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Learning Portfolio Iterations and Discoveries

Christopher Harrell Architecture 21


Contents Preface 3 Dimensional Structures 1st-5th Constructions Reflections and Conclusion Discoveries 6th Construction Reflections and Conclusion Architectural Collages 1st-5th Constructions Reflections and Conclusions

Final Mobile Project Assessment Questions


PREFACE A designer asks himself what inspires his work. Light is the source of all things visual and is a strong element driving my work. It creates energy and gives birth to structures and patterns that repeat in unique beautiful ways. The natural gradient that light creates with shadows and density animate our environments. As a designer I hope to emulate natures natural architecture as well modernize my work by combining multiple ideas in a simply sophisticated way. Who am I as a person and why it is I do what it is I do have been questions I have asked myself this semester. Through design, I wish to communicate characteristics about myself and to challenge my craft to become much more than I am already. I have always been interested in architecture and design. From an early age I would design elaborate mazes on graph paper. My friend and I in third grade would exchange our mazes that had many corridors leading to dragon pits, moats, treasure chests and the like. I could create anything on a sheet of graph paper and it was my playground. I knew that I wanted to be an architect in fifth grade after we had to design and build a bridge that could support ten pounds. I enjoyed using the drafting tools and creating any type of bridge I wanted. I started drawing building and houses that summer. Design and art are apart of me. It is the way I express my thoughts and ideas. It is a way for me to mediate and bring meaning to my life. Throughout this semester I have had many breakthroughs in the way I think and design. I have developed a new skill set to use when approaching a new design. This new skill set has helped me identify pit falls when designing as well as new techniques to use to develop an idea fully. My inspiration this semester has been many things. I am the type of person that does not like to be characterized by just one or two things because everything effects my work. From shadows cast from the bright sun, the intricacies of plant life to emotions and the way objects make you feel. The objects I have created this semester have great emotion as I tend to be a more sensitive creature. Everything effects me in some way. I draw energy from everything around me good and bad and I am beginning to understand how to funnel this energy into my work. Great mile stones have been reached this semester. It has been enjoyable, stressful, enlightening and rewarding. I am blessed to have been apart of this section.


The first iteration was about exploration. Inspired by plants and light, I decided to emulate plant like curvilinear shapes and the repetitive patterns of their structures. I imagined a microscopic view of plant cells and was enamored with their order and detail. This is shown in the linear and circular elements repeated over and over to create the structure. Light creates everything in our visual worlds and inspired by gradients and contrast that light creates, the amebic discs are design to display a beautiful shadow of the structure behind.

From the critic and the feed back in class my structure needed to be free standing. I need to lose the base that my light sculpture is adhered to. For the next iteration I am to concentrate on making the piece three dimensional.

A Well Crafted Thing of Beauty Iteration #1


A Well Crafted Thing of Beauty Iteration #1


A Well Crafted Thing of Beauty Iteration #2


For the second iteration I kept all the elements from the previous iteration but just reordered them. The linear pieces of wire combined with the circular tips are massed together in a disorderly way. This is contrasted by the smooth rounded shapes attached to the structure. The translucent colors give the piece a calm happy appearance. It is playful.


I wanted to explore more structures and reflective qualities for my iterations. I really enjoyed using light in my past two Iterations and sought out more reflective materials to use. What was lost in this iteration was the complexity of the first two. This iteration became pedestrian and boring. Uninteresting.

A Well Crafted Thing of Beauty Iteration #3


A Well Crafted Thing of Beauty Iteration #3


The last iteration became stagnant and lost the playfulness of my previous iterations. I wanted to continue to express the reflective qualities in the structure and explore new ways of creating shadows. Mirror like leaves were added as well as more wood veneer to give the piece a natural quality.

A Well Crafted Thing of Beauty Iteration #4


A Well Crafted Thing of Beauty Iteration #4


Refection for iteration 5: Arbitrary patterns The design became clustered With no true intention. I began to Just think about the structures on Which the shapes would adhere themselves. I realized I was fixated on decoration Rather than design. Break Through: design using a language that Illustrates a tectonically.

A Well Crafted Thing of Beauty Iteration #5


Discovery After the 5th iteration, I had a major discovery in my design process. After reflecting on my process I realized that I was focusing on making a beautiful object. My work began to be decorative Rather than about communicating a design language.

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A Well Crafted Thing of Beauty Iteration #6


A major break through in my work has begun to happen. I realized that I needed to design using a language and to design with purpose. With the 6th and 7th iteration I am exploring patterns again but they are organized in a much more precise way. I began to look to the model as a bone structure of an animal or a ship with its skin removed. Focusing on the interactions between the systems a dynamic unity was born on which other ideas and iterations could follow.

A Well Crafted Thing of Beauty Iteration #6


Continuing with tectonic vocabulary, this iteration explores skin and skeleton. They are fusing together, twisting and moving. How to have a conversation between elements in the iteration are being explored.


