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Theresa Christina Student No: 568825

Semester 1/2012

Group 8

Microscopic Fungi Plant Growth I first looked into the process of Microscopic Fungi Growth because the formation of these Fungi can be so fascinating, and even almost alien-like.

I discovered that fungi, the principle component of growth and development is the hyphae. Hyphae elongate from the top of each other. The basis of fungal growth is the continued and coordinated growth of a series of the hyphae’s tips. The density of branching varies greatly, and the direction also can vary. This way, different forms can be developed by fungi.

A hyphae’s branching structure. Hyphal tips initially elongate linearly, and branches grow exponentially.

Microscopic Fungi Plant Growth - Lecture

From the research I did on fungi growth, I found that growth of fungi, like many other plants; follow a certain organized pattern like that of a tree’s.

I found a striking resemblance between the growth of fungi and the growth of tree branches explained in the first lecture, in terms of its growdivide-grow-divide rule. I sketched out the growth of trees explained in the lecture:

Microscopic Fungi Plant Growth

Also, a fungi grows in 3 typical phases:

initially, a fungi would grow rapidly because it absorbs nutrients in the environment it grows in. As nutrients deplete, its growth would reach a stationary phase and eventually declines Based on hyphae’s branching variety (density vs direction) and this graph, I created possibility(ies) of forms

Density varies

Direction varies

Density & Direction varies

Microscopic Fungi Plant Growth

Density Varies.

This form is a result of the combination between the growth graph of fungi and the concept that a hyphae’s density varies. I find this form quite attractive, but I feel that I’ve seen this shape often in others’ works as well as in past examples.

Microscopic Fungi Plant Growth

Density and Direction Varies.

In this model, not only density varies (volume of physical body gets thicker), but also direction. I showed the change in direction by making the model curving up and down. I think the sketch looks more interesting than simply just varying the density, but the clay model turned out to be quite unattractive as I failed to reproduce the steep curves; so it turned out to be quite geometrical on the physical model.

Microscopic Fungi Plant Growth – Leaf Veins

My subsequent research on hyphae led me into this eerily beautiful piece of design done by Nervous System, called the ‘Hyphae Lamp’ Nervous System’s “HYPHAE LAMP” draws inspiration from natural forms. Leaf veins inspired the texture and patterns of the lamp, whereas the shape was inspired by different organic forms such as eggs and corals. It is an algorithmically-generated lamp design, which means that there is a mathematical pattern/rule governing the leaf patterns and the patterns are not just randomly developed and shaped.

The leaf-like façade of the lamp was created by replicating leaf-veins growth using computers which follow a mathematical theory called the ‘AUXIN FLUX CANALIZATION’. This theory simulates the growth of veins which always runs from the source through the nearest hormone spots of the leaves

Microscopic Fungi Plant Growth – Leaf Veins From the concept of

“starting at one source” from the leaf-veins formation “elongated at the tips” concept from hyphae growth and Henry Segerman’s explanation on Moebius Strips in during his lecture, I was inspired to make a form that sits on top of each other and intersects at one point that appears to be continuous and joined.

“Branching out in different directions”

From this concept and again using the word “one source” as a guide, I created an angular form that joins in at the centre yet ‘blooming out to different directions’. I found the shape too representational and thought that would be hard to model digitally with NURBS so I altered the shape to be more continuous and less angular, forming a smooth flowing shape.

Butterfly Wing Formation - Patterns

I stumbled onto an extremely resourceful online Journal during the search of my next natural process

Titled “Journal of Experimental Zoology (MOL DEV EVOL)” by N.F Nijhout. The journal features formation of butterfly wing formation features, including the complete anatomy of the butterflies’ wings. From here, I started to venture out to analyze this natural form further. I also decided to look further into this because butterfly wings are really visually appealing and I’d like to find out whether there’s some pattern its following like other natural objects as well.

Butterfly Wing Formation - Patterns From the scientific journal,

I found out that butterflies’ wing patterns are different from leopards’ spots or zebras’ stripes. The spots and stripes in leopards and zebras are arranged either randomly or evenly. In butterflies, the patterns are arranged in a vertical symmetry system and each species’ pattern types differ so each patterns can be used to directly trace each butterfly’s identity. The symmetry system is divided into 3 : the Basal symmetry system, Central, and the Border symmetry system. Each consists of 8 parallel series of pattern elements, 1 for each band of each of the 3 symmetry systems. However, these patterns follow the vein system, which caused the patterns to be segmented and often ‘abstracted’, making the pattern not easy to spot. Each wing cell (area bounded by the veins) has a series of repetition of the same set of pattern elements. Various simple modifications of nature’s symmetry systems

Butterfly Wing Formation - Patterns

From the concept of ‘segmented’,

I took the shape of the bands in the symmetry system of a butterfly, and try to break it up, and tried to arrange it in alternate patterns. I came up with a form that is chainlike, and tried to model based on it. Turns out that I couldn’t model it properly and the physical model turned out to be just a squiggly line and look visually boring and unappealing.

