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Socio-Virtual Discourse

Steven Bobev Arch 4699 Architectural Thesis Fall 2011-Spring 2012 Temple University, Tyler School Of Art Architecture Department

Table of Contents 01|Thesis Position -Abstract -Theoretical Foundation -Design Speculation -Terms of Criticism 02|Thesis Proposal -Theory to Project Link -Site Information -Program Information -User Information -Design Methodologies and Key Terms -Conclusion and Work Plan 03|Design -Initial Mappings -Process Models -Armature -Striping -Renderings -Site Model -Sectional Model 04|References

2 3 5 6 7 9 13 15 17 18 19 23 27 31 45 53 57 61

Socio-Virtual Disourse Architectural Thesis Fall 2011 - Spring2012 Advisors: Eric Oskey + Sneha Patel


Abstract As electronic forms of information have anchored themselves into multiple areas of society, an unparalleled ability to attain knowledge has manifested itself through digital means. Because of this gradual infusion of cybercollected knowledge, a new method to gather information has risen. The traditional method exists as a vector that is moving in a direct path from one set of static data to another. Through new virtual networks, tools such as Wikipedia, Facebook and various “bookmark tagging” services have allowed data to exist in a state of constant change, and create pathways that have the components of time and subjectivity built into them. It is through this seemingly chaotic, open ended potentiality that hidden logics become apparent, and gravities emerge from an endless tapestry of objects.1 Traditional ways of categorizing said data are outdated in that they do not take into account the ability to collaborate, share and edit the information. These methods also do not allow for a user moderated reorganizing of information, or information that can be self organized. A new typology of discourse must be created, one that supersedes the “read” methodology and evolves into a “read/write”. The essence of these emerging technologies is the openness to the future and element of possibility that they inherently contain. Through this new typology of accumulating data, the way one moves is through the potential of a direction that they do not immediately know. These linkages exist in the virtual in that they represent the new, the unthought and the unrealized. The linkages are the space of possibility of becoming, of what might have been.2 Through the study of the virtual, the user would provide the necessary mean to categorize and relate data, and would redefine conventional systems. They would act as an enabler, a facilitator of interaction that stimulates alternative debates and speculations.3 There is no clear cut map to traverse this space, as movement through it is activated by way of the user’s experience and inherent subjectivity.

01. Weather Project by Olafur Eliasson

02. Nodal Relationships


Theoretical Foundation


The digital realm is gaining traction in embedding itself in society at an astonishing rate. Yet spaces are still designed around the relationships of the past, without looking towards the future. As Toby Schneider of maoworks states, “Emerging technologies are introducing new relational qualities that are connecting people in new ways to one another through inanimate or artificial surroundings”4 By delving into these artificial surroundings and linkages between people, a space can be designed that not only incorporates the present level of virtual integration, but one that supports further integration in the future. Such a space would be subject to time and subjectivity, exhibiting “fluid and contingent rather than fixed and constituent”5 qualities.

Subjectivity also plays a major factor in the relationships created within these virtual networks. Do you believe everything that blinks on your screen? Again, relating to forms of old media, what is printed is viewed as a static unchanging fact. Granted, an author’s view may bias him to present said fact a certain way, but it will still stay there regardless. With the inherent subjectivity built into these networks, they police themselves constantly, and information does not remain fixed for an indeterminate stretch of time. It is because of this constant state of change that data is open to reinterpretation and refinement.6

The basis for the difference between present and past models are two things – time and subjectivity. Time is relevancy, and with the ability to immediately access or create, that relevancy is constantly changing. With a book there are solid unchanging facts for as long as the book is in circulation. But within these networks of information lie a specific urgency, as categories shift with the change in time. Friends come and go, articles are hijacked by modern day heretics and links become broken. This is the relationship of instantaneous knowledge, where the place one comes from changes the moment they decide to look back. It is also of note that these systems are aware of the factor of time, and know that they must evolve with it or be outdated. An example of time and relevancy can be found through the use of Twitter and its trending topics. Trending topics – topics that are currently written about by a large number of people, constantly fluctuate based upon their relevancy to the present time. This relevancy often exists as a continuous updating of news stories and meeting events, with previous events and instances fading behind the newer, more relevant instances. By constantly evolving, these networks better adapt themselves to the virtual world as well as the members of the physical that inhabit it.

Subjectivity also allows the user to determine if there are specific gravities that link on piece of information with another. What are the extents of these associations and could it be possible for a consensus to be made regarding them? According to OMA and exemplified by the system introduced by their Seattle Public Library, the relationship between information should be relational and fluctuating, instead of limited and static. These virtualized spaces are noted by their way that they affect other spaces, as they all share some form of common linkage.7 By allowing organized spaces to grow based on addition of information, yet allowing other materials to simply keep moving instead of being displaced shows how the categorization could function as a flexible language that is founded on relationships rather than strict, predefined logics.

