smooker Before “Poise” I saw models only as a means of representation. But through working with a group of multi-disciplinary students it helped me better understand the role of models in design - In terms of expressing my ideas to other disciplines. For instance, when I drew a plan, everyone in my group could not really understand what it meant except for the landscape student. But after, when a sketch model was sort of produced, the plan drawings became visible in terms of understanding to
the rest. Maybe… I’m narrow-minded. But I really don’t think [model making] can be [improved] not like hand drawings was improved with computer software). We’ve tried using the laser cutter to help with modelling but it seemed too complicated, too slow and too restricted in terms of design. I much prefer using my hands. Tze Ek Ng
PRACTICE It was loose and interesting… I just found it relieving most of the time because it was very engaging. Camilla Zanzanaini The studio has extended my understanding of practice because in real life you contribute with people from other disciplines all the time. Carlos Garcia-Noriega Bueno
MOMENTS OF BREAKTHROUGH/POISE Seeing all the final products, the input of so many people into very interesting and diverse 6 products. Carlos Garcia-Noriega Bueno
Overall I think the studio achieved a greater understanding of model making in design. I also think it achieved a strong knowledge of collaborative work and also the need for more spaces, for example having access to the university system… The time when the groups started mingling and helping each other with ideas, created an environment that made designing easy and was aided by the space we were using … it was a turning point in the studio. Timothy Massuger I think the studio achieved something which it had set out to from the beginning – designing using models (from my understanding – it’s also one of the reasons I chose this studio) another great experience was that I got to work with fashion students who usually deal with materials on a 1:1 scale, but for me as an architecture student, materials for buildings seemed distant. Tze Ek Ng
THE MODEL AS LONELY PLANET GUIDE WHAT ELSE WE LEARNED The idea of collaborative practice was introduced in the third brief that led to the fourth brief as each student also needed to consider the possible connections that their design could have to others in the course. All the students knew that from the third project there would emerge a core of projects which would move into the final phase and effectively sustain the work of groups of students from different disciplines. The projects brought into the final phase reflected the range of students in the studio and included the idea of a garment that would recycle urine to solve the water crisis, artistic projections that raised public consciousness about water, a wave driven power station at the entry to Port Phillip Bay, with a CBD sculpture cum gauge recording how much energy the power station was generating, a building that drenched itself in a curtain of Yarra Water, garments that soaked and wick-ed water, public interpretative centres in Studley Park and a Docklands sport centre. The third assignment had returned to a more conventional idea of the model. Students were asked to produce the model of an object specific to their design training and develop in terms of the expected practices of their media but also still centrally referencing water. Again the sheer versatility of the outcomes impressed as did the sharp upwards curve of the mutual education set in motion when students explained about their concept in detail. As the landscape and architecture students were specifically asked to interact with a site around Melbourne, Poise became a sort of alternative tour guide in a Lonely Planet idiom for Melbourne, and it was not only overseas students who were brought up to speed on hidden attractions of the city.
DESERTLEAC RORY HYDE ON GRASS CHAIR
Thinking of guide books raises the issue of where does one go looking, and how ought one to look, for a catalyst for matching the brief’s requirements. Then having looked and found, what can one make of the gathered material and the response to the brief. Surviving this process of dealing with ideas, of evaluating a project’s potential for future outcomes was another skill that was implicitly tested and explored.
Model making was not only informed by physical skill but by this ability to judge and select in the early exploratory phases. In both the third and fourth assignments this “Poise” of judgment was implicitly present at the very foundational steps. These steps were matched by a more sophisticated integration of narrative and content with the chosen design product, at least in the high achieving presentations. Modelling, however, also allowed for less than successful outcomes to be turned inside out and gain a new life. Not only the poetics of model making and design came to the fore, but also the issue of time, the classes fluctuated as each group had different phases – from stagnation and lack of outcome to an intense burst of activity that began to produce results. For some students this intense burst of activity came at once, for others ideas had to be worked doggedly upon, in order to move beyond the impasse. For the white-heaters, the model was essential to forcing this process into life, for the slower workers, models needed to be analysed in detail, but not so that a bigger trajectory was lost in the unessentials and wrong turnings. Within the modelling process the solution that would set the project in a more productive direction was often to be found if the right questions were asked of it. The resulting images and models speak for themselves.
62 CHANTELLE MATTHEWS
MAKING L ANDSCAPE: THICKENED GROUND & RE-MAKING
CRAIG DOUGLAS & ROSALEA MONACELLA The ambition of exploring model making in these Landscape Architecture courses was to investigate the process of making as one that is simultaneously analytical and generative. In this manner the outcomes captured here are of equal importance to their process of becoming, or what they might yet become. This notion determines a making of models ‘for design’1 where ideas are challenged and transformed through the confrontation of the laws and possibilities of becoming. In these models the dynamic making process is revealed as being analogous to the medium of Landscape as one in a constant state of flux, and embraces the notion of an idea as a transformative entity that remains open and inclusive. Making ideas challenges and transforms them through seeing possibilities through a process of association. Comprised of the phenomenon of spatiality, temporality, and materiality, the dynamic medium of Landscape is continually re-making itself. The making of models embraces this notion of change and changeability which enables an outcome (a model) to remain open, inclusive, and plugged into the landscape it is exploring. This describes making of models as an act of re-making in congruence to the re-making in the landscape. If the act of
looking at something in the world is considered as an act of violence that essentially rips the subject from its environment, the making of models ‘for design’ necessarily does this, yet at the same time has the ability to remain plugged into the context of its existence, and subsequently the resonance of its being concurrently informs that environment. In this manner the model is ‘less a finished “work of art,” and even less a tool for communicating instrumental ideas, than it is itself a catalytic locale of inventive subterfuges.’2 The notion of re-making as a process of both the Landscape and the act of model making determines that a model’s critical state may exist prior to, or after its present state of being, or in fact be a combination of many states over time. Time in the process of making and becoming can then be considered as a ‘destabilising but creative milieu … to bear each thing along, generating it and degenerating it in the process’.3 Making models ‘for design’ in the Landscape has been employed in these courses as simultaneously a device of analysis and generation. The process of making models that describe the Landscape as a system of material and
(CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT) JASON FLAHERTY GEMMA FENNELE (2 WORKS)
performative relationships is facilitated by its inherent use of physical materials which are assigned performative values relative to forces identified in the Landscape. The act of making models develops and comes to imbue a sense of emergence associated to the Landscape through the creation of its own sensibility or internal logic. Physical materials for making are thus selected and employed according to their performative characteristics related to an aspect of the Landscape. The model inherently becomes enabled by its own performative internal logic to describe the forces, and their convergence, in the Landscape. In this manner the analytical model indexes the complex workings of the Landscape and offers a set of criteria in which to act. Simultaneously, the materials of the model that are imbued with performative tendencies and specific qualities are engaged with through various techniques of making which overlay a new set of criteria onto the ideas ‘being’, explode and transform. These criteria may perform two functions; to be associated with a force in the Landscape, and therefore act accordingly in the model through the materials, or, act as
another avenue of exploration privy to the behaviour of the model and its maker. Therefore the intelligence of the making process is not only to be found in the hands of the maker, but in every cell of the body, this includes the physical body of the maker and that of the model. A resonance is enacted that defines reciprocity, an internal logic, between the material tendency and its behaviour as defined by a technique of transformation. The productive ambiguity of this act suggests the doppelganger of making as being simultaneously specific and vague. By departing from its projected trajectory, a model may reveal other valid potentials. ‘Catastrophe theory recognises that every event (or form) enfolds within it a multiplicity of forces and is the result of not one, but many different causes’.4 Landscape Architecture as a field event embraces the notion of relational forces where form is a production in the Landscape. Furthermore, it engages with the idea that the field may be altered through the manipulation of these relationships. Making that engages this idea constantly tests and records ‘spatial and tactile qualities through a process of association’5 that describes the emergence of a field event at moments of
convergence, or divergence of forces and positions the process of making as one of the production of emergent form in the Landscape field.
1 Ranulph Glanville, lecture: Models and Intentions, Homo Faber Symposium, June 1st, Melbourne, Australia, RMIT University, 2006 2 Corner, James, ‘Representation and landscape’, in Simon Swaffield (ed.) Theory in Landscape Architecture: A reader, Philadelphia: University of Philadelphia Press, 2002, p.165 3 Kwinter, Sanford, ‘Landscapes of Change’, in Assemblage (19), Cambridge, Massachusetts, The MIT Press, 1992, p.52 4 Kwinter, Sanford, ‘Landscapes of Change’, in Assemblage (19), Cambridge, Massachusetts, The MIT Press, 1992, p.60 5 Corner, James, ‘Representation and Landscape’, in Simon Swaffield (ed.) Theory in Landscape Architecture: A Reader, Philadelphia: University of Philadelphia Press, 2002, p.145
RE-MAKING: IDEAS AND MODELS
CRAIG DOUGLAS & PETER DOWNTON The medium of Architects and Landscape Architects encompasses a diverse range of representation modes, from drawing and text to physical modelling and virtual constructions. This is a necessary requirement as we are abstracted from the actual medium of our disciplines for we do not physically build the architectures of our design. The process of making models of an idea is not a surrogate for this condition, but instead offers a fertile ground for the transformation of ideas through the confrontation of the laws and possibilities of becoming.
Making models of ideas where acts of ‘making’ are embraced as part of a process of investigation and discovery may be likened in some ways to the act of drawing. James Corner suggests that “…as a vehicle of creativity, drawing is a highly imaginative and speculative activity, entailing both spontaneity and reflection. It first involves the making of marks and the ‘seeing’ of possibilities. Such work is both imaginal and theoretical, making images and recording spatial and tactile qualities through a process of association.” Models so often ‘illustrate’ designs already made. The aim of paralleling model making with the kind of drawing described by Corner
is to highlight the possibilities and power of investigative, interpretive making. This brings to bear the important role of interpretation, the act of seeing and reading as both a catalyst and enabler of the making process. The act of seeing recognises critical moments in the making process that may define, or re-define the trajectory of exploration; recognising moments which may prove or dispel, connect or disconnect, reveal and infer other potentials. In this light John Rajchman writes of “…finding within things the delicate, complicated abstract virtualities of other things”. The making process is a catalyst for the transformation of an idea, and the model outcome a container of knowledge. What became interesting during the exploration of making models with the students was that outcomes presented by individuals acted as a knowledge trigger that posed different knowledge for each class member, therefore generating new potentials of exploration. No model can unequivocally present one set of meanings or convey exact and precise knowledge; they act as metaphors act. Models trigger a range of possible readings that draw on the extant knowledges of their readers to provoke journeys into new territories.
KIM HO HYUN
Critical to this exploration was the notion of the reciprocity of making that engages the intelligence of the body of the maker, and that of the body of the model. This established a framework of spontaneity that allowed the model to have an unfolding life of its own that includes mistakes and failures as necessary events. Class discussion revealed that the perceived ‘accidents’ were often discoveries enabled by the making process; the residual escalating effect of a misaligned part may have undermined the rigid order of the whole, yet more accurately described the forces at work in a body. Clearly, in a model intended to accurately represent a preexisting design, such accidents must be remedied. In investigative modelling ‘accidents’ lead to new paths of discovery. They require a degree of adjustment to the narrative surrounding the making for the maker – story the maker tells him or herself about the meanings, directions and concerns of the modelling evolve in concert with the making
to take advantage of the events of modelling and shape the future explorations. The maker must adapt and accommodate to the dictates of materials and events. Iteration is also a necessary component of model making that aligns itself with the potential of discovery. “The iteration is a self similar but non-identical repetition betraying a drift in form which bears a certain similarity to its original but which, nevertheless, avoids identity”. The iteration within the construction of a model, or between different models, builds on the potentials of the former, and creates new effects through difference. Incremental changes amplify the ideas modelled; the end outcome has survived through processes of ideation and evaluation by the modeller. The fundamental issue here is that the process of making is a continuous and dynamic one based on the fundamental attributes of space, material and time. Within this equation of the making of an idea, and therefore its being, a state prior to (or yet to be) may be of equal or greater importance. This notion is significant as it describes making as a continual process of re-making.
