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2010 Semester 1 880108 – VIRTUAL ENVIRONMENTS Module IV – Reflect & Report Group 12 Amanda Andrea 354087









Introduction My imagined client is a mid-20 aged ex-prisoner. I found some Fig. which also reflects her profile: living in the dark, breaking laws, future, yearn for

joy, freedom, cooperation, no tomorrow, bewilderment. (From top left to right, of Fig. 1.1 collection) I chose the Fig. 1.1H as my inspiration so my research started from the words “spirals” and “stairs”.

The primary example of the architecture related to spiral and stair chosen was the Astana National Library, Kazakhstan.


“The design of the National Library combines four universal archetypes across space and time into a new national symbol: the circle, the rotunda, the

arch and the yurt are merged into the form of a Moebius strip. The clarity of the circle, the courtyard of the rotunda, the gateway of the arch and the soft silhouette of the yurt are combined to create a new national monument appearing local and universal, contemporary and timeless, unique and archetypal at the same time” – Bjarke Ingels, Founding Partner on the Astana National

Astana National Library by BIG

Library, 2009.


Concepts – First Example

3.1 The new Astana National Library in Kazakhstan


The new Astana National Library in Kazakhstan is designed by BIG – Bjarke Ingels Group who has won the international design competition. The area of the library is estimated to be 33,000 square metre. This architecture has a Mobius strip interlocked by a perfect circle and a public spiral. It merged four typologies which are a rotunda, a circle, an arch and a yurt as shown in Fig. 3.4A. This made a continuous loop with a double-looping surface plane. The process of the design (Fig. 3.4B) started from a linear structure which is the simplest one. Then it moved on to a perfect circle as a circular loop of knowledge surrounded by light and air. Public spiral is then designed to add a series of public programs.

3.3 Different views

3.4A Different forms

The interlocking structures include the horizontal and vertical organisation which functions support the library museum and piled above each other through a diagonal organisation combining vertical hierarchy, horizontal linkage and diagonal view lines respectively. The shell of the building exceeds the ordinary architectural categories as the wall and the roof share no difference because of the infinite loop characteristic.

3.4B Design process

3.4 Circulations

The pattern of the shell has a sustainable function that the thermal exposure would be regulated by the façade pattern of varying openness. This transcend the pattern and fabrics from the yurt. (Fairs, 2009)


4.1 Danish Pavilion at Shanghai Expo 2010 (digital model)

4.2 The real pavilion

4.3 Physical model

4.4 Physical model

4.5 The vertical section of the pavilion

4.6 Design process

Concepts – Second Example Another example related to spiral and stair is a design by BIG, who won for the competition to design the Danish Pavilion at Shanghai Expo 2010. The area of the pavilion is estimated as 3,000 square metre. This architecture aims to reflect the life of Danish citizens to Shanghai visitors and also the world. The Danish city life shown in the architecture consists of the city bike, harbour path, nature playground and an ecological picnic. The process of the design (Fig. 4.6) started the same as the Astana National Library, from a linear exhibition. It expanded to a curl and then a continuous exhibition. To input an area of bike parking and velodrome, another layer of continuous exhibition is added on top for a roof terrace. This made a perpetual loop structure. “The pavilion is constructed as a monolithic selfsupporting construction in white-painted steel, manufactured at a Chinese shipyard. Prefabrication will affect to an uncomplicated transportation, effective sampling process, rational dismantling and transfer. The synthetic light-blue coating used in Denmark for bicycle paths will cover the roof. Inside, the floor will appear in epoxy, the light-blue bicycle path respectively.” – Bjarke Ingels, Founding Partner on Danish Pavilion Expo 2010, 2008. There are two parallel facades function differently. The internal façade is closed and has various width and is controlled by the program of the inner space whereas the external façade faced outwards which is made of perforated steel that represent the silhouette of Danish life. (Etherington, 2008)


Module I – Engender

5.1 Plasticine & tools

5.3 Different shapes

5.2 Cutting

5.4 Model done by adjustment



This module includes the process of turning an inspiration

Fig. 5.1 to 5.4 suggest the methods of making a plasticine

from an image into own abstraction which was then made into a headpiece sculpture. This took the procedure of

model which cover moulding, pressing, cutting and adding with tools and replacing one shape to another by

sketching, making sculpture, collage, and finally turning the model into a headpiece design model. Variations of

adjustments and alterations. Physical modelling has advantages on easiness to shape, evaluating indeterminacy

headpiece model were created in order to approach the satisfied design.

and making discoveries on the design process.