04. Self Propogating Network

03. Seattle Public Library Circulation

Participation within these networks exists mainly as person to person or person(s) to groups or groups to person(s). These connections often happen instantaneously and simultaneously, with the user not specifically aware of their existence. Participation within these networks isn’t passive. It is activated through the user, and never becomes motionless. An example of a virtual space is Diller + Scofidio’s Blur Building, where the user is the agitator, creating space by traversing a space that is unknown to them. Prior to entering, the user agrees to filling out a questionnaire and to wear a “braincoat”, a device which functions as both protection from the moist air as well as a technological linking system. The braincoat serves two funcitons, one as a means to connect the paths created by the user’s occupancy of the space, and the other to illuminate at differing colors and intensities based upon proximity to a user who filled out the questionnaire similarly or differently. These coats store the locational information that is created through the users traversing of space, as well as have a component that glows different colors based on the adjacency to other users. Through the use of people, the space is activated, created and manifested in the physical.

The virtual exists as an area of open-endedness. It is a space that is “always open to the future, open to potentiality other than those now actualized.”9 Through occupation, evidences of this invisible space become apparent. Such a space would need to be measured and mapped in order to become a separate and containable field.10 It is through the mapping and occupation of this virtual space that it becomes inhabitable and grounded within the real.

Through multiple instances of collaboration, the network as a whole becomes strengthened. An example of this is a Wikipedia article that is slowly grown through several people submitting information and citations to it, thereby increasing its reliability. It is through this multitude of connections that these spaces exist, if they weren’t there it would contain the same elements of virtuality. The virtual is a self propagating organism, fuelled by user’s contributions, interpretations and actions. The virtual is created through participation in that it “possess the reality of a task to be performed or a problem to be solved”8 These networks exist due to humans requiring a new method of collaboration that doesn’t exist in the haptic realm.

05. Informal Networking

06. Blur Building by Diller, Scofidio + Renfro


Design Speculation There are several steps that must occur before the initial design phase. The process of working will be a major crux of the project, as it will influence how this theoretical virtual space will be actualized. First, the varying networks need to be diagrammed in various ways, namely in how they are specifically used. Group mechanics and distribution of information would be important as well, which would show how users collaborate within the frame of the network. Access to these systems would need to be analyzed as well as the networking implications throughout the system. Spatial intricacies inherent in these systems and services would need to be investigated, to determine how they operate at differing scales, and at differing amounts of user populations.


Second, the information gathered from the design experiments would then be synthesized and would influence new means of categorization, circulation and occupancy to be better utilized in the physical world. This methodology would allow for virtual uses to be better integrated within the use and program of a space. By applying certain design experiments on the different media, it would aid in visualizing and solidifying virtual networks in the physical realm. Such experiments would factor in differing networks and their uses, both intended and unintended, as well as what circumstances need to be facilitated to promote these uses. For example, planning meetings between people through Facebook and Twitter tend to require a certain environment and condition, whereas promoting collaborative discussion and sharing experiences on Reddit or StumbleUpon requires a different environment and set of conditions. Another factor would be how these uses manifest themselves in actual space, and the consequences of these manifestations. This would enable a view of the larger scale capabilities of the network, relating users to their specific location when they access the network.

The third phase would consist of applying information collected from the two previous phases and applying it towards an existing physical condition. By studying the makeup of these networks, their qualities that enable the collaboration the virtual world enjoys could be presented in the physical. Interactivity would be a major element of the proposal, as it overwhelmingly exists in a similarly large manner in the virtual networks. Questions of direct contact as well as larger collaboration would need to be addressed as these challenges exist rather without difficulty within the virtual, where an individual is not held back by factors such as distance and miscommunication. This space would be activated by the user, through occupation and interaction. In order to map the virtual, a greater understanding is needed of how we perceive it. Through mapping how the user both traverses this space and applies knowledge found, the virtual space can be transformed from the invisible to the visible. Mapping of used virtual space would ground the space, yet still leave it open to modifications by the user. A possible area of study regarding this is the various designs of airport and transportation hub infrastructure. Nodal and moving network information is inherent within airports and transportation hubs, with different people who have separate destinations and times by which to get there. By studying such typologies, a better understanding of how virtual exists in the physical wil be attained.

Through the previous steps, a location-condition will be found that can contain a non-location (the virtual). It must be determined if it can be applied to existing site or if a new condition needs to be created. Supplementary conditions will also need to be determined, as well as the overall scale of such a site. Size parameters do not exist in the virtual, and the translation of such needs to be carefully applied when transitioning into actualization.

Terms of Criticism + Methods of Inquiry + Q1: How are these networks generated or created and how do these networks manifest themselves in the physical world? + Q2: Is there a specific interface or infrastructure that needs to exist to harbor these physical manifestations? + Q3: Does it need to be grounded to a specific site, or can it exist in a landscape? + Q4: How does information shared across different networks fit in as it exists outside of a closed system? +MoI1: Mapping various networks and categorizing them based on their purpose +MoI2: Conducting experiments that root networks to physical locations +MoI3: Explore how networks are used and misused by the user +MoI4: Map spaces that exemplify similarities to network infrastructure (airports, libraries, collaboration spaces etc) +MoI5: Applying gathered knowledge towards existing typologies


Theoretical Link Through utilizing the core concepts of virtual networks – time and subjectivity - A device that aggregates information and displays it for the public should be created in order to facilitate and promote communication across social and political boundaries. This specific device would better facilitate interaction between the citizens of Philadelphia and the city government. A new typology would be established that accounts for the constant change of information present in networks, and establishes a readily operable hierarchy that transcends that of the “read” and evolves into the “read/write”. This device would be site specific, but would maintain the ability to change based on user input. Therefore, this project aims towards utilizing cybernetics and responsive design to easier facilitate and promote people-people interaction, as well as people-city government interaction. By utilizing the public nature of the plaza, a modern platform to openly speak ones (or groups) mind can be formed that take digital factors and qualities into account. The result of this intervention would be a cohesive area where concerns could be adequately directed towards the city government and the promotion of new ideas and refinement of old ideas would enter the discussion through the input of users. Fluid qualities present in networking systems would ensure that this intervention would constantly be subject to change, and would provide a suitable interface to interact with this grouping of information.