The ‘Re-making’ course explored this notion of making as a continual process of re-making where an idea came to be understood as a transformative entity rather than a static one. Possibilities emerged in the process of making models through a series of exercises in the form of a brief, a specific material, and a technique. What quickly became apparent was the contestation and transformation of an idea by the roles associated with the material and those of its inherent tendencies relevant to its performance under various techniques. A complex feedback loop of simultaneous relationships was established. Each week students were given a new design brief to explore through a specific material and presented with the characteristic tendencies of that material. A set of techniques was demonstrated which afforded a manner in which the material might be engaged. This equation of a material performance and technique acted as the driver for the interrogation of the brief, and its inherent transformation into the real. As previously discussed it quickly became apparent that an idea is necessarily a transformative entity. The understanding of what an idea actually is, and where it comes from became
a constant discussion point in the class that revolved around an idea as the connection between elements of knowledge (what is known to an individual) in new ways, establishing new relationships that inherently change the nature of the elements themselves. The making, or in this case the re-making of the idea was seen to extend this notion by making new relationships in the material world. Furthermore, the physical actuation of the idea came to be understood as a catalyst for this condition. Similar findings were apparent in the Manual Ideas studio although it employed different attitudes to materials. In that case the materials palette was not controlled except for the proscription of card, balsa and foam core. Metals, timbers, resins, fabrics – usually in combinations – were utilised to express and explore the individual’s ideas. More time was necessary for each model with these materials and iterative investigation on a given brief was limited and usually undertaken in mock-ups using simpler materials or rough versions of the final materials. There was a rich crosspollination between materials and ideas: the materials shaped the ideas as frequently as ideas led to particular patterns
of material use. That there was iterative development of themes and approaches by students across the five projects they undertook in the studio was revealed in their own reflection on, and curation of, their work in the form of portfolios. There was a sense in which ‘re-making’ occurred as a group process, for as ideas and projects developed in the studio a shared set of ideas also developed over and above that of each individual. A group attitude and a group approach could be discerned that was constantly reforming and transforming the collective knowledge. The role of the models in this was not only as vehicles for exploration by the individual and as transmitters of knowledge, but as facilitators of the group conversation and learning.
A HOUSE FOR HERMES: THE HOUSE OF MY FATHER
CHARLES ANDERSON The Greeks called art and the work techne, which also includes the meaning knowledge. Art was art not because it was produced but because through it something becomes visible. Martin Heidegger
These ‘process forms’ are from the first part of a larger ongoing project titled A House for Hermes. This project is part of a meditation on modernity and place making. By hybridizing generative procedures to materialise processes of time, this project endeavours to reformulate the spatial hierarchies that characterize the lived spaces of our world. The House of My Father*, the first iteration of this larger ongoing project, explores the relationship between memory, place, movement, and ‘home’. CHARLES ANDERSON PROCESS FORMS: THE HOUSE OF MY FATHER
This project recalls the many houses that my father lived in
(from the tiny flat in Sydney where he was born, though his rooms at Cambridge and subsequent family houses around the world, to the nursing home room where he lived the last year of his life) and gathers all their various spaces into one aggregated and re-membered house. A series of floor plans drawn from memory by my father, constitutes the initial conditions of this project. These re-collected plans, conceived as a kind of generative data-set, produce two divergent spatialisations of memory: one architectural, one topological. These two spatialisations of memory, first digitally modelled, were then pursued through the materials of my fathers professional life, in particular his catalysis research archive. Using both digital and manual paper cutters, a series of contour and sectional forms in positive and negative modes, were cut into his research card index file. His experimental log books, and his father’s machine tools are deployed in this iteration of the work to re-arrange and ‘pose’ the forms. It is through these combined digital and manual operations with their nuances of precision, delicacy, fragility and intimacy, which, together with propositional procedures of compression,
CHARLES ANDERSON INSTALLATION: THE HOUSE OF MY FATHER
interleaving, leaning, balancing, holding, and weighting, combine with the specificity of matter to enact memory rather than model it. I refer to these works as process forms. These forms are not models of (some extant thing) nor are they models for (some future action). They may suggest these attributes by association or even assume them at some time after the event of their making, but they are primarily ‘the thing itself’. Rather than intermediary abstractions, simplifications, or distilled essences they are direct spatio-temporal operations, momentary configurations in matter of an evolving idea. Indeed it is in the performative mode of their making and in the particularity of the material that the idea ‘becomes’. In other words, process forms do not fall within the representational paradigm: they do not model an idea they are the idea.
* A House for Hermes #1: The House of My Father was first exhibited at the Tarrawarra Museum of Art in the first half of 2007.
CHARLES ANDERSON PROCESS FORMS: THE HOUSE OF MY FATHER
A COLLECTION OF MODELS FOR DESIGNING OPTICAL GEOMETRY & CREATING HOLOGR APHIC IMAGES
MARTINA MRONGOVIUS The process of making holograms relies heavily on geometry. The hologram itself is a recording of the shape of the laser beam, created by the interference pattern of two or more beams of light. The physical space and optics in a holography lab shape the practice of making holograms. Holographers often combined precision equipment with home-made bits to manipulate the laser light. To record a hologram the light from the laser is split, manipulated with optics (mirrors and lenses), optical processors (such Digital Mirror Devices and Holographic Optical Elements) and objects, before being recombined at the holographic recording material. Since the hologram records the inference pattern of light the split laser beams must all arrive at the holographic emulsion at the same time, so the distance travelled by each beam should be the same. One of the most useful tools in holography is string, allowing for the translation between the designed and physical arrangement. MARTINA MRONGOVIUS THE VIRTUAL WINDOW
The distinction between a model and a tool is blurred in my process of making holograms.
1 THE VIRTUAL WINDOW This model (or two bits of cardboard) was used investigate how the â€˜virtual windowâ€™ of master holograms translate into the final holographic image.
2 STENCIL PATTERNS My master holograms are composed of a number of exposures that are recorded into different parts of the holographic emulsions using stencil masks. The stencil pattern determines which recording is seen from each perspective, allowing for a spatial animation of the object. As the animation occurs in a dark lab, sometimes over long periods of time, it is important to have both a plan and a procedure. These stencils were used to make the hologram but can also be used with the model of the virtual window to plan the image.
MARTINA MRONGOVIUS THE OBJECT MODEL
3 THE OBJECT MODEL This object is made from found and inherited bits, combining natural forms with manufactured designs. In traditional object-based holography the model needs to stay very still for the duration of the exposure - if the object shifts even half a wavelength of light (0.0000001m) the hologram will appear completely blank. A sandbox offers one good solution for both moving the object and keeping it stable. In the early 1970s the west-coast school of holography encouraged artists to be independent of scientific laboratories. One of the signatures of this movement was the sandbox table that was used to mount all the optical components.
4 GEOMETRY PIN BOARD The pin board marks out the positions of optical equipment on the holography bench, this particular configuration shows the transfer geometry used to make the hologram on display. The pin board is a 1:4 scale model that can be used to plan holograms and/or to record the set-up, allowing for measurements of distances and angles.
5 THE INSTALLATION The installation of this hologram with a mirror in a sandbox refers both to the physical and poetic process of making holograms.
MARTINA MRONGOVIUS (CLOCKWISE FROM LEFT) ANIMATION PLANE CALCULATIONS STENCIL PATTERNS GEOMETRY PIN BOARD
MARTINA MRONGOVIUS THE INSTALLATION
76 SIMON PEARCE WAVE MODEL
COMMUNICATING IDEAS – SHARING INFORMATION MOVING SEAMLESSLY BET WEEN THE VIRTUAL AND THE PHYSICAL IN ARCHITECTUR AL DESIGN
DOMINIK HOLZER The choice of an adequate design methodology is an essential ingredient to any creative process in either education or practice. This essay discusses the case-study work undertaken by architecture students at RMIT University to scrutinise their design methodology when confronted with the task of optimising a specific aspect of building performance. The student’s design methodology is based on – amongst others: - their conceptual framework - their skill level - the available tools to them - and the craftsmanship One aim of the class was to investigate the ways architecture students communicate design performance and share information by seamlessly integrating sketches, physical model-making and digital modelling in a holistic approach to reach their goal. The past two decades have seen a drastic change in the way design is being communicated within architecture and across
all disciplines in building and construction. The hegemony of paper based design and physical model-making has gradually been augmented by the possibilities offered by digital tools for drafting, analysis and simulation of designrelated aspects. Computer aided architectural design and manufacturing (CAAD/CAM) offers a variety of interfacing possibilities for communicating ideas, passing on information, and working on diverse aspects of design in a more concurrent fashion across disciplines. Rapid prototyping assists in the automated generation of physical models directly off a digital 3D geometry file, which enables instant (or at least fast) visualising. These developments have brought benefits to the students in the field by augmenting their design-capabilities and allowing them to explore design in a playful manner. The use of specialist software for drafting, 3D modelling and performance analysis is offering assistance in the rapid generation of design options for evaluation and design decision support. Working on projects individually, students have investigated how analogue and digital means of design can complement each other as a matter of course and how they can be applied
jointly to drive the design process and bridge across disciplines. The semester was run in two parts. During the first half students generated a series of small projects which address issues of building performance for structural, acoustic and sun shading/daylight criteria. They were asked to produce physical models and to test structural, acoustic and environmental performance in order to demonstrating their functionality. Guest lecturers from outside the architectural domain have joined in to discuss issues of information-sharing and report from experience in practice and to give feedback on the quality of the models. In the second half of the semester students were asked to focus on one project in order to develop a design methodology which allows them to optimise geometry and material usage in relation to a particular performance requirement. The focus of the exercise was to explore the ‘aesthetics of performance’ and understand the various implications of using analogue and digital media to achieve this goal. Assessment criteria encompassed originality of the conceptual approach, the adequacy of media chosen and the quality of information provided for relating the design-idea to the performance requirement.
SIMON PEARCE BUSAN MODEL
Influenced by their experimentation during the first half of the semester, most students chose to focus on working on a sustainability project which included the generation of sun shading options for achieving maximum daylight entry with minimum solar gain for a façade. The process of addressing performance optimisation for the shading device included simple tests to comprehend the effects of the changing summer-winter solstice as well as changing solar angles during the day. Once the students were aware of the basic implications various shading options bring to bare, they were encouraged to start designing with shading performance in mind. This implies a step away from understanding shading as a technical add-on to a façade, to creating shading options which strongly influence the appearance of a building. To this point of the semester most students had been relying on their physical model-making skills to gain tacit knowledge about the relation between shading options, sun angles and the shadows that were cast.
SIMON PEARCE (FROM LEFT TO RIGHT) BUSAN MODEL SHADE MODEL
ALLISON CLANEY SUN SHADING DEVICE
Once students had reached a point where they wanted to explore more complex, non repetitive shading options, or shading devices for irregularly shaped buildings, they were willing to extend their investigation into the virtual world. In many cases this occurred by first re-modelling their latest physical model by computer to compare it to the virtual one. This was undertaken to gain confidence in the accuracy of the tool they were using and their capability to simulate a real-life scenario by computer. The uptake of digital technology to drive the design varied from student to student as did the goals that could be achieved by it. Whereas some students used their digitally augmented models to test a plurality of versions to choose from, others used them to refine one specific design solution and others again used them to extract bill of quantities to compare material usage to shading efficiency. The immediacy of gaining feedback from daylight analysis under varying conditions was of greatest importance to advance the design in all cases. As a final step some of the students went back to refine their physical models once the digital investigation had given them satisfying results.
