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CALLUM MORRISON Student No: 590473

Semester 1/2012

Group 7

Examining my final model from module 1 I began considering possible methods that could be used to turn it into a working digital model. This consideration was no short process and resulted in me spending a great deal of time researching and looking at examples for ideas and inspiration. The reason I struggled so much with my model was that there was no single plane which you could examine it on. So, when attempting to dissect it into cross sections or trace a path to sweep along there was no easy or obvious way to go about this due to its multi-planar design.



Despite all the possible complications I decided to use cross sectional dissection (contouring) combined with orthographic referencing to digitize my model.

I began by drawing contours on my clay model at 0.5cm intervals. This is quite a small sampling interval, but I thought it was necessary due to the number of curves and complexity of my model. One other adjustment I made to accommodate the multi- planar form of my model was to have the contours follow the curves around, rather than have them all orientated in one direction (fig. 1). After the contours had been drawn on I went about taking a set of orthographic images to use as references for my contours (fig. 2). It was imperative that all angles were captured as these images should allow me to orientate my two-dimensional contours around the curved forms in my design in Rhino’s three-dimensional workspace.

Fig. 1 Fig. 3

The next stage in the digitizing process was to dissect my model along the contours I had drawn. I found these contours could more or less be grouped into four individual segments that form the model as a whole. This segmentation could prove to be easier when modelling the form in Rhino, so I decided to keep the contours arranged in these four segments (fig.3).

Fig. 2

Moving into Rhino I began by tracing my contours from the birds eye image I had taken of them. Immediately, I was met with what would be an endless raft of problems. I realised that the contour sections were not completely flat shapes but the segments that formed the curve were actually slightly angled, thus leading to a parallax error when tracing these segments. Sadly, there wasn’t a lot I could do to resolve this issue so I attempted to take this error into account and adjust accordingly. Once I had finally traced my contours I set up a box of my reference images (see below) and began trying to map my contours to these references.

Fig. 1

Fig. 2

The first loft of my contours. You can see how the small inaccuracies and estimations I was forced to make in coming to this stage have accumulated and the resulting errors can be seen as a visual manifestation on the left. However, the basic form is still evident and given the complexity of the original form, and my inexperience with Rhino, it is appears to be a good start point for future development.



Using my orthographic images as a reference for contours proved to be reasonably successful. However, much like the image of the contours, my photos were not all at precise right angles to the model so I was again forced to allow for this, adding a further source of error into my digitalization.

When I finally lofted the contours, the errors showed, with the resulting form bearing only a basic resemblance to my model (fig.1). So, to fix this I was forced to manually adjust my contours to loft a better form. Eventually, after a painstakingly long time, ending up with the form shown long the bottom (fig. 2). Looking back on the digitization process, in hindsight, I wish I had spent more time perfecting my model and ensuring my reference images were taken at exact right angles to their respective planes. I now realise that whilst, individually, these appear to be only small errors and uncertainties, they very quickly add up resulting in a compromise in the integrity of the final form.

Taking my previous model I decided to do a quick panelling experiment to ensure that the current form would work before preceding with the final refinement and smoothing of it. The result of this experiment was a long way off what I had hoped for. I attempted a simple 2D (fig. 2) and 3D (fig. 3) panel with the resulting forms a disastrous entanglement of shapes. So, I set about discovering the cause of this problem and remodelling my form to avoid it before continuing.

Fig. 2



After a degree of experimentation, and trial and error, I found there were two main issues with my model: • The layout of the grid points (fig.1) • The base in the centre of the circle was left as a “naked edge” so was attempting to join with the point of the spire (fig.3)

The Layout of the Grid Points

If we examine fig.1 it can be seen the grid points are spread over the surface of my form with a lack of order or consistency to them. There is also a lack of control points around the front base area, this should explain the lack of definition it has in the 2D panel.

Fig. 1

To remedy the distribution of grid points I decided to remodel the base area, without having the points originate from a central node but come around in more sweeping motion.