Butterfly Wing Formation - Patterns

Abu Dhabi Performing Arts Centre, Zaha Hadid Architects Seeing butterfly’s wing pattern and vein formation, I was reminded of the work of Zaha Hadid, a truly inspirational female architect.

One of her realised projects was the Abu Dhabi Performing Arts Centre, situated in Abu Dhabi. The structure and façade of this building’s design reminds me of butterflies wings’ pattern and vein lines. The design is so captivating as it makes use of fluidity of lines, and resembles non-rigid organic forms. I feel that the shape and looks of the building can be a potential inspiration for the shape of my lantern due to the similiarity in the way that the building and the lantern must both convey organic forms and processes.

Butterfly Wing Formation - Patterns

I tried to create a form based on Zaha Hadid’s Abu Dhabi Performing Arts Centre,

I tried to create a shape that embodies the butterfly’s vein system, which is where the panels will sit on top of, following the ‘veins’, just like butterflies’ symmetry system. I also tried to create the shape as evenly as possible, but creating an even, nice shape is hard to do using a single body of clay (I made the shape from clays shaped like the cross-sectional shape and put it together).

Butterfly Wing Formation - Patterns

Since the ‘single body’ technique did not work,

I tried the ‘layering’ method. I started by making a pinecone-shaped ball and put stripes of ‘ribbons’ on it. I first started putting the ribbons evenly, and making a second layer by putting another set of stripes between the gaps produced by the first layer of ribbons. I repeated the process several times and end up with a uniquely structured shape. However, I received a comment that the forms that I’ve created from the process of butterfly wing formation are too literal and representative and that I should try to look at other aspects of butterfly / other natural processes that is easier to be abstracted (Butterflies are beautiful creatures and human brains are compelled to follow something that already has a form instead of translating it into abstract patterns/shapes/objects). Therefore, I continued by looking at another process..

Butterfly Flight Process

I started to shift my view and researched on the butterflies’ flight mechanism processes instead of the formation of its wing patterns and colors because I felt that the outcome would be limited as abstracting something that is already beautiful by nature is extremely challenging.

After numerous searches, I discovered Ultraslo, a production company specializing in creating unique images of natural processes in slow motion. Among their many documentations of captivating natural processes, I found one titled “Butterfly flight”. As I watched the slow motion documentation, I realized that with each spreading and closing of the butterfly’s wings, the wing would occasionally move in a wave-like motion. Hence, I decided to investigate this process futher.

Butterfly Flight Process Silviya Ilieva, University of Westminster, United Kingdom.

Much like me, she was looking into the process of a butterfly’s flight to recreate this process through bionics for her architecture thesis project. She used various methods to encapsulate the wing movement of a butterfly during flight, such as mapping its movement and recreating it using parametric models (see below). Through these early steps of her project, I realized that ‘mapping the movement’ can be an interesting angle to look from and can potentially inspire interesting forms.

Butterfly Flight Process

Another interesting aspect to the process of butterflies’ flight was

Its migration. I discovered that butterflies are actually cold blooded animals, so they are not capable of handling extreme cold weather in the winter. One of the most well known types of butterfly that migrate is the Monarch Butterfly. Monarch butterflies that live in northern America migrates every winter, flying from Canada and the northernmost parts of the United States to Central Mexico. This migration pattern always begins in late August and ends around Novermber and December.

Butterfly Flight Process – ABSTRACTION From past students’ examples uploaded onto the LMS, bdav/pid-3462375-dt-content-rid10315909_2/courses/ENVS10008_2012_S M1/Student%20Presentations/M1_Anne %20Baker.pdf

I discovered Anne Baker, who, was like me, was pretty much interested in the concept of ‘flight’. In her work, there is a section called ‘ABSTRACTION : Infographics and data as art’. From that, I was inspired to try and experiment with the data(s) I’ve obtained from the process of butterfly flight. I tried to adjust color, hue, opacity of the map of butterfly migration paths and digital map of butterfly wing pattern during flight from Silviya Ilieva’s blog using photoshop to come up with a possible form.