During class students were asked why they preferred to focus on sustainability issues rather then structural or acoustic ones. They responded by explaining that there were no tools available to them which would assist to conduct rudimentary, structural or acoustic analysis to understand how these performance aspects would influence their project. In retrospect, the investigation of sustainability was seen as the most appropriate task given that each student could instantly comprehend the subject matter, produce hands-on physical models using simple materials like paper/cardboard and simulate sun-angles by positioning spot-lights. Further, the students were able to gain the skills needed to reproduce the models virtually and to run basic daylight-analysis software. This allowed them to consequently read-in geometrical information generated with any common modelling 3D tool and they were able to visualise geographically-specific daylight scenarios in real time.
80 M. HANK HAEUSLER DETAIL SPATIAL DYNAMIC MEDIA SYSTEM AS A RENDERED IMAGE
DEVELOPMENT OF THE LED STICK AS A SINGLE COMPONENT OF THE SPATIAL DYNAMIC MEDIA SYSTEM THROUGH AN EXPERIMENT SERIES WITH MODELS
M. HANK HAEUSLER The core project within my PhD research has been the development of a system as an extension of existing media facades that allows me to test the representation of information and ideas as ‘form’ within space that is constantly generated and regenerated as a result of fresh input. The hypothesis of my PhD is that this real time reconfiguration of space using light offers a variety of new perceptions ranging from information sharing to public art never experienced previously. During my research, I have established an extensive body of evidence that points to a growing scholarship around the details and impacts of media façade technological developments and the content displayed on them. In the thesis I define the boundaries of these technology shifts and enhanced content combinations limited to 2 dimensions. In my research I consider the technical and media implications of extending conventional 2D screens which are limited currently to architectural cladding into a 3D matrix thereby causing an alteration to spatial perception through the content animating the 3D matrix. The development of the above discussed system, the LED stick has been processed by designing an experiment series
of models to create a 3D light-point matrix, the Spatial Dynamic Media System. In the following the 8 different models built in the experiment series to achieve a prototype should be explained. The narrative of the design of the LED stick started with an experiment which proves the possibility of designing space with light. Experiment series I should prove the question if space can be defined by light points. This will be done using a model where Christmas lights will be attached onto a net. This net will then be physically moved to analyse if a dynamic surface can be perceived. This perceived surface will then be further developed where technical components will deliver a surface or form within a 3D matrix. From this, the development of the research project will be based on tests to improve and find evidence for a final product. Here most knowledge is gained from the results of the undertaken experiments. This experiment series led the research in following methodology. A research question which has occurred in will be answered by a series of experiments. The questions will be answered but on the same time it could
M. HANK HAEUSLER (CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT) WOOD FORM TESTING TO PROOF BASE OF PROTOTYPE PROTOTYPE LED STICK AS A RESULT OF SIX PREVIOUS EXPERIMENTS TEST OF SURFACE VISIBILITY WHEN DEFINED BY LIGHT POINTS
M. HANK HAEUSLER LED STICKS ARRANGEMENTS ON AN ARMATURE TO ESTABLISH A SPATIAL DYNAMIC MEDIA SYSTEM
cause a question which then has been addressed in the next experiment, etc. When using LEDs embedded in acrylic sticks and arranging them in a 3D matrix the next concern of experiment series II is the masking of one stick with another. Which quality of LED is necessary in regards to the brightness and perception of LEDs? With answering this question a certain type of LED can be specified to used in further experiments. After having defined a surface generated by light points in experiment series I the question of how a beholder can perceive a surface must now be defined. A test surface was firstly generated in a 3D model environment and then altered to a surface defined by light points. This surface defined by light points will then be rebuilt in a physical model in experiment series III. The physical model will be used to answer the question, if a surface created by light points can be perceived if parts of the lights are masked by a substructure. After answering this question there are further experiments to determine from which angles/positions the beholder can see the full surface (all lights) or can see enough light to understand the form or the shape of the surface. These two experiments allow a first conclusion of the appearance of the proposed system. The experiments allowed a critical understanding of how much masking is caused by the substructure and how much is caused by the LEDs and if there is any possibility of improving the set-up to eliminate these problems. Solutions for the masking problem were found when improving the system by actions such as using water-clear LEDs; using SMD LED technology; through a different arrangement of more than one LED to create light points; through using invisible conducting layer instead of cables, and; through placing LEDs into small chambers instead of tubes.
M. HANK HAEUSLER DYNAMIC SURFACE GENERATED OUT OF MOVEMENT IN A MOVIE CLIP BASED ON DIFFERENT COLOUR INFORMATION OF PIXELS
As most masking caused in the physical model is a result of the wires, experiment series IV is an experiment to reduce the wires was set up. This experiment did not result in an improvement of the system, due to the inability of reducing the amount of wires per stick with the method used in the experiment. Nevertheless the possibility of using conductive layers, as seen in experiment series V will render obsolete the masking caused by wires. The design of a product based on the previous five experiments will thus complete the experiments in experiment VI till VII, where first form testing of the LED stick has been made in experiment series VI. The rod of the LED stick with the chambers of the LED stick has been built as a negative for vacuum forming in experiment series VII to manufacture the rods out of acrylic. Experiment series VIII shows then the final prototype of the LED stick. Here different model making techniques such as 3D plaster printing, CAD CAM milling, vacuum forming, laser cutting have been combined to build the model. The eight experiments demonstrate a shift of resolving the design from a sketch level at the beginning to a model with state of the art considerations on two levels. Firstly, the experiments have in the duration of the design been more professional in their making by having increasing model making skills and techniques available and secondly with increasing the level of sophistication in model making the out come of the model have moved from a speculative level to a level where decisions have been made by an increase of knowledge of the topic.
84 JEROME FRUMAR COLUMN
CONTEXT-SPECIFIC LIGHT WEIGHT STRUCTURES IN ARCHITECTURE
JEROME FRUMAR When modern man builds large loadbearing structures, he uses dense solids; steel, concrete, glass. When nature does the same, she generally uses cellular materials; wood, bone, coral. There must be good reasons for it. Professor M. F. Ashby, University of Cambridge
Naturally occurring structures such as trees, bone, coral, sponge, foam and bio-mineralised protist shells exhibit flamboyant geometry that simultaneously negotiate several environmental conditions with minimal energy and material consumption. This negotiation of contextual factors achieves a near uniform stress distribution throughout the structure. The Axiom of Uniform Stress is a phrase coined by theoretical physicist Claus Mattheck to describe â€œthe tendency for all self-optimising structures to make as economic a use of their
material as possible and to become as strong as necessary to perform their functionâ€?. Contemporary computation techniques such as Bidirectional Evolutionary Structural Optimisation (BESO) and the Soft-Kill Option (SKO) are tools for removing low stress regions and adding material to high stress areas of a 3D digital model under specified loading conditions including consideration of dimensions, topology and material properties. These evolutionary algorithms produce forms that demonstrate the Axiom of Uniform Stress and exhibit complex geometries reminiscent of naturally occurring structural systems. This methodology can be applied at numerous scales and enables the evolution of optimised macrostructures, microstructures and substructures suitable for use in lightweight context-specific building construction. The models on display demonstrate various possibilities for engaging the BESO algorithm to generate optimised architectural structural systems. Illustrated are potential macro, micro and sub-optimisation schemas that can be applied to achieve enhanced strength to weight ratio components that combine a bionic elegance with functional and structural logic.
JEROME FRUMAR COLUMN RENDERS
JEROME FRUMAR COLUMN RENDERS
JEROME FRUMAR COLUMNS
These models have been directly fabricated from a virtual 3D model using the Z-Corp Spectrum, a typical Solid Freeform Fabrication (SFF) system. Prior to this recent technology, these complex forms would have been very difficult and time-consuming to produce. Although presently limited to the industrial scale, SFF technologies also enable direct manufacturing of functional end-use parts. Further development in a variety of SFF technologies and materials suggests a future ability to support the direct fabrication of functioning large-scale components that could be suited
to the architecture, engineering and construction industries; particularly for the crafting of geometrically complex building elements. The models represent the first stage of an ongoing research project that explores contemporary and emerging manufacturing processes to economically fabricate geometrically complex structures at the scale of architecture. The complexity of evolutionary-based structures amplifies the need for clear and precise 3D representation in the form of both virtual and real models. Traditional 2D representations can no longer be used to accurately communicate concepts and modifications. In this exploration, physical models are an integral part of the design development/evaluation process
for concept communication between designer/architect, engineer and manufacturers. Throughout this investigation it is envisaged that SFF models will play an increasing part, culminating in a digitally fabricated â€œinvestmentâ€? to be used as an indirect manufacturing tool for casting a context-specific steel structural column.
SCREENRESOLUTION: PROTOT YPES MADE FROM NON-STANDARD COMPONENTS Makes 1 Cardboard Screen And 4 Rapid Prototypes
PAUL NICHOLAS AND TIM SCHORK TOO MANY COOKS MAKE THE BROTH This project was undertaken by MESNE in collaboration with 7 Interior Design students at RMIT University. The series of models represents research into the synthesis of generative design processes and contemporary fabrication techniques. At the core of this research is the idea that models are at the centre of both the digital and physical design process. By developing strategies for synthesising the abstract model (the code) and the physical model (the materialisation) they operate as generative and synthetic tools. The models should be understood as representational of this working method, rather than being â€˜bonsai architecturesâ€™, or small scale representational versions of the final built outcome. The models were produced for an installation for an exhibition at RMIT. Two sets of models were presented, a 1:1 prototype of a screen and a series of exploratory models in form of rapid prototypes. Each model is unique and consists of an array of non-standard components, which were generated via a collaborative digital design process, in which multiple authors collectively designed a system written in computer code, that was able to produce multiple outcomes. Much like the same recipe can produce 500 different types of Spaghetti Bolognese. Because of this, there is no single author to the outcomes - which are very tasty nevertheless!
PAUL NICHOLAS AND TIM SCHORK DETAIL OF CARDBOARD SCREEN
After establishing a common and generic component based assemblage, each author investigated material and fabrication constraints as well as a particular area of individual design interest, such as colour, porosity and light transmission. These were coded as a set of instructions that defined the way components adapted to the environmental and programmatic requirements of the exhibition, which were placed as locators on the site. The proximity of each cell to these locators was
used as a rule that influenced the component geometry. For example, proximity to a projection locator triggered a closed cell type, whereas proximity to an area of gathering determined cell colouration. The final component is a combination of responses to each of the 7 different locators. This digital process was informed by constant physical modelling and testing, during which connection details, material properties and fabrication limitations were explored, understood and later translated into code. As a field, these components act collectively to express properties of porosity, colour, and the interplay of light and shadow. This collection of properties generates a moment in a continuous state of change. It demonstrates the potential to generate new material properties by assemblage, and shows this to be practical state of the art design and prototyping technologies.
PAUL NICHOLAS AND TIM SCHORK 1:1 CARDBOARD PROTOTYPES
PAUL NICHOLAS AND TIM SCHORK 1:N RAPID PROTOTYPES
PAUL NICHOLAS AND TIM SCHORK RAPID PROTOTYPES FOLDING SEQUENCE
fresh and enthusiastic students
carefully selected tutors
Select a structural surface pattern that occurs in nature and investigate it for their underlying formative geometric rules and explain them in English.
