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virtual environments

virtual environments

virtual environments

'm o u l t i n g'

Farisha Qistina Abd Khalid |508940 | Group 7 | Semester 1, 2011

content engender












engender Moulting, the shedding of skin. I find the inception of this idea to be quite interesting in that after so many frustrating obstacles in regard to its scientific counterpart, I was ready to accept moulting as another dead end. In a final attempt at understanding this process, I looked up various imageries and videos of this process and noted down a list of words that come to mind through these observations.


Flaky, dry, cracks, crumble, falling, devastation, agony.


These were the words that came to mind as I visualise moulting. it was obvious that my anger and frustration influenced my perception and thoughts. Another intriguing thing of note is that my process of listing down these words which are solely out of feelings and emotions, bears a small resemblance to psychic automatism. Psychogram, Coop Himmelb(l)au


This event taught me to view things in different ways. Moulting, by its very nature is a regenrating process though my interpretation of it is quite different. Once we gain perpective, more possibilities are available hence highlighting the very subjective nature of representations.

inception 508940-02



The lectures introduced me to the deconstructivist Coop Himmelb(l)au. Born from the surrealist era, they delve in the concept of deconstructivism, the development of postmodern architecture. Deconstructivism is, to my understanding, the attempt to break away from the norm. To remove the idea of perfection and rigidity This is made clear in the case of Coop Himmelb(l)au as stated by Charles Jencks an architectural theorist, their work is best described as “violated perfection.” In the lecture reading Radical Designist, Jencks is quoted to have said: “...the perfect white cube suddenly smashed, skewed and skewered into a frenzy of oppositional forms...chimneys suddenly tilt off the right angle...a rational predictable solution is partly violated by an expressive outburst and the balance of one and the other is mutually heightening.” What I received from this is an image of disfigurement and distortion, an explosion of space. I relate this to how my model should look like as I was attracted to the idea of a form of explosion coupled with my feelings of anger and frustration during the conception of moulting.

MINI Opera Space, Coop Himmelb(l)au

“violated perfection” -Charles Jencks

an explosion of space 508940-03


Another interesting subject that was brought up in the lecture note is of surrealist art. Although this was only lightly touched upon in the reading, it does mention how the usage of hands are portrayed in quite a number of ways in art and photography. This is to amplify the notion of action speaks louder than words in that it replaces language and content in communication and expression. The conclusion that I came up with concerning the usage of hands in art and surrealism is because the hands are the most agile of our body parts, able to be contorted in this way and that to represent or suggest something bigger. I decided my model should be placed somewhere on the hand as to enhance the clarity of my idea of moulting in agony.

Alfred Stieglitz, Hands and Thimble, 1920


Herbert Bayer, Lonely Metropolitan, 1932

...language of the hand 508940-04

engender After looking up relevant information and precedents, I felt like I had a rough idea of how my model is going to look like. However, I decided to take one last action towards formfinding. To emulate the process of moulting myself. With an LED keyring and a plaster of paris, I was able to gain a lot of understanding on the way one moults and the interplay of light and shadow. This further enhance the notion that form-finding is simply not driven by an individual. Through various observations and experimentations with different media, we can get a wider scope of interpretations and ideas.

shedding skin



To return to my thought process, this experiment brought me full circle as I witness the process of my hand being deformed and mutated in a way much like how Coop Himmelb(l)au skewered and violated his perfect white cube. The contorted hand expressed a feeling of deep agony and pain as it moulted its skin. Burst of light fractures outward in a ray of helplessness and despair. I felt that my moulted hand was truly a narrative of its own.

As for the model, I could not get the hand model to contort the way I intend it to be as it was screwed down. However, I think the concept is still prevalent. The holes were difficult to make using clay but I planned to refine the model further in the next module. Borne from anger and frustration, this is a tale of agony.



digitisation digitisation



physical In the beginning of the module, we are taught to translate our physical model into the digital realm. Though almost everyone contoured their models, I felt that my model does not have any 'topographic' nature as it was only made up of flat strips that could easily be digitised. I do howevever, thought that the size and scale was essential so I proceeded to import a scaled picture of the physical model to be traced and digitised.

This is where I find things to be interesting. As I've never used or done any digital modelling before the start of this module, I felt that learning to use Rhino is a good gateway towards learning more about digital modelling. In the case of digitising my model, it really forced me to think of a number of ways to translate my model into digital form. I've tried copying and rotating strips, extruding surfaces as well as tracing all the sections of my model and bending it to produce a cylindrical form. This marked the beginning of my experimentation with Rhino.

digital 508940-08


panelling tools There is a plug-in called panelling tools in Rhino that allows us to create panels for our models. Further exploration of this tool led me to think about the importance of geometry and the influence that it has on the form of my model. Rhino uses NURBS geometry that utilises very accurate definitions for curves and surfaces. However, as I proceeded onwards, I learned of their constraints and limitations such as the ability to produce only certain forms and structures excluding what I initially had in mind.

Moving further into this module, I begin to learn and cope with the limitations. I realise that designers are stil very much in control of their creation as long as they want it to be. Yes, there are limitations but I believe that limitations are the elements that force us to be creative. The design on the right is the result of specifically choreographed panels that represent what I as the designer hope to illustrate 'innocent and nihilistic'. 508940-09



As can be seen on the previous page, most of the designs are incorporated with panels using the 'orient' command. To me, the oriented panels demonstrate the most fluidity in what I believe to be the best illustrator of a dynamic moulting process. Above are digital designs by Tyrone Wells called 'automorphotectono' and below are digital paintings by an artist named Quayola entitled Topologies. Both of these designs have fluidity and dynamism but where one manipulates the structural form to show it, the other relies on varying emphasis throughout their design to incorporate these elements of motion. Thus, my earlier design tries to merge both of these methods. Oriented panels show a false manipulation of structure while certain panels were manually added to involve emphasis.

'topologies' 508940-10


Images from Eccentric Structures.

Cecil Balmond, Serpentine Gallery, England

Probably the highlight of my search was the discovery of this so called 'De-formation' movement in architecture. Cecil Balmond, Penn's Weave Bridge.

I came across this subject while exploring topologies and stumbled across an article called Architecture and Science edited by Giuseppa di Cristina. It states that 'De-formation' relies on contemporary computer animation techniques to form a malleable architectural form. It differs from deconstructivism in that it seeks to incorporate differences in a form rather than exaggerating them thus, the main idea is to be inclusive and organic in its architectural structures. Though it attempts to break away from deconstructivism, I find that the shift in form is not so much as the shift in practice and methods. In the book Eccentric Structures edited by Joseph Lim, Rem Koolhas is quoted to have said, 'Structures can express doubt, arbitratriness, mystery in forms...which can engage in the uncertainty...of the current moment'. I find this quote interesting as he was directing this at Cecil Balmond's structural works in architecture where such structures are deformed and pushes the boundary of structural engineering. Koolhas went further and said such structures are both ' innocent and nihilistic'. What I get from this quote is that the structures are vague and mysterious and evoke both insecurity and security. A violent yet subtle form where differences can be exaggerated yet inclusive to the whole structure. Innocent and nihilistic. I tried to stick with this concept where I could use both elements of organic subtlety and deconstructivism.



searching Truthfully, these further explorations were done in the third module but it relates to my investigation of 'innocent and nihilistic' and my experimentation of digital modelling as a whole. To produce a certain level of inclusiveness and 'clean'-liness, the inclusion of a rib structure was suggested to me by my tutor. And so begins my search for ribs. Rhino scripts were the first discovery and I learned to edit them to allow me the convenience of sectioning my surface from three axis of u,v and w. ribs can then be created from this. Another script allowed me to create notches and slots for the ribs. Briefly, I tried a software called Paracloud GEM to generate panels I find interesting but it only enables mesh and not surfaces to be created hence I returned to Rhino.



Lastly, I was introduced to the editor Grasshopper. This further refined my ribs in that it allows for radial sectioning of my surface instead of the three axis, creating a more uniform and clean rib structure. Using grasshopper to aid my design proved to be very interesting and allows for a lot more possibilities in the design as a whole. Among a lot of panels that were produced the three models on the far right showed the most potential and to adhere to my initial concepts of moulting in agony with both innocent and nihilistic characteristics, I opted for the one most brutal.

innocent nihilistic 508940-13


At the end of all the digitising mayhem, I felt incredibly satisfied that I was able to create a model that I believe portrayed the things that intend it to portray. There is a degree of inclusiveness yet some parts appear exaggerated. It is both insecure and secure. Both wild and tamed. Choosing a complex model means that I'm creating more problems for myself. But having more problems meant that I'm allowing myself to find more solutions. I would not have discovered the Rhino scripts, the paracloud generators or Grasshopper if I were to simply choose an easy, uncomplicated form.



fabrication fabrication



Arriving at the third module, I learned the basics of unfolding and nesting my panels and rib members. What is interesting however is that the latest model has a total of 353 panels which I find to be unnecessarily excessive. Luckily, the image on the far right is not the result of me manually unfolding the 353 panels but with the help of a rhino script which does massive unfolding. Later on, I realised how simple and easy it was to just array these panels due to them having the same dimension, also by arranging them in squares to save material and laser cutting time. With Grasshopper, I managed to create tabs for the panels in a very short time.

array panels



In this third module, I constructed prototypes that I found to be essential in showing me the difficulty in translating the digital model to a physical object. This is where variables such as material plays a very important role as the geometry and form of the model is greatly influenced by this. I find that some material cannot be accommodate the geometry of my model and certain elements such as weight is important as well taking into consideration that I am going to where the model. Overall, I believe the construction is akin to a trial and error process and finding what works and what doesn't, all the while searching for ways to improve the overall form and structure of the model. In this case, due to the three axis sectioning of the ribs, it was found that the fabrication of the model is highly difficult because of the intersecting members.


“trial and error� 508940-17

fabrIcatIon Finally, with the grasshopper aided design, the fabrication of the rib structure is easier and smoother.

ribs assembly

In the process of this module, I have also come to learn about softwares such as Photoshop and Illustrator. Producing a clear and precise documentation is important to allow others to understand the construction and assembly process of the model. In a more professional setting, these documents are essential to communicate your designs and giving instructions for others to act on such as engineers.



The idea of an internal brace at the bottom was to prevent the model from rotating and moving about once I wear it. The braces were produced by offsetting some of the n-section members in Rhino and sending them for laser cutting to obtain an accurate edge and perfect fitting. The 'handlebar' is regular paste board which, in my opinion needs to be made of harder material.

interior components

As for the LED, the terminal legs were extended by soldering wires. The reason for this to obtain maximum contact. A docket was made to hold the battery and this enables the light to be switched on and off by the convenient adding and removal of the battery. To gain more contact between the battery and terminals, a paper clip was used. 508940-19


panelling patience

After the ribs and internal devices were completed, panels were applied. Having 'orient' panels is a double-edged sword in that I do not have to be overly organise at labelling panels to their specific position because they are all of the same dimension. The downside here is, they are all of the same dimension. The rib openings are not of the same dimension however, and I had to manually cut each of these panels to to ensure a clean and smooth attachment.


Although applying the panels is easier compared to the construction of the ribs and internal bracings, the sheer amount of panels that needed to be marked, cut and glued dominates all in terms of time-consumption and effort. Some openings were left bare as I felt that it further emulates the process of moulting and also to reveal the internal structure within. 508940-20



conclusion In the end, though I'm quite satisfied with the model, there are many ways in which it can be improved on. In the words of Herbert Simon, design is “bounded rationality� and designers are most often 'satisficing'. Given the vast amount of information available yet very limited time and resources, they have to always settle for 'good enough.' In truth, the amount of things that I've learned in this subject could not be condensed into just twenty pages. To have the chance to experience a design process from the moment of inception to the final physical model is a rare opportunity.





Introduction This journal will reflect critically on Modules 1- 3, and hopefully rather than only recounting the processes I undertook it will decifer and discern relevant learnings and discoveries. I will especially try to identify assumptions I made, as well as changes in my approach and thinking and what caused them. I have been guided throughout the semester by the questions for discussion from our lectures, and so rather than answer them directly, my thoughts on the topics they have brought are discussed thoughout my reflection, and related back where possible to our project. From the different material covered in the Readings and Lectures I have established two sides of the debate about the legitimacy of Parametric Design. One side seems to argue that Parametric Design is superficial, in the sense that it is not able to create‘human spaces’, and that this grows out of it being ‘automated’ and removed from the designer. I want to counter the idea that digital design is objective and computer automated. To do so I would like to compare ideas about automatism throughout my journal and to highlight when my subjective input played a role in the computer aided design process. My journal will use several techniques of graphic design, importantly: + will denote where my subjective input as a designer has been important and bold text on a page indicates which section is directly discussing my own project.

initial design inspiration The intial natural process I looked at was the process of flight. I began by visualising the path taken by a bird, a complex and dynamic natural process that once was could have only been recreated inaccuratly in our minds. But technology has made it possible to both visualise an imagined path of flight, and trace and record it exactly via GPS or long exposure cameras. The complex line of a bird can be captured, and technically it would also be possible for the space between the lines of flight to be enclosed into a 3D form.