Traditional methods of communication were inherently direct and private, only involving the two people having the conversation. This method did not allow for the input of a third party to bring a subjective look into the discussion, instead relying on the passive user to establish an element of subjectivity. Through the current use of Social Networks (i.e. Facebook, Twitter) information can be directed to a specific party through the public eye, which can be viewed by others. The feature that allows this public viewing is the interface of these networking programs, which allow others not included in the original instance of dialogue to participate, even if it was not directed towards them. This brings subjectivity to the discussion, although it is a reactive method to add or correct the information after it has already been presented. The new typology being proposed is that of a SocioVirtual Network, one that has the elements of time and subjectivity built into it, that would allow for information to be edited and added in real time by all those involved. Through this method, an equal voice is held by everyone in the network and the information in the discourse exists in a constant state of flux, where irrelevant information is moderated and removed, and relevant facts are exemplified and added.

Person 1

Person 2

Person 1

Person 2

Person 3

Person 4

Person 3

Person 4

07. Traditional Network Diagram

08. Social Network Diagram

10. Conceptual Model

09. Socio-Virtual Network Diagram

Initial studies in physically manifested networks began with the conceptual model. This model demonstrates how a network exists within a regulated, sterile structure, akin to social media services such as Facebook. Connections are started from various “plugs” that lead to “nodes” occupying three dimensional space. These nodes sit at different elevations, speaking to the layered nature exhibited within social media networks. The outside edges have a series of holes which can be interacted with by plugging into them. Changing the position from one hole to another changes the entire network, as connections grow shorter or longer, and sit higher or lower because of this. This constant connection despite change is emblematic of hiw digital theory operates, in that the network is constantly being changed due to time and subjectivity, and does not remain static at any given point in time.

By applying this model to the theoretical model proposed in this thesis, the plugs would be the users, the people of Philadelphia. The nodes would represent specific topics that these users are attracted to, although no determination is given as to their support or opposition of ideas. A network is formed based on two levels of information, that is, the specific topics linking together and people linking to multiple topics. The equal spacing is relevant as is the equal size of each individual plug because the network is composed of a society of people in equal standing. No more clout is given to one over another, each has his own unique, individual voice while maintaining an identical standing with the voices of others.

Certain nodes are given more connections, similar to how centrality operates within a given system. This arrangement of nodes and pathways allow for some nodes to be more connected than others, with one serving as the definite center of the system. Outliers are also present, it is because they hold an equal standing that they are not hidden by the rest of the network. Densities are formed by adjacencies of nodes, creating regions that are more connected than others, all while existing within the same network.

Twitter Followers

23 Connections - Center 15 - 22 Connections 17 - 14 Connections 1 - 6 Connections

Centrality of Major Followers

11. Detail of Conceptual Model

12. Network Centrality Diagram


Site Urban plazas and similar areas can be tied to the public conditions already present within social networks. By applying the digital tenets to a physical site, this thesis will show how the digital public condition can be used to create physical public discourse. Alternatively, this thesis will provide for a new framework to update outdated public spaces to reflect the needs of these Socio-Virtual information networks. Dilworth plaza is located on the west side of Philadelphia City Hall, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Originally, when the building was contructed in 1871, the site west of City Hall was called City Centre Square, and was not connected to the City Hall Site.11 This square was used as a public park from this period on until Edmund Bacon became the Head City Planner, in 1949. In 1956, Bacon proposed demolishing nearby Broad Street Station, a commuter train hub that was experiencing reduced commuter traffic due to other, more successful stations being uitilized more effiecently. In order to connect the vaying methods of transportation, Bacon proposed a plan for an extensive underground concourse system. The concourse also had a secondary feature, one of a highly commercial program. In Bacon’s vision, this concourse would exist not only as a method for commuters to move around the city by doing so underneath it, but also as a place where people could work and shop, spurring the local economy. A terminus was needed to allow for a way to lead from the street level to this underground concourse, and the Dilworth Plaza design was approved.


After the design was approved for a plaza to lead from the street level to this underground concourse, City Centre Square was annexed into City Hall’s site. The park itself was replaced with an urban plaza that allowed multiple points of connection for the transit system, commercial concourse and street level commuter traffic, and construction was completed in the mid 1970’s. Another aspect of design that was utilized was for the plaza to include an exhibition space, that is, a place for gatherings and events to occur without disrupting the other primary functions. As stated before, Dilworth Plaza sits along the western portion of the City Hall site. At the urban scale, the plaza acts as an orientation device that tells commuters that they are indeed in the center of the city, both physically and politically. The plaza functions differently from other Philadelphia plazas due to its connection to a large number of transportation lines, and through its recurring use as both a political center and demonstration space.