Rhinoceros 3Dâ„˘ modelling software
Microsoft Visual Basicâ„˘
500ml plaster infiltration glue
STAGE 2 Replicate these rules in form of a set of instructions written in Visual Basic to generate a 2D model in the 3D modelling software Rhino. Continue adding information while stirring thoroughly. STAGE 3 Completely cover a NURBS surface with your code and let it rise into 3D. Expand and reduce, taking into account the physical limitations and constraints of cardboard. Fold these constraints into your code, until code and cardboard model are combined synthesised. Place some cardboard in the laser cutter, and built a prototype. Test vigorously. STAGE 4
Select an area of design interest and develop a strategy through which a generic component can respond. STAGE 5 Compile your code into functions and place them in a common script library that is accessible to everybody.
92 RORY HYDE DESIGN MODEL FOR BKK ARCHITECTS MUMA GALLERY COMPETITION 2006
DESIGN MODELS FOR BKK ARCHITECTS MUMA GALLERY COMPETITION 2006
RORY HYDE In addressing the exhibition theme of the role of models in the design process, what is interesting about the way models were used in this project, is that they were produced directly from a central digital model. Working design models are traditionally used as a way to explore a design concept through making, by cutting out pieces and sticking them together as you go, using judgement and evaluation while testing subtle variations. In contrast, the models presented here have been produced using specific templates or 3D prints where little or no interpretation or improvisation is possible. These models were produced during the competition phase for a new home for the Monash University Museum of Art in Caulfield by BKK Architects. The concept for the scheme was to interrogate the repetitive glass façade of the existing 1960’s office building that the new space was to be inserted into. The language of pleating was adopted as it has a repetitive quality which could be integrated into the rhythm of the existing structure, allowing the intervention to appear both respectful and disruptive of the existing building.
A ‘script’ – or simple software program – was written which automatically generated a simulation of pleating inside the 3D virtual space of the computer model. Various inputs could be fed into this script, including the density of pleats and the shape of the surface they were to follow. Numerous design options were explored by varying these inputs and evaluating the results in 3D space in a simulation of the traditional process of trial and error. Once a desirable outcome was arrived upon, physical models were then produced both as a way of exploring the real qualities of the computer-generated form, to demonstrate the buildability of the proposal to the competition jury. The first model made was a 3D wax print. A 3D digital model file was emailed to a rapid prototyping workshop, and a physical facsimile was delivered back to the office a few days later. In many ways this was the least valuable of all the models produced. The translation between digital and physical is almost too seamless, there is no hands-on intervention, so that no accuracy is lost, but equally no understanding is gained.
RORY HYDE DESIGN MODEL FOR BKK ARCHITECTS MUMA GALLERY COMPETITION 2006
RORY HYDE DESIGN MODEL FOR BKK ARCHITECTS MUMA GALLERY COMPETITION 2006
On the other hand, making the card models forced us to engage with aspects of the project which we may not have by working purely digitally. Building a complex 3D surface out of 2D material requires a process that is very similar to the process of describing this geometry for the real building. Ignoring issues of engineering, and to a certain extent structure, the principles of building out of card and building out of glass are the same, in that they are inherently scaleable. In this instance, another script was written which layed-out, numbered and tabbed the pleated panels, automatically producing a set of highly accurate 2D templates which were then cut out of card and glued back together to produce the computer generated form in physical space. Through this process and others like it, the use of models in design goes beyond the traditional role as medium for formal exploration, and begins to inform the very specific and concrete realm of construction.
95 INTERIOR OF ‘POD’
HERTZIAN SPACE: MODELLING SPATIAL PRESENCE
MARK TAYLOR This studio is focused on conducting design research through digital and physical modelling. It is undertaken not to reify ‘modelling architecture’ or ‘modelling ideas’ in a universal sense, but examines the performance of an architectural model when ideas are yet to emerge from local climate conditions. This is a conscious decision based on a desire to test whether the ambiguity of traditional conceptual models can be overcome by engaging directly with modelling as process. That is, whether it is possible to model ideas as though they are real rather than a representation of something yet to appear, and if so can the process provide ‘real-time’ feedback on effects and outcomes such that they inform design decision making. With emphasis on learning through researching properties, effects, combinations of form and material, and software programming, modelling is understood as an iterative process rather than finished ‘presentation’; a process that may enable students to move beyond traditional reliance on sketches and verbalisation to communicate concepts and ideas. For this experiment conducted at Victoria University Wellington, New Zealand we invited students to suspend belief in design dependent on ‘concepts,’ ‘metaphors’
and other idealised notions at the outset of the design process and instead asked that they focus on data driven environments in which topographic form making is informed by varied dynamic systems associated with the occupants and activity. This methodology is more closely aligned with bottom-up thinking allowing for complex interactions between parts, whilst bringing together disparate entities. Understood as a flexible system it is able to respond to and influence its own effects. Such methodology runs counter to traditional systems in which the linear process of hypothesis, analysis and intervention are understood as being less adaptive and responsive to data input. The use of metric and observational data is advocated in order to generate specific spatial and surface descriptions that affect, interfere and overlap, creating intensities that are responsive to the changing nature of information. Importantly the process is designed to realise multiple virtual potentials generated from the lived traces of inhabitation and occupation. These include such things as kinetic responses to shifts in activity or occupation, as well as connections realised through interference and interaction. Moreover complex interrelations between operational parameters and material form derived from localised climatic conditions, suggest that form generation is not anticipated but is formative. Maps and diagrams are used to describe interior surfaces as a spatial presence of occupational activity. The degree to which objects and people structure the environment by casting shadows, leaving imprints or impressing themselves on or through objects and each other, evolves a building typology responsive to socio-spatial climate. Specific conditions including dead zones, overlaps, and interferences contribute to a diagram not unlike ‘hertzian’ space identified by Anthony Dunne and Fiona Raby. While these researchers focus on the spatialisation of electromagnetic waves radiating from electronic objects, this experiment reads interior environments as connected space, bounded not exclusively by ‘construction’ but as a spatial delimitation that contributes to the making of surfaces. That is, differentiated spaces providing for individual
FULL-SCALE ASSEMBLY OF PHYSICAL EVA MODEL USED TO TEST BEHAVIOURAL CHARACTERISTICS OF ONE ‘STRUCTURAL’ ZONE
occupation, use and preferences of inhabitants are directly informed by social occupations. Boundaries become a relative notion determined by individual and collective inhabitation, and localised temporal states. To accomplish this site data is gathered and recorded through photographs, sketches, notes, and audio/video interviews. Early analysis through participation, site observation and documentation of variable and changing data on such things as the body’s occupation of space, placement of artefacts, operational requirements, environmental factors and so on, are used to re-describe an interior lining that is a specific rather than general spatial envelopment. Moreover photographic documentation reveals that many places are simply furnished generic commercial spaces with equipment necessary for their specialisation organised in an ad hoc manner. For example the full body massage suite captured in a series of extraordinary covert images, depicts the uncontrolled accumulation of equipment and paraphernalia suggesting a dissonance between space and function. With little room to get changed or hang clothes, the client’s body is literally forced onto the only remaining free space – the massage table.
Any sensuality of the semi naked body or intimacy between form and materials is lost, an observation noted in other site visits concluding that generally these interiors are conditioned by the existing functionally-neutral environment of ‘generic commercial space’. Working from an initial conceptual design a small student group worked collaboratively to examine and develop the project through new propositions. To be effective the sharing of information involved collective conceptualisation of the design when there was both partial knowledge about the design and the mode of representation. To advance ideas the group generated form by registering the body’s movement in space as the massage is performed, and mapping how space/ surface is changed when the masseur’s body presses against it. Initial physical experimentation with plaster of Paris and textile materials was conducted through full size modelling against the body. This included stiffening the textile to provide a solid form where it came in contact with the body leaving other material loose, and vice versa. At the same time a simple 3D Studio Max™ model was used to simulate deformable surfaces and their interaction with a digital body. But despite the
(FROM LEFT TO RIGHT) “INVERSE MODELLING” BIPED ANIMATIONS DEFINE THE INNER ‘RELAXED’ AND DEFORMED ‘STRETCHED’ SURFACE ENABLING THE OPTIMISATION OF ‘STRUCTURAL’ ZONE AND DEVELOPED PATTERNS OCCUPATIONAL ACTIVITY USED TO DEFINE TOLERANCE VOLUMES AND MATERIAL ARRANGEMENT OF ‘POD’
realistic rendering appearing tangible, there was no material possibility nor any physical experience associated with this representation. This type of testing forces the limitations of the various software to be revealed, which is set against the backdrop of the difficulty that comes with full scale physical modelling conducted in a studio setting. Further design data came from considering massage practice itself and the position of the masseur relative to the client’s body, rather than any preexisting homogenous space. Two students of differing physical stature simulated massaging a client, documenting the process through a series of digital images that were then used to generate a description of the body moving through space. Head, shoulders, lower back and feet position were imported into a Sketchup™ model. These parameters were used to define tolerance volumes accommodating data from both students’ simulation. The final digital model was generated from a series of U-lofts made from vertical/radial sections through the bubbles. To account for membrane transparency and determine deformable surface areas from areas of rigidity, the students returned to the positions of both ‘masseurs.’ From this data the enclosing membrane followed the profile of the inner (smaller) body, and stretched to accommodate the larger figure. That is, when the head, lower back and feet press into the membrane the surface expanded. Elasticity was achieved by reducing the thickness of material and introducing cuts and folds. During this process the problem of excess information is very real and at times seems to overwhelm design decision making, opening data and material to intuition, interpretation and evaluation as architecture. That is, different forms of data whether ‘read’ through photographic images, measured on site, or obtained through focused group interviews needs evaluating and actualised through modelling. And since there is no traditional ‘concept’ acting as partí, data is not edited until all relational constructs are explored, thereby allowing for architectures that are unknown and impossible to preconceive.
PHOTOGRAPHIC IMAGES USED TO APPROXIMATE FEET AND BACK POSITIONS
Following completion by the student group a small research grant enabled further progression into full size prototype. During this period the final 3D Studio Max™ digital ‘pod’
provided the data for a subsequent feedback process that included biped animations. Two bipeds animated with appropriate movements related to ’moving centres’ and positioned relative to the massage table defined the inner ‘relaxed’ and deformed ‘stretched’ surface. This time the generation of the pod using a digital ‘drape’ technique resulted in a direct relationship between curvature and body position, visualized through density of faces indicating greater curvature. Optimization of the form enabled the development of one ‘structural’ zone through other software packages to be flattened into developable strips for pattern cutting. Full size physical form was constructed using Ethylene Vinyl Acetate (EVA) foam with three-dimensional shape defined by the patterns resulting in a non linear articulated surface. Approaching design through collaboration and modelling as the primary instrument of enquiry, rather than representation, has an impact on working methods and outcomes. Of importance to the group is to move away from more traditional approaches to creating a design before it is tested through construction and materials, as this method reduces potential for creative input. We found that to test open ideas through modelling requires shorter, more frequent iterations, a process that demands more frequent communication between collaborators; a process that leads to more cohesive understanding of the issues by all members of the design team.
This experiment was conducted at Victoria University Wellington, New Zealand by Mark Taylor and Mark Burry. Mark Taylor is a Senior Lecturer at Queensland University of Technology, Australia. He is the guest-editor of Surface Consciousness the March/April 2003 issue of Architectural Design and co editor Intimus: Interior Design Theory Reader, 2006 published by Wiley-Academy. Mark Burry is a visiting Fellow at VUW. He holds an Australian Research Council Federation Fellowship and is Director of RMIT’s Design Institute and state-of-the-art Spatial Information Architecture Laboratory. He is also Consultant Architect to the Temple Sagrada Família. The studio tutors gratefully acknowledge the ARCH 412 students and research assistants Matthew Randell and Elizabeth Chaney. Original author ‘full body massage suite’ Yijing-Xu Collaborative design team: Diana Chaney, Matthew Randell, Yi Wen Seow
EXPLORING THE ROLE OF DIGITAL MODELS
SARAH BENTON My experiences with SIAL’s ‘embedded research within architectural practice’ program offers many opportunities to explore the role of models within a forward-looking architectural firm and within a context of academic post graduate study in Architecture. A particular interest of mine is the introduction of digital modelling into practice and what digital tools offer an enterprising and respected firm, especially one such as Terroir which is frequently involved in professional interchanges across different Australian states. This following essay explores the specific nature of Terroir’s use of models and how models have extended and further facilitated innovative structures of practice and communication that are specifically associated with the firm in the public eye.