This example brings up the notion that technology can be used in the place of our imagination, but this substitution does not need to hold negative connotations. Technology doesn’t by default remove our engagement in creativity, imagination, and digital design tools do not by defualt remove a designers creative engagement in design. Rather than substitute for imagination, I think that technology can ‘realise’ things within the imagination and give them physical form. Technology will hopefully translate a concept inspired by nature into a paper model by the end of this project. Technology can analyse and record much that once could only be dealt with by the imagination. And further, technology can transfer ideas and visions from our imagination into something that can be communicated visually and that can act to convince others of previously unseen possibilities. Within the initial lectures of the course the idea of communicating through design and convincing a public audience of unthought-of of possibilities and opportunities was discussed. Digital tools equip us with new ways of thinking, and clearly communication to a wider audience. Technology can be a tool for creativity and as it develops our capacity to perceive imaginationed things is extended.

subjective representation and automatism Both an imagined path of flight, and a accuraetly recorded path of flight are merely representations. No matter how accurate, they are only constructed representations of the real thing, and constrained in some way by the person who construced them. This notion held immediate implications for my design + I decided in this instance not to use specific tracked data of flight paths to translate into form. I decided to create a more subjective representation of the path of flight. I leant heavily on Automatism, creating blind sketches from watching and visualising birds in flight.

an automated Dada sketch

Coop Himmelblau create form using similiar methods. Their work reminds me particularly of Dada’s celebration of the initial moment of creation - which was explored through automatic drawing and frottage. Coop Himmelblau embrace the original design impulse of the artist or designer (they named it the psychogram). In their work they combine surrealist concepts like “automatism” with the rhetoric of complexity scientific including “interference”, “chaos”, “indeterminacy”, and like surrealist visual artists try to express in their design ‘the perfect, or unsullied, subconscious desire of the architect.’ Similiar ideas are also shared by the French artist Henri Matisse (one of many 20th century artists, who moved from the figurative to the abstract) When asked in 1912 to define his theory of Art, Matisse pointed to a table and replied: ‘well, take that table for example, I do not literally paint that table but the emotion it produces upon me’ For Mattise, abstraction enabled the creation of works which speak through their own inherent power rather than just through what they depict. This expressive power of non figurative form, I think can be related back to architecture to give value and justification to expressive techniques. The power of Coop Himmelblau’s forms lies within their expression of something less static that a single concept or single figurative analogy that might inspire a different building. I think that since no representation is impartial, or ‘real’ it is logical to embrace the input of the designer. The value of expressive representation, should also be considered in relation to the removal of context. As is evident in Coop HImmelblaus work; removing context can help designers to express ‘buried’ human ideas that are only freed with the removal of the restrictions of social taboos, cultural traditions and design norms. These sorts of boundaries can restrict designs to within realms of ideas already thought of.

my own automated sketches

Coop Himmelblau

abstraction as instrument for design Continuing the deveopment of my design I looked at some images of flocking starlings, they created a different aesthetic to a single path of flight and deepened the dynamic complexity of the flight process. Sketch modelling from impulse, rather than with a direct ‘objective’ to the form I wanted to find, achieved some interesting and fluid forms. + In this case there was subjective input from me (the designer) even though the subjectivity was in a sense automated, or subconcious.

abstraction as a material for creative form During the development stage, one of the strongest influence on me was the idea that Abstraction is an instrument and also a material. And as discussed in lectures it is being used more and more as a material in architecture and design.This led me to reflect on why abstraction is becoming a material for creative form. Reflecting on this question, I considered the many complex systems in society that we do not understand, expect for on a very abstract level (only the way perhaps we understand an abstract for a book). For example the processes maintiang the internet, or even our traffic lights, are systems we rely on but do not fully understand. We rely on computers to understand them; to create them and to maintain them. Accepting that it is only possible to understand complexities on a abstract plane, i think is key to explaining the surging interest of using abrstract, data and systems as form. Computer operated systems are most often outside the realm of our human perception but have a huge impact on the human population. Also, cecause abstraction is an instrument used so often in design currently, it is relevant to use as a material. I see the current interest in the aesthetics of abstraction in the design, as an attempt to grasp and embrace the complexities of the world and the power of technology to to understand things for us.

The project spam archicture by Alex Dragulescu creates form directly out of data, abstraction as both material and as instrument. Dragulescuclarify doesn’t anyalyse the content objectively, he uses analysis to link diffent unrelated things to create a form. There are no links back to the original data nor any way to read the form as data. The purpose of his computer analysis of the data is creative expression, transforming the spam “from a source of irritation into intriguing objects”

further exploration

When I began to look for other natural processes to explore, I was immediately drawn to look for natural processes represented by Infographics. I think that when they are successful, infographics demonstrate the ability a designer has to abstract and represent complex processes and relationships.

Following finding this Twitter example, I decided to look at data about oil and the processes concerning its interaction with water and to try to abstract some graphics from it. I decided on interactions between oil and water because the processes occuring between them operate in a natural and a social sphere.

This brings up an idea that was introduced by several guest lecturers throughout the semester; the idea that designers need to be able to convince others of any idea they think up or any design they construct. Infographics are designed to help communicate something that the designer can see to an wider audience in a informative, interesting way. A good example i found was an animation created by AndrĂŠ Panisson of the tweets and retweets concerning the resignation of the Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak on February 11th this year. He was able to first visualize how the exploding network of tweets might look, and then via technology recreate his visualisation and accordingly make it possible for everybody viewing his animation to see what he could see.

I decided to impose graphics of oil and water interacting on tow different scales 1. Oil droplets on a surface of water, 2. Locations of Oil spills in the gulf of Mexico And then also 3. Data of twitter discussions concerning oil

+ The computer may be the ‘intelligent’ part of the design, but it was necessary for the designer to select what he informed the computer of and manipulate the results to make them intriguing, compelling and easily understood by the human brain. Compelling aesthetics and clarity of communication are a result of subjective decisions from the designer, in addition to digital technology.

+ I then sketched connections between different points of data, then abstracted and formalized the data to concisely create an form that would relate back somehow to its power source every time it was turned on.

design development I decided to go back to my first line of exploration, of the process of flight. My design changed and developed as i was influenced by the discovery of Harmonograph. They are created through a automated pattern making process, in which a pen suspended from a pendulum creates a geometric image that is made of just one continuous line. I thought they would be an interesting complication to incorporate into the design, a complication that still reflects the automatism of flight paths and the idea of one continuous line of movement. I decided to explore more paths of my design through sketching on grids and looking at patterns of tessellation. I found it productive to first sketch an automated kind of triangulated grid and then to sketch forms on top of the grid. Repeated elements and the relationships between grid and curves of the form gave rise to some interesting patterns, including some new tessellation. The subdivision of the surface into tiles, through tesselation gave me some intial ideas about paneling.

connections to the body Since i wanted my form to reflect ideas of balance and poise mid air, weightlessness and balance, I decided that the most important connection between the body and the form would be the idea of suspension. The final form could be suspended by two sets of string held by both arms ,stretched apart, which would act as something of a relection on wing span.

digitzation To counter the problems faced in my first trial I decided to colour the two halves of the model (in two different colours to help differentiate them) and then fill the negative space with uncoloured plasticine. Second Trial at the Contouring Process 1. Painting the outside of the model with watercolour to differentiate it from plastcine filling the negative space

The first step in digitizing was taking the physical model and contouring it, and then following that cutting it into contoured segments. After doing this I faced several problems. My first set of contours had no centre line to match up contours after they had been digitized. This was for two reasons: firstly, not all of the contours overlaped, so any single line cut through my model would go through negative space and not touch some of the contours. Secondly, I thought that it would be possible to match them up manually without a central reference point. I discovered once I had traced the contours into rhino that this was going to make my transfer from analog to digital much less accurate.

2. Filling the negative space around the model with uncoloured plasticine and using a metal wire to puncture a reference point through the centre of every contour segment 3. Tracing over curves in rhino, and using the reference point to position them in accurately and in order After completely the digitization process I can see how any transfer from anolog into the digital is not able to preserve all the intricaces of the original design. + the translation from one medium to another required many design decisions ,which i needed to make conciously. In the process of digitization the designer decides what is lost and what is emphasised. It was in some ways a formalising process, similiar to the formalsing used by pablo picasso, as introduced in lectures.

in software design development

+ I began by rebuilding points to create a further simplified, more fluid form. This was in response to my initial concept and intention to create the smooth and complex curves created by the flight path of a bird. + I also decided to isolate and work with only the top form, I preferred it’s balance and smooth curves. I decided to explore repeating the form, and rotating it to create a new shape.

in software design development + I decided to revisit my original concept of curve tessellation from module one. After importing images of tessellating curves into Rhino I traced the them and then used paneling tools to grid points on the curves. Unfortunately the paneling the grid didn’t work out successfully, so I chose to explore different options to recreate this aesthetic. + After multiple Iterations of paneling grids were developed, and although some of them produced some interesting results, I found wasn’t quite happy with the aesthetics of the panels or their relation to my original idea for form. Looking back to my original concept I decided to revisit the idea of tessellation and repetition in a more curvilinear wave pattern.

I found precedence for the kind of the intersecting ribs i was hoping to create in another in the project, Bifid, a light by Alisa Andrasek. The project uses parametric design, to create a light that fits into the geometry of an existing ceiling, through a numerically controlled fabrication method. LIke projects mentioned in lectures - this project incorporates information about the eventual site into the design early on. The Bifid project is site specific, and created in direct relation to its context similiar to Zaha Hadid’s Riverside Museum that is currently being built in Glasgow. In the Bifid project, the design is generated through input of information about the material it will be made from, the size and geomotry the roof will fit into, as well as information about material constraints of the fabrication method. Each time a new lantern is made for a roof, the resulting design is different and fits it’s site specifically. The design can be reroduced or iterated in a multitude of different ways to suit different situations. Additionally the creation of each unique iteration of the design cost no more than another because data about the construction process is imbedded in the design from the very beginning.

+ I continued paneling my form, taking direct inspiration from the aesthetic of the Bifid light. I wanted to find a balance between the density of ribs and a intricate looking form.

the use of parameters in digital design To reflect on the advantages of parametric design, i’d like to discuss another example by Zaha Hadid. Nordpark Cable Railway is a series of railways stations in Austria. The overall fluid aesthetic of the project remains the same at each station, but at every different site the station is adapted its unique site conditions. Each design is defined by the same parameters, but using a different set of site specific data, to come out with different design outcomes. “Each station has its own unique context, topography, altitude, and circulation. We studied natural phenomena such as glacial moraines and ice movements - as we wanted each station to use the fluid language of natural ice formations, like a frozen stream on the mountainside.” Zaha Hadid. The fabrication process was highly precise and allowed the highly complex curvilinear structures to be recreated extremely accurately from the computer models. In relation to our project, the site specific parameters in this project can be compared to the parameters I tailored to my meet my concept. Changing the patterns of grids, the length and style of finned edges and the distance of offsets by instructing rhino of different parameters– is a similar process to instructing software of specifics of site conditions. The Nordpark Cable Railway parameters are informed by the site’s context. The context of our project was in a sense our initial concept, because the project was deliberately removed from context of site (and my design is further removed from this context as it is going to be suspended in the air). I changed and tailored my form to reflect the concept of ideas about the fluidity of the flight path of birds, and the idea of replicating complex curves that would be impossible to draw without technology.

prototype construction  I constructed prototypes from different weights of paper and card to test out different panelizing grids and rib structures. Looking at the different grids I decided it was Important for me to create a grid that looks organic not too structured. Choosing a grid that enable the idea of curves to be prominent enough was another important discovering in my prototyping. I was led me to decide on a wave patterned grid. + Prototyping also helped me come up with a solution to neatly joining the ends of the finned edges: I trialed making the surface narrower towards the end points (where it will meet up with another surface) and thicker towards the middle.

I finished Module Two with a panelised model that did not quite epitomize the sinuous, continuous curve inspired by my initial concept, and that did not appear very logical to construct (or likely to be rigid, or self supporting). During the module I found design resolve through iterating the process of sketching and then panelizing using different methods. My form advanced and changed as I made small iterations, by following the same processes but making different choices and adjustments. Only after emerging from this cycle of form finding did I arrive at the stage where I could see what methods of panelizing would most effectively optimize my model for construction At the very end of the module, after exploring extensively the possibilities of paneling with rhino and prototyping physically what I discovered, was I ready to find balance in panelizing between performance, function and aesthetics. This kind of balance for optomization was well explained by Jane Burry in her lecture, and her co written chapter on Optimization - she discussed how optimization is introduced at different stages in different buildings, and how digital design is helping to incorporate optimization into the design process.

To find a new paneling method I looked for current precedence in Architectural practice. And, while searching for precedence of ribbing and waffle structures I was struck by this gigantic interlocked structure that was finished this year. The project was a redevelopment of Plaza de la Encarnacion, in the southern Spanish city of Seville (by J. MAYER H. architects). The complex shape had a complex role to fill, it needed to provide shade, and to avoid roman ruins below it, it could only have supports based in certain places. The exposed interlocking and that lack of an external skin makes the form’s density visible, which in this case creates a visual intrigue that I think highlights the complexity of the structure. Anyone viewing the building can see the complexity of the structure holding it up, and can see how structural integrity relies on each part of the structure being unique.