5.5 Falling due to gravity

However, due to the gravity of the earth and excess force onto the model, some designs are unable to support their original shape. The Fig. 5.5 above are the photos of a curved shape model. The model stood still for no more than 1 second because of gravity. Since it cannot withstand its weight so it starts to fall.








Process of Inspiration The inspiration of my design was the spiral stair (Fig. 6.1). It consists of a spiral stair and its shadow making an overlapping double helix like a DNA structure. Since my client is an ex-prisoner, my feeling is that there are some extents of confusion and negative feelings about life when one was used to be a prisoner. The reason of why this picture was chosen is that the circular stairs in black and white mode can be seem like a state of perplexity. The interpretation of the picture is sketching 2 crossing wavy lines as the puzzlement with some vertical lines in the middle as the path of life (Fig. 6.2). The collage was then made similarly like the sketch but without the horizontal lines (Fig. 6.3). The sculpture was created the same as the collage (Fig. 6.4). The main components of the sculpture consist of 2 double helices and 5 uneven length of vertical lines in the middle. Since it cannot withstand by its own, it was buckled (Fig. 6.5). This makes a hollow circulartube like in the middle and 2 surface points which allows self-supporting. The primary design of the hat is simply putting the vertical lines in front holding the spiral shape crossing wavy lines (Fig. 6.6).







7.6 Collage

Designs Development My first concept of design (Fig. 7.1) is putting a spiral shape “line” around the head. This design includes a “rocky” part includes different size of spheres and cubes. The outcome is not as I expected because it is too complicated visually. To reduce the complexity of the appearance, the design was re-created. A very long conical shape design was rotated around the head to make a spiral shape (Fig. 7.2). The outcome is better but it is too simple. In spite of conical shape, the design is reshaped with 4 angles (Fig. 7.3). This made a very long pyramid spiral. However, it did nor make much difference between the conical and pyramid shape. Perhaps, one consideration of this is because of the difficulty in making angles with the plasticine. The reshaping continued into a long flat pyramid shape spiral (Fig. 7.4). Because of the pressure put into the plasticine, the length increases. Following the natural principle, the shape is spiralled and the helix made is much rotated. The outcome is still common. On every single distance, the plasticine was twisted and this made a very long continuous shape of spiral pasta (Fig. 7.5). The outcome is considerable. The concept of a spiral around the head still exists.



9.3 Monte St Angelo Subway Station (plasticine model)

9.5 A vase and bowl made of a matrix

9.2 Rebuilt digital model with contour lines

9.4 Monte St Angelo Subway Station (digital model)

9.6 Egg Chair by Arne Jacobsen

Module II – Digitize

9.1 Original plasticine model



This module includes the process of turning the physical model into

Digitization in architecture designs and other designs basically

is often smaller in size.

a digital model. This took the procedures of contouring on the

conducts exploiting software and hardware of the computer to

Digital modelling are capable of providing highly accurate

physical model, sketching the contour lines on paper and

generate images and simulations.

information and making complex geometric designs more easily.

transferring into the computer, drawing the contour lines on the

The skins and the appearance of a model can be altered using the

Nevertheless, the outcome of the design can be totally different if

computer with digital modelling software, Google SketchUp, and

computer modelling software. Though the real materials are

there are flaws or oversimplification of a model.

creating the digital model. Adjustments of the digitalisation would

sometimes not involved, simulations and appearance can create the From Fig. 9.6, by using Google SketchUp, the leg and the seat of a

be made in order to approach the satisfied design by making at least

material performance. Digital modelling make a similar space or

chair can be separated and modified regardless of the Newton's law

a trial of fabrication (which will be discussed on next part).

object on mind into reality and can be shown to others though it

of gravitational force.