14. Street view of Dilworth Plaza - North

15. View of Public Section of Dilworth Plaza

13. Aerial view of Dilworth Plaza

Through viewing the site at a smaller scale, there are multiple levels and oppurtunities of public interaction that become visible. Multiple types of interaction exist at varying sizes which often bleed into one another. These spaces that facilitate these public interactions directly reflect how public or how private the current discourse is. At the smaller scale of a concrete bench, two or three people can engage in a relatively private conversation. These benches dot the site, as there are over thirty benches arranged symmetrically in the site’s plan. Spaces and alcoves are created by these benches which allow for a slightly larger moment of interaction to occur. These areas allow enough space for a group of up to 10 people to engage in a more public conversation. It is of note that these group sized alcoves tend to act as transitional spaces that mediate between the smaller bench spaces and the three larger spaces on site that allow for large group discourse. The larger spaces occur at the three main axes of the site, and can faciliatate enough room for over fifty people to engage in a highly public level of discourse and discussion. The concourse exists as a separate entity underneath the site with three main connections that link the aboveground with the underground. Two sets of stairs are the only physical link for accessing the concourse, with no ramps or mechanical methods of traveling underneath the plaza. All three axes provide for a sensory connection, with openings that create views of nearby orientation devices, telling the public where exactly underneath the site they are. These instances of orientation are generally brief and largely disconnected from each other, and seem to have an equally disorienting effect on users. The concourse is also composed of a more private condition than the above ground portion, largely enclosed and isolated from the street and acting completely independent from it. This disconnect of the mainly private concourse and the mainly public ground level plaza is one of the main faults of this mid 20th century design. The original vision of the concourse was for it to be a method of traversing the city by doing so underneath it, however, it currently exists as a barrier that people must cross and want to pass as quickly as possible.

Municipal Building

JFK Plaza (Love Park) North Broad Street Municipal Plaza Suburban Station

Market Street

City Hall

Commercial District

South Broad

16. Site Context



17. Site Shadow Study

Secondary Transportation Connection (Trolley Line and Regional Rail)

Underground Concourse Map Central Transportation Connection (Broad and Market Lines)

18. Underground Connections

19. Underground Concourse


Program The existing programmatic elements of the site include the transit center, a seasonal exhibition space, a political center and a demonstration space. These four programs tend to exist entirely apart from one another, and it does not speak to how people interact in the digital age. This public platform would allow for a dialogue to exist, retrofitting the plaza to become an active space directly responding to user input. Through utilizing virtual methods of networking, this thesis proposes to change how the public interacts with the civil government, as well as with itself. An interface must be designed to facilitate this interaction. It is through the technology of cybernetics and embedded information technologies, that the public plaza would contain elements of networking, community and relevancy to the current age. The plaza would then be turned into public platform for discourse, both for political and personal causes. This modern discussion board would have a clear input and output of ideas that would have the ability to be constantly changed and updated. Through the presentation of these inputs and outputs, the site would act as a metering device to show trends in public and political discourse, allowing for ideas to become more accessible to those on both sides of the issues. The interface would then influence a responsive architecture that would be changing based on input and output, while exhibiting this change in the open. By constantly adapting to the current dialogues of the users, the site would then influence the gaining of knowledge while following the digital elements of time and subjectivity.


This interface that would act as a more cohesive strategy for the public to interact with the city government and speak their mind. Currently, when one addresses the government, their claim is addressed publicly, then decided on privately. The public space of the plaza would become a public platform for occupants of the site to be able to form debates and opinions in an open

setting, akin to the input method of social networks. The device and attached architecture would be built as an addendum to the government, building off of what is already present and not redesigning or reinventing it.

An area would be present that would allow for users to participate in the larger argument, a voting booth of sorts. Information would be collected at this data aggregator and stored for public viewing, while being able to be changed if deemed necessary by the users. The act of moderating and policing the debates would fall directly on the users, who would determine which information would be represented on site. This collective action would be reminiscent of the public nature of the plaza as well as the communal addition of information to a social network.

20. Responsive Network

A main issue consistent with the design would be the technique utilized to mediate public and private space. As social networks are incredibly public for those inside of them, a strategy would need to be employed to represent this. The fact that these networks exist as rigid structures that regulate content and the ability to post information would need to be considered as well, so the data aggregator would function properly and not as a jumbled mess of ideas. This aggregated data would need to be categorized and refined through user input and public participation. The second aspect of this program would be to provide a space that, through the use of cybernetics and responsive technologies would create a way of presenting this gathered data, allowng both other users and the city overnment to respond accordingly to the data that is trending. This would allow for the public population to become educated about the various ideas they have regarding issues with the city government. This space would be a dynamic one to show that it can constantly evolve as ideas evolve, change, are removed and are added. A contemporary example of embedded information devices in a public setting is the staircase at Lincoln Center Plaza, in New York City. The staircase acts as the main entrance to the plaza, and exhibits LEDs on the riser of each stair. This LED screen provides for a backdrop for messages to be displayed, including welcome messages, show times and directions to the different buildings that surround the plaza. This representation of information directly influences how a user acts within the plaza. The information is controlled at a singular point that is not open to the public, which instead reactivey towards it.