For me, this project set a precedence for fabrication: both aesthetically and structurally. I was Influenced to look further at ribbing, and new methods for creating ribs. It also gave me confidence that the structural form I had had in my mind would be possible to construct, and that it could have structural integrity and rigidity. I learnt from my first experience of prototyping that a structure that fitted together without the need for glue would be significantly more effective for fabrication. I could visulaize what I wanted it to look like, so I sketched this, thought it through and worked out it would need flat surfaces all the way through, into contoured sections - similar to when I contoured my initial plastcine model. Contouring this way would possibility make manual change easier (compared to working off a grid and control points) - If I could manually change position of contours and hence manipulate the density of ribs by hand.

New Aims and Direction: + to find form that would not be as intricate, flimsy and difficult to make as my initial prototype. + to again find the visual fluidity of a flock of flying birds (and visible in my original plastcine model + to find a structural system rigid enough to supports itself to a degree This led to me to experiment with devising a new ribbing system on Rhino.

new method for panelising I wanted to crete ribs by contouring my digital form in two directions, and after exploring the different rhino tools I found a method to do this. 1. Select surface (Sel Srf), Contour (Contour), Select Direction of Contours (position line perpendicular to contour direction), Select Density of Contours. 2. I then repeated this contouring process, and choose direction of contours in the second direction. 3. I continued by experimenting with the density of contours, and once happy with the direction and density I turned the curves into surfaces, by choosing ‘Surface from Planar Curves’ 4. To alter density further I deleted select surfaces. I deleted contour surfaces in the middle to create denser edges and less dense centre. (+ subjective designerly decisions)

Final Design Outcome

Fabrication Layout After unrolling each surface and its corresponding intersection points, I lay these out in a logical sequence to use as a reference during fabrication. The horizontal surfaces were named x, and the vertical surfaces named y. They were numbered in sequence moving from left to right, and were also colour coded, and labeled upper or lower according to which part of the model they corresponded to. Unrolling Surfaces for Fabrication Part of my decision to create my form with contoured ribs, was it’s suitability for construction. A waffle structure can be interlocked by notches. I created my notches by finding the intersection points between every surface and turning these into a curve. Then by using the Rhino model as a guide I determined which direction the x and y surfaces should be notched. Finally, I split the curves so that the notch would extend to the middle of one surface, and the composite on the surface it is joining. Done manually, finding and selecting every intersection was a long process. It was difficult also to select the right intersection curves that correspond to the right surface when unrolling my model. I suggest that rhino scripts that I was lacking would provide a quicker and easier way to prepare for fabrication than unrolling each piece individually.

The project Zero/Fold Screen, MATSYS sits apart from crowds of other laser cut forms due to the way it makes the method of construction meaningful to the form. The design team chose to pay close attention to avoiding material waste, they in fact managed to avoided creating any. The geometry of the panels is more than just an aesthetic and structural optimization it is a critical reflection on the construction process. They achieved this by first setting parameters around their basic material dimensions and then splitting that material into components that would minimize material waste while still creating an undulating, light-filtering screen. Compared to my own project, and my nesting of my unrolled pieces, the MATSYS projects is much more effective at imbedding imformation about construction into the form finding process This project reflects a major challenge in Architectural practice – To avoid material waste as a byproduct of complex digital fabricated geometries. One of our challenge was to nest our form into a minimal space. But doing this by hand didn’t reduce material wastage as much as was physically possible. If parameters of material dimensions are set before hand (as in this project) rather than the typical practice of factoring in parameters of typical material sheets at the end of the design process, there could be really positive environmental effect as a result.









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Steps for Fabrication Lay out pieces in order (corresponding with the initial fabrication layout) Then, working methodically, starting with upper x – 1, fit together the x notches with the first set of corresponding y surfaces. Add X layers in sequence, until there are notches to fit in more y surfaces. Once all upper x and upper y surfaces are interlocked together to form the upper part of the model, lay model aside to work on fabricating the lower part. To complete the model in step 11 fit together the upper and lower halves by joining lower x-4 and upper y-5

Prototyping and Construction Prototyping was especially helpful for working out where pieces intersect and on which side of pieces cuts needed to be made. I created 3 prototypes at different scales and out of different materials. I fabricated my final model using pieces laser cut from the fab lab. The pieces were considerably neater than when cut by hand and fit together perfectly. I used my 1:1 Prototype and my Rhino file as a reference point for fabrication. + I altered some pieces of my final design – working off the template of my cut out unfolded model and experimenting with my prototype. My decision to make adjustments was mainly based on aesthetic and design preferences – my physical model looked different in some aspects to the digital model in ways I didn’t anticipate, so I was able to tailor parts of the model back to my taste manually (but still accurately because I was able to work off a laser cut template).

The influence of fabrication constraints on form It was interesting but not suprising that during the process of assembling my model, as I added more pieces, each connection forced a rigidity on the overall framework, so therefore no glue was necessary for the frames to hold together. The need to find a optomized form that was oth rigid and refelctive of my intitial concept was a defining influence on the final design. The constraints and practicality of fabircation combined with my subjective decision held a joint influence on the final form finding process.

Critical Reflection The complexity of form that architects can create is increasing with new technology, and new developments within digital modelling in other design spheres. As Computers and fabrication machinery get increasingly intelligent and more accurate we are equipped with (1) tools that help us think of increasingly complex forms to represent (2) methods to represent these complex forms and (3) machinery to create these complex forms. Between the time an idea is initially conceived and when its finally fabricated the designer needs to be able to communicate this idea to others involved in the construction process. Computers also help to allow this, they are able to document detailed instructions for construction and accordingly give designers better control. But this requires intelligence on the part of the designer – they need to consider the best way to represent their intentions to another person, and then harness technology to do this. It was discussed by one guest lecturer that on his building sites he usually has a sketch model, a digital model on a laptop and a full set of working drawings, and that often he would re draw his working drawings using methods that best suited the builder (i.e changing to a convention used in ship making for a carpenter who was a ex ship maker). I can see now how instructions for fabrication need to be subjective, especially as architectural forms get increasingly complex. Reflecting on my fabrication process I think that if anyone else tried to construct my lantern, coming from a starting point that was removed from the design process

it would be incredibly hard to visualize how it was meant to fit together in the same way that I could. Even on the level of complexity of our project, I could see how important it is for a designer to intelligently communicate with fabricators; by logically documenting and discerning exactly which bits of information the computer produced were most informative. If an Architect effectively uses technology to communicate complex opportunities they can see to others, it is possible for them hold a greater influence over the fabrication of their own buildings, to both conceive highly complex ideas and execute them. It isn’t possible yet for computers to automatically create construction instructions that completely match the designer’s intent. Throughout the three modules I found that intelligence on the part of the designer was crucial and surprisingly important in many aspects of the design process. One example was my decision to move from one fabrication technique to another. My decision hinged on the fact that I didn’t have a high level of control I wanted with the first method, so I looked for a second method in which I had more input to manipulate grids and ribs. Rather than being constricted by what I could achieve with the tools I was using, I followed my design intent and searched for a new way to use tools I had to realise my intentions. I think that in Architectural practice it would be easy, without a clear intention to apply non-appropriate parametric criteria. Without an intelligent designer, it is hard for digital tools to be used effectively, and I think this supports the idea that digital design is not purely objective and computer automated.

Reflecting on my own experience I can many positives of parametric design and digital fabrication. One key positive is the accuracy, and complexity and speed at which form can be created. For example, if in this project I’d been able to instruct the computer of parameters it could have really improved the unrolling and fabrication process. If I could have linked dimensions and variables to geometry in such a way that when the values change the parts change as well – It would have made making notches quicker and easier. After nesting and laser cutting my lantern, I can also see a great opportunity for digitally enabled fabrication to allow for a new way of understanding material constraints, and promote and enable sustainability and minimal waste. I think that although I considered the constraints of fabrication during my design process and it influenced my form – it would have been possible to incorporate even more sensitivity to waste during the optimization of my final form. After creating several prototypes and a final model I can still see many different alterations that I would like to make. If I were to do so, I could without starting the whole design process again. The first reading in this course discussed the shift in architectural design towards digital technology and the exploration of complex geometries, digital fabrication, and how the architectural practice is learning how to translate this shift into education. I can now looking back over the course how digital design software is flexible, and any single action can be a very different tool, depending on how one uses it. The ability for tools in design software to be reinvented and used in different ways, sort of parallels too how digital

design can be taught in a huge number of various different ways. I found that I learnt best through personal exploration and interpretation. I think that my learning progression relates back to some key ideas of critical thinking: i moved from seeking the ‘right solutions’, to learning to find the right solutions, and finally realisng that knowledge about digital design is ongong and evolving. This gave me encouragement to use tools is the way that I wanted to use them, and look online for advice and discussion about the ways people within the archicture practice are using computers. The whole process from module one to three made me think in more abstract ways than I had previously, it helped to remove myself from context and consider more subjective representation. I learnt to pair my intention with flexibility so that i was never to precious to change my design approach so I could find a optimum form. The design I emerged with at the end of module three was not anything I expected at the start of Module One. I enjoyed all of these aspects, and being able to think in new ways and explore form without reservations, and without a distinct visual objective. I believe that the negatives of digital design, or rather what needs to be closely considered is the designer’s relationship with the computer and digital fabrication. I think that a computer is only a machine when you has passive relationship with it, but is an effective creative tool when you have a clear aim. And - above all, what this semester proved to me is that technology is only replacing human intelligence, not the brilliance of human creativity.


Module 4 Bradley Elias Student # 356423 Semester 1 - 2011 Virtual Environments 10008

Chapter 1:

Bombastic Nonsense

The first tute commenced. I sat on that orange couch and attempted to jump start my brain. I could faintly hear the walls of the Baldwyn Spencer Building laughing at me. A cocktail of queasiness – a mixture of bad coffee and blind ambition - sat heavily in the pit of my stomach. After a few attempts I eventually managed to jump start my brain. I grabbed some clay and attempted to mould it. I felt helpless holding that cold hunk of clay. I sat in disappointment, turning that nondescript blob idly in my hands, unwilling to express my prissy little ideas. I was imprisoned by the tyranny of perfectionism.

Above: I eventually made a forced attempt to meet the assignment brief. I produced a frustratingly obvious representation of the natural process of mitosis with a series of literal sketches and a clay model. My approach to the assignment was proving to be inefficient and unrewarding. So, I turned to the prescribed readings for some direction and inspiration.

Chapter 1: Bombastic Nonsense

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Bourgeois boy longs for a ‘Dada’ play-pen Right & Below: Time Vs Organisation An abstract interpretation of the relationship between time and formal symmetry in a cell undergoing mitosis.

Upon reading Ostwald and Chapman’s paper on the design philosophy of Austrian firm Coop Himmelblau I was motivated to alter my approach. Ostwald and Chapman’s paper extensively outlines Coop Himmelblau’s use of the ‘pyschogram’ – an ideographic sketch that purportedly captures the “unsullied subconscious desire of the architect”. This “celebration of the original design impulse, instance or event” seemed to be the perfect antidote to my dubious brand of perfectionism. I attempted to engage in a more impulsive design process. From the outset I was sceptical about my ability to purely tap into the virtue of automatism. I quickly realised the obvious, it would be difficult to find the ‘off switch’ for my cerebral cortex. I was aware of the cliché that I was enacting – a typically precious bourgeois student attempting to liberate himself from the constraints of the mind. I thought, even if I found such the ‘off switch’, would it negate my ability focus on the assignment brief? So, I identified and extract one key concept from each of my selected natural processes. I used each key concept as a guide. These key concepts helped to set design boundaries and create a sort of child’s ‘play pen’ in which I could be more impulsive and interpretive. I would put myself in this ‘play pen’ and then try to find the imaginary ‘off switch’. Above: A Coop Himmelblau ‘Psychogram’ is superimposed over a refined model. The formal similarity between this early sketch and the refined model demonstrates a commitment to preserving the ‘original design impulse’.

Chapter 1: Bombastic Nonsense

Key Concept 1: Time Vs. Organisation (Mitosis) I identified a relationship between time and organisation in the formal composition of a cell during the process of mitosis. As time elapses, the cell appears to be more organised / symmetrical. The chromosomes begin as messy strands and by the final phase (metaphase) they are uniformly aligned. There is a sort of bio-mollecular ballet in action.