TERROIR BURNS MACDONALD MODEL
‘Terroir began as a conversation between 3 people and the model emerged early on as a tool for giving material form to ideas emerging from that discussion’. We reached the conclusion (at HomoFaber 2006) that physical models were conceptual and sought to capture an idea rather than to represent a building. We found they related closely to our conversations (words) and diagrams (lines). They allowed for very rapid adjustments, and in making these models the
project was understood in new ways that cannot be achieved in the absence of this iterative process1. Over the past few years Terroir have cautiously integrated digital modelling into the design process. Through my involvement in SIAL’s ‘embedded research’ program the firm as a whole has gained a greater awareness of the implications of expanding the conventional toolset of an architectural designer. This experimental stage has challenged the office with ideas about how and why this form of modelling may enhance or indeed impede the ideation design process. Early experiments gave us confidence in the potential of the digital where a digital model/animation resulted in a conceptual breakthrough in a project and presented a way of seeing the project’s concept with greater clarity. These modelling explorations enhanced contained design exercises in the ideation process and we became aware that certain digital techniques were not about to become formulaic or their usefulness easily reproducible.
(FROM LEFT) FERNTREE ANIMATION FRAMES MAITLAND CITY BOWLING CLUB
So again we faced the question of what exactly is the benefit of the digital media to our design process. After focusing more closely on how we design we became aware that media can be far more than merely tools to be deployed for already determined ideas. Rather media can begin to be interactive, be understood as operative and play a role in shaping our intentions. Thereby, whilst Terroir design remains driven by overarching ideas that result from collective conversation and that these are held as primary, the role of the model, both traditional and digital, can play a part in working up the idea. For example in a project for a New National Library in Prague, ideas began through gathering a comprehensive and wide ranging body of information about the project. One of the first visualisations of the project was an abstract speculative physical model that I constructed in response to an idea about how the building could be an articulation of a violent landscape rupture. This idea was based on the team’s assumption that there needed to be a visual and circulation link to the existing Prague Castle. This physical model was complemented with a digital model in which it was possible to work with a larger and more accurate context. Through the digital model it could be seen that the fall of the land and the circulation patterns through it differed from our initial readings. The previous idea was thereby built upon a somewhat distorted and contrived understanding of the landscape and a debate ensued. In Terroir, particularly in response to multiple people’s opinions, the firm often works through ideas and models to look for the best outcome. In the Prague project, the physical and digital models were integrated into the conversation to assist at points of crisis. Resulting from differing readings of the site a contrary idea was put forth to build upon the site’s immediate context; a park with a smooth velvet character. Iterations of both of these ideas were modelled and compared. Ideas about mysterious cases rupturing from below the park, to house the archive section of the library, were added to the mix. In the Prague competition the final design for Prague was critically selected from this pool of many ideas and models. The project’s final idea intertwined this mix resulting in rupturing cases shielded under a velvety roof.
As the firm continues to integrate digital tooling into the ideation process, it is becoming more necessary to complement those digital tools and processes with equally sophisticated physical modelling techniques. The idea of the velvet parkland was modelled in a digital simulation by locating control points across the site, applying a surface to those points, and then modifying the smoothness and fall of that simulated surface with the computer. Due to the many controlling factors and the laborious nature of the task the digital simulation seemed to suppress the potential of the idea. On viewing the digital iterations the design team was not convinced that we were gaining any understanding into how such a material may want to operate. At this point physical models were used to investigate the operation of actual velvet material. These explorations were much more convincing and the knowledge was taken back into constructing the digital model. In Terroir, where designing occurs during an email conversation, representations of the digital models sit alongside photos of physical models. As such the firm fully integrates the traditional craft and more modern modelling methods. In Terroir today the term model is used abundantly and ambiguously to describe physical and computational explorations. The final image of Prague was modelled in the computer, rendered and then manipulated. It is both a digital model that holds a high level of information and an ambiguous image that presents a strong idea framework but which could go on to be modified within the confines of that idea framework. The Prague competition called for a physical model to be submitted. Having designed the building with an exterior form with the characteristics of smooth velvet in a digital model we faced the problem of translating that into a physical form. Our first attempt produced an average quality vacuum formed model. Seeing this result the team looked for other methods. In working up an idea a body of work goes into finding and visualising the idea and an equally important body of work goes into presenting that idea. If it is done well, the production
TERROIR PRAGUE LIBRARY COMPETITION ENTRY
TERROIR PRAGUE LIBRARY COMPETITION ENTRY
of the representation can become a continuation of the ideation process. With the time constraints of the competition the team agreed to create a Perspex laser cut model. This was not meant to directly mimic the images on the presentation; rather by being abstract the presentation model maintained a sense of a working model. It was meant to maintain a level of ambiguity and thereby reinforce that we were presenting an idea framework upon which the client and Terroir could build on in the future. To conclude these observations that I have made in reflecting upon practice and the model, Terroir acknowledges that the exciting thing about a working model is not accuracy and beauty rather it is the understanding and discoveries that happen through the process of making. Through modelling our own ideas, or a team memberâ€™s idea, we can see that a level of interpretation occurs. Only by making the ideas can the Terroir design team see and interact with them. This interaction can result in unexpected results and this ultimately expands our ideation design process.
1 Blythe, R. (2007). Afterword: On Models. Terroir: Cosmopolitan Ground. Terroir. Sydney, DAB Documents, UTS: p164-165.
TERROIR PRAGUE LIBRARY COMPETITION ENTRY
BEAUT Y AND BR AINS: THOUGHTS AROUND MODELS & MINIATURE BUILDING FORMS
JULIETTE PEERS Models are extraordinarily versatile. They enable archietects to convey a range of information about a project, which may be factual, or conceptual, or both. They are also like drawings, a rich and vivid means of expression offering an infinite range of possibilities.1 The omniferous nature of the model attested in recent literature such as Modelling Messages by Karen Moon, makes it hard to grasp in analysis despite its unequivocal presence in professional life. Any discussion of the model – even before considering digital options – can be frustrated by its very plurality of options. What does the model actually mean, represent and do when we step back and refuse to take its naturalness, its expectedness, for granted? If considering the meanings of the model, especially in a historic context, one is thrown back onto a set range of sources and examples.
Literature around architectural models was sparse until the 1970s, despite the major role that they have played in training and practice. 2 The discourse, like the technology, is still evolving and the Homo Faber project is an act of both explicating the process and culture of the model and publicly pushing that culture forward and outward by documenting interactions with the model. This essay takes this breadth, the ability to elude categorization as a starting point for considering issues around the cultural meanings and purposes of small scale representations of buildings. The central focus will be on models, particularly architectural models. Generally the words “model” or “architectural model” will refer in this essay to models used in a professional context, recently described by the Royal Institute of British Architects as “design process models”3 to distinguish them from models of small buildings used in education, religion, ethnic customs, craft activities, public ceremonies, tourism, museums, retail, amongst many other contexts. Other small buildings are also considered especially the dollshouse, but also toys, ornaments, hobbyist’s homages to known buildings, folk and vernacular artforms, elaborate
craft and bespoke objects, but also mass produced items such as construction sets or published printed material such cross sections or cardboard buildings for home assemblage. These divisions are not arbitrary. A miniature building may fall into more than one of these categories, whilst still retaining a role in design practice. Miniature buildings can “shape change” or perhaps more particularly function change in different eras. A functional model from a studio may end up, centuries later as an expensive museum piece. A discarded competition entry can finds a new life as a family dolls house. The context of user and audience may also determine the current function of a miniature structure. Even a small building once used to forecast the final outcome of an actual building, may, when the large building is destroyed, be the only tangible reminder and memorial to the building that had previously supplanted it. The “shape changing” polyvalent model is not so much an alien from elsewhere as a throwback from another, preenlightenment era, a representative of what Barbara Stafford called the “baroque sciences”.
Miniature buildings can “shape change” or perhaps more particularly function change in different eras. A functional model from a studio may end up, centuries later as an expensive museum piece. A discarded competition entry can finds a new life as a family dollshouse. The context of user and audience may also determine the current function of a miniature structure.
The model’s ability to be everything, to conduit to larger and broader concepts is not simply a question of the lax scholarly paradigms of overviews like Modelling Messages, which explore a very wide range of possible formats in both concrete and allusive modes. This same quality of plurality almost to the point of negation of meaning is seen in an early text from a known heyday of the model in professional life: the 1920s. Percival Marshall’s Wonderful Models 4 is almost meaningless in its liberal definition of what a model can be. The remarkable list that forms its notably unwieldy subtitle: The Romance of the World in Miniature and a Complete Encyclopaedia of Modelcraft – Comprising the Construction and Use of Representative And Working Models in Advertising, Architecture and Building, Civil And Mechanical Engineering, Naval Architecture and Railway Engineering and the Application of Electricity to their Operation: Also the Romance of Historical Models and the Modern Development of Model Engineering as an Aid to Invention, as a Recreation and as an Essential Element in Education demonstrated how the model is a practical facilitator of new and effective thinking in many different contexts. Here the model is an essential
part of modern architecture and the modern adventure of unanalylitcal optimism. Here models can be both proscriptive and suggestive, conservative/fixed but undeniably liberating. This plurality hints at the model’s seductive quality of a thought captured and made tangible – herding cats or catching dreams. Marshall validates many types of models from the playful to the scientific, from the passive to the mechanical, from the illustrative to the abstract/allusive. He sees the model as informing and supporting a number of professions and ascribes seemingly limitless merit to models in modern life. Furthermore he believes that models demonstrate their intrinsic merit by various means and in various contexts. They can derive their unique power from this diversity and universality. Whilst for Marshall models do on occasion “excite wonder due to “merely … clever craftsmanship” or “the patience of the maker”5, and thus display the fetishised detailed craft skills, over-close focus and elaboration, that Susan Stewart 6 would later claim in one of the few philosophical considerations of the miniature as a state of mind and aesthetics, as integral to the small scale. Equally models can be shorthand to the “cleverness of conception”.7 Thus models and miniatures may be provisional, temporary and not always necessarily dominated, rendered trivial, by the fetishising of their own extreme physical properties, as suggested by Stewart.8 For Marshall, valid models can cost only a “few shillings” and cut to the quick of a “basic principal” as much as provide detailed illustration. However the text is unequivocal in its emphasis on the importance of models of all types to formulating and conceptualising advanced research and provisional thinking. They are tools of effective experimentation and prediction, allowing for proto-typing and the collection of “valuable data”. They also allow for “succinct communication when the original is too large for convenience”.9 These skills ascribed by Marshall to the model of précis, economy, summation, overviewing, and communication are both widely-accepted signs of professionalism and supremely modernizing. Moreover they are still valued generally in many workplace contexts and pubic culture as an indicator of efficiency and ability.