21. Metering Device

22. Lincoln Center Plaza

23. Information Interaction

24. Detail of Lincoln Center Plaza Stairs


Users The public of Philadelphia would be the main users, without regard to bias, social standing or group. It would encourage equality with everyone having an equal voice, akin to the environment of relative equality that users of social networks inhabit. The users would be a collective informal group, based around no specific social hierarchy. These users would be able to utilize the device to communicate to wider audiences, promoting collaboration and the refinement of ideas. These users would categorize the data and determine its relevancy to current and future ideas. They would act as moderators of discussion, as well as editors to conclude what information would be presented and spoken about. A contemporary example of those who aim to utilize digital theory to make opinions known is the current Occupy Philadelphia movement happening inside of Dilworth Plaza. As individuals they bring opinions and activate the plaza through participation.

The reactive users to the design would be the city government of Philadelphia and the public who are not currently participating, as the focus of the information would be directed at them. The hope would be for those reactive people to participate in the discussion, by maintaining the same equal voice present to aim for a social movement geared towards consensus. The main user group would be the inhabitants of the city of Philadelphia, ranging from everyday commuters who travel through the plaza, to the politician who works next to the plaza to the tourist who is only in the plaza for a small amount of time. By opening the site to these different groups, overall participation and output would be based off of each group’s applicable level of interest. Also, specialties present in these groups would lead to different paths of discussion, with certain groups holding certain more clout on a given subject.

Equality in reputation is a major factor of the users, with each person having as much say as the next. The social networks provide for this rigidly equal nature by strictly regulating how a user maintains an account on the site. This would allow for anyone to participate and open governmental discourse to a larger audience who would feel as though their ideas were being utilized through the public nature of broadcasting ideas.

25. Information Created Space


26. Discourse at Dilworth Plaza

28. Information Display

27. Users of Dilworth Plaza


Methodologies Experimentation with technologies would need to be addressed, specifically the qualities that these cybernetic technologies contain. Models would aid in the presentation of these qualities. Also, exploring how these technologies would sit in three dimensional space would establish a cohesiveness of virtual ideas. Models and drawings would aid in showing how this intervention would act as a metering device for trending topics, to show how certain topics might affect use and circulation. Tools such as parametric modeling would enable dynamic interventions with clear inputs and outputs to be presented.

Key Terms


1. Socio-Virtual Network A new typology of network where information is submitted publicly, and has the ability to be edited by everyone, even those whom the dialogue is not directed to. Emphasizes equality in standing and constant change to allow for the most accurate information to be presented along with the topic. 2. Cybernetic A condition where digital input is changed into a physical output, and this output is fed back into the system, allowing for adaptation to current situation. 3. Responsive Technology Similar to Cybernetics, this is a condition where user input delivers a physical output, which can then be manipulated by the user. 4. Dynamic Constant change and movement, where information or a space does not exist idly for too long of a time and is constantly in motion.

5. Display Device A device used to represent information currently being discussed, and used as both a metering tool for those both in and outside of the discussion. 6.Aggregation Device A device that gathers the data relating to the topic being discussed, and factors in the changes being presented by those wishing to edit the information. 7. Trend A certain topic being discussed in the present that could spawn future discussions. Discussion topics with a larger active audience would be given a larger space for display to represent the relative importance 8.Public Platform A typology to allow for occupants of the site to discuss current topics, both for personal and political causes 9. Node A point in a network, an individual user or group 10. Connection The pathways that form between nodes, forming the basis of the network 11. Centrality An attribute of a node representing how many connections it holds in the entirity of the network 12. Subjectivity Editing abilities held by the users establish a self reglating and self policing subjectivity, where irrelevant or incorrect information is filtered out in favor of relevant, true information.


Spring Schedule

This thesis aims to bridge the gap between virtual and physical methods of discourse. Through the study of digital theory and how it has manifested itself in the physical realm, an interface must be designed to facilitate dicsussion inherent in these systems. By siting this interface in a public plaza, the language of the social networking services remains apparent and would function in a similar way. Opening the program of discourse to all users of the site with no set stratification or seperation of people maintains the language of equality that these networking systems inherently possess. The addition of a metering device would allow and enable the site to actively engage users and passerby, therefore ensuring utilization.

Prior to Semester - Complete site/program information Program Diagram Week 01 - Stewardson Competition Week 02 - Stewardson Competition Week 03 - Diagrams of strategies for embedded information implementation Collage/image generation Review 1 Week 04 - Continue developing strategies of embedded informational devices Image generation/technical Week 05 - Finish Speculation of information devices Technical drawings Begin Developing Circulation Possibilities Larger, site scale Week 06 - Continue Circulation Possibilities Larger/smaller scale Begin desiging site specific intervention at larger scale Plan 1/16” = 1’-0’ Section/elevation 1/16” = 1’-0” Week 07 - Review 2 Continue designing specific intervention at larger scale Plan 1/16” = 1’-0” Section/elevation 1/16” = 1’-0” Week 08 - Spring Break Begin model of intervantion Begin Detailed drawing of device at smaller scale Detail Section 1/2” = 1’-0” Week 09 - Continue Drawings of device and intervention Week 10 - Produce Renderings of device and intervention Week 11 - Produce model of device, with some indication of how it works Usable model Week 12 - Silent Pinup Continue refining model and drawings Week 13 - Determine sizing of drawings relative to presentation space allotted Continue producing drawings Week 14 - Continue producing models and drawing to close any gaps or holes present Compose script for final review Week 15 - Final Review Photograph, scan and assemble thesis document Week 16 - Photograph, scan and asseble thesis document Week 17 - Commencement