Above & Left: Using paper for a an abstract 3D interpretation of the concept. At each line a fold was made at a random angle. The frequency of the lines increases as time elapses. The theory; more folds = more chaos (less order) over time. Chapter 1: Bombastic Nonsense

Virtual Environments 10008

Key Concept 2: The Kamikaze Particle (Wind Erosion) I investigated issues of scale in natural processes and ended up focusing on the traumatic life of an individual sand particle during the process of wind erosion. During the process of wind erosion a single particle may be exposed to several high energy collisions. This made me think of the particle as a sort of kamikaze. It is launched into a heap of foreign particles and it breaks up on impact. The statement - “all representations are constructed”- is debatable. Firstly, we must consider what is being represented. If the designer is attempting to represent a logical concept, the statement may be is true. However, if the designer is attempting to visually represent an emotion, an impulse or an abstract idea, the statement does always hold true. The term ‘constructed’ generally implies an inherent systemization of elements or a sense of organisation. The World English Dictionary defines the noun ‘construct’ as - “something formulated or built systematically.” The general purpose of the ‘psychogram’ is to free oneself from intellectual systemisation in an attempt to represent subconscious thought purely. The psychogram is an attempt to visually represent an impulse. There is no formula or system present in the psychogram. A structure or system may not always be consciously embedded in a representation. However, a structure or system may be recognised in the representation through post rationalisation.

Chapter 1: Bombastic Nonsense


Flight / Transportation




Above: Abstract sketch (psychogram style) representation of the particle’s traumatic journey

Virtual Environments 10008

I was satisfied with the visual energy of the abstract sketches. I was particularly pleased with the formal expression of tension, aggression and explosiveness.

I decided to adapt this sort of 2D concept into a form that would suit the human body. Initially through sketches (above) and later through a hybrid clay /card model.

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Virtual Environments 10008

Key Concept 3: Data Flow (Fluvial Erosion) Left: Interpretations of a contour map highlighting the areas of a meandering river that are most effected by fluvial erosion (The areas where the most sediment is lifted from the river floor and banks). I interpreted the formal elements of hydrological diagrams. These diagrams were based scientific data collected from studies of fluvial erosion.

Above: Zaha Hadid’s entry for the Cairo Expo Centre The echoing contour lines o f Hadid’s Expo centre bare resemblance to my early interpretations of fluvial erosion. Through further research I discovered that Hadid also used the process of fluvial erosion as direct inspiration for the King Abdullah II performing arts center.

Chapter 1: Bombastic Nonsense

Virtual Environments 10008

Aggressive Ugliness My 2nd outcome from module 1 was ugly, messy and chaotic, stricken with tension and discord. These formal qualities are somewhat similar to the qualities expressed by film maker Werner Herzog in his interpretation of the natural world. During the filming of ‘Fitzcaraldo’, Herzog described nature as ‘full of ugliness, obscenity… asphyxiation, tension, choking and fighting’. Herzog’s cynical and sensational portrayal of nature as being full of rotting, devouring, fighting and bleeding reminded me of Wolf Prix’s striking description of a design “that bleeds, that exhausts, that whirls, and even breaks. Architecture that, stings, rips and tears under stress”. I found descriptors such as “tearing, ripping and slicing” to be infinitely more enticing than any sober interpretation of the elegant systems present nature. In Coop Himmelblau’s work “The bodily act of violence becomes the art object, as the artist tears, rips, slices and shreds.” This idea is reminiscent of Herzog’s description of a carcass being sliced open and torn

apart by the razor sharp teeth of a predator. I like the idea of the designer acting as a sort of predator, attempting a quick and concentrated release of tension and aggression through the formal elements of his/her work. Here’s another pornographic quote from W. Prix - ‘Architecture should be...hard, angular, brutal , obscene, voluptuous, alluring, repelling, wet and throbbing.” This dramatic portrayal of an ideal architecture is to me, far more seductive and engaging than the precise and dry science of bio-mimmicry. For better or worse, I was seduced by the obscenity of subconscious thought and like a dadaist brat I blindly refused to maturely engage with the highly rational and elegant systems inherent in nature. Abstract qualities of chaos, asphyxiation, tension and aggression were expressed in my second formal outcome - an interpretation of a single particles’ traumatic journey during wind erosion. I selected this second outcome for use in module 2.

Above: Tension & Aggression Formal similarities between my 2nd outcome and the architecture of Coop Himmelblau.

Chapter 1: Bombastic Nonsense

Virtual Environments 10008

Lab, Play-pen or Swamp? I realized that I had ignored precedents of design that utilise digital technology in order to replicate programs and systems found in nature. This highly sober and scientific approach to design is known as ‘Bio-mimicry’. It dawned on me that there was indeed room to be highly rational within the module 1 brief. ‘Evolutionary’ design is a generative form of bio-mimicry. Evolutionary models are “based on mimicking rules of natural growth such as mutation and reproduction” through the use of complex algorithms. (Oxman - 2008) Evolutionary design theory goes against the grain of formal paradigms of the post-modern era. Some would see this highly scientific and rational approach as being a conscious backlash against the often flagrantly illogical works of the post-modern era. Generative digital design is generally more rational (and often more efficient) than post modernist or deconstructivist design, but this does not necessarily make it more meretricious. If an architect becomes a programmer whose algorithms do nothing more than mimic the rules of nature, is there any room left for expression? Some would argue that the philosophy of evolutionary design is far more humanitarian than the sort of egotistical ideals of expressionism or post modernism. But if we let algorithms define architecture, and we deny artistic expression through form, are we not expunging the art from architecture? Perhaps more pertinently, are we substituting art with science? My use of the psychogram in module 1 went against the ethos of bio-mimicry and evoultionary design. Perhaps I’m being young and egotistical, but even at this very early stage in the course, I feel instinctively opposed to an extreme implementation of generative design. I appreciate the profundity of the concept and I am certainly not denouncing progress in computational science in the field of architecture - I acknowledge that the data world must be embraced. I am simply stating that we should not expunge individualism from architecture. We must cherish expression in architecture. I acknowledge that the validity of the psychogram as a ‘pure’ form of expression or visual representation is highly debatable. Many would label the pyschogram as a sort of

Chapter 1: Bombastic Nonsense

childish, Dada-esk rebellion against traditional processes. Conservative theorists would suggest that this technique and its purported Freudian engagement of the subconscious realm - a dubious and base practice, more aligned with early pagan ritual than architectural praxis. For the progressive mind, debating the ‘truthfulness’ of the psychogram as a valid form of representation would be an incredibly tenuous and complex exercise. Such a debate would be deeply rooted in the fields of psycho-analysis and philosophy. The psychogram is highly subjective both in process and outcome. Unless one adheres to Ayn Rand’s philosophy of objectivism, one must conclude that all representations are, to an extent, subjective. Thus, one must question the truthfulness of the psychogram and to an extent, the truthfulness of all other forms of representation. A designer’s success can often hinge on this understanding of the subjectivity of representations. A designer is rarely the only individual involved in the design process and various challenges are posed by collaboration. Every individual is subjected to different education and thus is equipped with a different language/knowledge set. A typical example is that of the engineer or builders whom may not have worked with 3D models and thus may not interpret them accurately or ‘truly’. Thus the designer must be aware of this discrepancy in interpretation and allow for it accordingly (create appropriate 2D representations). The subjectivity of representations is also relevant to theory based criticism. In the instance of this semester’s task, we had to acknowledge and learn from our tutor’s and peer’s interpretations and criticism of our work. Denial of these interpretations and a stubborn objectivist outlook would only serve to stifle creativity and the design process. Final Reflection: Perhaps my major weakness during module 1 was that I relied too heavily on abstract interpretation. I did not thoroughly consider the overall complexity of biological mechanisms or the highly rational and elegant systems present in nature. I decided to work at the opposite end of the spectrum - where the scientific lab is substituted for a Freudian swamp. I did this at the risk of being immersed in sticky bombastic nonsense. Perhaps I became a propagator of such nonsense.

Above: Bio-mimicry The nose cone of a Japanese 500 Series Shinkansen Bullet Train is modelled after a king fisher beak for aerodynamic efficiency.

Above: Evolutionary Design The Qatar Convention centre designed by Yamasaki Architects (2011) derives its form from algorithms that mimic the growth patterns of a cidra tree.

Virtual Environments 10008

Chapter 2:

From Dada to Data

The initial climb was over and I now stood at the edge of the diving board waiting to immerse myself in a vast pool data. Soon I would be wading like a toddler in binary soup. I used the prescribed tracing method for the main tubular part of my model. Certain formal and textural subtleties were lost in the process of digitization. This is most likely due the limitations of my chosen digitization method. I was not deterred by the loss such qualities. I saw the digitization process as a chance to explore new formal and textural possibilities, free from the rules and restrictions of the physical domain. I was working with a new set of digital limitations that were only defined by the extent of my technical knowledge. I had to acquaint myself with the interface and embrace digital tactility.

Left: Initial lofted NURBS surface The main tubular form was digitized quite easily although the irregular, spiky end forms would be realised with a far more involved technique.

Chapter 2: From Dada to Data

Virtual Environments 10008

Digital Manipulation From the outset I was excited by the potential of digital manipulation. I experimented with control point and cage edit commands. My ability to manipulate the form effectively was directly proportional to my familiarity with the interface. As I became more familiar with the interface and its subtleties, I had greater control over the model. I was beginning to explore “the new formal universe” that Branko Kolaveric describes in his text ‘architecture in the digital age’ (2003). After having spent some time toying with NURBS geometry, I was starting to understand how and why digital modelling had profoundly effected the forms of many contemporary products and buildings. I could now see NURBS surfaces in everything from toothbrushes to skyscrapers. The use of NURBS surfaces has brought about a new formal vocabulary in the field of architecture and design. As Kolaveric states “These new forms raise profound and necessary questions of an aesthetic, psychological and social nature.”

Above: Using ‘control points’ to manipulate the form of a NURBS surface. I found this form finding process to be far more fluid and engaging than my earlier attempts to find form by physically manipulating clay.

I found that the fluid nature of the digital form finding process is what makes it compelling and attractive. The designer is able to continuously tweak and experiment with the form where previously amendments and revisions would have been costly and time consuming.

Chapter 2: From Dada to Data

Virtual Environments 10008

I discovered a potential drawback of digital design whilst using Paneling tools. When software is viewed as a basic ‘tool’ as opposed to an impressive medium there is a potential to lose the more idiosyncratic and interesting qualities of a design. In the instance of panelling tools, I discovered that is easy to generate an uninspired, homogeneous aesthetic. In order to break this textural uniformity I would have to engage more deeply with the software. I experimented with basic panelling techniques as well as techniques that utilized point attractors and variable offset grids. I generally found that the more involved I was with the software, and the more data I entered (i.e. specifying custom panels and control point locations) the more satisfying the outcome.

Chapter 2: From Dada to Data

Virtual Environments 10008

Parameteric Power In the process of parametric design, stability is replaced with variability and “singularity with multiplicity.” (Kolarevic 2003). In the instance of my module 2 work, I was able to use control points in order to manipulate the form (see below) and the panelling grid would instantly adapt to these changes. I could also continually tweak the density of the panelling grid using assigned sliders (see right) and the form would remain workable. Previously these two attributes were distinct and stable. With the implementation of parametric software (grasshopper), these distinct attributes became linked, associated variables. I engaged with parametric design using very basic, beginner techniques. However, the raw power and fluidity of the process was still astounding. In parametric design, it seems as though one is afforded an extra dimension on functionality. It is natural for most digital design processes follow the conventional hierarchical logic of standard computer science. Parametric design though, seems to be a departure from this paradigm.

Above: Grasshopper Definition I was able to control the density of the panel grid using the ‘U & V Grid #’ sliders.

Chapter 2: From Dada to Data

Virtual Environments 10008

Left: The aggressive, stabbing end forms were of great importance to my outcome for module 1. I attempted to utilise the panelling tools ‘random height offset’ grid command in order to recreate these forms. The results were unsatisfactory. Whilst it was easy to generate the forms, I felt as though I had little control over the quality of such forms. I felt creatively isolated from the process. I needed to grapple more closely with the interface. This would involve using extrude to point and patch commands.

Right: I digitally replicated these aggressive, shard like end forms using manual techniques. I was originally frustrated by the clunky technique of replicating these end forms using extrude to point and patch commands. But I quickly realised that the results of the manual approach seemed to be more dynamic and engaging. I discovered that whilst some digital techniques may be frustrating and time consuming, they may allow for greater control over the formal outcome.

Chapter 2: From Dada to Data

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Final Digital Model (2D Panels): Orthographic Drawings

Chapter 2: From Dada to Data




Right Virtual Environments 10008

Final Digital Model (3D Panels): Orthographic Drawings

Chapter 2: From Dada to Data




Right Virtual Environments 10008

“A new digital continuum, a direct link from design to construction is established through digital technologies.” - Branko Kolarevic (Architecture in the Digital Age: Design and Manufacturing (New York; London:Spon Press, 2003)) This semester’s task in virtual environments was very much a small scale enactment of the ‘digital continuum’ described by Kolarevic. In module II, we began submerging ourselves in a vast digital pool of data. It was perhaps the most fluid stage on the ‘continuum’. Whilst the digital modelling process was in many ways empowering, It still posed great challenges. One may have been able to easily achieve satisfying formal representations through digital modelling, but how could one know if these outcomes could be realised in the physical? The biggest challenge was estimating how the 3D model would behave when built out of card and if indeed it could be built out of card at all. In our instance, this disconnect between the 3D model and the material could only be resolved through the process of trial and error. We could establish a sort of dialogue between the digital model and a physical prototype. We discovered that this interplay between the physical material and the digital model can be a form defining process. It can also be a frustrating process, one that is certainly more staggered and jerky when compared to the fluid intial phases of digital manipulation. Of course, digital technology allows for more sophisticated ways of predicting how a fabricated design will perform. There is a potential to incorporate structural and performative data into a parametric model. Given the often frustrating nature of the ‘trial and error’ technique, it is not surprising that in contemporary practice architects “find themselves increasingly working across other disciplines, such as material science and computer aided manufacturing” (Kolarevic 2003). There is a certainly push to bridge the gaps between the physical and data worlds. The thought of a seamless transition between digital modeling and fabrication is inspiring. With the rise of digital fabrication we are witnessing an exciting shift away from the Fordian paradigms of fabrication and industrial manufacturing. There is no longer a need to ‘standardise’ components.