Major breakthroughs in my work began to happen as I continued to explore designing using a tectonic language. I began to look at each iteration and develop a primary, secondary and ternary hierarchy to give each piece depth and complexity. I continued to challenge my craft, something that I will always do. A new understanding of my process also emerged and I have begun to practice it rigorously. Not just in the architecture studio. I have learned to apply these core principles to my life. After all everything is connected in some way. An area in which I struggled and wanted to over come is thinking in the design vocabulary. I realized that it is not just about creating abstract creations, but the also to think while you are designing, drawing and creating. Logic has been introduced to my intuition. I learned to ask myself why? Why did I do what I did? What am I trying to communicate? How are the elements in conversation with each other and telling the narrative I want spoken. It became clear that each element created has a purpose. I have begun to understand that this is the core of a composition. Fixations have also been identified. This whole semester I got stuck on amoebic shapes in my iterations. Something that I will avoid in my continued work. The most meaningful lesson learned by creating these iterations was to drive myself to continue to create. Always be designing. Think, act and speak in a design language. Through repetition success emerges. As I move on to the next studio and in my creative career, this skill set that I have developed will be invaluable to me in the future.


Communication between systems was attempted in this iteration. A one point perspective was used to vanish All the elements to one point. This made the piece static and uninteresting.

Architectural Collage #1


This is an instrument belting out a jazzy note. A long, loud winded note. BRRRRRRUUUrrrbububu bububububububububububububububububububu!!! The elements contrast each other but work together to create the notes. The shapes displayed in a hierarchy some making more sound than others. A rhythm plays on the stairs. It’s a bass line setting the tone of the piece.

Architectural Collage #2


Negative space creates a rhythm in this piece, a jazzy visual like iteration 2.

Architectural Collage # 3


Displacements and repetition of shapes create the notes heard in this collage. The rectilinear shapes draw your eye to the center and then back out again. Its Like going up the stair and down the stairs. The white spaces in between the shapes Break up the piece and layer the elements

Architectural Collage #4


The elements in this collage play together in a dream. In a dream nothing in certain, nothing has to make complete sense. Something is deconstructed here and your eye puts it Back together.

Architectural Collage #5


Architectural Collage #6


Architectural Collage #7


Final Project Proposal

I began the final project by researching biomimicry and the movement of their wings, legs and heads. I discovered how symmetrical their bodies can be and how intricate the machine like components of their limbs are. I have always been fascinated with insects and flying creatures. This project will be inspired by the movement of multiple parts, symmetry of shapes/components and fluidity of movement. Similar to that of biomimicry. After examining the movement of house flies and dragon flies, I began to research mechanical movement. I am really inspired by the short movie Mechanical Principles by Ralph Steiner. I began to Sketch various simple machines and wish to incorporate them into my sculpture. http://youtu.be/mkQ2pXkYjRM


  The wings of insects and biomimicry are similar to that of tension structures. I began to study how tension can be used in my project. I discovered that repetition and patters can make tension structures beautiful and complex looking. Tension structures and complex groupings will be apart of my sculpture as well.


My proposal is to use all that I have learned about biomimicry, mechanical machines, tension structures and groups and install a sculpture structure in the 6 x 6 square in the courtyard outside. My sculpture will use the wind and sun for movement and to show reflective qualities that highlight the structure. The structure will be quite large, filling the whole square. The inspiration behind my project will emulate insects and the movement of their wings and bodies in flight.


I created an Alexander Caulder style mobile to study the gentle movements that the wind can make. Each connection was thoroughly thought out to give the piece as little friction as possible. I discovered that proportion and balance are key to making this mobile a success. I was pleased with the outcome of the iteration. The Movements are fluid and gentle. It alive. Always turning and twisting.


In this iteration, I was exploring weight and tension. In the final project I wished to attempt to harness movement using weight applied to a structure to mimic the movement of plants swaying in the breeze.

I discovered that these movements are boring. This is just one level of hierarchy and the iteration lacks complexity and purpose. Its just sticks with weights attached to them


“Beauty in design is not a haphazard phenomenon, but is product of seemingly endless cycles of sustained and critical creative explorations driven by intentions that lead to a refinement deemed beautiful by others.� – J. Lum I enrolled in this section, Arch 101 because I wanted to continue my exploring and designing of concepts and inspirations. I wish to be continually thinking and studying design and before this class I mostly relied on my intuition to create compositions with no clear design process to follow. It has been a challenge to think and express my ideas in newly introduced design vocabulary and process. But by excepting these challenges and beginning to work with the new a new understanding of my work has emerged and a new set of design tools and strategies has been developed to use along with my existing intuition. Designing abstractly has allowed me to use clear intentions and be come aware of my design process.


As I approached the area of sites to choose from I was immediately drawn to the large square planters staggered throughout the courtyard. My well crafted thing of beauty is responding to the specifics of this site by filling the square intended for plant life or sculptures. It is suspended between the mezzanine and the stair well and is aligned in the square. The square is framing the piece. It gives it purpose in the courtyard. The mechanics of the sculpture are designed to react to the wind movements in the courtyard and uses the sun to highlight the reflective qualities of the structure as well. My inspirations for my iterations this semester as well as this project have been plant life including their structures and movements and light.