The publication date, 1928, of Wonderful Models reminds us that the model has flourished at certain periods. These periods when the model is prominent often can be characterised as periods of transformative and speculative thought. The Renaissance and early modern period provide a number of 3D constructions, which also are repositories for cognitive functions. They include the Wunderkammer and its miniaturized derivatives the dollshouse, and the Wunderschränke. They provide a blend of metaphor, creativity, technical skills and practicality. They were quintessential examples of what Barbara Stafford called Devices of Wonder11 – tools of a pre-modern science that was capable of extremely complex processing and cognition around serious ideas and did not shy away from big picture issues such as the nature of the world and the multiple relationships of its many constituent parts. However unlike modern science, Stafford’s pre-modern sciences did not cut themselves off from the emotions, creativity, art and artifice. They even freely hybridised themselves with spectacle, illusion, performance, mysticism and downright fraud. A thread of educative popularism also distinguished these professional knowledges from those of the later eighteenth century and onwards. Thus there was great emphasis upon visual explication, concrete demonstration and even self-guided exploration of intricate physical objects. These objects were not mere toys; they brokered users who were active and informed. Play was a test/extension of given capabilities and understandings. Stafford also notes that modern digital technologies have jumped over post enlightenment science to share the rich and almost random imbrication of seriousness and pleasure, entertainment and functionality of pre-modern science, as well as its potential to take up any given position on the spectrum between utilitarianism and fancy. In this context I am fascinated by the dollshouse/architectural model interplay.12 This is a relationship replete with significant chasms of male/female serious/trivial meaningful/vapid. Associated with this anxiety, the conventions that uphold belief in the demarcation of child and adult cultures as an appropriate cultural value have also delimited the possibilities of discussing dollhouses in relation to architecture. For some
the dichotomies are so broad and obvious as to negate any possibility of a relationship, but there are cogent historical links between the two and the schism between the two is less finite than suspected. Historically the architectural model has interacted with the dollshouse, especially if the dollshouse is read as an exploration and meditation upon social life within the constructed environment, such as in the complex dolls’ village Mon Plaisir commissioned by the Princess Augusta Dorothea of Schwarzburg Arnstadt from 1704 onwards.13 Discarded architectural models have sometimes ended up as dollshouses. The best documented example is a model submitted for the possible design of the Radcliffe Camera by Nicholas Hawksmoor in 1734. Unsuccessful as an architectural proposal, it was used as a dollshouse in the Dillon family until it was finally presented to the Bodleian Library in 1913.14 One point of difference claimed in a major text on dollshouses between the model and dollshouse is that the former “does not open”.15 This assertion can be disproven by the many architectural models that reveal the relationship between inner and outer spaces or that document inner treatments as well as exterior. Karen Moon illustrates a model
from 1746 with an open front and a series of three sided rooms that is identical to a dollshouse, as well as a military model of a fortress: the Tour Martello 1836 that opens like a dollshouse.16 Both dollshouse and architectural model exist as vivid testament to the enlightenment’s splitting of head and heart, their imbricated function now rigidly split between the rumpus/family room and the studio. The dollshouse, relegated around c.1800 to the nursery, and losing its individualised, architectural presence, found a secure, but utterly irrelevant, role in the new world of masculinised intelligence, whereas the architectural model temporarily lost prestige as a professional tool.17 Large scale treatment of details of the decorative schemes of building – which could even include one to one constructions of small parts of the façade in situ, even outdoors, as much as complete representations of buildings, were a format that flourished in the nineteenth century. In their capacity for interaction, for welcoming touch and rearrangement, for opening out and exposure the dollshouse and architectural model are linked. Other forms of miniature buildings such as the ex
post facto modelling by amateurs of architectural icons as a demonstration of diligence18 or elaborate representations of buildings in porcelain, glass or precious metals with closed inviolate surfaces invite far less interaction and speculation than either the dollshouses or the architectural model. The hobby of building miniature representations of known buildings certainly testifies to the public appeal of architecture. In their overt assertion of skill and concentration, they also have linkages to older forms of trade education such as apprenticeship and the guild system, when the masterpiece was often a bravura piece of craftsmanship with little functional rationale, such as miniature wooden staircases leading nowhere that were a popular testpiece amongst nineteenth century woodworkers or skeletal brass or fretted wood cathedrals. Whilst modelling never disappeared from architectural practice, there seems to be periods when its role in the design process attracts more professional recognition and inquiry. From evidence of contemporary publications the second decade of the twentieth century appears to have marked the beginning of another period of flow tide for the model. This increased
contours and relationships, than a 2D drawn or written document. 22 Thus the model made new initiatives in town planning more appealing and the benefits of new development could be communicated more effectively to counter the inherent emotional tendency towards conservatism.
This increased validation of the model seems to also indicate changes in paradigms of architectural language or the requirements made upon architects and clients to respond to new technologies and aesthetics.
validation of the model seems to also indicate changes in paradigms of architectural language or the requirements made upon architects and clients to respond to new technologies and aesthetics. The model came to the fore in both explicating unfamiliar and newly evolved stylistic vocabularies and formats in a manner devoid of negative emotion and also selling with a certain charisma and fascination. This importance of the model as an eloquent plaidoyer for modernism is recognised in original literature from the era of dawning acceptance of modernism in architectural patronage and culture, as well as in historical overviews of the model’s status in the twentieth century.19 Kenneth Reid wrote in 1939 that models had become a “necessity” in the wake of “the development of newer and less familiar contemporary architectural forms”. 20 In 1942 J. Prince Nunn warned of the ease with which “the directness and simplicity of contemporary architectural expression” could be read by the untrained eye as “deceptively stark, almost arid”21 when rendered in 2D, yet in modelled format modern formats had greater eloquence. Marshall in his Wonderful Models suggested that perspective models of urban layouts, gave a better understanding of the spatial distribution,
The model was not only a recorder of ideas or a point of trial and prototyping, but became part of an increased theatre of visibility and performance around the uptake of modern ideas. It actively expressed the crusading transformative energies that were, by implication, an essential element of modernism in many creative expressions. There is a twentieth century corpus of photographs of architects posing in dramatic and intriguing fashion with small scale versions of their buildings. This oeuvre continues to the present day with images of architects seemingly playing with their model, bending down before it, reaching into it, as if it were a dollshouse. A celebrated and relatively recent example features the model for OMA ‘s sadly unbuilt Jussieu University Libraries, 1992. The metaphor in these photographs not only seems to be one of well-roundedness imbrication of play and work, but a demonstration/realisation in visual terms through gesture and implied narrative of action of the specialized level of insight and skill that is read as a harbinger of professional status. There is also a visual pun, a contradiction, involved in seemingly rendering the skill and status of the professional as artless and childlike, if the model is read as a toy, or to cast the professional as god, towering over the world of his or her creation, if the model is read as analog of the actual world. Concurrently and seemingly on cue with the increased focus on architectural models, there was a new adult non-toy interest in the dollshouse. 23 The catalyst appears to be an Edwardian Anglo-Irish general, Sir Neville Wilkinson, who built a copy of his wife’s English country seat in 1907 and then moved onto developing a miniature showcase of late – and increasingly establishment – elements of the Arts and Crafts style titled Titania’s Palace, 1908-1922 neatly blending in the ascendancy of English cultural heritage, 24 but also the sense of fantasy and faerie that is – via the early modern sciences – an urtext of even the straightest architectural models. The 1920s and 1930s saw the building of a number of “adult” dollshouses,
many of them overseen by, or made for, women of high social and economic standing. 25 During the same era the development of elaborate and enduringly popular architectural toys – construction sets – which had been produced in earlier eras with less emphasis on structural functionality and a generally aesthetic and art historical approach, 26 also testified to the importance of miniature structures – real and speculative – to upholding and extending the mythos of the modern imperial and industrialised nation. Whereas the dollshouse, made and decorated by and for adults, spoke perhaps more of aesthetics, the detailing and decoration of buildings, the social life and function around buildings, privilege and genteel rituals of public life, its partner, the construction set, referenced a different but no less important set of values, the masculine themes of engineering and industrial progress and foregrounded system, routine and interconnectedness. Particularly with the highly developed products comprised of elaborate series of function-specific components and equally sophisticated ranges of outcomes such as Meccano, 27 Erector Set or Bayko, a nexus could be read between the probity and responsibility of the individual and the structure and demands of the well-governed modern state, as each small bolt and plate – relatively meaningless in itself – could, through the skill of the maker/designer, be combined to form a miniaturised representation of the white man’s technological sophistication. Yet the model may also be a familiar sign of a less than heroic post-war commercial manifestation of the international style and a debased watered down interpretation of the utopian vision of architects such as Le Corbusier at particularly a local and suburban level. We have all seen on display a sad, somewhat dusty Perspex case with perhaps blond Nordic wood, white enamel or matt silver aluminium fittings. Inside to advise us of the future prospect is a cleancut, square usually starkly black and white series of international style towers or horizontal blocks with their concomitant plazas, forecourts, walkways and terraces, garnished with trees of gathered twigs with green spray painted foam foliage, inhabited by small frozen plastic citizens clustering in groups or stopped in mid-stride. In the last decade the Australian artist Callum Morton has brokered an international reputation from
exploring the banality of the emptiness of expected rituals of post war western townplanning and urban development, and raising the spectres of popular fears of this particular subset of architectural progress represented by models in the post war era. Although the appeal of his work is not only about hostility and rejection, it also references insider trading of the architecturally informed and their respect for key and acclaimed buildings and also the popularist blend of skill, intrigue and education that Stafford identified in pre-modernist sciences, indicating that not only the digital should be identified as the heirs to mannerist and baroque science, but the hand-built model remains a “device of wonder”. His lovingly rendered reproductions of famous buildings are not only perfectly finished and historically accurate, but fitted with soundtracks and lighting effects. Thus these miniature buildings bleed into memories of popular culture and films. Morton devises new dramatic narratives for the implied residents of these miniature buildings and thus raises questions about discipline boundaries and functions. Are his models architectural commentary, conceptual art, sculpture, an amusing novelty or all of these things simultaneously? What messages are they giving to
a viewer. These celebrated miniature buildings prompt questions about the role of architecture as a cultural narrative and metaphor beyond practice, as well as issues about scale and cultural significance. The meticulous and learned craft skills of Morton’s artworks testify to the ongoing viability of the model as a creative and aesthetic medium beyond professional design development and places it at the highly visible celebrity level of contemporary arts. The model has played a role in fine arts in the later twentieth century, especially sculpture, at least since Pop Art and possibly as early as the surrealist Joseph Cornell whose sculptural boxes referenced dollshouses, Wunderschränke, shrines, apprentice pieces and architectural models. As with the teens and interwar period, the 1980s also are informative about the model. The model came to the fore in a series of projects and debates exploring its function and identity. 28 This was partly due to the inherent qualities of the model itself but also partly due to the extraordinary extension at this era of the culture of debate and commentary around architecture that is not necessarily related to the process of fulfilling a specific commission. This culture of debate around
architecture partly unfolds amongst professionals, but is partly a lay debate, and moreover it has continued without apparently losing momentum to the present day and this debate also extends into interests around design and an increasing governmental and official exploration of the relationship of design, new technologies and new media formats to national political and economic development in a volatile world. The enlightenment head is co-opting for its own functional agendas the once despised heart of the feminine, the childish, the primitive and of course the counterreformation. This process is rendered plausible because architecture has been since the 1980s a driving metaphor of cultural and intellectual life. Architecture is not simply a function or a profession – it adds meaning and value, even enchantment, to the public’s construct of their cultural environment. Fantasy and speculation around architecture is widespread far beyond architecture itself and has brokered a new fascination and popular acceptance around the contemporary built environment. 29 Play in the sense of Homo Ludens30 – always the ghost at the feast of Homo Faber, its twinned Other (and for some,
...the dollshouse, made and decorated by and for adults, spoke perhaps more of aesthetics, the detailing and decoration of buildings, the social life and function around buildings, privilege and genteel rituals of public life, its partner, the construction set, referenced a different but no less important set of values...