Chapter 2: From Dada to Data

Digitally controlled machinery can now manufacture unique and complex components at an affordable cost. This new form of mass production has been given the name ‘mass-customization. “It is just as easy and cost effective for a CNC milling machine to produce 1000 unique objects as it is to produce 1000 identical objects.” - (Kolarevic 2003) This notion is directly relevant to the semester’s task. We were able to utilize the card cutter and laser cutter in order to quickly produce unique components for little cost. In professional design praxis there are other pertinent challenges to the ‘digital design continuum.’ They main challenge involves redefining the current model of collaboration between architect and other parties (engineers, builders etc.). Currently, the sharing of digital models between parties is still discourage by the legal profession. Established legal and social practices involve a “highly fragmented and differentiated structure” (Kolarevic 2003). Whilst these practices facilitate for a clear definition of responsibilities, they stands in the way of the pure collaborative synergy made possible by a digital continuum. Final Reflection: I discovered that there is a great scope of techniques that exist within the realm of digital modeling. These include techniques that mimic paper based techniques such as tracing and drawing, and techniques that are unique to the digital experience. My basic foray into parametric design helped me to gauge some of the power and potential of digital design. I enjoyed my time in the digital realm so much that I already have a strange sense of nostalgia for data. I left the world of 3D modelling with a sort of melancholy. I was filled with fantasies of fully emmersive interfaces and virtual utopias. I longed for Ted Nelson’s ‘Xanadu’. A pure, nonsequential virtual experience - where traditionally regimented computer hierarchy is substituted for an interconnected network of free flowing data streams.

Above: Giorgio De Chirico’s ‘Nostalgia of the infinate’ - Oil On Canvas - 1913

I felt a strange nostalgia for the infinite potential the data world. I could not help but think of the paintings of Giorgio De Chirico - Where alternate, metaphysical realities evoke a sort of nostalgia for the uknown or the future.

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Chapter 3:

Material Limitations

The challenges of technical representation

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The challenges inherent in conventional technical representation are in many ways amplified by the nature and complexity of curvilinear 3D models. Typical, static orthographic drawings may not provide sufficient insight into the nature of 3D models. In the instance of this semester’s third module we had to follow our own technical documentation in order to fabricate our digital model. By this stage, we were already closely acquainted with the form of our model through rigorous 3D manipulation.

Chapter 3: Material Limitations

Throughout the process of digitization, I had in many ways inherited a visual language that was unique to my model. The key challenge lies in translating this language so that it is intelligible for others. Obviously, it is important to know who the recipient of the technical documentation will be. In our instance we had to document the construction process clearly enough for a fellow student to be able to replicate the process. We also created these technical guides for our own purposes. I created

several ‘2D’ or ‘static’ technical guides. However, I consistently found myself back at the computer, inspecting the 3D model for guidance. Ultimately, I found 2D representation to be greatly limited. Kolarevic asserts that “uniting all participants through a single digital modelling system does hold a promise of a remedy for the present redundancies and inefficiencies” of typical 2D forms of design communication. Of course, new challenges would lie in coordinating the production of this shared digital model.

Virtual Environments 10008

1:1 partial prototype construction

The construction of a 1:1 partial prototype was useful in weeding out teething problems and experimenting with construction methods. This prototype helped me to determine important factors such as the type of glue I would use (P.V.A.) and how I would use this glue. I found that using small, well spread amounts of P.V.A and applying pressure during the setting process was the best way to achieve a strong and clean joint.

Chapter 3: Material Limitations

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The tyranny of the physical (limitations) Left: Perhaps the most significant limitation of the card cutter was that it could only score one side of the card. Here you can see the results of attempting to rotate against the natural score ‘hinge’. The result is quite poor, the underside of the score has been significantly damage and it is now unsightly. When a score is made the card can rotate on a 180 degree hinge. This meant means I would have to reverse score, or score the underside of the card if I wanted to create an inverted hinge.

Above: Stray ink from the car cutter’s pen affected several strips. According to the Fab Lab staff, even if all ink elements are removed from the rhino file the card cutter’s pen still occasionally makes contact with the card.

Left: Tears and distortions were made by the card cutter. Some pieces were ruined and had to be replaced manually. Upon questioning the fab lab staff as to why this occurred I was informed that this happens when the cutter has to cut junctions of several acute angles. This is an obvious example of a fabrication limitation that I was unaware of. In Professional practice such limitations may have been accommodated for in the digital domain. Left: Caliper Studio’s Genetic stair project (2009) provides an example of how the designer can use digital modelling techniques (parametric techniques) in order to accommodate for limitations in digital fabrication. In the instance of the genetic stair, an issue was posed by an inability to fabricate certain junctions of acute angles. The solution was to use parametric modelling in order to find a form that allowed for trouble free fabrication. The outcome could be criticized due to its formal compromise. If more manually intensive fabrication techniques had been integrated into the process perhaps the formal outcome may have been more closely aligned with the initial design idea.

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1:1 full prototype construction

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Formal and technical development

Left: After experimenting with LED lights and my 1:1 full scale prototype, I discovered a dynamic effect at the end of the model. I was excited by the bursting of light out of the sharp, aggressive end forms. I wanted to try and replicate this effect throughout the lantern. Left: Using ‘dupborder’ and ‘offset’ commands I in scribed a triangle on randomly selected panels. The obvious downside to this technique was that I had to estimate the appearance of the panels on the completed 3D object. I should specify that this technique was a last resort to achieve a realistic custom panelled lantern. It is a very frustrating technique that really goes against the grain of the course. It undercuts the essence of plug ins such as panelling tools. It’s frustratingly rigid technique. I would have felt much more in control the design If I was able to amended the panels whilst they were on a 3D model.

Left: My technical drawings now had to accommodate for the ‘FabLab’. Their strict and simple technical requirements made it easy for me to format my files in a language that was intelligible for the ‘FabLab’ staff.

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Technical Documentation (Master guide)


DETAIL 1B Positioning Key

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Represents typical connection from tab to underside of linked component. Circle represents the underside.

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Constructed Lantern with Customised 2D Panels

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The amplification of rudeness At this point in the process I realised that I had become so consumed by technical procedure that I had been distracted from evaluating the formal progress of my lantern. My initial ambitions of instilling a sense of tension and aggressiveness in the form were only vaguely realised. I wanted to amplify and overdrive any rudeness present in my model. Following a tip off from my tutor, I found inspiration in the architecture of ARM (Ashton Raggatt & McDougall). ARM’s Storey hall (1997) is an intensely ugly building. Its façade, inspired by ‘fractal geometry’ is unashamedly aggressive and obnoxious. An army of malicious acute angle triangles never cease to attack and successfully offend innocent Swanston street bystanders. The hall interior, purportedly also inspired by ‘science’ is equally loud and harsh. This isn’t your average brand of unfortunate ugliness. This is meticulously calculated, detailed and planned ugliness. This building seems to have an ingrained awareness about its own ugliness. ARM’s intensely ugly yet oddly charming design inspired me to amplify any similair qualities of aggressiveness and perverse charisma that were present in my design.

Right: The ‘tri-basic’ style panel design that I had realised was a little too slightly for my liking. So I returned back to my second 3D panelling outcome and attempted to utilise my recently learned manual panel offsetting technique. Following ARM’s lead, I pushed for a truly rude design.

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Left: Colour Coded Guide I used the same technique as in my 2D model in order to technically document the position of ‘strips’ on the lantern.

Left: Basic 3D panel 1:1 partial prototype I explored basic construction techniques for 3D panelling.

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Represents typical connection from tab to underside of linked component. Circle represents the underside.

Technical Documentation: Construction Master Guide The structure is once again split into strips and seams. There are three main sections. Strips in 1st section are comprised of a single component. Strips in section 2 are comprised of 2 components. Strips in the third section are comprised of 3 components. Refer to 2D construction master guide for end ‘cap’ details.

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Fully Fabricated Lantern

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“Now that I feel more confident in my understanding of the principles of digital media, I’m really interested in absorbing the idea of buildings that are giant robots that move, buildings that are themselves the media. I wouldn’t say that media is secondary, but maybe ancillary to the history of architecture – an aspect that most architects would typically exclude from the architectural problem in the classical sense.” - Greg Lynn I read this quote prior the commencement of this semester’s course and had absolutely no conception of what Lynn was describing. Having completed the course I now can now understand Lynn’s description of a building as a giant moving robot. Essentially, the dynamism of digital modelling allows for the process of design to be in a constant state of flux. As these models respond to our manipulation they react dynamically. These reactions serve to further inspire and direct the design process and a sort of positive feedback is

created. This idea is supported by Rivka Oxman’s contention that digital design is better described as a process of constant ‘formation’ as opposed to a process of ‘form finding’. (Oxman 2008)

dream of a world in which all data is linked. The parametric designer stands diametrically opposed to the ethos of hierarchical, paper based computation.

This world of ‘digital media’ that Lynn describes is similar to the world of ‘hyper-media’ described in 1962 by Ted Nelson. Nelson, who also coined the term ‘hyper-text’, dreamed of free flowing data world where all information is inherently interconnected. Unfortunately, the profundity of Nelson’s paradigm was never truly realized in the field of computational science. Up until today, we have been blindly accepting a rigid and frustratingly counter-intuitive type of operating system. The push for computers to emulate the paper office is still frustratingly ever present. This hierarchical document or ‘lump file’ system flies in the face of Nelon’s vision for a virtual utopia known as ‘Xanadu.’

My brief exposure to rudimentary parametric technique was enough to instill within me a sense of optimism about the future of the data world. In the past decade, Architectural praxis has evolved radically. This shift to the world of digital media has deeply profound philosophical implications. As Lynn states “You’d be surprised how much architecture looks to philosophy.” Initially I expressed concern over the potential loss of expressionism that comes with a shift to extreme forms of generative design. I now believe, and I am optimistic, that forms of parametric and associative design will be used for the expression of individualism in the future. Regardless of my optimism, I still believe it is necessary to critique the continued implementation of digital technology in order for its application and methodology to be refined.

In the past decade, associative and/or parametric designers have comes close to realising Nelson’s

Final reflection on techniques used in Module 4: One must never underestimate the effectiveness of a narrative in the articulation of a design process. A narrative helps to bind the design process together whilst adding life and placing it in a human context. As in other forms of art, such as song writing and cinema, the narrative serves to engage an audience and helps them relate to the information presented. It is also often necessary portray the a process dramatically. Again, this instills life and emotion into a design. The cold and dry technical documentation of design can often detract from the expressiveness of a design. Sometimes it is necessary to highlight the more evocative aspects of a form or a process in order to add a sense of life to an otherwise, static representation. I used a modular grid system to organise the elements of my design.

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Stephanie Dodd

Student No: 527233 Semester 1/2011 Group 11


Banksia Seed Heads

I was interested in the form of the banksia seed head, which packs the seeds in the most efficiant manner by application of a Fibonacci spiral (1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13). I thought of relating the concept to the body somehow through reference to the need for fire or extreme heat to release the seeds from their cone. I experimented with modelling the seed heads in a grouping that reflects the Fibonacci grouping. 1.2 Sketches and clay models of banksia seed forms

Eucalypt Resin

I investigated the forms of eucalypt resin as I was interested in the way it glows which could have presented an interesting result as a lantern. The shape of the resin also varies between smooth, shiny surfaces when it is first excreted and crystalised forms when it dries out which could have been reflected in variations of panelling size. 1.1 Sketches and clay models of resin inspired forms


Cyclone Yasi occurred during the first week of semester and it inspired me to examine the spiraling forms of tropical cyclones throughout their lifecycle. I sketched a time series of Cyclone Yasi’s development from 30/01/11 to 01/02/11, sketching the forms and characteristics of its development, such as surrounding tropical storms that form around it. I envisaged a time-series lantern that flowed down the body from shoulder to the upper thigh. The strength and power of the cyclone in its various stages would be reflected in the siting on the body; at its peak it would be located on the quadracep, the largest and strongest muscle in the human body. The depth of the form would increase with its development, reflecting the height of the cyclone. The cyclone would track across the body such that the body is the Earth’s surface. An LED would be located at the eye of the storm, with other LEDs highlighting the forms of the lantern. 1.3  Sketches and clay models of Cyclone Yasi possibilities including time series and body siting

16:00 29/01/11

16:00 30/01/11

03:00 01/02/11


REASSESS I felt that I wasn’t employing process-driven design, rather I was recreating the forms found in nature. Whilst I found precedents of buildings inspired a similar way (and often digitally designed) I felt that I was not engaging in the intended process-based design.