Contour To make a digital model based on a plasticine, contours are needed to interpret the exact location and space the plasticine has occupied. First of all, I drew a set of 5 millimetres horizontal parallel lines onto the plasticine (Fig. 10.1). However, because of the curved surface on the model, the horizontal lines were always mislead and linked to other level of lines. I then took photographs to trace the contours from above but it was impossible since the top part of the plasticine overlapped the bottom part. I used my own way instead. I drew altogether 16 layer of plane figures (including the bottom and the top parts) of the horizontal section areas (Fig. 10.2). The circles are the area of the egg. Since there are too many graphs, I combined each 4 sections into a graph with different colour pens (Fig. 10.3). I open the scanned files in Google SketchUp, which is the fundamental software for architectural design. Drawing the lines on top of another according to the contour lines every 5 millimetres interval (Fig. 10.4). After that, linked the interval lines. This was the most confusing part since it was difficult to identify the holes of the spiral. I made it solid without hollow piping to make it easier (Fig. 10.5). The outcome was better than the plasticine

model (Fig. 10.6).


11.1 Before

11.2 After

Digital Model As there are too many lines that will make the process after digitising complicated, simplification of the linkage was taken. The shape of the digital model would also be modified to smoothen the overall shape. The before and after the alteration of the digital

model are shown in Fig. 11.1 and Fig. 11.2 respectively. The back, right and left view of the final digital model are also shown in Fig. 11.3, 11.4, and 11.5 respectively whereas the isometric view is on the next page.

11.3 Back

11.4 Right

11.5 Left



Module III - Fabricate


13.3 A free-from pavilion

13.5 Rhino 3D Surface Evolver

13.2 The banqueting hall

13.4 Layer by layer deposition modelling

13.6 A temporary Georgian house

Introduction This module includes the process of turning the digital modelling into a physical model. This took the procedures of unfolding the digital model, nesting into a 2D layout, transferring into A3 paper, printing, cutting, and assembling. Several tests have to be made to familiar with the process and make improvements to better the fabrication quality of the physical model.

Research Digital modelling enables the making of 3D models whereas fabrication manufactures the 3D models from digital data to 3D solid objects. Simple fabrication process includes unfold,

printing, cutting, and pasting. There are 3 major of more professional type of fabrications which are rapid prototyping, minimal surface, and laser cutting. The banqueting hall (Fig. 13.1-2) in India has a structure like an avenue of trees and incorporates branching steel columns with a web of laser-cut I-shaped section. The installation of truss and joint conceals the fabrication method since it appears to be a system of curved sections. Rapid prototyping is the early creation of realistic model to get the feedback of the aimed customers. Fig. 13.4 is an example of a fused deposition modelling in which their physical objects are created directly from a CAD model using layer by layer deposition of extruded material. The rapid prototyping free-form pavilion showed in Fig. 13.3 was

designed using CAD-CAE modelling technologies and CADCAM software controls the plotter during printing. Based on mathematical concept, minimal surfaces are the surfaces of the smallest area spanned by a given boundary. For simplification, it uses geometric shape and equations to create a new shape. Fig. 13.5 uses the program Rhino 3D Surface Evolver to find a minimal energy surface, or to model the process of evolution by mean curvature. Laser cutting is a way to cut precise patterns in metal, plastic, wood, and practically every other material that man works with. The white line s in the Fig. 13.6 are the aluminium frames which are installed into a temporary Georgian house during New York Fashion Week, Spring 2010.








Unfolding & Nesting The fabrication process starts from the unfolding of the digital model. Initially, divide the model into several parts to ease the differentiation of the location when assembling and to prevent confusion (Fig. 14.1). Copy the whole parts for a copy in case the unfolding process failed. Take Fig. 14.2 as an example of a part. Colour a vertical section with 2 different colours (such as light green and dark green) in order to recognise the top and bottom part (Fig. 14.3). Then start unfolding from the bottom part (Fig. 14.4). Sometimes, it took several times to unfold so as to prevent overlapping. After placing one layer of the unfold part vertically on one axis (Fig. 14.5) and rotate the whole until the light green triangular is on the left and the dark green is on the right. Label the light green triangular (Fig. 14.6). The number represent the part and the alphabet represent the layers, ie. A is the bottom.