Initial Attractor Process

Dilworth Existing Grid

The initial mapping of Dilworth Plaza started by categorizing the plaza as a series of inputs. These inputs were composed mainly of areas of circulation, and few places of gathering. A grid was overlayed and the nodal inputs were each given a specific region that they would manipulate. The script that was written proscribed a certain gravity to the nodal inputs based upon the scenario being mapped. For example, a Commuter might value a node that a Tourist may not. So that same node would have a high gravity applied to it when mapping a Commuter based system, and conversely a low gravity applied to it when mapping a Tourist based system. The overall aim of the mapping was to establish where these attractors existed and how their existence could be brought to the forefront to the design of the plaza. Analyzing how peope influence these attractors is a direct critique of the original method by which these plazas were designed - not necessarily with the goal of public interaction in mind.


29. Grid Scenarios



Political Center



Initial Armature and Canopy Placement

Armature and Canopy Placement

The initial placement of the canopies and armatures was directly linked to the inputs which manipulated the grid. The armatures were oriented along of axis of the site, and effectively bisected the circular input regions. This would form pathways through the site, which would change based on the movement of the armatures. The canopies also illustrate how they could possible be used as a display space, in the fictional scenario of an election. The orientation of the armatures allowed for the information on the canopies to be displayed towards the offices of City Hall or towards the street to the west. This coincided with the way that protestors would voice their complaints with the governing city body, showing that the system could be used in a variety of scenarios.


30. Armature Placement

31. Canopy Axonometric Process


32. Armature Process Model 33. Armature Process Model

The initial model exhibits a certain protection of the existing site, with the armatures existing as a series of temporary installations. The lightwell condition would be a more permanent intervention, existing as a series of slices or cuts in the ground plane that would shift to allow varying levels of light to the underground portion. The armatures would not be able to cross this ground plane, instead their movement would be limited by the grade of the site (or the existing ceiling). The limited degree of openness was eventually phased out, instead a system of crossing the plane at grade was introduced and carried forward.


34. Armature Process Model 35. Armature Process Model


36. Armature Process Model 37. Armature Process Model

The updated armature model exhibited the detail that the envisioned arms would have. By rigorously modelling the piston system, as well as showcasing the actual extents of movement available, the model successfully showed what the arms could physically look like. Constructed above a transparent acrylic sheet which showcased the lines of the manipulated grid, the series of arms suggested how and where they could be sited as well as how many should come together to form one unit. The clear sheet also showed how the arms exist one on top of the other, allowing for the users underneath to influence the movement of the arms located above. This would cause an indirect manipulation of the site, which would be random everytime a user interacts with it.


38. Armature Process Model 39. Armature Process Section


Pe r









ea Lin



















































Pe r







Sl idi ng

Tra ck

The armature was created to perform two functions- one as an occupiable surface (the upper portion) and one as a screen which could be projected on (the lower portion). The armature would move based on how the public interacted with it, providing for a constantly shifting surface. This element of change is indicative of digital theory in that information exists in a constant state of flux.


40. Armature Exploded Axonometric

30’ Span

25’ Span

20’ Span 15’ Span 10’ Span 41. Armature Spans

42. Servo Motor Detail



43. Armature Range of Motion

44. Canopy Axonometic


Striping Once reaching a level of comfort with the various inputs feeding into the manipulation of the site, a secondary strategy was needed to provide for a moveable surface. Through researching self organizing patterning systems, a viable candidate presented itself through the zebra stripe. A script was created which would translate the overlayed manipulated grid into a series of digital “stripes� A ruleset was created to show the process of how the actual stripe was created, as well as show how the script operated. Initially, the stripe was viewed as an absolute, with one color translating to one height extreme and another color corresponding with the other. In order to create a fluid system, gradients were applied to infer movement. The striping system was applied to the four scenarios originally diagrammed, as well as an averaged plan. Differing intensities in the ruleset were also mapped, each with greater or lesser levels of attraction amongst the stripes. These maps were repeated until a viable pattern produced itself


Striping Ruleset 1] Stripe Activators located at Node Points 2] Sequence starts in NW Corner, subsequent steps offset along X-axis to East

3] Vertical Line travels along downward vector on grid, in accordance with sequence

4] Activator Changes direction of Line:

A]Line moves away from nearest boundary

5] If Line moves into path of already existing Line Its progress is terminated, and sequence resumes one unit to the East

45. Dilworth Existing Grid





46. Striped Scenario Plans


Political Center



Manipulated Grid

Striping Pattern

Selected Pattern

Decreased Attraction

47. Averaged Striped Scenario

The Averaged Striped Scenario provided the pattern with a variety of spaces that could be used at differing elevation and for differing purposes. This pattern contained circulatory instances as well as instances for the gathering of people. The selected pattern is the pattern that was chosen for the final site plan.


Increased Attraction

Armature Placement

48. Armature and Canopy Placement

In order to determine the placement of the armatures and the canopies, the input circles were connected to propose the possible ways that one could move through the site. The connecting lines that were then formed were divided into equal lengths, and where one of these lines intersected another path, a canopy system was placed


Armature Movement Key A key was created that encompasses all of the possible movements an armature can perform. The large amount of variablity in the system allows for certain instances to be chose based upon the specific scenarios that are taking place. These variations are showcased in the following pages, along with how the canopies would look from above. The instances of movement were taken from what each scenarios end goal is: i.e. a Commuter would prefer a relatively flat system to allow for movement, a Demonstrator would prefer a system composed of screens to show their beliefs, ect. These systems were then averaged to produce the range of movement that would actually be implemented in the final design.


