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nsu architecture portfolio nathan su

preface This portfolio is a collection of my architectural work from 2010 to 2012 in the Bachelor of Environments degree at the University of Melbourne. The selected projects also include several from a semester of study in 2012 at the Architectural Association (AA) in London. These projects represent a simultaneous process of learning and selfexpression through critical exploration of space, technology and concept. Crucially, the work shown here has helped me to understand architecture not as abstraction or experience, but paradoxically as both. To me, it is imagination (the ability to perceive possible while not-yetmaterialised futures) that distinguishes the human mind, and it is this process that connects the abstract with the experiential. For me then, architecture is the expression of imagined potentials. The opportunity to engage freely and passionately with imagination is never so potent as in an educational environment, where the primary reality is that of the idea. Thank you to all my tutors, lecturers and classmates who have made this work possible.

Nathan Su

68 Kawarren Street Balwyn North VIC 3104 +61 407 985 761

nathan su


resume 2

studio ‘syn’ 2012 (Architecture Design Studio 4) 4 ‘the hanging gardens of bilbao’ 2012 (AA Spring Semester) 12 ‘boathouse’ 2011 (Architecture Design Studio 2) 18 ‘landing’ 2011 (Architecture Design Studio 1) 22

esquisse ‘hybridity’ 2012 (AA Spring Semester) 26 ‘veil’ 2011 (Architecture Design Studio 1) 30

experimentation ‘active matter’ 2012 (AA - Active Matter) 34 ‘folding facade’ 2012 (AA - Materials) 38 ‘vertex’ 2010 (Virtual Environments) 40 ‘tectonic reef ’ 2010 (University of Melbourne FabLab) 42


architecture portfolio

r e s u m e education Spring Semester 2012 Architectural Association (AA) London B.Environments - Architecture 2012 University of Melbourne Officer of Cadets Basic Course 2011 Australian Army Cadets VCE (ENTER: 99.65) 2009 Scotch College

professional 2LT Officer of Cadets - - -

responsible for training and supervision of cadets years 9 to 12 at Scotch College, on camps and on campus responsible for delivery of training in first aid, survival, navigation, and leadership OHS and anaphylaxis trained

Medical Secretary - Dr Charles Su (Occuloplastic Surgeon) -

2009 - Current

2010 - Current

responsible for managing practise administration, including bookings, patient documentation, telephone enquiries, office maintenance

awards High Pass with Distinction

AA (2012)

Deans Honours Award Yr 2

University of Melbourne (2011)

Deans Honours Award Yr 1

University of Melbourne (2010)

Virtual Environments Teachers Prize

University of Melbourne (2010)

Awarded the highest possible commendation for the Spring Semester 2012 at the AA

Awarded for academic excellence in the Bachelor of Environments

Awarded for academic excellence in the Bachelor of Environments

Awarded for academic excellence in digital design


nathan su

r e s u m e awards (cont’d) Kwong Lee Dow Young Scholars Scholarship

University of Melbourne (2009)

Captain of the School

Scotch College (2009)

General Peter Gration AC - OBE Prize for Leadership

Australian Army Cadets (2008)

Australian Defence Force Long Tan Leadership Award

Australian Army Cadets (2008)

University of Melbourne Academic Excellence Programme

Awarded as a year of student leadership after completion of VCE studies

Awarded for display of leadship as Unit CUO for the Scotch College Army Cadet Unit

Awarded for display of leadship as Unit CUO for the Scotch College Army Cadet Unit

CAD skills Rhino + Grasshopper (Intermediate/Advanced) AutoCAD (Intermediate) 3D Studio Max (Basic) Maya (Basic) Revit (Basic) Sketch-up (Intermediate) Photoshop (Intermediate/Advanced) InDesign (Basic) V-Ray for 3D Studio Max (Basic/Intermediate) V-Ray for Rhino (Basic)

other qualifications/skills Level 2 First Aid Working with Children Check Victorian Drivers Licence Fluent English Basic French Basic Cantonese 3

architecture portfolio

syn 2012 B.Environments As the final project in the undergraduate degree at the University of Melbourne, SYN was a project exploring the expression of narrative through architectural form. Based on the character of A.G. Barlow (a mysterious entrepreneur from the 1920s who dealt in cars), the proposal imagines that the character were alive today and seeking a showroom in Melbourne’s CBD. SYN engages the Barlow persona as both a representation of the synthetic the artificial and technological - and the synthesis between his outer facade of innovation and his inner passions. It is a double identity, but at the same time it is coherent. Like the sports cars Barlow sells, SYN is simultaneously seductive and alien, simple and complex, transparent and mysterious. As a monument to the car, SYN treats the site as a road, connecting Latrobe and Mackenzie Streets and thus the city grid with the inner suburban grid. SYN is the grid distorted. The grid is the manifestation of technological prowess; the intelligent ability to apply order on chaotic elements. In contrast, distortion is unpredictable, sensual, passionate. In SYN, two layers of deformation occur - creating a sensual inner chamber housing the main car showroom, reskinned in a technological grid, which is also pulled (albeit less strongly) into the central chamber.