Repeat the process of Fig. 14.4-14.6 for the rest of the layers (Fig. 14.7). Rotate every layers to occupy an A3 paper size area with some gaps in between. Put a scale on the corner of the paper.








Transferring & Cutting Repeat the previous page for the whole parts of the model and this made 5 A3 papers of unfold digital model (Fig. 15.1). After printing, start to draw tabs every side of each layers and cut with scissor or even cutter and ruler if necessary along the tabs and the sides

(Fig. 15.2). Then, stress the lines with a biro pen and a ruler (Fig. 15.3). Flip back and look at the lines whether they are obvious (Fig. 15.4). Bend the section according to the lines (Fig. 15.5).








Assembling Place an unused cardboard and pour the PVA glue on top. Cut another small piece of card and use it to spread a thin layer of glue on the tabs (Fig. 16.1). This is similar as spreading a thin layer of butter on a bread. Slightly press the tabs together and wait until the

glue was dried and the parts would not separate (Fig. 16.2). The result of one layer is shown in Fig. 16.3 and the marks and drawn lines are placed in the inner part of the model. When there are some mistakes or inadequate of

tabs, create some tabs by cutting and pasting of unused cards according to the size of the triangular (Fig. 16.4). Continue the steps and the finished first part is shown in Fig. 16.6. The following page is the different views of digital

model, physical model with columns and with lines respectively.








Photographed by Chong Yu Cheng



Reflection of making the headpiece There are various aspects drawn to improve after the second test of the fabrication (Fig. 19.1). Firstly, I did not reverse the whole unfold digital printings. This made black lines appeared on the external surface though it can make the angles of the whole model apparent. In addition, I did not make double tabs and in which resulting some of the sections did not join tightly. Double lines happened as the outer part of the tabs did not paste exactly on the lines of other sections and that was unattractive. Finally, the folding process between lines must be taken with procedure, that is, draw on the lines with a ballpoint pen (best with no inks) and a ruler with some stress to ease the bending. Folding with bare hands can sometimes make the bending out of lines as well as rough lines.

After finishing the joining of all sections into a model in the final test, the outcome was in Fig.





19.2. The model could not stand up and due to gravity; the upper part cannot withstand its mass and rest on top of the lower part. To keep the model in shape, I decided to make columns from the unused cards placed on an A3 card to hold the model upright. (Fig. 19.3). The front face of the physical model is shown in Fig. 19.4. To confirm the shape when someone is wearing it, transparent thin fishing lines are added on 3 sides (Fig. 19.5) linking upper and lower part of the model. The different views of the model were already presented on page 17. This physical headpiece though was not as attractive as the digital model; it probably could pass the demand of my imagined client, the ex-prisoner. In my point of view, the spiral shape could represents the bewilderment; the stair like represents the future, freedom as well as no tomorrow; the edges represents breaking laws; the linkage represents cooperation; the whole image represents yearn for joy as well as living in the dark. The process of making the headpiece possessed some strengths and weaknesses as well as things that need to be improved. The design of digital and physical headpiece model made are much better than the one I did with the plasticine. The plasticine was dull and unattractive but the triangular forms, edges and shapes created serendipitously were fresh and seem more advanced. However, the spiral inner shape of the headpiece does not fit to the head. Some parts are too loose and some are too tight. It is better to try the digital model to fit in a head template and make alterations before fabrication. Besides, the size of the lower part that is bigger than the upper part makes the whole headpiece unbalanced and fall constantly. The shape in the digital model and physical model are therefore different. In addition, some parts of the tabs are too delicate to join with the other sections. Both the tabs and the size of the linking parts should be bigger to build a stronger connection. Lastly, the size of the whole headpiece should be bigger, for example broaden the width of the model for 5 centimetres, has more raised

angle, and lengthen the height of the model since superstructure tends to be more attractive.