Fig. 4

Fig. 3

The Base

I originally set about closing off the base object but then noticed that having the base as part of the main object meant it would be panelled just the same, which I did not want. So, I decided to remove the base and add it later if it was needed to make the model stand up. When remodelling the base I took the issue with grid points into consideration and tried sweeping a contour around the curve of the base. This worked far better, producing a much cleaner and better defined form (fig. 4).

After remodelling the form of my design the next stage was to refine this form so that it may be easily panelled. The first obstacle I had to overcome to achieve this was joined my four segments. As mentioned previously, my final form is constructed of four segments all fitted together. Whilst this was convenient during construction, when it is panelled as sections there are gaps in the panelling and inconsistencies in the number and size of panels (fig.1). Sadly, much like the rest of the digitizing process, this was not as simple as it sounds.

Fig. 1


When I attempted to join the surfaces I found it had no affect on the panelling grid and the only way I could seemlessly join my segments was using the “mergesrf” command. However, this command matched the vertices on the surface to each other and my vertices were not aligned, thus the resulting join was a twisted mess. To overcome this hurdle I began to edit the control points on my surfaces and gradually began to line up the vertices on the surfaces (fig. 2). This also allowed me to fiddle around with the rest of the surface smoothing out creases and making slight modifications to the form of the model. After I had polished off and merged the four segments I noticed that there were still inconsistencies in the distribution of the vertices along the surface, resulting in an uneven grid. So, I decided to “rebuild” the model using trial and error to determine what number of points on the “U” and “V” formed the best grid (the development of the model can be seen below, fig. 3)

Fig.Fig. 2 2 Fig. 3

After the extensive process carried out to reach this point I am reasonably happy with the final product. The digitized model, I believe, ended up as a good representation of my original form, though there was a great degree of trial and error involved rather than a watertight stepped out process. These challenges I faced did highlight some of the possible limitations of digital modelling, but its strengths also shone through, in that I was able to fiddle around and try these modifications to my form easily and relatively quickly.


Fig. 2

Final Model with Grid Points

Given the difficulty I had digitizing the model I thought it would be prudent to make a quick mock up of its basic form and experiment with possible construction styles and materials to see whether it is actually buildable, simultaneously seeing how it sits as an actual physical model. Right from the outset I realised that the major challenge I would face in construction would be getting the model to hold its shape. To overcome this challenge, for my prototype construction, I decided to build the model out of number small tubular paper sections that I then attached to a wire frame (fig. 1).

Fig. 2

Finished Fig. 2 Prototype

Fig. 1



Using the wire as a central frame I found served two purposes. It allowed me to mold the ruff shape of my form before worrying about it in its entirety. Secondly, it served as a base structure that allowed me to easily add the body of the form onto it (fig. 2). Using an internal skeletal structure should definitely be considered when I move to the construction phase. Examining my finished prototype I found two main problems with the design: • The stability of the model. If I had the spire as far back as originally planned the model would not be able to stand up. This could have been due to the relative weight of the wire to the paper but nevertheless should be kept in mind for the future and a counter weight might possibly need to be inserted into the base. • There was limited room on my model to fit a foot through (as per the original concept). However, I am finding the model almost looks more effective as a freestanding object than it would with a foot through it. Which ever I choose, the prototype has shown me that a quick scale mock up allows far better assessment of the pragmatics of the model and should continue to be used through out the construction process to avoid unnecessary time wastage due to lack of Fig. 3 testing.

Moving into the panelling phase of the project I decided to examine a precedent that demonstrates how parametric modelling can enhance a design.“Solar Shift” is a proposal for an exterior light installation by PROJECTiONE LLC. The concept of this installation is to create a representation of the suns path through Evansville, Indiana that is communicated not only through its form but also through light and how it interacts with the viewer.

