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Fiona Davidson 537895 Semester 1/2013 Group 9

Virtual Environments  





1. Draw three parallel lines, similar widths apart. 2. Place three points on the first line, one on the middle line and three on the third line. The points can be similar widths apart. 3. Draw a line from each of the points on the outer lines to the single point on the second line. 4. Draw triangles in the spaces between the lines and points.



Influenced by Kandinsky’s three analytical stages of drawing, these images are based on the composition of a tortoise shell. The Tortoise shell pattern involves the repetition of multifaceted and convex hexagons. When viewed in different ways the pattern can be constructed using symmetry, mirroring and scaling. Using these techniques I was able to create balance, symmetry and movement within the patterns.

RECIPE FOR PATTERN CONSTRUCTION (Inspired by Tooling reading Week 1)


By tracing the basic form of a tortoise shell and stripping it of any excess detail, I achieved a very basic, but recognisable hexagonal mosaic pattern that is comprised solely of points and lines.





This model was also partly inspired by Olafur Eliasson’s Music Wall 2006. The acoustically functional wall uses the tessellation/repetition of a set of four concaving triangles to create a symmetrical and 3D pattern. The triangles are moved and rotated to create the pattern, and there are no alterations of size or shape. I like the uniformity of the pattern, however it made me desire for my own pattern a freer flowing and more varied sense of shape and scale.

Using the tortoise shell pattern, and my recipe I created my first paper models. To make these models I started by using my pattern making rule to create hexagonal tiles of various sizes. I then used a folding and extruding technique to create ridges that manifest from the centre of the tile. I then repeated the process, adjusting the scale of the tiles to create a range of sizes. To create a pattern I connected the points of the hexagons together so that each corner is connected to the corner of


I then workshopped this idea by creating a paper model with inverted hexagons.

This model was also an exploration of lighting effects. The contrast between light and shadow was an effect which worked well, and I explored with further models.




Helios House was created in 2007 and is a canopy covering a petrol station. The tessellation of different sized shapes drew me to this building as it echoes the irrationality of the turtle shell, however reminds you that there is still a complex pattern underlying the design. Creating tension with its angular lines but organic shape this precedent inspired me to decide to invert rather than exturde my hexagonal pattern. This is because of the way the concave parts of the canopy stand out against the parts that jut out.

I used the idea of repetition of the tortoise shell pattern to develop a clay form which would be the basis for the shape of the lantern. In the workshop I used clay to create a 1:5 scale concept model of how the model could be held on the arm. This process helped me to concieve the idea of hanging the lantern off the arm like a bangle.





My experimentation with paper models, clay and my pattern rule culminated in this clay shape. These orthographic images would be the basis for my initial 3D rhino model.




From experimenting I eventually created three different meshes which i felt best suited my composition strategy



I experimented with different ways of pannelling my pattern. This involved changing the size and shape of the hexagons. I used point grids to create variations within the panneled patterns including stretching the hexagons in certain directions and merging from one shape to another.


In module two, after experimenting with rhino I changed the design of my clay model. I stretched the initial clay form to create an arch shape. I did this because I saw more possibilities for the lantern to be held.




Precedent: Voussoir Cloud





I experimented by creating more positive and negative space by adding a square border around each of my panels. I found that the border was slightly too big and took attention away from the hexagonal panels. Furthermore, with this test I experimented by using the black card instead of white. Doing this affirmed my desire to use white card as I found that the black didn’t produce the interesting shadow effects and was very hard to photograph well.

I was also inspired by Voussoir Cloud (Week 8 lecture), a site-specific installation created by Iwamoto Scott and Buro Happold. While not visually similar to the Voussoir Cloud project, I liked how the panels undulated and fitted together so neatly. In light of this I experimented with the size of the square border around my panels to create a frame/spine on which the panels would be placed. I also made the panels smaller and more populous in order to create more opportunity for shadows and light penetration.





My second prototype was really successful in the fact that it turned out exactly as I expected it to. I was still not sure about its shape and effects it would make though. I manually cut out holes and lit it in different ways to gain ideas on how I could make it interesting. From making the prototype I also decided to exaggerate the curves of my original lofted shape and join the openings. This is because I saw an opportunity to hang the lantern like a bangle off the arm. I also liked the variations in scale and contrasts between open light and shaded areas.