Reflection of Virtual Environments During this semester to firstly contact with architecture related subjects, I learnt the most in Virtual Environments. While I went to surf the news about the architectures and furniture designs through Dezeen, I learnt much about the

Furthermore, the structure of both headpiece and architectures must obey the physical laws, such as the gravitational loads. The designs, indeed, must be catching eyes. For what we have learnt in this subject are related to the built

structures and concepts about the recent issues of the design world. The process of

environment. Firstly, we were asked to imagine a client. In real world and citing the

making own designs seems more close to me after several tutorials I have attended.

economical concept, demand and supply do exist. Clients provide choices and limitation

From imagining a client, finding inspirations, interpreting our designs into sketches and

to design works and we as the designers are to satisfy their goals in mind. Moving on to

physical models, transferring the data from physical to computer through basic

the next part, researching, sketching our inspirations, making designs through

modelling software, fabricating designs from digital to physical world and finally, self-

digitization in real world works similarly as what we did in this subject but with more

criticising owns work. Though most conditions were tough and time-consuming since I

detailed and professional processes and tools. Since we made our own clients, it was

did not have any experience on sketching as well as design, I enjoy much.

impossible to discuss about the primary design to them, take advice and make

The design of headpiece is connected to the design of architecture.

alterations. Advisors in the educational world are our tutors, classmates and ourselves.

The headpiece must not cover the whole face since we must have air to breathe and

During the fabrication process, I learnt that building architecture must involve the help

light to see. This work the same as buildings, windows are crucial for air ventilation and

of computers nowadays. The computer-aided software started from the user setting up

natural light to pass through. The headpiece can be attached and de-attached. In

a file in and ends by sending the file to the machine but as we are learning the

architectures, doors work similarly. People can come in and go out through them.

fundament, we used printing machines and built by hands. Finally yet importantly, making documents of the design is also crucial to present the information to the clients.


Bibliography & References Fig. 1.1: Moore, M. 2010. “TheRealMichaelMoore's photo stream”. Retrieved 20 March, 2010, from Fig. 1.2: BIG. 2009. “Astana National Library by BIG”. Retrieved 20 March, 2010, from Fig. 3.1- 3.4: K, D. 2009. “National Library in Astana, Kazakhstan / BIG”. Retrieved 20 May, 2010, from Fig. 4.1, 4.3, 4.4, 4.5, 4.6: Basulto, D. 2008. “Denmark Pavillion for Shanghai Expo 2010 / BIG”. Retrieved 20 May, 2010, from Fig. 4.2: Warmann, C. 2010. “Danish Pavilion at Shanghai Expo 2010 photographed by Roland Halbe” Retrieved 20 May, 2010, from Fig. 6.1: Moore, M. 2010. “On Black: Double Helix”. Retrieved 18 March, 2010, from Fig. 9.1 & 9.2: Snaith, T. & Knott, S. 2010. “Slow-motion catastrophe lamp”. Retrieved 25 May, 2010, from Fig. 9.3 & 9.4: Amanda Levete Architects & Kapoor, A. 2009. “Monte St Angelo Subway Station”. Retrieved 25 May, 2010, from Fig. 9.5: Krulich, B. 2010. “Morphê by Zbynek Krulich“. Retrieved 19 April, 2010, from Fig. 9.6: Jacobsen, A. 1958. “Egg Chair”. Retrieved 19 April, 2010, from Fig. 13.1 & 13.2: Serie Architects. 2009. “The Tote by Serie Architects”. Retrieved 09 May, 2010, from Fig. 13.3: Shiro Studio. 2009. “Radiolaria pavilion by Shiro Studio”. Retrieved 09 May, 2010, from Fig. 13.4: Office dA. 2008. “Banq”. Retrieved 09 May, 2010, from Fig. 13.5: Grasshopper3D. 2010. “Fixed vertices and edges”. Retrieved 09 May, 2010, from

Fig. 13.6: Campaign. 2010. “NY 11-18-02-10 by Campaign for Dunhill”. Retrieved 09 May, 2010, from

Etherington, R. 2008. “Danish Pavilion at Expo 2010 by BIG”. Retrieved 20 May, 2010, from Fairs, M. 2009. “Astana National Library by BIG”. Retrieved 20 May, 2010, from

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HEADSPACE 1 Virtual Environments course Semester 1, 2010 Bachelor of Environments Faculty of Architecture, Building and Planning University of Melbourne