PRECEDENTS Volcano Buono by Renzo Piano in Naples (left) is an exampled of a building constructed to reflect a natural form. This building is inspired by the volcano on the horizon, which dominates the surrounding landscape. The building is sited to reflect and relate to its context, in a similar way to the requirements of siting on the body for our lantern. Artscience Museum (2010) in Singapore (right), by Safdie Architects is a digitally designed building that mimics a natural form. The museum site is below sea level and is surrounded by water, the iconic element is a form comprising 10 ‘petals’ that appear to rise out of the water like a lotus flower.


I started the design process again by looking up the first thing that came into my head - nuclear meltdown. As I read, I found myself delving into quantum mechanics and its inherent diversion from classical physics. A process that fascinated me was QUANTUM TUNNELLING: a phenomenon whereby a particle ‘tunnels’ through a barrier that is could classically not surmount because its kinetic energy is lower than the potential energy (resistance) of the barrier, a consequence of the wave-particle duality of matter.



Picasso’s studies of a bull (1945-1946), from lecture notes

4.1. Initial form

In order to better understand the process of quantum tunnelling, I listed key words from the articles I read. I simplified the main elements of the process, brainstorming words whilst thinking in the context of the lantern and its siting on the body. I consciously avoided looking at any images associated with the subject-matter though these were mostly scientific graphs and the scale of the phenomenom is so small that there are no descriptive images of the process taken from life. From there I sketched an initial form idea (4.1) which focussed on the link with wave-particle duality. Taking cues from Lecture 3, which introduced the idea of simplification and formalisation of form using Picasso’s studies of a bull (1945 - 1946), I developed my form by concentrating on and extracting different aspects of the process. 4.2 plays with the idea of the wave and includes a physical barrier in the concept; the red line is a conceptualisation of the link with the siting of the form, specifically the power of the heart, and the ability of love to overcome barriers. 4.3 removes the physical barrier, instead using the form of the rebounding wave to imply an invisible barrier; it also develops the idea of the form interacting with the body, incorporating ‘splashes’ over the left shoulder, around the waist and up over the ear; and reverts to a crystalline particle structure for the emerging particles. 4.4 is a drastic simplification of the ideas developed in 4.3 with the various elements of the process being examined (wave, splash, barrier, particle) merged into a unified form. 

4.2. Wave edge development

4.3. Removal of physical bar-

4.4. Simplification

SKE T CH M O DE L AND PR O C E S S BAS ED APPR OACHES I N CONTEMPORARY ARC HITEC TURAL DESIGN Reading the excerpt from Models: Architecture and the Miniature (Morris, 2006) inspired a quicker and more playful approach to modelling in aid of form development. I consciously aimed to work quickly (noting Frank Gehry’s average of 3.4 minutes per model) and intuitively and as a result became more adept at using the modelling clay to generate ideas. I ignored the incongruity in surface between the smooth modelling clay and the crisper, panelled forms in my head, instead using the clay to produce conceptual models and relying on the prospect of developing my form further once it is digitised. Sketch modelling allowed me to visualise the form in 3D, which I then studied with sketch drawings, similar to the process undertaken by the José Oubrerie design team in designing the Museum of Ethnography, Geneva (1997) (refer to images, right).

Mus eum of Ethnography, Geneva (1997), José Oubrerie (images from Morris, 2006)



Reflecting on my sketch-model studies, I decided that I had over-simplified the form, reducing its legibility and references to the quantum tunnelling process. Re-defining the form meant introducing back a level of complexity to the edge of the waves and I took inspiration from images of water droplets hitting water and waves rebounding off each other. I also removed the ‘emerging particles’ element, instead the tunnelling process is represented by the light penetrating the model. I explored different panelling possibilities, with denser panelling used to engender complexity along the surface of the rebounding waves and also to focus attention on the light source on the external face of the lantern. I finalised the dimensions of the form to my own body measurements. The position of the elements that interact with the body is of particular importance as the ‘breast plate’ on the inner side should line up with the heart and the shoulder and waist ‘splashes’ should also fit the body.


5.1. Sketch exploring panelling variation

5.2. Exterior view

5.3. Left side view

5.4. Right side view

5.5. Perspective view

The form’s complexity is concentrated on the interior of the lantern, with the edges of the waves curling inwards and two splashes engaging the left shoulder and the right waist. Note that the concave form of the ‘breast plate’ will not be visible when worn as the ridge of this crater will sit against the body. The inside of the crater was the initial idea for the location of the LEDs which will shine outwards, representing the ‘emerging particles’.

5.2. Interior view of final model

The exterior of the form appears plain on the clay model, however this surface will be animated during the digitisation process by panelling with increasing density and complexity around the edges of the form, and surrounding the area where the light shines through. The detail around the light source will include cutout panels to diffuse the light in different ways.



P RO T Y P I N G I experiemented with different weights of paper to test the opacity of each (note this was tested using an LED source different to those that will be used in the final model). The opacity was tested with a distance between the light and the card of approximately 5cm, which is around the distance that will be applied to the final fabricated model.

6.1 Opacity of 210gsm card

6.2 Opacity of 110gsm cartridge

6.3 Opacity of 80gsm paper

VILLA NURBS Villa Nurbs, by Enric Ruiz Geli, is a private residence that was designed entirely using NURB modelling software. This building has interesting reflections with my own form, with an internal crater-like structure (echoing the breast plate) and glowing curved skylights on the roof (reflected in the way the light will diffuse through the faceted exterior of my lantern). The building is clad on one side with transparent panels, designed using NURBS principles (as the lantern will be) and on the other with ceramic ‘scales’ which provide UV protection. The ceramic scales are inspired, in form and function, by the scales of a reptile, which are a natural protective element.

6.4 Glowing skylights of Villa Nurbs at night

6.5 Construction of curved forms

6.6 Exterior view showing scale cladding

6.7 Reptilitan inspired scale cladding




I chose the contour slice method to digitise my clay model. I froze the model, then inserted a skewer to provide reference points for the slices (image 8.2). I also impressed a wire along the exterior surface of the model, in line with the skewar, to provide additional reference points as the skewar only passed through a small portion of the model (image 8.3). Using grid paper as a guide, I traced parallel lines at 1cm intervals (image 8.4) then divided these to produce guide lines at 5 mm intervals as my model was at 1:5 scale (refer to image (8.5) below). I cut the model into twenty five 5 mm slices (image 8.6).








I traced around the first slice, marking the location of the skewar reference point. I then laid the slices out in order on grid paper, numbering them and marking the location of reference points. I imported an orthographic image of the laid out slices into Rhinocerous, marked the reference points and used the InterpCrv function to trace around the slices using NURBS curves (image 8.7). Once I had completed the tracing, I stacked the curves in order, to scale at 5 mm intervals (image 8.8). 8.9 When it came to lofting the curves, the default spine directions were very twisted and I had to realign them. Despite aliging the spine axes the resultant lofts looked deformed and twisted. 8.7 (left) Traced contours in Rhino 8.8 (above) Contour skeleton of model


I trialled panelling the model, despite its deformed nature. This was more of an experimentation with panelling than an attempt to reach a design outcome.

8.10 is a 20x20 grid with distribution towards the mean curvature, magnitude 2, with triangular panelling.


D I G I T I Z E AT T E M P T 2

9.1 Scaled reference image for contouring

Zaha Hadid Architects I played around with my initial model but was still new to Rhino and did not have much success in rendering a form that reflected my initial concept. I made a second attempt at contouring the model, this time using the orthographic images of the clay model before it was sliced up. I was able to accurately measure the image using the grid as a scale, and imported the image into Rhino (image 9.1). The slices from the initial contour method were useful for measuring the depth of the form. On reflection, the Contour Method 02 in the instruction sheet would probably have been most appropriate for digitising my clay model, however I had initially rejected this approach due to the complex wave forms around the edge of the model, which would have obscured contour lines drawn on the model. I was able to draw the contours directly into Rhino, bypassing drawing initial contour lines on the physical model (images 9.2 and 9.3, left).

9.2 Simple contoured digital model (rendered orthographic views and contour lines)

9.3 Form development with added depth and complexity around edge (rendered orthographic views and contour lines)

Zaha Hadid projects are known for their striving for seamlessness between computer generated design and construction. The Nordpark Cable Railway, Innsbruck, is a parametrically designed building that was completed in 2007 and comprises four railway stations that connect the city with the mountain. “We studied natural phenomena such as glacial moraines and ice movements - as we wanted each station to use the fluid language of natural ice formations, like a frozen stream on the mountainside.” Zaha Hadid. Geometric panelling is used to clad a complex curvilinear form, relating back to the Rhino 3D panelling applied in this project. However in this building curvilinear glass panels have been used rather than flat panels. Despite the advanced technologies used in both the design and fabrication of the panel elements of the building, critics have noted that the glass panels do not fit together neatly, being joined by black mastic seams of varying thicknesses which detract from the beauty of the overall concept. This design outcome brings to mind the quote from P. Silver in Lecture 06: “Over the last twenty years the rise of information technology has changed the way we conceptualise and design the objects around us, and yet paradoxically with this ever increasing power to visualise ideas we are in danger of distancing ourselves from the physical limitations and opportunities presented to us by the materials we use, and the processes by which these materials are transformed.” Silver, P. 2006, Fabrication: The Designers Guide: The Illustrated Works of Twelve Specialist UK Fabricators, Amsterdam; London: Architectural Press, p. 9



2 D PA N E L L I N G E X P E R I M E N TAT I O N I experimented with panelling, varying the grid using curve attractors (I had underwhelming responses with point attractors), density, magnitudes of variation and different panelling styles. In particular, I found the use of mean and gaussian curvature attractors created the most interesting forms with my model; my understanding of curvature was helped by reading Essential Mathematics of Computational Design (Rajaa Issa, 2010). The forms produced were highly varied, for example image 10.5 below shows a spikey form as a result of a high magnitude variation using a curve attractor, contrasted with image 10.2 which is a relatively neat and smooth form.

10.1. Grid: 30x30, curve attractor towards edge of wave, magnitude: 3, panel: dense

10.2 Grid: 40x20, mean curvature, magnitude: 5, panel: angle box

BMW Welt, Munich, 2007, Wolf Prix The BMW Welt building, Munich, demonstrates the way simple planar, triangular panelling can be used to create the illusion of a smooth curvilinear form. The panelling grid applied to this form is quite dense which impies a smoother form with the planar panels. My experimentation with panelling demonstrated a similar relationship between the ‘smoothness’ of the form and the density of the panelling grid.

10.3 Grid: 20x20, curve attractor 10.4 Grid: 30x20, curve attractor towards exterior opening, mag- towards exterior opening, magnitude: 5, panel: tribasic nitude: 4, panel: triangular

10.5 Grid: 30x20, curve attractors towards interior ridge top and exterior opening, magnitude: 8, panel: triangular


10.6. 3D panelling of central areas applying pyramid 2 preset.

10.7 3D panelling of central areas applying partition preset.


10.8 3D panelling of simplified model using gaussian curvature variation and pyramid panelling.

10.9 3D panelling of simplified model applying gaussian curvature variation and wedge panelling.

I experimented with 3D panelling options. Initially I concentrated on the central part of the form, between the two surfaces of the chest crater and the exterior opening (images 10.6 and 10.7). I then played around with a simplified version of the whole form (images 10.8 and 10.9). I had trouble incorporating the wave edges of the form into the 3D panelling structure and so abandoned the idea of using 3D panelling, as I felt it required oversimplification of the initial form concept.


E LABO RAT E With a better grasp of panelling techniques and curve manipulation, I started to refine my form. I panelled numerous iterations using different attractors, panel shapes and grid sizes. The emergence of a star shaped opening on the exterior of the model was a feature I hoped to integrate into my final fabrcated model; it was interesting to see the process of emergence through the generative process of digital design occurring in practice, as discussed in the reading Architecture in the Digital Age: Design and Manufacturing (Kolarevic, 2003). 11.1. Panelling iterations and experimentation generated new features in the model such as the star shaped opening on the exterior.

C H O S EN F orm

11.3 3D model I ended up using as a basis for fabrication

I decided on a sparser grid of 20x12 points attracted towards guassian curvature at magnitude 3 with triangular panelling. I prefer the bulkier, spikier form created by a sparser grid to the smoother examples on previous pages which feature denser grids. The bulkiness creates interest particularly around the edge of the form, where the most dynamic action is theoretically occurring with waves of particles being reflected off the barrier inwards. Interesting 3D forms occur on the interior of the model, with glimpses of its underside seen through the panelling lattice effect on the exterior of the model. The contrast of light and shadow created by the large, dramatic panels was a chosen lighting effect. 11.2. Orthographic views of chosen panelled form for fabrication


D esign Elaboration When I started to unroll my initial model, I realised that parts of the model, especially those around the perimeter where the waves were, overlapped (refer to the images on the right). I tried amending the model in Rhino and repanelling but was unable to get an adequate result. A new approach was needed. I tried deleting the intersecting panels but as they were quite randomly placed it ended up as a displeasing visual result. I decided to elaborate the model by simplifying it in such a way as to remove any intersections and enable fabrication.