Ludens and Faber may be even inextricably entangled) was quintessentially of the 1980s. There is an antic quality about much the 1970s and 1980s design which often encompasses an affectionate tribute to post modernist architecture, such as Michael Graves’ tea service of 1983 for Alessi, entitled Tea and Coffee Piazza, which referenced an imagined series of pavilions. In the 1980s reduced scale representations of architectural features, which were simultaneously to be read as playful and as having a significant reference to something larger, more serious and canonical, can be tracked throughout diverse media. Quirky but intellectual, architecturally informed cross-reference and quotation forms an identifiable visual stream in 1980s design and applied art. The phenomenon has vivid manifestations. Architectural forms and images appeared across the decorative arts from furniture to jewellery. They were matched by the popularity of cardboard cross sections and models of architectural icons as both a leisure time activity and also as a display items in domestic and commercial interiors. Teapots, and other domestic table wear in both ceramic and metal were shaped as buildings. The Royal Institute of British Architects
and the Victoria and Albert Museum maintains a delightful on-line museum of such examples from the collection of the RIBA.31 The latter institution has proactively collected a wide variety of 3D representations of buildings, including models by celebrated firms and all manner of popular cultural items. The RIBA’s open-mindedness about the potential identity and functions of building models is persuasive on both cultural and intellectual terms. They identify a number of functions of the miniature building from tourism to religion to design process. Yet plethoras of examples of small buildings do not overwrite its ongoing relevance in practice. The comments around model making proffered by the Poise students represent a new generation of practitioners exploring the format and discovering what it offers them. “Models communicate a range of ideas, aesthetics, and problems. They are also a good tool to test possibilities that drawing and digital aids may not [help]. …They are amazing tools in design. Allowing other people to see quite fast what someone could only ever explain in a [longer] time. What can be gleaned from 5 seconds of staring at a model is so much more than any type of medium.32 Working with models … made me realise that … models are a fantastic way to diagram. It also helped me think ‘bigger’ in the sense that there are so many opportunities with models to show different ideas.33 The dollshouse also engaged attention at this date, gracing a much remembered volume of Architectural Design commemorating an international dollshouse competition in 1982/1983 completion held by the British magazine amongst international architectural firms. Certain judges and competitors were hampered in considering the physical and conceptual format of the dollshouse by too rigid a conception of the role of the dollshouse in relation to childhood. Therefore it followed that the functions and responsibilities that architecture and architectural objects associated with childhood ought to facilitate were equally contained. These narrow proscriptions then also limited the formal and design possibilities open to the architect by suggesting that paying due care to the expected norms of the dollshouse had already
set the boundaries of architectural choice and exploration. Unlike real “architecture” the brief of the dollshouse – and toys generally – by necessity ran along “tram-lines” of what they are “expected to be”. In the words of architect James Gowan: Finally the designer does not have a lot of license with a child’s toy. There is, or was, a linked range: dolls’ house, [sic] Wendy house, fort, farmyard, railway, building blocks, constructional kits, theatre. Each represents its bit of a simplified outside world. When the designer shifts off the “tram-lines” of what a dolls house is expected to be he finds himself immediately in the province of another toy.34 One notes that for Gowan the identity of the “toy” is essentially mimetic, a reproduction of a slice of the “real” world. This mimesis limits the speculative and forward looking possibilities of toys in favour of order and clarity of reproduction. However another judge, architectural historian Bruno Zevi, whilst he rued the strictly formalised and curtailed patterns of thought frequently revealed through the competition, delivered a dissenting minority report in which he pinpointed the problem not as pertaining specifically to dollhouses per se or the intellectual limitations and lacks of the smallscale, but as an architectural issue, a failure on the part of both architects and their clients. I am against miniatures of traditional house types and, in stylistic terms, against primitivist, vernacular, classical, Post-Modern and eclectic. I am for progressive and imaginary contemporary architectural thinking...35 Like a model, the dollshouse spurs Zevi onto an extended frame of reference, generating further analytical thought around the values of architecture. This function of catalysing fluid and innovative thought around architecture matches the freewheeling potential that was ascribed to the model in the 1980s “… as studies of a hypothesis, a problem or an idea of architecture.”36 I do not want to heroicise the dollshouse because placing classic examples of dollshouses as collected and made by hobbyists today alongside models does indicate some
...small scale does not speak of closure, reduction and the culturally invalid, but a trajectory of possibility, excitement and openness. distinct physical and intellectual lacks, such as unimaginative use of materials and designs, but Architecture Design’s competition suggests that some of these lacks are due to hobbyists not wishing to challenge the accepted tropes of dollshouse building. The frontality of decoration and clustering detail and features and the repetition of a box like structure that is not far removed from a display cabinet are typical examples of lacks when placed against the more 360 degree viewing point assumed by a model. However what is most remarkable about the dollshouse is not so much its lacks or architectural shortfalls, but the tenacity of the desire to affix fictive architectural features onto what is essentially a display box. In the 1983 competition, many of the entries fell into two streams; firstly those that sought to replicate the expected idea of the dollshouse as box cum mimetic building and secondly those entries that sought to provide a radical exploratory solution to the issue of building construction and spatial design freed by “the absence of constraints which usually plague architectural practice, namely those of a precise brief and a fee-paying client”.37 A radical approach was often expressed in the construction of the dollshouse by discarding the
firm outer walls of the box structure. The more exploratory entrants were very similar to the ground breaking exhibition of architectural models The Idea as Model of a few years earlier. Dollshouses evoke the cultural anxieties that unfold around smallness per se. For over a decade Susan Stewart’s On Longing has been regarded as the key English language theoretical text around the issue of physical size in written and visual culture, standing as a must-quote academic benchmark.38 Yet Stewart’s vision of the small-scale, when put alongside architectural writings on models, is limited, condescending and negative. She sees only one overall trajectory of the miniature leading towards the artificial, the effete, the over-formalised, the trivial, the limited. The small ultimately deserves a predominantly scornful assessment. The miniature offers a world clearly limited in space but frozen and thereby both particularised and generalised in that the miniature concentrates upon the single instance and not upon the abstract rule.39 The miniature here erases not only labour but causality and effect. Understanding is sacrificed to being in context. Hence the miniature is often a material allusion to a text that is no longer available to us, or because of its fictiveness, never was available to us except through a second order fictive world.40 In the advertisements for, and catalogues of, miniature articles issued by firms such as the Franklin Mint, the Concord Miniatures Collections, and Federal Smallwares Corporation, `period furnishings’, `storybook figures’, the `charming’, the `picturesque’ and the `old-fashioned’ are presented to a bourgeois public immersed in the discourses of the `petite feminine’.41 These anxieties and lacks expressed around the small are usually absent in architectural discussions of the model, which can extend to acceptance of its playfulness beyond its use value. Karen Moon views miniature structures – and not only the obvious candidate of the architectural model – as deserving more positive comment. For her the small scale does not speak of closure, reduction and the culturally invalid, but a trajectory of possibility, excitement and openness.
Models hold further attractions for architects. They free them from the pressures of reality, the need for practicality or even realism. They embody as Toyo Ito holds `a labyrinth of reality and fiction’. Models can be singularly functional working tools, but they also offer the opportunity to experiment with imaginary ideals, impractical or unbuildable. They offer creation without responsibility, a release from the real world.42 Few who write about architectural models have failed to mention their mysterious appeal. Architects’ models are, after all, miniatures and have been favourites at expositions for centuries.43 Reducing the scale has the unaccountable effect of concentrating and intensifying the model’s significance. By the same account it also increases its value… The jewel, like the model, holds value disproportion to its size. Considerable amounts of money are spent on both – the Great Model of St Paul’s for instance cost as much as a three story house.44 Moon identifies equally positive qualities in small items and structures that have no relationship to professional practice. Miniatures “intrigue” even if non-practice based models could be regarded by some as, in the words of Helen Buttery, “the male equivalent of netting purses or embroidering fire screens”.45 Moon does not seem fazed or threatened by the hint of the meretricious or trivial in meaning or identity that haunts Stewart’s value judgements. Nor does Moon see any great difference – except of chosen physical format – between male and female interaction with the small-scale. “Battlefields and model railways have traditionally been the male counterparts of the dollshouse generally preferred by girls, and neither loses its charm for adults.”46 For Moon a lack of practice-based functionality does not alienate professional architects from the dollshouse, rather it is an “object, strongly favoured by architects”,47 not the least because it offers opportunities for “unencumbered play”.48 The long-standing modernist fear of the small clouds Stewart’s discussion and informs her negative responses. Modernism has traditionally kept faith with the large scale and sweeping as expressing authority, maturity and insight whilst
The architectural model is a representation on a smaller scale than reality. It can sometimes be fanciful embroidery over reality... harbouring concomitant anxieties about the small as lacking credibility.49 “Tininess in art has always been anathema to modernists.”50 Despite her own (presumed) post modernist stance, Stewart validates the big on clearly modernist terms as revolutionary, boundary/paradigm-shattering, threatening to the conservative and the encumbered. Whereas the miniature promises a fetishised containment and order, the gigantic, through the grotesque, takes its place amongst moments of cultural becoming and extension, as in carnival and rituals of inversion.51 “[T]he gigantic moves from the occupation of the body’s immediate space to transcendence (a transcendence which allows the eye only imperfect and partial vision) to abstraction.” The display modes of the gigantic “ma[k]e public”.52 “Just as we have emphasised the relation of the miniature to the invention of the personal, so must we finally emphasise the relation of the giant to the invention of the collective.”53 On such terms the small and the miniature can only fail to register. “For the system of signification works by means of a rhetoric of significance; to be marginal to that system is to be cast from the centre (authenticity, sincerity, consensus), to live the abstraction of the secondhand.”54
As well as modernism’s concern that size does matter, the association of the miniature with the child-like also cause anxieties. In a broader context the material culture associated with the world of childhood is seen as limited by precedent and expectation. The significance of small buildings could be delimited not only by their small scale, but by their association with the intellectually limited world of childhood’s culture. These anxieties around the small certainly have a cultural basis. For example Japan apparently does not have the anxiety about the small and the childlike expressed in Western culture, according to Donald Ritchie. Whilst “in the West we are admonished by the highest authority ‘to put away childish things’”,55 by necessity of finite resources of available space, Japan has to deploy the compact and miniaturised in various disciplines, including architecture, at all opportunities to provide for more people and their needs.56 There are also some intriguing contradictions when considering the miniature which thread through professional literature. If the small can be read by some theorists as a priori antimodern, if a post-enlightenment construct of modernity is seen as a touchstone to cogent and mature thinking then this line
of thinking is seriously interrupted by the architectural model. Whilst the status of the small has been read as ambiguous and negative, this value system is overturned by the status of the architectural model. The architectural model is a representation on a smaller scale than reality. It can sometimes be fanciful embroidery over reality, yet was widely believed – as discussed above – in the early twentieth century to be an aid and an ally in the cause of modernism and was frequently employed as such. Stewart has made a vast generalisation when she assumes that smallness invariably means banality, a suppression and reduction of meaning and erasure of content. If the small is believed to be devoid of all but the most ritualised and stereotyped meanings, then working on a small scale can only deliver a meretricious display of technique for its own sake and offer nothing creatively or intellectually that can not be done more effectively on a one to one scale. Yet this essay has provided multiple examples of the small, the miniature that have either a demonstrable cultural validity or have a viable function in working life. Postmodernism contested the truism that a functional purpose or trajectory towards translation into the full-scale and real is the only plausible
The model has always had partly a state of liminiality sitting between these worlds of fantasy and factually-grounded. identity of the model.57 Practitioners working today aver the validity and richness of a non-functional relationship to the small scale structure, untarnished by commissions or workplace tasks.58 At personal and direct level, the model is cherished – even in practice and especially in the context of selling a project to a client or entering a competition – on account of its theatricality and its charismatic qualities. A whole range of skills from meticulous handwork to virtual reality programming are deployed on behalf of the model and the project that it represents. The attractions of the small scale threaded through the catalogue essays of the first Homo Faber catalogue Modelling Ideas alongside its exploration of the role of models in the working processes of leading Australian architects.
