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CONSTRUCTING ENVIRONMENTS Week 2 Journal Tara Shokouhi 635693

Constructing Environments Week 2 - Journal Two Lecture: This weeks lecture was presented by guest speaker, Architect Peter ...., as he discussed the various projects he had completed, and demonstrated the connection between nature and buildings. It was demonstrated that many buildings embodied the same principals and manner of workings as plants and animals in nature. As opposed to using plants and nature around us for design purposes, the structure and systems in which these work is intricately analysed and applied, on a larger scale, to the works of designers and architects as solutions to problems faced. Case Study - Cocoon House (2001): One of the pieces discussed by the guest speaker, was the “Cocoon House” built down in Victoria’s Otway Rangers in 2001. The house is a structurally round house, built in amongst the surrounding landscape, almost floating between the trees.

“This Project was a platform for structural as well as social exploration. We looked at boat building, basket weaving and gridshells; the engineer threw in aircraft and monocoque structures.” - Belemo & Cat ( We explored the manner in which an aircraft structure was modified to fit this project, bringing in inspiration not only from nature, but also, non-architectural man-made structures around us.

Tutorial Activity: This week’s tutorial activity consisted of cutting up a piece of balsa wood, into 40 thin long pieces, in order to create a tower as high as is possible with the wood and glue.

To start of the preparations, the pieces of Balsa wood that we were given were cut up into 40 long pieces.

In proceeding to construct the tower, My group and I debated as to the best shape to use as the basis of our tower. We settled on a triangle, as it meant that we could save more sticks, to help with the height of the tower.

We decided to create a foundation structure of three levels to maximise the strength of the tower.

As we began to build upwards, we decided to add braces to the structure in order to stabalise it. However, It was pointed out that every single piece used was counted as part of the 40 allowable pieces of wood. So, we began to cut down some of the braces.

Upon finishing the base foundation of our structure, we began to stick pieces of Balsa wood together, to create a long rod, in an attempt to gain the height needed. This, while turned out well in that our tower managed to reach up to a floor, as we increased the height, the rod became heavy at the connected ends and it proceeded to bend. Due to the weight and the pressure, the Balsa wood snapped. To improve this for the future, it would be a better idea to continue on with the pyramid shape and create braces between each side as the height narrows, to keep the strength.

Process Shots:

The process of building the foundation of the tower.

The final Height reached of our tower, before it snapped.

Testing the amount of weight that our structure foundation could hold.

The snapped piece of Balsa Wood.


Journal 2