nathan su

render - SYN’s street facing facade


architecture portfolio


diagrams - circulation, site response, structure

nathan su

top: Plan drawings bottom: Section Drawing


architecture portfolio


concept drawing - SYN

nathan su

render - SYN showroom interior from level 2


architecture portfolio


nathan su

top: SYN Presentation Layouts left: SYN Model - SE facade centre: SYN Model - aerial right: SYN Model - detail


architecture portfolio

the hanging gardens of bilbao 2012 AA Semester

The hanging gardens of Bilbao was part of a critical exploration of the reintegration of obsolete infrastructure with existing urban fabrics through the production of hybrid architecture. Based on a culture of ‘honest consumption’, embodied by the Bilbaoan ‘Pinchos’ eating style, the project introduced a concept of community agriculture, supported by the existing highway skeleton. Using an agricultural membrane that enables the growth of agriculture in soiless conditions (and with diffuse rather than direct sunlight), an intermediate level is suspended underneath the existing highway - supporting fertile land for agricultural production. The highway surface itself is converted into a canopy park, with the underside of the intermediate level creating diverse and multi-programme plaza space below.


nathan su

render - hanging gardens ground floor plaza


architecture portfolio

plans drawings - hanging gardens


nathan su

top: rainforest ecosystem analogy & exploded axonometric bottom: growth over time


architecture portfolio

left: multi-sectional perspective right: sectional model & site model


nathan su

render - hanging gardens urban social farming (inserts show seasonal differences)


architecture portfolio


2011 B.Environments The Boathouse was part of a second year design studio aimed at critically investigating the modernist style through analysis of a ‘modernist master’. Our studio was allocated Kazuyo Sejima from SANAA. Our studio found that many of Sejima’s mannerisms were particularly suited for non-urban sites, making her work an ideal starting point for a redesign of the fairfield boathouses. Using simplistic white concrete, this design takes inspiration from the Teshima Museum, using thin curved concrete to make the dense material appear to float. The design emphasises threshold and transparent layering (potent motifs in Japanese architecture in general) through the mediation of public to private space with varying layers of permeability. The outer layer as concrete is most permeable - leaving the internal areas open to the environment. Further within is housed the public programme, encased in glass - permeable to light, but not to the weather. Finally, the public programme sits in a concrete structure in the centre - protected and enclosed from nearly all elements.


nathan su

render - the boathouse set in the natural landscape


architecture portfolio

top: plan drawings bottom: section drawings


nathan su

photographs of a 3D printed model


architecture portfolio


2011 B.Environments Landing was a studio project focused on tying narrative and programme together. Set on Herring island sculptural park, the brief was to design a discovery centre focusing on contemporary Australian history comprising four gallery spaces and an amphitheatre. As the site is an island, the design response took inspiration from the act of ‘landing’ - both in the physical sense, and in the historical sense - reflecting the colonial past of Australia. The form extends from a cut in the landscape - a human intervention representing the act of colonisation. The galleries then project like the bow of a ship over the river. The envelope of the building accommodates two programmes - sheltering the galleries on the inside, and providing amphitheatre seating on the outside.


nathan su

physical model of the amphitheatre space


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left: plans with diagrammatic form motivators right: exploded axonometric & 3D section

nathan su

renders - the amphitheatre, underground gallery, & main gallery


architecture portfolio


2012 AA Semester This project explored the notion of hybridisation in architecture, as part of my studio project at the Architectural Association. In developing an interpretation of ‘hybridity’, three architectural precedents were analysed through diagram, before being expressed through a hybrid representational technique. My investigation of hybridity focused on disjunciton between spatial intention and spatial experience. In this sense, the hybrid was the programme that emerged through a conscious or unconscious reprogramming of an architectural space by its inhabitants. Hybridity then, became for me the relationship between frame and growth, where the growth of an unexpected spatial identity/reading/experience simultaneously distorted and was accommodated by the designed form (the frame). The analyses explored how this process of hybridisation occured in 3 sites: 1. Covent Garden (London) 2. Federation Square (Melbourne) 3. Parc de la Villette (Paris) The painted expressions of these analyses took the idea of hybridisation one step further - with the technique of drip painting limiting the precision of the author’s intention, the painting is made increasingly open to reinterpretation - thus hybridising the image of the hybrid.