49. Armature Key


50. Commuter Armature Positions


Demonstration Space

51. Demonstration Space Armature Positions


Political Center

52. Political Center Armature Positions



53. Tourist Armature Positions



54. Averaged Armature Positions


55. Transverse Section


56. Transverse Section

57. Longitudinal Section


These renderings aim to show various experiences on the site, specifically relating to the average of the four scenarios presented previously. Various light qualities are present, and change baased on the time of day and amount of use the canopy system is receiving. The underground section is composed of a regular series of pistons which is interrupted by the light that penetrates through the canopy. The above ground section is made up of a moving reticulating surface which has levels of connection and didisconnection based on the verticality of the armature system. 58. Underground Rendering


59. Underground Rendering


60. View From City Hall


61. Plaza Gathering


62. Plaza Rendering



63. North Plaza Rendering


64. South Plaza Rendering


The site model was built in the relief style, and shows how the site sits at a specific instance. The static snapshot allows for a critical reading into the subtle grade changes and the spaces that form with these movements. Shadows aid in the reading of the reticulated surface, while also aiding in reading the striped plan for which it is based on. The flatness of the level changes allows for a occupiable reading, specifically how groups can locate themselves at different spaces through the site, based on how many people they contain or wish to contain. The cutout holes represent where a canopy would be placed, and show in the model how the above ground and underground are connected through sight. 65. Site Model 66. Site Model


67. Site Model


68. Site Model 69. Site Model


70. Site Model


The sectional model was constructed to exhibit the moving qualities that the pistons possess, as well as provide a representational device for the moving surface. The model is fully operational, and presented for the reviewers to experiment and test the presented ideas with it. The armature is not operational, as it is there to show how it connects with the surface, as well as show the light qualities which it would provide.

71. Sectional Model

72. Sectional Model


73. Sectional Model 74. Sectional Model Detail


The photograph to the right illustrates the light qualities the perforated steel canopies provide. They act as a way to filter light into the underground concourse area, providing for instances of direct connection with the upper level. The constant shifting of the armature would allow for different qualities to be present through its usage. 75. Sectional Model 76. Sectional Model Detail

The photographs on the opposite page illustrate the shifting surface. The pistons are an extension of the occupiable surface, and allow for its level of change. The surface would allow for extreme level of movement at one end of the spectrum, and would allow for pockets of a more intimate experience at the other end. Usage would establish a constantly changing site, to discourage familiarity and encourage spontaneous discussion


77. Sectional Model Movement


Endnotes 1: Maas, Winy. “From Datascape,” in Architectural Theory, ed. Harry Francis Mallgrave, (Malden, Blackwell Publishing, 2009), 568 2: Grosz, Elizabeth. Architecture from the Outside (Cambridge: The MIT Press, 2001), 78 3: Miessen, Markus. Did Someone Say Participate? (Cambridge: The MIT Press, 2006), 25 4: Schneidler, Tobi. “From The Archoid Chimera: Electric Space as a Social Machine,”in Softspace: From a representation of From a Representation of Form to a Simulation of Space, ed. Sean Lally and Jessica Young, (New York: Routledge, 2007), 100 5: Addington, Michelle. “From The phenomena of the non visual,” in Softspace: From a representation of From a Representation of Form to a Simulation of Space, ed. Sean Lally and Jessica Young, (New York: Routledge, 2007), 39 6: Asher, Jonathan, “From Information Exchange in Virtual Space,” in Via Occupation, ed. Morgan Martinson, (Philadelphia, PDSP/School of Design, University of Pennsylvania, 2008), 124 7: Delanda, Manuel. Intensive Science & Virtual Philosophy (London: Continuum, 2002), 106 8: Delanda, Manuel. Intensive Science & Virtual Philosophy (London: Continuum, 2002), 135 9: Grosz, Elizabeth. Architecture from the Outside (Cambridge: The MIT Press, 2001), 90 10: Grosz, Elizabeth. Architecture from the Outside (Cambridge: The MIT Press, 2001), 89 11: Hornblum, James. Philadelphia’s City Hall ( London: Arcadia, 2003), 56

Bibliography Addington, Michelle. “From The phenomena of the non visual,” in Softspace: From a representation of From a Representation of Form to a Simulation of Space, ed. Sean Lally and Jessica Young, (New York: Routledge, 2007), 39 Asher, Jonathan, “From Information Exchange in Virtual Space,” in Via Occupation, ed. Morgan Martinson, (Philadelphia, PDSP/School of Design, University of Pennsylvania, 2008), 124 Bullivant, Lucy. Responsive Environments (London: V&A Publications, 2006), 83-103 Bullivant, Lucy, 4dspace (London, Wiley, 2005)