The final project is an account of my learning and discoveries. It represents the design fundamentals that I have learned over the semester. Each tier of the primary mechanisms represent a step my newly discovered design process.


The first step of my process is to begin with an inspiration; a motivation and enlightenment to start a project. This gives the concept direction and purpose. It is a pool of ideas and inspirations of which to draw from. The next step of the process is to research the inspiration. Gain all the knowledge you can from the inspiration with drawings, diagrams and concepts. This helps me formulate what it is I want to do or make. Next comes the iterative process were ideas are actualized and created. Many prototypes are made trying new forms and compositions. Which introduces the next step which is what was discovered from the iterations? What its strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and purpose? Analyzing the SWOP helps to discover the iterations true potential and brings you to the next step of the process which is the refinement stage. The refinement stage is a collaboration of all iterations and discoveries. It is the fully developed baby ready to be born into the world. The last step in the design process is the conclusion in which writing and reflecting takes place. Following this newly learned design process and combining it with my existing intuition has helped me to get the most out of each concept I choose to develop. All six tiers represent the roots of my design process. The secondary components of my final project represent the branches of development. They are the newly discovered design vocabulary I have learned to use as well as the tectonic language used to compose the iteration. Throughout the semester I have been exposed to a new way of thinking and speaking which at times has been quite a challenge. The tertiary components of the sculpture are the fruits of design. It represents the enriched understanding I have gained by taking this class. In this class I have learned many different concepts of design that can be applied to my life as well as my designs. I have learned that everything in life is some way connected and this learning experience has been invaluable to my development as a designer. Each hierarchal piece of this sculpture is in conversation with one another. Inspired by plant life, it mimics a plant structure and its fruits and blossoms which are related to my development over the semester. I have discovered many things about myself including why it is I do what it is I do. Designing is an expression of self for me. It is a meditative act that is a part of me.


Self-assessment questions: In the selection of your site, what did you find particularly significant and unique in terms of physical character and qualities, existing aspect that anyone can detect with their senses and other conditions related to environmental conditions? What was particularly unique about my site is that it is enclosed in a 6 x 6 square designed to display a sculpture or plant life. Everyone can sense that there is supposed to be something filling the area. Also my site included the space between the mezzanine and the stair well. It is exposed to all the elements and responds to the wind currents in the courtyard. How specifically did your design respond to these aspects that you identified? My sculpture was framed by the square in the courtyard. It gave the piece purpose in the area. It was also Suspended in the air responding the gap between the mezzanine and the stair well. Among the best of student work critiqued by your guest jurors, how does your work compare and why? My work was definitely well crafted. Many hours were put into the thought and construction of my sculpture. The size and the fact that it was completed also put my project a cut above the rest. Originality was something I lacked. It was viewed as just another mobile. It was not meant to be just another Alexander Caulder mobile, but something more. A tree blossoming with the fruits of design. I was viewed as though I did not take as many risks as my other classmates. How did you interpret these self expression through you tectonic language? I used copper in my mobile. The reason for this is that it ages finely and has a beautiful patina. I compare that to myself. Shining bright in my early design stages and gradually becoming more beautiful and complex as I move forward. My groupings are like branches of a tree, similar to myself this semester. Branching out and learning new concepts.


What did your guest jurors identify as strengths and weaknesses in your construction and why? My strengths were identified that it was a completed working mobile. The angles and concepts worked well together and it was suspended beautifully. My craft was good and the materials used were interesting. My weakness was that it was just another mobile. How does your work avoid the obvious and enrich your audiences experience through motion? My mobile is constantly moving. The wind catches the paddles of the tiers and moves the mobile. As your eye moves down the mobile you see branches like a tree that are also catching the wind. At the bottom are spinning blossom like structures that look like they are moving in the wind, not attached to anything. This was designed to look like a blossom sailing through the air. How did your inspirations and research inform your expansion of the idea of a “mobile�? My inspirations of the movements of plants and biomimicry showed me that a mobile can be just about anything. I discovered that I can manipulate the materials to mimic the movements of plants and insects. How does your narrative inform your design? My narrative is a story of this semester and all that I have learned. From developing a high level of craft to understanding how materials work together. The design principles discovered this semester are represented in my design and the design tells a story of my progress. How well did you assume full and inspired ownership of your work and why? It is my work and I am proud of it. It represents a large gained understanding of architecture and life. It is just one of many creations to come. It represents my capabilities to design and follow through. Its not just about the design in this situation. It became more about understanding a process and completing it thoroughly to the best of my capabilities at the time. No excuses.


How well did you complete each stage of your work and adhere to the course requirement? I would say that I did very well. Even though my constructions were failures sometimes, so much has been learned. Like previously stated, this project has been about fully completing it and using the newly found design process. How well did you arrive to class on time and engage with classmates? Very well. I loved coming to studio. Hearing the lectures was inspiring and knowledge was gained that will last a life time. It was a challenge to be in a class full of shy people and people I don’t really relate to but it made me think differently about the way I engage people.


Learning Portfolio  

Arch 101 Learning Portfolio

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