This essay draws upon material presented at the 2007 SAH conference Pittsburgh Pennsylvania April 2007 under a travel grant from the Beverly Willis Architecture Foundation
As said above the discourse is still evolving and there has been little attempt to unpick – or document in detail the mechanics – these fairly broad contradictions. This essay has segued through a wide range of themes, set against a broadly historical overview of architectural models. Rather than attempting to force a firm resolution, the essay throws up ideas to indicate possible affinities and resonances in familiar and
unfamiliar issues and across disciplines and contexts. It moves freely through history, cultural commentary and ideas drawn from professional architectural texts. If the essay has merely set up its own series of convenient and fictitious strawman arguments, its dichotomies of play and practice, male and female, valid and invalid, large and small, dollshouse versus architectural model, baroque versus enlightenment, emotions versus analysis, ornamental artefacts versus practice models versus toys, its selection of texts to quote, it has done so as an act of textual modelling to indicate how these ideas could sustain far greater scrutiny than is usually devoted to them. One can contrast the anxieties tracked by Susan Stewart to Stafford’s proactive embrace and exploration of the hybrid and the adaptive. Stafford is post modernist to the degree that she makes no overriding judgment about the mix of intellectuality and emotional sensation that she tracks. Firstly she indicates that it has a de facto validity in that these elements have always been associated with the supposedly rational intellectual workings of the Western European mind. Secondly there is an implication that not only can we find shameful (but engaging) skeletons in the genealogical closet of modern analytical professionalism in the sciences such as the public displays of dying birds (themselves indicative of myriads of fictional doomed innocents in eighteenth century culture from Clarissa Marlowe to Cecile de Varens to Greuze’s Girl with a Broken Pitcher) deprived of oxygen to prove scientific theories or the celebrity medical quacks and occultists of the eighteenth century such as Alessandro Cagliostro, Franz Anton Mesmer and Dr James Graham who promoted better fertility (and more) if one slept in his magic “Celestial Bed” that was the talk of London at his Temple of Health, but that our concepts of knowledge have far more random, wayward and essentially arbitrary basis than we like to believe, not so far removed from these eighteenth century fantasies as we smugly assume. The model has always had partly a state of liminality sitting between these worlds of fantasy and factuallygrounded. It often is capable of marking a clear and relative honest point of transition between one and the other, perhaps even indicating that both these polarities are in fact closely and variously connected.
FOOTNOTES 1 Karen Moon, Modelling Messages: The Architect and the Model, New York: Monacelli Press, p 11. 2 Ibid, pp. 6, 18.
Tool, Fantasy or Document? Early Twentieth Century Dollshouses,
to nineteenth century culture generally and in particular the importance
Unpublished Paper, Society of Architectural Historians Annual Meeting 2007
of historic precedent and the sometimes free and anarchic mixing of these
precedents in German Imperial architecture. There were a number of
13 See “Baroque Doll’s World” http://www.deutschland.de/sw/ sw.php?lang=2&&sw_id=5 [viewed January 2007] Official “Mon Plaisir”
similar products. Such art historically-minded sets often contained detailed plans to ensure that canonical rules were upheld, though the possibility for subversive macaroni formats could never be precluded once the bricks
website with virtual tour of the houses http://www.arnstadt.de/content/
[viewed 2 August 2007]
kulttour/monplaisir.html [viewed January 2007]
4 Percival Marshall, Wonderful Models: The Romance of the World in
14 Jean Latham, Dolls’ Houses: a Personal Choice, London: Adam and
modernist neutrality of early Lego – recent Lego is commodified and tied to
Miniature and a Complete Encyclopaedia of Modelcraft – Comprising the
Charles Black 1969, p. 99.
function and periodicity in the wake of Mattel’s changes of the toy trade
Construction and Use of Representative And Working Models in Advertising, Architecture and Building, Civil And Mechanical Engineering, Naval
15 Ibid, p. 188.
were in the hands of the domestic builder. One could contrast this language with the machine aesthetic of Erector and Meccano or the Scandinavian
in the 950s and 1960s, so that many Lego sets need to bought to gain a versatile range of components.
Architecture and Railway Engineering and the Application of Electricity to
16 Moon, op cit, pp. 62, 74.
their Operation: Also the Romance of Historical Models and the Modern
17 Ibid, pp. 38-43.
the Tomizaya Exhibition Space, Shibuya Tokyo 1990-1992. One notes that
and as an Essential Element in Education, London: Percival Marshall and Co,
18 I would argue that though akin to architectural models, these buildings
Lego has been coopted by Polish sculptor Zbigniew Libera for his Lego
1928, Moon, op cit, pp. 43-46, 81-82.
have a rationale that is distinct from models that are used as a medium to
Concentration Camp 1996, which again indicates the capacity of small
Development of Model Engineering as an Aid to Invention, as a Recreation
27 Meccano itself has been co-opted by Richard Rogers for the model of
develop or test ideas or the models that invite interaction with their internal
scale buildings to speak of larger narratives and metaphors, particularly the
5 Ibid, p. 1.
and external structure from the dollshouse to the competition model.
manner in which the construction set seems to rapidly expand to reference
6 Susan Stewart, On Longing: narratives of the miniature, the gigantic, the
Certainly the thinking through architectural construction and or innovation
concepts of the state apparatus and social structure and also the nexus of
souvenir, the collection, Durham (USA): Duke University Press, 1993.
has already happened in the completed and full sized original and the
architectural representation and art projects. The Lego Concentration Camp
documentary model as homage follows the precedent set by another
was banned from the Polish Pavilion at the 1997 Venice Biennale, although
preexisting full scale construction.
the New York Jewish Museum has acquired some elements of the series and
7 Marshall, op cit, p. 2. 8 Stewart, op cit, p. 60. 9 Marshall, op cit, p. 2. 10 Ibid, p. 1. 11 Barbara Stafford, Devices of Wonder : From the World in a Box to Images on a Screen, Los Angeles, CA : Getty Research Institute, c2001. Artful Science: Enlightenment Entertainment and the Eclipse of Visual
regards it to be a valid cultural and artistic metaphor and not necessarily 19 Marshall, op cit, Moon, op cit, pp. 43-46, 81-82.
anti-Semitic. The Lego Concentration Camp also speaks of the normalising
20 Writing in Pencil Points, 20 July 1939 qtd. in Moon, op cit, p. 45.
of repressive hierarchies in many regimes even in the present day.
21 J Price Nunn, “Models and Their Making”, Builder 162 June 26 1942,
28 Moon, op cit pp. 21-29.
qtd. In Moon, op cit, p. 553.
29 Claire Caroline and Robert Wilson (eds), Fantasy Architecture 1500-2036,
22 Marshall, op cit, p. 296.
London: Haywood Gallery in Association with the Royal British Institute of
Education, Cambridge Massachusetts: MIT Press 1994.
23 Peers, Bratz Pad, op cit pp. 292-293.
12 See Juliette Peers, ‘The Dollshouse as Architectural Fantasy and
24 Wilkinson was the last Royal Herald of pre-independence Ireland
Architectural Reportage: The Bratz Pad as Case Study’ SAHANZ 2005,
25 Peers, Tool, Fantasy or Document? op cit.
Celebration. 26 One could think particularly of the Richter bricks, a nineteenth century
Architects, 2004. 30 Johan Huizinga, Homo Ludens, New York: Beacon Press this edition 1971. 31 http://www.vam.ac.uk/vastatic/microsites/1240_buildings_in_miniature/ [viewed 2 August 2007]
It’s a Small World? The contested cultural meaning of the small expressed
German toy loved by children the world around that contained many parts
through narratives of miniature buildings, Contested Terrains SAHANZ
that were pre-designed to include architectural historical codes in their
2006, Society of Architectural Historians of Australia and New Zealand 23rd
decoration and shape. The unavoidability of revival detailing in playing with
33 Diane Baini emailed comment to author 1 August 2007.
Annual Conference Perth Western Australia.
the bricks firstly indicates the importance of the gothic and the classical
34 Qtd. in Andreas Papadakis, (ed.), Dolls Houses, London: Architectural
32 Timothy Massuger emailed comment to author 1 August 2007.
Design, 1983 p. 6. 35 Ibid p. 8. 36 Exhibition brief for The Idea as Model, qtd. by Richard Pommer, ‘The Idea of “Idea as Model”’, Kenneth Frampton, Silvia Kolbowski (eds.), Idea as Model, New York: Institute for Architecture and Urban Studies and Rizzoli International, 1981p. 3. 37 Papadakis, op cit, Editorial p. 4. 38 Robyn Walton, ‘The Woman-Object’s Glorious New Clothes’, Colloquy, 11 (2006), p. 233. 39 Stewart, op cit, p. 48. 40 Ibid, p. 60. 41 Ibid, p. 60. 42 Moon, op cit, p. 22. 43 ibid, p. 70. 44 ibid, p. 73. 45 ibid, p. 73. 46 ibid, p. 70. 47 ibid, p. 70. 48 ibid, p. 22. 49 Ralph Rugoff, ‘Homeopathic Strategies’, in At the Threshold of the Visible: Miniscule and Smallscale Art 1964-1996, New York: Independent Curators Incorporated, 1997 pp. 11-12. 50 Ibid, p. 15. 51 Stewart, op cit, pp.106-107. 52 Ibid, p. 102. 53 Ibid, p. 164. 54 Ibid, pp. 164-5. 55 Donald Ritchie, The Image Factory: Fads and Fantasies in Japan, London: Reaktion Books, 2003, p. 54. 56 Ibid, p. 54.
57 Peers, Bratz Pad, op cit, pp 291-293 and Heinrich Klotz, (ed), Post Modern Visions: Drawings, Paintings and Models by Contemporary Architects, New York: Abbeville Press, 1985 58 E.g. Andrea Mina, ‘Mina’ture: Why are Cuttlefish Tickled Pink?, in Burry, Downton, Mina and Ostwald (eds) Homo Faber, Melbourne: SIAL pp. 19-23.
CHIEF INVESTIGATORS Professor Mark Burry Professor Peter Downton Assoc. Professor Andrea Mina Professor Michael J. Ostwald RESEARCHERS Charles Anderson POST GRADUATES Sarah Benton Jerome Frumar M. Hank Haeusler Rory Hyde Martina Mrongovius Paul Nicholas Tim Schork
MANUAL IDEAS Lecturers: Professor Peter Downton Assoc. Professor Andrea Mina Ahron Best Katie Collins Bethany Daniel Lauren Goodman Vaughan Howard Takako Kajiya Bradley Kilsby Mary-Jane Jean Catherine Jones Rebecca Law Melanie Muraca Jonathan Ong Myvanwy Purwo Elizabeth Schofield Anchalee Sroison Eric Yang RE-MAKING Lecturer: Craig Douglas Robyn Barlow Steven Hatzopoulos Kim Ho Hyun Monique Jones Michael Kirwan Chantelle Mathews Ulrika Mueller Caitlin Perry Lucy Ryrie Vanessa Soopryan David Tatengelo Fiona Whitehouse
POISE Lecturers: Professor Mark Burry Dr Juliette Peers Alison Fairley
THICKENED GROUND Lecturers: Kate Church Bridget Keane Rosalea Monacella
Michael Asboeck Diane Baini Panlikit Boonaychai Carlos Bueno David Dana Julian Faelli Lauren Gillard Anette Gunstensen Ricky Lau Hin Yau Kin Li Jarrod Manevski Timothy Massuger Jesse Newstadt Tze Ek Ng Ben Oliver Traz Poon Ingrid Riddervold Andria Skoumbridis Phill Smith Caitlin Smooker Greg Teague Camilla Zanzanaini
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