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2 Henry Tran Student No: 613985


Virtual Environments

Semester 1


Weekly Response The writers of “Lost in Parameter Space?” argue that rather than eliminating the need for mathematics in architectural design, the use of computers as design tools has in fact increased the need for mathematics. Sophisticated software allows for the application of mathematics without necessitating the designer’s full and complete understanding of it. Scheurer and Stehling, however, argue that designing “means drawing decisions and taking the responsibility, not delegating them to a machine” (79). For Scheurer and Stehling, the processes of abstraction and reduction are two separate yet equally important components of the design process, especially in this age of technology-reliance. The process of abstraction serves to describe and communicate an idea for a design in manageable terms. A model, though always an abstraction of reality, is nevertheless the core of an idea’s communication. Reduction, on the other hand, entails the throwing out of inessential and superficial parts as well as the optimisation of conveying that information. Reduction is essentially the rewriting of the description without altering the content, for the sake of efficiency. Both processes were certainly crucial elements in the tasks we undertook in Module 1. Following the Poling and Clark reading on Kadinsky’s pedagogy, we reduced our natural patterns to their most basic elements and structures, and from there we created various abstractions of the ideas we wished to develop further through continual model-making. Following the lecture, I was particularly struck by the idea that our lantern design should build upon and evolve from existing notions of what a lantern is. I will continue to explore and attempt to develop various forms that move away from traditional forms while still exaggerating the content (lantern). In his TED talk, designer Thomas Heatherwick emphasizes the texture and materiality necessary to design beautiful and interesting buildings. He says that oftentimes, large-scale structures (even those with interesting forms) feel soulless and cold, unlike small works of craftsmanship, which more readily convey feeling and preciousness. Heatherwick utilises this focus on texture and materiality to engineer spatial effects that cause observers to pause and appreciate. I think Heatherwick’s Summer Olympics Cauldron is a particularly interesting work, especially in light of our own brief. Much like the Seed Cathedral on which Heatherwick focuses in his talk, the cauldron is composed of many individually significant components (204 petals, each representing a competing country) which themselves belong to one cohesive unifying unit. When lit, the structure of the cauldron seems to disappear, and therefore draws attention to the curved “surface” created by the individual flames. In this way, the flames themselves act as the cauldron’s material and substance. I hope to create a similar effect with my lantern, utilising the light itself as a material in its own right.

Contouring for Digitisation


First attempt w/ section tracings

Outlining shape

Second attempt w/ section tracings


Copying and scaling

Experimenting with Basic Panelling

Testing various 2D panelling techniques to achieve texture Began running into issues with more steeply curved surfaces and tight junctures


With this panel, I was attempting to recreate one of my original emerging forms. I liked the look of the individual panel on its own, but as I added it to the surface of my overall form, I realised the entire shape looked too sharp and uninviting. I did, however, like the lighting effects.


In creating this panel, I wanted to reproduce the aperture model I had experimented with in Module 1, as I liked the lighting effect it produced. Though I liked the textural quality of this lantern form from afar (image to the left), the spaces through which the light would come through looked a little bit too much like stars, which is not really the effect I am aiming for.


Though I had originally intended to make this panel as circular as possible, so as to echo a real-life aperture, I didn't like the way that each panel fit onto the overall shape. I think that a more rigid geometry would be more suitable—aesthetically as well as logistically—for the shape of my lantern. I plan to pursue this type of panel further, as I think it produces an interesting lighting effect. With my next developments, I hope to add asymmetry and irregularity to both the individual panels and their positioning and formation around the lantern.

Module 2 Analysis and Reflection

Kicking the module off, Alex Selenitsch's lecture on “Composition� was an especially inspiring and thrilling one for me. Listening to his ideas on form and matter, taking a look at his own work, and learning of the many different ways of thinking about composition got me excited about taking the next step in my own design process. I was definitely excited to revisit my clay model and to finally digitise it on Rhino. Little did I realise how much work and skill goes into translating your ideas into digital form/representation. I faced a surprising number of challenges with the digitisation of my clay model. I've learned from my struggles with Rhino this past week just how useful an awareness and understanding of mathematics is in the design process. Though the digitisation process didn't require that I have a total grasp of how the program and its tools work, I am slowly beginning to realise that computer-aided design necessitates the use of a completely different language. I find it frustrating that I cannot communicate as effectively with Rhino as I can with my clay and paper models. Hopefully, my competency in understanding Rhino will improve with time and practice. Professor Loh's lecture on the 8th of April was a truly eye-opening one for me. I've never thought about design as both a top-down and bottom-up process. As I have proceeded through this semester, I have sadly been depriving myself by being so steadfast on the notion that I can only design once I have thought out an idea perfectly. This is not an entirely effective mindset. I've learned now that I must be open to puzzle-making and complicating my ideas as I move along, and most of all being willing to leave some ideas in favour of different ones. I was also struck by the brief clip of John Maeda's TED talk that we watched in class. I was especially intrigued by the idea that simple design changes in form can give rise to completely different meanings and connotations, even when the content remains constant. This notion places a lot of agency and power in the hands of the designer. His talk really opened my eyes to how the lantern will not just be a lantern (content—and therefore something that I cannot change) but will contain a form as well. The form that my lantern takes is entirely up to me, and I will be responsible for the atmosphere created through this form. Though this module presented many challenges to me, I remain hopeful that I will be able to translate my models into digital form, and then back into physical form.

Week 5 Presentation  

Module 2 Journal