Bullivant, Lucy, 4dsocial (London, Wiley, 2007), 93

Burke, Anthony. “Redefining Network Paradigms,” Network Practices: New Strategies in Architecture and Design, ed. Anthony Burke and Therese Tierney (New York City: Princeton Arfhitectural Press, 2007), 59. Delanda, Manuel. Intensive Science & Virtual Philosophy (London: Continuum, 2002), 135 Grosz, Elizabeth. Architecture from the Outside (Cambridge: The MIT Press, 2001), 90 Hight, Christopher. “Scalar Networks, Super Creeps,” Network Practices: New Strategies in Architecture and Design, ed. Anthony Burke and Therese Tierney (New York City: Princeton Arfhitectural Press, 2007), 114. Hornblum, James. Philadelphia’s City Hall ( London: Arcadia, 2003), 56 Legrady, George. “From Data to its Organizing Structure,” Network Practices: New Strategies in Architecture and Design, ed. Anthony Burke and Therese Tierney (New York City: Princeton Arfhitectural Press, 2007), 144. Miessen, Markus. Did Someone Say Participate? (Cambridge: The MIT Press, 2006), 25 Schneiidler, Tobi. “Mediating Devices for a Social Statement,” Architectural Design, 75, no. 1 (2005): 72 Schneidler, Tobi. “From The Archoid Chimera: Electric Space as a Social Machine,”in Softspace: From a representation of From a Representation of Form to a Simulation of Space, ed. Sean Lally and Jessica Young, (New York: Routledge, 2007), 100 Speaks, Michael. “Intelligence After Theory,” Network Practices: New Strategies in Architecture and Design, ed. Anthony Burke and Therese Tierney (New York City: Princeton Arfhitectural Press, 2007), 213.

Image Citations 01. Eliasson, Olafur. Weather Project in Softspace: From a representation of From a Representation of Form to a Simulation of Space, ed. Sean Lally and Jessica Young, (New York: Routledge, 2007), 125 02. Nussen, Dominik. Cracking 3, http://ncodescripting. 03. Cordova, Alan. Seattle Central Library Atrium, http:// 04. Ingalls, Bjarke. Network Diagram in Yes is More! (NewYork, Taschen, 2009), 53 05. Bullivant, Lucy. Chronopolis in Bullivant, Lucy. Responsive Environments (London: V&A Publications, 2006), 83-103 06. Diller + Scofidio. Blur Building Approach, http:// 07. Own Image 08. Own Image 09. Own Image 10. Own Image 11. Own Image 12. Own Image 13. Larma, Rikard, http://media.metronews.topscms. com/images/a1/4e/4da05a6843d6bd4657da89e54c1e. jpeg 14. Own Image 15. Own Image 16. Own Image 17. Own Image 18. Own Image 19. Own Image 20. Bullivant, Lucy, Electroland in Bullivant, Lucy. 4dsocial (London, Wiley, 2007), 93 21. Bullivant, Lucy. Chronopolis in Bullivant, Lucy. Responsive Environments (London: V&A Publications, 2006), 53 22. Lincoln Center Plaza, CwSYMd9KuCE/TMeMGkXue0I/AAAAAAAAKHI/r4D4Jje1gv8/s1600/DSC_2450.JPG 23. Klein Dytham, “ICE,” Architectural Design, 75, no. 1 (2005): 12,

24. Side Street Step Lighting, 25. SOL_35221-450x300.jpg 26. Own Image 27. Own Image 28. Rubin, Ben, “The Listening Post,” Architectural Design, 75, no. 1 (2005): 92 29. “Grid Scenarios” Own Image 30. “Armature Placement” Own Image 31. “Canopy Axonometric Process” Own Image 32. “Armature Process Model” Own Image 33. “Armature Process Model” Own Image 34. “Armature Process Model” Own Image 35. “Armature Process Model” Own Image 36. “Armature Process Model” Own Image 37. “Armature Process Model” Own Image 38. “Armature Process Model” Own Image 39. “Armature Process Section” Own Image 40. “Armature Exploded Axonometric” Own Image 41. “Armature Spans” Own Image 42. “Servo Motor Detail” Own Image 43. “Armature Range of Motion” Own Image 44. “Canopy Axonometric” Own Image 45. “Dilworth Existing Grid” Own Image 46. “Striped Scenario Plans” Own Image 47. “Averaged Striped Scenario” Own Image 48. “Armature and Canopy Placement” Own Image 49. “Armature Key” Own Image 50. “Commuter Armature Positions” Own Image 51. “Demonstration Space Armature Positions” Own Image 52. “Political Center Armature Positions” Own Image 53. “Tourist Armature Positions” Own Image 54. “Averaged Armature Positions” Own Image 55. “Transverse Section” Own Image 56. “Transverse Section” Own Image 57. “Longitudinal Section” Own Image 58. “Underground Rendering” Own Image 59. “Underground Rendering” Own Image 60. “View from City Hall” Own Image 61. “Plaza Gathering” Own Image

62. “Plaza Rendering” Own Image 63. “North Plaza Rendering” Own Image 64. “South Plaza Rendering” Own Image 65. “Site Model” Own Image 66. “Site Model” Own Image 67. “Site Model” Own Image 68. “Site Model” Own Image 69. “Site Model” Own Image 70. “Site Model” Own Image 71. “Sectional Model” Own Image 72. “Sectional Model” Own Image 73. “Sectional Model” Own Image 74. “Sectional Model Detail” Own Image 75. “Sectional Model” Own Image 76. “Sectional Model Detail” Own Image 77. “Sectional Model Movement” Own Image


Bobev B.Arch Thesis Document 2012