Butterfly Flight Process Silviya Ilieva, University of Westminster, United Kingdom.

Her final prototype, an incredible ephemeral re-creation of butterly’s wing movement in flight made me realize that the wave-like movement that I observed from Ultraslo’s butterfly flight documentation does happen indeed. A butterfly’s wings do not move back and forth in a rigid motion, but in a wave-like motion that may be caused by its light and aerodynamic qualities.

From Ilieva’s prototype, I tried to sketch out its movements as a series of time-lapse sketches to simplify the process. Sketching the process in simple curves along a vertical line makes it much easier to understand and draw inspiration from.

Butterfly Flight Process

From the wing movement process, I tried to combine, sequence, and overlap the process. From the combination and sequences I created, I also tried to create models to see what forms I would get from each combination/sequence. However, I was worried that these interpretations might be overly literal and I reckoned that these forms need further abstraction.

Butterfly Flight Process

> In order to create another form from the process of that wing movement I observed, I re-represent the time-lapse sketches and combine them along a ‘vertical timeline’. I tried to combine the process, and I came up with a form that I thought was quite interesting. I was unsure how this sketch would look like as an actual form, so I tried modeling it with clay. I tried as much as I can to make the model resemble the sketch as much as possible. I came up with this form. It was interesting, but after receiving the advice to not create a literal form of something from a tutorial session, I thought I can further abstract this form to create something even more interesting yet linked to the process of butterfly flight itself.

Butterfly Flight Process Digging for more inspiration,

I stumbled onto this amazing piece of butterfly-inspired bionics technology done by AeroVironment’s Japanese scientists. Although being the first artificial butterfly successfully done through Biomimicry, this ornithopter does not require any onboard processors or any complex mechanical systems, but was simply done through imitating a Swallowtail butterfly’s wing flap power.

From this amazing piece of technology, I learned that a swallowtail butterfly: 1) Has wings larger than its body, and each forewing overlap its rear wings. 2) Therefore has lower flap frequency , yet highly aerodynamic and 3) More restricted movement

Butterfly Flight Process - ABSTRACTION

From the Swallowtail butterfly movement used by the artificial butterfly technology in particular,

I tried to apply the concept of “restrictedness” into the models. The Swallowtail butterfly’s wing movement interests me because although its flapping is more restricted than other butterflies, it is still able to fly beautifully and AeroVironment can even create an artificial mechanical system from that restriction.

Further Development.. The idea of butterfly migration from earlier on,

I saw that there might be possible patterns to look at in the migrating process. To observe what’s happening, I modified pictures of butterfly migration using photoshop (lower the lightness, adjust contrast, etc). I observed that during swarming, butterflies often leaves ‘empty spaces’ between them, and these empty spaces can be traced into a series of swirls and spirals.

Further Development..

From the idea of ‘swirls’, I found several architecture examples related to this concept.

But the most fascinating one was again, Zaha Hadid’s. This picture features her Chamber Music Hall, designed specially for performances of Johann Sebastian Bach’s music. Hadid stated that “The design enhances the multiplicity of Bach’s work through a coherent integration of formal and structural logic. A single continuous ribbon of fabric swirls around itself, creating layered spaces to cocoon the performers and audience with in an intimate fluid space”. The concept of continuity intrigued me to develop my models further. So I decided to further enhance the twists of the model I made based on the butterfly flight process which I observed, and join the ends together to enhance the fluidity of the design and give it a continuous impression.

Final Concept Front


Back Left






Reflection – Module One

The first module of this subject is extremely challenging and intimidating for me. Challenging because abstraction is not something I’m familiar with and as time passes, I discover that abstraction is not an easy thing to achieve as our minds tend to think representatively. It is also intimidating because I have no experiences with digital modelling whatsoever, and the end product and work in progress that this subject expected of me seem impossible to achieve.

However, this module has teaches me a very valuable lesson; and that is how to achieve abstraction from shapes and forms that are already there and think critically instead of accepting things the way they are. I also gained better understanding regarding the initial objectives of this subject, and that is to look at things from different angles through digital means such as infographics, image alteration, etc. The work process that I went through in module one also raises my expectations of myself for subsequent modules. I spent many sleepless nights doing this module, and for the next modules, I hope to increase my work pace and productivity so that I can get things done sooner and get more feedbacks to improve the decisions I’ve made and the forms that I have came up with.

ENVS10008 Virtual Environments - Module One