This is my nested file for the card cutter. I was able to fit my lantern onto six pages of card. I used grasshopper to create tabs on the pieces. This step was time consuming as it took a lot of experimentation to get the 3D model to unroll in a way that was time efficient and easy to assemble. I used labels to keep track of the pieces. The hexagons had to be assembled separately from the outer edges, then joined. To create the transparent hexagons I traced over the selected cut hexagons using trace paper and a stanley knife.

FABRICATION MODULE 3 During construction I decided to add slightly transparent panels made from trace paper. These thinner panels add a different brightness of light to the lantern. The panels to be transparent were chosen at random intervals across the outer suface of the lantern.

I came across time issues while building the model due to the sheer amount of pieces that had to be used. This was highly labour intensive and repetitive.






My finished model, lit and unlit. The transparent panels are shown int he lit photo. They create an effect of warm, soft light as the transparent paper lets light out but keeps it dull. Also shown is a photograph of how the lantern sits on my arm.







Throughout the semester I have experienced the awe and enlightenment of using 3D modelling technology for the first time. Using rhino was a memorable experience not only because it is a skill that can be applied to the workforce after university, but also because it showed me how much the design industry has developed with technology over time. I was eight when my parents bought our family’s first computer. My parents also had mobile phones since I was four. Being in possession of my own computer, phone, camera and devices, this technology has now become a staple part of my life and I truthfully cannot imagine that my life would be the same without it. Similarly, after using Rhino and the Adobe suite I can’t imagine designers being entirely non-digital in their practice. The rationalisation, standardisation and resulting uniformity of information systems and businesses is essentially comparable to Kandinsky’s three stages of analytical drawing approach. This is due to the simplification of essential information, leaving only the important, necessary information.

The Third Industrial Revolution by Jeremy Rifkin elucidates how technology has been radically changing the world throughout history. It shows how technology is developed then adapted to suit needs, constantly filling gaps in performance and demand. This reading was incredibly interesting as told of the change society is going through from having hierarchical command and control mechanisms to a more collaborative ethos. Indeed when looking into new technologies such as 3D printing it is exciting to think that soon everyone could have a 3D printer in their home, ready to print out everyday objects that one could need. It could even eradicate the middle men (shopkeepers, physical stores and sales people) by allowing people to do everything from home and work.  


This concept is also explored in the reading Building the Future; Recasting Labour in Architecture by Bernstien and Deamer. It mentions how the processes of design and production, two once very separate things have merged due to the common language of digital information. The reading also mentions the slightly scary notion of the reliance on digital design in the modern age, and issue of when to rely on human creativity vs technology. From using technology I can see how quick and easy it must be for some designers to sketch up a design then send it to the laser cutter or 3D printer for production. When I was modelling my lantern in Rhino, it was often hard to have full control over the forms I wanted to create; as i could simply type in random commands to see what the program generated for me. I believe this is the biggest downside of technology; the fact that we have to rationalise a set of commands and desires in order for the computer to process them, which is less intuitive as it means that your design must be able to be modelled within the parameters of those stock commands. The physical process of making prototypes and constructing the final model was my most enjoyable part. The feeling of achievement when all of the pieces of cut card fitted together was memorable. It was also incredibly rewarding to see the digital file then have a physical model which could be held and lit up.


TEXTUAL Bernstein, Philip,. Deamer, Peggy 2008. Building the Future: Recasting Labor in Architecture, Princeton Architectural Press, pp 38-42. Poling, Clark 1987. Analytical Drawing In Kandisky’s Teaching at the Bauhaus Rizzoli, New York, pp. 107-122. Rifkin, Jeremy 2011. The Third Industrial Revolution, Palgrave Macmillan, pp 107-126. Tooling, Aranda 2006. New York, Princeton Architectural Press.

PICTORIAL Olafur Eliasson, Music Wall, 2006. Last visited 1/06/13 <>

Architizer, 2009. Helios House, Los Angeles. Last visited 2/06/13. <>


Iwamotoscott Architects, Voussoir Cloud, Los Angeles. Last visited 1/06/13 <>


Finished virtual M4