Fig. 1


If we consider the evolution of the installations form (fig. 1), we are able to see a process very similar to that which I have already undertaken. The original solar path data has been examined and abstracted to create a digitized surface. This digitizes surface has then been modified by parametric design software to create the triangular surface we see as the final design. It is this last step that is of most interest to me, especially how the addition of panels has turned a theoretical and unpractical design into something that can quite manageably be constructed; I actually find the panelised form more aesthetically appealing than the original surface. It is this transformation and grounding of a concept into the physical world that should act as a benchmark for me as I attempt to accomplish the same feat in the next stage of my design. On a further note, “Solar Shift” also makes effective use of light as a means to communicate its conceptual grounding. The panels all operate as individual lights with their own sensors. These sensors pick up movement and adjust their brightness in relation to the movement of the people inhabiting the space. Collectively, this will appear to a passer-by as the sun moving across the sky. This use of lighting demonstrates an effective way in which light may be used as a catalyst to form in visual communication and, even more specifically to my design, serves as an example of how individual components may work to together to form a whole and adapt to stimuli in the environment.

After analysing the panelling process used on “Solar Shift� I began experimenting with how panelling could be used to enhance my own work. I began with just looking at basic 2D panelling forms to see how the panels interacted with my model and to familiarise myself with the process. I experimented with using different grid densities that changed how well defined my form was (left side higher point density, right lower). I probably slightly preferred the lower density grid renderings as they were not so complex, and hence, should be more practical when it comes to the construction stage.

Basic 2D Tri Basic Paneling

Fig. 2

Basic 2D Triangular Paneling



Basic 2D Angled Box Paneling

Basic 2D Tri Basic Paneling

Continuing my experimentation with panelling tools I began to look at 3D panelling. However, I didn’t find this three dimensional panelling worked as well as the 2D panelling. I think this was because of the increase in complexity of the 3D panelling, and given that my form is already quite complex, I found that the 3D panelling detracted from the form itself. Having said that, I did like the effect created by the finned edges and would be interested to see light reacts as it pass through it.

Basic 3D Wedge Paneling

Fig. 2



Basic 3D Box Paneling with Fin Edges

After my experimentation with both basic 2D and 3D panelling I began to try my own custom panelling. I decided to be a bit less pragmatic with this experimentation, trying forms that would be impractical to make, but are aesthetically interesting. I was extremely interested by the patterns and textures created by the panelling and how light might interact with it.

3D Panelling- The circular appearance ties in nicely with the form as a whole.


C U S T O M E X P E R I M E N TAT I O N 2D Panelling with Finned EdgesThere is a sense of organised chaos with this panelling, that I find both intriguing and slightly disconcerting at the same time.

2D Panelling with Offset Boarders- This is probably my favourite design. I like the contrast between the base and the spiral, especially how it is a gradual change; picks up on idea of adaption.

3D Panelling- I like the ruggedness of the surface, it gives a sense of conflict and unease.

Fig. 3

Examining my panelled models so far, I feel there has been a loss of the central concept that I strived so hard to create in module 1. I find the uniformity of the panelling too harmonious in appearance causing the metaphorical antagonistic conflict between the natural and man made to become lost. So, in an attempt to steer my design back towards this underlying concept I went back and examined the reading “The Shape of Things” (Ball 2011).



In his text Ball explores the visual associations we make to the natural and man made. He suggests that we are inclined to associate curves and more random/ organic forms with the natural world and more rigid and angular forms with the man made. If we consider how this can be applied to my design then an antagonistic conflict between the angular and curvaceous could prove effective. This conflict between curves and regularity, or the natural and man made, could be communicated in my model by panelling the model in different sections. This is where having constructed my model in sections may actually prove useful in that I could experiment with panelling the base curve in an angular fashion and then contrasting it with the accentuated curves of the spiral. I used panelling tools to try achieve this effect, some examples of my experimentation are shown in fig. 1.

The images above and below are exerts from Ball’s article and serve to demonstrate the contrast between natural and man made forms. Note the organic and flowing nature of the shell compared the angular more symmetrical star.

I also think that how light interacts with the form can be used to portray this concept and I need to be careful I don’t become to focused on trying to achieve everything with the physical form of my design but also realise the potential that light has to convey ideas. An examination of precedents should be conducted to further my knowledge in this area.

Fig. 1

Considering how light may influence my project I began looking for inspiration in installation artwork involving light and its interaction with form. Of the examples I looked at it was David Trubridge, a fellow New Zealander, whose work I have actually seen exhibited back home that I found offered the most inspiration. More specifically I found his piece the “Three Baskets of Knowledge” the most interesting, especially how he had used different densities of materials to achieve different effects.