nathan su

diagramming - top: covent garden, centre: federation square, bottom: parc de la villette


architecture portfolio


nathan su

hybrid drip paintings left: covent garden centre: federation square right: parc de la villette


architecture portfolio


2011 B.Environments ‘Veil’ was an exercise engaging with light and shadow through the production of sculpture. ‘Veil’ was the result of a 3 hour studio, working with quick model making techniques to produce permeable forms. The scultupture uses two axes of rotation to determine the shape of two ‘wings’ created by joining the two axes at progressive points along their length. Upon experimentation with the shadows cast by various arrangements, it was discovered that as the sculpture filtered sunlight at different times of day, shadows suggesting the movement of a bird in flight were produced. This entire process was an important learning experience, demonstrating how sometimes the most poetic/beautiful outcomes are the result of spontaneous accident.


nathan su

sketch model - veil


architecture portfolio


nathan su

photographing the sketch model under different light conditions


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active matter 2012 AA Semester

Active Matter was an AA Media Studies workshop that focused on the effects generated at the intersection between digital fabrication techniques and materials with active properties. This particular exploration focused on the material Sodium Acetate (bicarbonate of soda mixed with white vinegar) - a material that could be kept in its liquid state below its freezing point. When introduced to a catalyst, the material would then instantaneously phase transition from liquid to solid, whilst producing heat. The explorations investigated the manipulation of form through using wave interference patterns to produce a mould, as well as exploring the different crystallisation patterns that resulted from different dilutions of the solution - made visible through the injection of ink into the crystal structures.


nathan su

top: catalogue of forms generated with sine wave interference patterns in grasshopper bottom: initial sodium acetate formation using foil mould


architecture portfolio


nathan su

far left: time lapse (20 seconds) of sodium acetate’s phase change top left: CNC milled sine wave interference tile bottom left: cast sodium acetate tile bottom: voronoi cell arrangement with equal amounts of water bottom right: sodium acetate growth at different dilutions, injected with ink


architecture portfolio

folding facade 2012 AA Semester

The ‘Folding Facade’ was a project completed as part of the ‘Materials’ Technical Studies course at the AA. The facade exploited timber as a flexible linear material to produce a concept for a modular shading device. Compression of the device results in a perpendicular folding of the timber members making up each panel, allowing for sunlight penetration. Conversely, when stretched out, the panel becomes completely opaque. Theoretically, a series of panels such as these could form an effective solar tracking facade. Furthermore, the adaptablity of the concept to virtually any predetermined form could allow for any such shading system to also act as an artistic, textural, and dynamic facade.


nathan su

top: the folding facade centre: early experimentation in timber warping bottom: folding facade during opening sequence


architecture portfolio


2010 B.Environments ‘Vertex’ focused on the production of architecture at the scale of the body. As an exercise in the translation of physical 3D form into a digital interpretation of that form, the project engaged with a process of manual panelling - to abstract a clay sculpture into a folded paper surface. The digital process therefore acted as a mediation between two different materials, whose formal logics demanded a process of reinterpretation, enabled by digital 3D modelling tools.


nathan su

top: early clay concept models bottom: digital rationalisation left: the final paper sculpture


architecture portfolio

tectonic reef 2010 B.Environments

‘Tectonic Reef ’ was a collaborative workshop run by the University of Melbourne Digital Fabrication Lab, as an introduction to parametric modelling techniques, culminating in the installation of a sculpture at the St Kilda festival in early 2011. Working in Grasshopper for Rhino and Maya, the workshop engaged with growth based design, using fractal algorithms and L-systems to determine the growth of modular systems. The workshop was to culminate in a built installation, necessitating the development of a rigourous process of documentation alongside the experimental design work. Furthermore, materiality and structure had to be considered. Working from a digital medium, into scale card models, and finally into a bamboo skeletal structure, the workshop described the parametric design approach from concept to realised product.


nathan su

top: St Kilda installation bottom left: maya concept model bottom right: modular paper concept models


nsu 2010 - 2012

Architecture Portfolio Nathan Su  

Undergraduate Architecture Portfolio Nathan Su University of Melboune (B.Environments)

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