12.1 and 12.2 Images of intersection points in digital model

Starting from the initial model, I progressively deleted the exterior surface of the model (image 12.3, below) from the centre outwards. As I reached the outer perimeter, I deleted those panels that were intersecting and adjacent panels as necessary in order to eliminate any overlapping and achieve a relatively smooth edge. Before I had removed the entire outer section of the model I decided to retain an exterior perimeter that envelops the inner surface. I was left with a two part model comprising an inner (12.5) and outer (12.4) element. Image 12.6 illustrates the interaction of the two elements. The lighting will be placed in the hollow section between the elements.

12.3 Exterior surface that was deleted

12.4 Outer element perspective

12.5 Inner element perspective

12.6 Perspective (from bottom) of inner (blue) and outer (purple) elements as they will sit together in the final fabricated model


P RO T O T Y P E Step 1. Unroll and Nest

13.1 Inner element colour coded for unrolling

13.2 Inner element colour coded, nested A1 sheets for printing

The model was unrolled in two sections - the inner element and the outer element. Starting from a strip that ran from the centre to the perimeter, groups of panels were selected, colour coded and unrolled (images 13.1 and 13.2). This continued until the entire model was unrolled. The unrolled pieces were, at times, adjusted post-unrolling where overlapping occured (for example, the orange pieces in image 13.4 were unrolled as one piece but had to be separated in order to allow fabrication). The unrolled elements were nested on an A1 size surface and scale was adjusted to 1:1 (images 13.2 and 13.4).

13.3 Outer element colour coded for unrolling

13.4 Outer element colour coded, nested A1 sheets for printing

Step 2. Tab, Score, Cut, Fold

13.5 Prined template

13.6 Draw tabs by hand and score fold lines with red ball point pen

13.7 Cut out with knife

13.8 Score fold lines and fold panels and tabs


STEP 3: FABRICATE Groups of 3-4 adjoining pieces were joined using glue, creating larger sub-sections of the model. This helped to even out any errors in fabrication across the model rather than joining pieces in a circular process and ending up with a large section of error at the end. Challenges of the fabrication process included working out which pieces joined with which and constant referral to the digital, colour coded model was necessary. It was particularly difficult because the model had been unrolled in random pieces with no order to shapes.

14.1 The model was constructed in sections of pieces to minimise error


Nadar Tehrani is a practicing architect whose practice is ‘DEDICATED TO DESIGN INNOVATION, RESEARCH, THE CULTIVATION OF NEW MEANS AND METHODS OF FABRICATION, AND THE TRANSFORMATION OF THE BUILDING INDUSTRY’. BanQ restaurant by OfficeDA was designed digitally as a ‘virtual canopy’ that embeds the diners in the grain of the restaurant by installation of a ribbed wooden ceiling. The wooden ceiling gives the illusion of structure with its floating pillars however the structural system is behind the ribs in the form a structural grid. ‘Nearly running the entire width of the space, each rib of the undulated ceiling is made from unique pieces of three-quarter-inch birch plywood adhered together in a scenario that likens to a puzzle; only one possible location for each unit, formulating the continuous member.’ My prototype contained over 30 unique sections of panels that were fabricated separately before joining together. However the unrolling process was done randomly for my model rather than in a sequence like the ribs of BanQ making the process of fabrication more difficult than necessary. Additional structural elements in the form of ribs were necessary to support the ‘facade’ of my fabricated model. Images:

14.2 Technical drawing of BanQ illustrating structural elements supporting the rib ‘facade’



Strong glue is required for panel joins that are in tension. ‘Glu Tack’ and glue tape are not strong enough to withstand the tension and became unstuch once the tension in the model increased. Strong and fast-drying glue is best for fabrication and UHU All Purpose Adhesive was found to be the best glue of those used. 15.1 Parts of the prototype became unstuck due to weak glue.

Four-faced pyramids

15.2 Four faced pyramid constructed from one piece of unrolled card

15.3 Four faced pyramid constructed from two pieces of unrolled card

15.4 Diagram illustrating optimal tabbing for constructing a four faced pyramid from two unrolled pieces.

The model is essentially a collection of four faced pyramids. The random nature of the unrolled pieces from the prototype meant that many different formations of constructing the pyramids were involved whether that be from one piece of card or two or more pieces joined together. The cleanest join is made when all panels belong to one unrolled surface. However it is not always possible to unroll the model in this way as it often results in overlapping panels. The next best and most applicable solution is where two different unrolled pieces are joined to make a four faced pyramid. In this case, the cleanest join is made if the tabs are on the piece with three sides of the pyramid.


Large panels needed reinforcing as the card is not strong enough to maintain a flat panel. Strips of foam board were glued along several of the longer panels to provide structural support. Ribbing of 600gsm card was added to the model to provide structure and also provide a way of holding the model when transporting.

15.5 Strips of foam board were glued along the edges of large panels to provide structural support.

15.6 Structural ribs were attached to the back of the model using heavy duty double sided mounting tape.



16.1 Colour coded inner and outer elements for unrolling

I decided to unroll my model again, in a more systematic way to ease the fabrication process. In selecting sections for unrolling I employed the lessons learnt from the prototype: I used chose regular, systematic pieces that went from the inside opening to the outside perimeter of the model. I also chose sections in such a way that the four-faced pyramids would be constructed in the optimum two piece way, that is with tabbing on the piece with three sides of the pyramid. I prepared the file for the FAB LAB card cutter and this was a much more time-efficient process of fabrication. Due to the tight angles of some of the corners that required tabbing, I left some of the cutting to be done manually (refer to 16.3, below). Structural ribs and foam board supporting rods were applied to the final model to strengthen it.

16.2 Nested unrolled pieces; these were a lot more regular in shape than in the prototype due to the systematic nature of the unrolling process


I developed a way to attach the LED lights to the hollow section between the inner and outer element in such a way that they could be removed and reattached easily. Using strong 600gsm card, I constructed pyramidal holders that the LED and battery sat in.

16.4 Seven LEDs were attached to 3V batteries using masking tape then placed inside pyramidal holders which were attached to the inside of the model using heavy duty double sided mounting tape.

16.3 Where tight angles would have been required for cutting tabs, manual cutting was chosen over using the card cutter at the FABLAB


REFLECT I O N challenges for architectural education in the age of digital technologies The lecture by Tom Kvan and the reading Digital Architecture as a Challenge for Design Pedagogy: Theory, Knowledge, Models and Medium’ (Oxman, 2008) describe digital design as a new way of thinking and designing – a new pedagogy. Comparing digital design processes with traditional ‘paper-based’ design highlights the unique possibilities that digital design facilitates. These new design processes and possibilities create a need to reassess and update educational models which have grown from traditional design approaches. Furthermore, the new pedagogy provokes the question of whether traditional design methods are ‘outdated’ or remain relevant in modern education and practice. The number of ways in which design can be approached has multiplied exponentially with the introduction of digital design techniques - the number of programs and tools available with each providing different approaches to design and the ways in which these tools can be used by students and architects. Our Virtual Environments project combined traditional non-digital approaches such as sketching and modelling with digital technologies; the relatively broad scope of the brief was also perhaps more contemporary than in a traditional architectural education studio where greater specifications are given. REPRESENTATIONS In Module 1, I found that I had to put a conscious effort into avoiding representations of natural forms that looked like the natural form itself. Whilst we were supposed to be investigating processes, my modelling and sketching always ended up reflecting the actual form of nature, rather than the process. In order to break from this, I chose a process that is essentially invisible (due to its size) and furthermore avoided looking at graphic representations of it. However subjective representations, influenced by western culture and symbolic links between the heart as the organ of love made their way into my design subconsciously. How does digital modelling influence design The process of 3D modelling during the design stage can produce emergent features that may be incorporated into the final model. For example during the DIGITIZE module I found that panelling experimentation produced a star shaped opening on the exterior side of my model. Although my model changed during the fabrication process and so the exterior surface was no longer used, it was a feature generated purely by the digital modelling process that I would have otherwise liked to incorporate.


CHALLENGES AND ADVANTAGES OF PARAMETRIC DESIGN APPROACHES AND FABRICATION TECHNIQUES I came up against the challenge of lack of experience and knowledge in using Rhino to adjust the curves of my digital model to rectify the panel intersection issues I came across in the fabrication module. Resorting to deletion of the exterior surface was a departure from my design but I felt that it didn’t detract from my overall concept of the barrier and quantum tunnelling. The benefit of using digital design was that I was able to use Rhino to unroll my model to fabricate it from card - it would not have been possible to fabricate the model to its exact specifications without the unroll tool. The unroll tool also allowed greater efficiency in fabrication due to being able to nest pieces and minimise the material wasted; increased efficiency and lower budgets for fabrication is stated as one of the advantages of parametric digital design approaches by Kolarevic in Architecture in the Digital Age: Design and Manufacturing (2003). TECHNICAL REPRESENTATION Traditional methods of construction use established forms of technical representation to instruct construction. Building information modelling means that programs have the ability to produce documentation for digitally designed forms, however this documentation still relatively traditional in its format. I found it challenging to provide adequate technical documentation for my model, as much of the fabrication process was intricately linked with the digital model, in particular my colour coded unrolled pieces were fabricated and glued together useing the 3D model as a reference. Digital forms of documentation and interactive technical representation (i.e. more than just a set of instructions in a document) are required to properly describe the fabrication process. GRAPHIC DESIGN: I found a grid-based layout the easiest way to organise information on a page. Preparation of this design journal involved condensing the design journals from Modules 1, 2 and 3 into half or a third of their original number of pages and I found it useful to constrain the sizes of images to create uniformity and ease of layout. The hardest part was trying to reduce the text without losing the narrative of the journal as I found my pages were often text-heavy.


Module Four Reflect and Report

Gerard Turnbull

Student Number:537457 Semester 1/2011 Group 2

e n g e n d e r

p r o c e s s e n g e n d e r | n a t u r a l

Jellyfish Motion |The first concept that was explored was the motion created from a jelly fish propelling itself through water. The jellyfish contracts to push fluid out of its mushroom shaped body, streamlining itself as it moves forward. The tentacles oscillate in waves that travel along the whole length of the jellyfish. I was inspired by the gentle forms that the jellyfish creates from this simple movement. Venus Fly Trap |The Venus fly trap has an incredible ability to close its jaw-like structure rapidly to trap insects. I researched the process and the mechanism before trying to represent it with sketches. From these sketches, I explored three dimensional forms using clay. The clay model gave a good indication of the interesting lighting and shadows that could be created.

e n g e n d e r | n a t u r a l

Insect flight | The natural process of insect flight is very complicated but very graceful. The wing speed for an average insect is 200 flaps per second as the wing moves in a figure eight motion perpendicular to its body. In order to capture this incredible process, I had to take something very complicated and break it down in to a simpler form. I started by studying slow motion videos taken of different insect’s during flight. By capturing the frames and importing them in to Photoshop, I was able to create a time lapse of the process. The simplified forms created were modelled using clay. I was particular drawn to the characteristics of the fire fly and chose this for the basis of my body lamp design.

p r o c e s s

Bioluminescent reaction |This is the natural production and emission of light by a living organism. I used the natural process of the chemical structure as inspiration. I first drew the chemical structure and then transformed it in to a series of patterns. From the patterns I was able to create an interesting three dimensional form. After reflecting on the idea, I discarded this concept as it does not capture the “natural process� but rather the chemical representation of it.

e n g e n d e r | p r e c i d e n t s

Lyon Airport Station by Santiago Calatrava, 1994

National Museum of Contemporary Art by Cesar Pelli, 2004

Cesar Pelli |To get a better understanding of designs that have been based on wing structures, I looked in to some of the architectural designs made by Cesar Pelli. Japan’s national museum of contemporary art was designed by Architect César Pelli and opened in 2004. The vast steel structure seems to rise up from ground level, curving and tilting through the site, to become a glass-enclosed entrance.

Wilwaeki Art Museum by Santiago Calatrava, 1957

Santiago Calatrava | Lyon Airport Station was designed by Santiago Calatrava in 1994. The buildings profile is based on two converging steel arches 120 meters long and 40 meters high. The building’s large wing like structures symbolizes flight elegantly. A second building by Santiago Calatrava further illustrates the motion of wings. The Wilwaeki Art Museum was built in 1957. The design described as “Poetry in motion”, closes the boundaries between engineering, architecture and sculpture.