THREE BASKETS OF KNOWLEDGE When I first saw this installation I was amazed by how sharp the light was, it wasn’t until I looked at it more closely that I realised there was a thin transparent material draping down to the wood patterning that was creating the sharp edge. I found this to be a great example of how materials can enhance design and create effects that trick the eye. I should definitely consider using varying transparencies with my design. The other facet of this work that I found intriguing was the textures produced by the shadows. Not only are these shadows intricate in their patterning but they are also not confined by dimensionality with the shadows appearing as a different and unique 2D image, when compared to the baskets. This playing with shadows and transparency provides a far larger pallet of ideas that I can explore with my panelling.

After my examination of Trubridge’s work I decided to have my own play around with using light to create patterns, shapes and distort perspective. I began with my first prototype and experimented with how the light passed through the circular rings and the effects it created. I then progressed on to exploring how perspective may be challenged with light and how I could try and integrate these factors into my panelling. My second experiment, attempting to replicate the distortion of perspective that Trubridge achieved, was useful in that it allowed me to realise that there is only a certain degree to which you can predict how light will interact with an object. I noticed that even small variations in the orientation of my paper patterning produced large changes in the projected forms. This gave me a realise appreciation for Trubridge’s work and how he managed these complications with his chosen medium, as well as cautioning me from attempting to achieve too much through manipulation of light.

Fig. 3

Fig.Fig. 2 2

If we now examine fig. 3, what I find intriguing about this image is how despite the flat appearance of the paper patterning the projected form appear to grow exponentially in size and decrease in intensity. This gives the impression of depth in what is otherwise a flat object, tricking the viewer with the distortion of ones perceived perspective. It was this affect on the viewer that Trubridge achieves so perfectly in his installation.


Using my original prototype as the basis for my experimentation worked well as I was already familiar with its form. One of the main things I noticed in my experimentation with this form is how important the placement of the light is (fig.1). Placed incorrectly the light appeared to almost work against the form. Based on this observation, I think I will need to use multiple lights inside my model for the final design. One of the interesting effects I was able to achieve with my experimentation was the appearance of layering. If we examine fig. 2 you are able to see the different intensities of light projected back onto the wall, as well as the variation of scale . The combination of these two effects, I feel, leads to a sense of complexity and layering that I would like to attempt to integrate into my future design developments.

Fig. 1

Fig. 2

Fig. 3

Given my re-evaluation of the direction I want my design to go and the preceding precedent research and prototype experimentation I can now start to narrow down my exploration of ideas and develop them into a more specific outcome. From the above process I have come to the conclusion that my design must attempt to meet as many of the following criteria as possible: • Communicate a conflict between the base and spiral or the model, possibly through use of contrast in panelling (curves vs angularity). • Retain a degree of simplicity in the panelling so as to not distract from the form itself. • Communicate a change or adaption as you progress of the model. • Interact effectively with light to enhance the communication of the underlying concept • Keep in mind that the model actually has to be built so a degree of pragmatism must be maintained. This form meets a number of the criteria above, however, I still feel it is too uniform. This uniformity does, however, create a nice flow throughout the model and conveys the concept of adaption nicely with the gradual reduction in the number of cutout panels. The question remains however, is a good flow the message I am after? This is supposed to communicate an antagonistic relationship, intertwined in conflict, not a harmonious one. So on this criteria I think it fall too far short.

I feel this form very effectively communicates my underlying concepts. The contrast between the square cutouts on the base, which has an almost structure like appearance, to the curves of the spire is the message I was hoping to convey with the panelling. My only criticism of this form would be how boxy the spire is. Some refining of grid point placement could possibly fix this.



My final form is a refinement of the second development on the previous page. I decided to go with this form because it communicated my concept so effectively. My final form is slightly more complex than this original development with a greater density of squares and with random sizing on the insetting of edges. I found this randomness conveyed the conflict better than the regular pattern in the development.



Overall I am pretty happy with the final form. The only change I might possibly make during fabrication would being to reduce the number of cutout surfaces to enhance the light effects and increase the stability of the base and possibly try having even more variety in the panel sizing, with the base ones being possibly larger (more like the development).

Fig. 2





Given the important role the consideration of lighting played in the design process, we must now examine how my final form interacts with light. Overall I am very happy with the interaction between my form and light. I think there is a nice blend of inset edges and full panels that in turn create a nice range of shadows and projected light forms (bottom right). For future development fewer inset panels of the base could possibly emphasis the projected light forms, due to there being less of them, but this is a minor concern.



A render Fig. 2 showing the model with both interior lighting A render showing the possible light form projections from two interior lights Fig. 3

After remodelling the form of my design the next stage was to refine this form so that it may be easily panelled. The first the rest of the digitizing process, this was not as simple as it sounds.

PERSONAL REFLECTION Despite the endless complications I had with Rhino I still strangely enjoyed the challenges of digitizing my model. And whilst I did find Rhino limiting in the construction of my form, on hindsight when I go to construct it, it will probably be far easier than it would have been otherwise. If we reflect on my previous reflection I challenged myself to maintain a balance between the abstract and literal. I believe I have managed to maintain this balance, though I did falter during the middle of this module, my re-evaluation brought me back on track leaving me with a form that is both abstract in its form but retains a literal link to my underlying analogy. What I did struggle with this module was maintaining a balance between aesthetics and what was a strong representation of my underlying concept. For the next module I must be careful that I do not make decisions purely based on what looks best but remember all the conceptual grounding underpinning each design.



It has been said that the 21st Century is the digital era. Everything around us it moving from analog based systems to digital ones, including the system that concerns us, design. It is the apparent metamorphosis of design from a historically analog based practice to a digital industry that has created a conflict of opinions as to whether this change should be held in check or allowed to continue its exponential growth in popularity. This divide in opinion is spread over a gradient of points of view with people oscillating between the two extremes of the end of digital or analog design all together. After the experience of this second module I have begun to form my own opinions on this issue of digital design vs analog design and can start to workout where I sit on this gradient of views. From my experience in module 2 I have found digital modelling to be both a blessing and a curse. It has allowed the production of a number of variations in designs in a very short period of time that has lead to an enhanced development of my design. This aspect of digital design is, I believe, the main appeal as it also offers such a diverse range of options to a designer, from elaborate experimentation, such as some of my panelling, to precise modification and refinement, it offers such an ability to develop and rethink ideas that it has seemingly optimised the design process. However, whilst it does have the potential to optimise the design process it can also work to its detriment. In the preceding pages it can be seen I had no end of problems with Rhino and digitizing my model and I ended up spending hours fiddling with control points and vertices to make my design panelable. Why I mention this is that for this entire time my sole focus was to create a model that worked within the constraint of Rhino, I lost perspective on my design and concept and became totally focused on creating a working model in Rhino. This loss of perspective was to the detriment of my design and I was forced to re-evaluate my current direction and backtrack through the design process. Through the examination of this experience of mine it can be seen than digital design has the ability to greatly enhance and aid in the design process but can lead designers into the trap of forgetting the broader context that this design must fit into and lead to a loss of understanding and perspective on the form one is actually creating, viewing it as set of points and vertices, rather than a real life object. If we now return to our gradient of views I believe I it is fair to say that I sit pretty firmly in the middle of the debate between analog and digital design. I do not believe either, on their own, will lead to good design. Rather I believe that digital design should be a tool used to enhance the ideas produced by analog means rather than become a platform for conceptual development. Yasha Grobman, an architect, describes digital architecture as not “a true revolution, but rather as a stage in the natural evolution (of design that has been) influenced by the development of the computer.” This statement I believe encapsulates my point of view that digital design is not a replacement for analog methods but rather an enhancement of it. REFERENCE- Grobman, Y 2003, ‘The Digital Era- Revolution or Evolution’, Architecture of Israel Quarterly, October, pp. 10-12.

Module 2  

Virtual Environmenyts

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