The mechanics of insect flight was studied from captured slow motion video [1]. From these images, I began to randomley sketch shapes and forms using the “Psychgram” method developed by Coop Himmelb(l)au [2]. I wanted to emphasis the graceful curves created by the wing movement illustrated in the time lapsed pictures. Letting my hands draw different curves and shapes. Taking the initial shape of the firefly wing, I began to explore three dimensional space using Sketchup [3]. I used the “Form Finding” theory while exploring different three dimensional forms in the Sketchup program. The three dimensional movement is very complex so it decided to break it down in to motion captured from the top, front and side parallel projections. This gave me the idea to fill in the 3D space created around the boundary of the wing movement over an entire cycle. With this initial shape in mind, I explored the human form and how the lamp could be applied to the body. I wanted to show the form stretching out around the body similar to the characteristics of the insect wing’s 160 degree movement. To do this I positioned the form wrapping around the shoulders and almost joining together. With the form cantilevering out from the front of the body, I decided to continue the form down the back of the spine to stabilise the structure. The form is intended to create volume so it can be seen from a distance. The cross section of the lamp changes considerably as it snakes its way around the neck and down the back creating a recognisable form.

e n g e n d e r | i d e a


g e n e r a t i o n


e n g e n d e r | v i s u a l i s a t i o n Visualisation of future use.

d i g i t i z e

m e t h o d s l i c e d i g i t i z e | c o n t o u r

The digitization process first involved slicing the model in to equal sections and replicating these sections in a computer modelling program. The first challenge was deciding the orientation of the sections. Due to the form of my model, I decided to split the model in to two separate pieces to ease the digitalization process. I chose to separate the shoulder and back pieces. I also decided to split the model directly in half as it is symmetrical about its central axis. I skewered two straight pieces of wire through the model to create reference points as shown.

The first program I used to digitize the model was Scetchup. I imported the photo of the sections and re-scaled it to the appropriate size. Each section was then traced and offset the scaled 5mm with respect to the reference point. I found the use of Sketchup to be limited for this process.Although the models were rough and inaccurate, it gave me a good indication of how the digitalization process worked.

After freezing the model to keep it’s shape, I cut it in to 5mm sections and placed them on 5mm grid paper. I was then able to take photos of the sections for the following importing process.

The model was then digitalised into Rhino using the same process as Sketchup. Rhino’s tools were incredibly quicker to navigate. Once the curves were traced and lined up with respect to the reference points, the model surface could easily be created using the “loft” tool. The second half of the model could then be mirrored.

Another large difference between the two models is the join between the shoulder and back section. These two areas were separated into two pieces to aid the sectioning process. However, once they were joined together in the digitized model it is clear that they had deformed during the process and no longer had a flush join.

d i g i t i z e | c o m p a r i s o n

From the comparison photos, you can immediately see there are differences between the clay models and the digitized models. These differences have occurred due to several inaccuracies created from the process. The biggest inaccuracy was caused during the sectioning of the clay model. Although the model was frozen solid before sectioning, it still deformed under the pressure of the cutting process. The sections were cut at 5mm intervals, although this was incredibly hard to keep perfectly accurate.

d e v e l o p m e n t d i g i t i z e | d e s i g n

With the basic surface shape digitised in to Rhino, the next step was to explore different panelling tools and techniques. I initially created panelling grids using surface domains. With the panelling grid created, I then explored the 2D panelling tool using every different pattern available.

New Tamayo Museum windows, Rojkind Architects, 2009

2D custom patterns could be created from the Pattern Library tool. This allowed me to create different patterns from scratch. I drew inspiration from Rojkind Architect’s tessalation designs by creating panels with “windows” to capture lighting effects from the LEDs.

Wing Velocity (Fin Depth) 0

90 Degrees about centre of rotation



















The fins that are spread further apart are deeper than the fins congregated together. This increases the structural capacity of the design. The model’s visual appearance gives a very good representation of the fire flies wing movement. It is evident that the curvature, depth and spacing of the fins directly relate to the wing position and speed.


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d e v e l o p m e n t

Drawing inspiration from Santiago Calatrava’s work, I wanted to add fins to the design. I decided to research the mechanics of insect flight further. The speed at any point on the wing within a complete cycle is dependant on two variables; the angle of the wing and the radius with respect to the centre of rotation. Graphs were drawn to give an estimation on the varying wing speed depending on these two variables. This was shown visually on the model by varying the depth of the ribs depending on the speed at that point. The faster the wing travels at that point, the larger the rib depth. The attractor points were positioned at locations of maximum and minimum wing speeds. The fins overall depth indicates the wing speed at any particular location during the cycle.



Radius from centre of rotation

Ra d

Wing Velocity


Wing Velocity


d i g i t i z e | d e s i g n

Degrees about centre of rotation


d e s i g n d i g i t i z e | f i n a l

Top View

Perspective View

Side View

Front View

The digitization process has shown me the incredible CAD designing power that is so easily available and straightforward to use. I used the “Form Finding” theory while exploring different three dimensional forms in both Sketchup and Rhino. The use of Rhino during the digital designing stage gave enormous flexibility with the use of powerful tessellation and panelling tools. I drew inspiration from Michel Rojkind’s design of the New Tamayo Museum is based on an open box that unfolds into a cross shaped building. The window designs use simple repetitive shapes to create intriguing light patterns. The building creates a balance between form, function and visual impact. I particularly like the tessellation affect and explored this concept with 2D custom panels. I was also particularly drawn to the rib designs used by Santiago Calatrava and tried to capture this in my model. The final design incorporated fins that have varying depth and spacing depending on the location and speed of the wing during a cycle. I also decided to use a 2D box pattern as the surface panels to hold the fins in position and add to the models structural integrity. The overall design indicates there is a clear relationship between the fin size and spacing with respect to the speed and positioning of the fire flie’s wing during a cycle.

f a b r i c a t e

Calipar studios digitally designed a staircase using CAD programming software. They were able to enter set design restraints and let the computer create a randomised formation. From these designs, they were able to use the software to perform structural analysis in order to determine the most suitable design. This made it very easy to change design restraints and compare different results. This also helped any problems discovered during the fabrication process. They were able to digitally print cutting templates to ease construction.

f a b r i c a t e | p r e c i d e n t s

Similarly, Rhino allows the user to “Record history” which automatically updates surfaces that have had their defining curves and points changed. This makes working with digitized models very efficient. You can easily change an initial design restraint without redrawing the entire model from scratch. Using the “unfold” tool, digital template printouts will aid the fabrication process. The structural integrity of the lamp model is not designed within the Rhino software at all. This makes the prototyping process very important. Without prototyping the model, there is no way of knowing how the model will react when loads are applied. As well as the actual form, the joints are not analysed within the software and need to be tested within prototyping process as well. Without testing the materials, the final form may completely deform or delaminate. This process is particularly important throughout the building industry. Tolerances and design factors need to be taken in to consideration when fabricating structures to allow for inaccuracies created from the materials and the fabrication process.

Perspective View Genetic Star, Calipar studio, 2008

Prototype Two: 1 to 1 Scale Material: Printer Paper (75 gsm) Fabrication Process: Printing and manual cutting Bonding agent: Sticky Tape Design Elaboration: • Grid points were redefined using the Panal Planar Quads Tool.

Prototype Three: 1 to1 Scale Panel Material: Ivory Card (250 gsm) Fin Material: Box Board (1 mm) Fabrication Process: Panels - Fablab Card Cutter. Ribs - Fablab Laser Cutter Bonding agent: Sticky Tape Design Elaboration: • Good light exposure through ivory card. • Card deformed and created cuts with incorrect angles. • Ribs provided the structural integrity throughout the model.

Prototype Four: 1 to1 Scale Panel and Fin Material: White Card (1mm) Fabrication Process: Fablab Laser Cutter Bonding agent: Super glue, Glue stick Design Elaboration: • Super glue does didn’t bond well to card. • Not enough light exposed through thicker card. • Tab thickness of 6mm proved to be perfect size.

f a b r i c a t e | p r o t o t y p e s

Prototype One: Panel trial Material: Printer Paper (75 gsm) Fabrication Process: Printing and manual cutting Bonding agent: Sticky Tape Design Elaboration: • Panels were not correctly unrolled. Faces were flipped. • Too much light exposure.

f a b r i c a t e | m e t h o d

The fabrication process first involved cutting out the digital model using the laser cutter from the Fablab. The two sides were assembled seperately and then joined together. Firstly the panels tabs were glued together using a glue gun. With all 34 panels glued together, the ribs were then glued into position. This proved to be a very time consuming and delicate process.

f a b r i c a t e | m e t h o d

With the two halfs of the model assembled, the LED lights were installed with a switch using a simple parallel circuit. The lights were position at the join between the two halfs. This hide them from direct view. The six LEDs light up the entire inside of the model letting light escaping at the ends to form a spot light.

f a b r i c a t e | c o m p a i s o n

From the comparison photos it is evident that both the digital model and the physical model are very similar. The use of a laser cutter has given a great advantage of accuracy. The only distinct differences between the two are the thicknesses of the panels and ribs. The digital model has no thickness assigned to it and does not take in to account the physical thickness of the card. This however, did not create any major fabrication issues as the panels were made from very thin card.

r e f l e c t i o n

r e f l e c t i o n Virtual Environments has exposed me to the entire design process. All the way from a simple imagined concept to a complex physical model. Looking back at the design process that I initially used, I took elements from several different process theories. To generate ideas I used the “Psychgram method developed by Coop Himmelb(l)au while initially sketching the wing movement. Letting my hands freely draw different curves and shapes. Using Photoshop to create time-lapsed photos, I was able to study the exact mechanical movement of the insect’s wing. I used the “Form Finding” theory while exploring different three dimensional forms in the Sketchup program. I gained inspiration from experimenting with different wing shapes and mapping them to the motion of the firefly’s wing movement. However, this was not the only factor influencing the form. According to one of the theories in “Structuring strategies for complex geometries”, form is bound by external and internal forces. Although the initial form was based on insect flight, the ribs and panels in this model were designed to work together to maintain structural integrity.

Design representations are constructed from scratch using different media. Depending on the purpose, different constructions have different strengths and weaknesses. This can be in the form of collages, paintings, sketches and three dimensional CAD models. The physical clay models I produced gave a great visual communication of the design. However, it was very time consuming and any changes became a tedious task. The computer model is a much faster means of visual communication but the model is limited to the software’s functionality. As well as this, it does not give good indication to the structural integrity of the physical design.

C Wall, Banvard Gallery, Andrew Kudless, 2006.

r e f l e c t i o n Andre Kudless specializes in complex geometry, digital fabrication and the use of voroni algorithms. Using voroni algorithms, he has explored areas of design using cellular honeycomb aggregate structures. This tool uses digital particle simulations and other point based data to be transformed in to volumetric cells which can be unfolded, manufactures and assembled in to a larger form. Similarly, I have used mathematical principals to locate and define geometry of my model. An example of this is the use of attractor points to locate my fins as well as to control the depth of the fins. This allows geometry to change depending on the set constraints. An example of a fabrication process that uses digital models is evident in the Australian timber truss manufacturing industry. The process first involves an architect that creates the initial designs and housing plans of the roof shapes. Roof truss designers take the house plans to map out the roof shape in a layout. Engineers can then use 3D CAD software to map out every truss location and shape on the layout. The software is then capable of structural designing every truss member and connector plate. With all the truss member materials and sizes known, the digital information can be sent to machinery in a factory to cut and position the timber members for fabrication. All the assembly information can be printed for factory workers to use to assemble the trusses. With the trusses fabricated, they can be transported to the house construction site and are erected easily. Similar to this assignment, material restraints must be taken in to consideration for accurate and correct fabrication. Digital representation uses very accurate design tools. However, real life fabrication uses materials that are not exact. There are natural uncertainties that cause minor discrepancies within the fabrication process. Some of these may include the natural bowing effect in timber as well as inaccuracies caused from cutting and joining the materials. In order to combat these natural uncertainties, design factors and tolerances are taken in to consideration. Our project uses exact digital representation. Therefore there will be natural discrepancies created from paper thickness, distortions created from gluing and bending caused from applied loads. Most building forms are separated into two separate elements; the structural element and the skin element. The lamp model for this assignment is designed completely from a cardboard skin and is not separated in to two separate elements. This mode of thinking has been recently evident during the digital age. “By defying the binary logics of the Modernist tectonic thinking, structure and skin are re-unified into one element in semi-monocoque and monocoque shells, thus creating self-supporting forms that require no armature.� (Kolervic, pg 8)

r e f l e c t i o n Reflecting back the digitization and fabrication processes, I have noticed advantages and disadvantages. One of the challenges for architectural education in the age of digital technologies involves the speed of software development. Software applications are continuously developing. An application today may change considerably in five years time and in some cases they may even become obsolete. This shows the importance of constant software education and regular updating to the most prevalent applications used in the industry. As well as this, the architectural industry is becoming more and more dependent on digital technologies in a way that is redefining the role of architects. We are relying on the software to do the work for us and in some ways we are becoming more detached from traditional design methods. Contemporary architecture utilizes process-based approaches through today’s technological advances. One such approach uses simple mathematical geometry such as spheres, cylinders, torus, lines circles and eclipses. Although the geometry is simple, complex double curved structures can be created using 3-D CAD NURBS software. This type of process has emerged just in the last 15 years. With design software technologies advancing at such an excelled rate, it will be exciting to see what design capabilities will be possible in the future.

BODYSPACE 2 Virtual Environments Course Semester 1. 2011 Bachelor of Environments Faculty of Architecture, Building and Planning University of Melbourne


Collection of Student Journals, Virtual Environments course, Semester 1, 2011 Bachelor of Environments Faculty of Architecture, Building and...

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