Sunday, April 27, 2008

Clip Analysis Diagram: Attempt 1

We have here a velocity graph, an onscreen time representation, a camera position representation, a track position diagram, and a nos indicator icon...see if you can figure out which is which...enjoy.

Video Clip for Project 2: From the Motion Picture, "Fast and the Furious"

Remember, these clips were attained for and will only be

used for educational purposes :)

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Surface Consciousness: Between Surface and Substance

You know, this is a fairly big issue and one that seems to keep coming up in architecture school. This particular subject, I believe, branches out from the typical ‘computers-in-school-are-bad” debate, and really forces those of us who are interested in digital media to step back and ask ourselves some questions. Do these ‘things’ that we are making really have any value? Are we approaching a design process critically and not just making sexy looking architecture? Is the space we are creating actually worth inhabiting? We can now make just about anything we can model on the computer because of advances in technology. Digital fabrication processes have given us the ability to be super precise, while extremely creative. Yet some could argue that it’s just not worth it.

This article brings up some good issues regarding the topic of craft. Craft in general I would say is how well you can make something. So in the case of the typical physical model example, this requires measuring precisely, cutting (usually slowly), and attaching things together without smudging the rest of your model. Now, we don’t have to worry about smudging in the computer realm…photoshop aside…but putting your digital pieces of architecture together carefully, and in the right spot, is very important. However, you can achieve this type of craft, by pushing and pulling pieces around until they are in the right spot. This will not disturb the rest of your model and you can iteratively repeat this process until you have something that people really want to look at! The digital craft I feel relies in multiple attempts at something, otherwise, you are just using it to make pretty pictures of something that is already designed. What’s the fun in that…cadd monkey on steroids?

The idea of using parametric processes in group design is also intriguing. It is nice to have a bunch of smart people who can set this sort of stuff up and then have the creative designers go nuts and manipulate force vectors, isoparms, and the like to then, produce something worth looking at (ideally, later to inhabit spatially). These types of design studios in school are obviously valuable in the conceptual design processes in an educational setting. But can they still work in the real world? Firms like Grimshaw and Associates in NYC have done what has been previously described…but it so happens that the smart people who can set these things up parametrically, can also find that great image and design out of these mathematical constructs. The reading room described was a very small, but I’m sure intriguing, studio project, but things like Waterloo Terminal in London has a structure that was based on this type of parametric design and implementation.

Don’t even get me started on this Aegis Hyposurface construct. I think this is great and could only come from a result of great minds collaborating digitally all across the world (go figure J). Any type of seemingly smooth surface that comes alive in a few seconds is great. The math and man hours required to make such a project come to life is probably astonishing. However, this reminded me of another type of material I have seen a presentation on that is equally fascinating, super cilia, I know what you’re thinking, just watch…( This material is programmed to record the patterns of touch one makes as you would run your hand across it, then it repeats the motion back at you in real time that simulates the motion as if your hand was touching it at that time. Very interesting stuff.

So, what do I get out of this article? The art of surface is one that should be approached with a level of craft so as to create meaningful, even if only gestural, designs with a process that has integrity and a solid foundation. And, yes, iteration is key, as with any design process.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Architectural Representation and the Perspective Hinge

Translation vs. Transcription

This was an interesting section starting to describe the, again, raging debate arising within the architectural profession concerning means of representation. We, as architects, have tended to produce orthographic drawings, detail drawings, and any other type of drawing to specifically describe how a building should be built (even though it is impossible for contractors to build these buildings exactly as described), so we can assume no liability if problems arise. The architectural ‘idea’ within these drawings is somehow supposed to translate perfectly clear because of the accurateness of these drawings. Why do we take it upon ourselves to separate from the world of diagrammatic design, and delve into a type of representation that can take away the original gestalt and intent of our design? Our current means of architectural translation needs to be a completely clear, black and white representation of the buildings we are aiming to construct. Why can’t we just make sure our diagrams and ideas are so clear, that someone who specializes in building can just figure it out? This might just provide the final excuse for changing the norm of architectural representation. I like the last line of this section and I feel that it sums up the meaning of this passage…‘our ultimate aim is to explore the possibilities of building architecture as a poetic translation, not a prosaic transcription of its representation.

Architectural Meaning and the Tools of the Architect

Since the beginning of time there were not as many architectural drawings presented for the design of buildings as we know them today. Gothic cathedrals were amassed by laying out a footprint, but then it was up to the craftsman, in collaboration with the architect to get the elevations to rise out of the ground. The idea was always in place, but it took even more correspondence between trades to get a building complete. Nowadays no one wants to take responsibility incase something might go wrong. Architects have to draw every detail so precise so it will be the builders fault if they don’t build it as drawn. The builders want to build it just like the architect told them to so if something does go wrong, it is not there fault. This type of world is becoming a big bummer. The skilled labor that existed millennia ago has been lost, and the world seeks to build things as cheaply and as quickly as possible. It is hard to have a great architectural idea and see it to completion if everything keeps getting value engineered out of the project!

Theories of Vision and the Reciprocity between Seeing and Being Seen

The early studies on the properties of light brought about some interesting conclusions. Who really knows if these wavelengths of visible light in the electromagnetic spectrum are actually what we know now them to be? Either way, the mystical and magical transparent properties of light can affect us in ways that nothing else can still today. Whether pouring through upper clerestory windows of a gothic cathedral, or simply refracting through a prism and cascading a surface with a rainbow of color, light can and will continue to be a catalyst to many things, but especially an interesting design parameter that will continually be considered.

From Natural Perspective to Artificial Construction

Isn’t it interesting that Renaissance constructed perspectives in art were the subject of criticism because art was supposed to show the ‘truth’ of the world, not simply a manifested representation of what ‘should’ be. Another fascinating phenomenon that occurred in architecture around the early first century BC was the introduction of optical correction. Facades were slightly canted outwards, columns were tilted, entasis was employed in the steps of the Parthenon later still. This was established so we could perceive architecture in, the way it is meant to be perceived, its purest and proportionally accurate embodiment. This still fascinates me that people could come up with these so building lines and edges would appear to be parallel even when approached on an oblique, etc. The early use of mirrors in art to then draw on top of, as a way of understanding this perspective construction in a two dimensional environment was a very creative method for learning about this aspect of optics. The further advent of using perspective drawings to further explain architectural intentions was a great step in the field. However, the different methods for producing perspectives still were being developed and tested. These lead to differing practices for producing ideas about architectural space and the intentions of the designer were clearly individualized by using these different techniques for representation.


This reading brings up interesting points for consideration with regards to representation in architectural design process. We should go back to our ancestors and use things like a conceptual mirror to diagram and understand existing space, to then recreate and further design new space. This mirror could become a very interesting conceptual idea to further translate into the newer means of conceptual architectural representation such as 3d modeling and digital animation. Quite possibly for the next project, we could use these views that we are given through unique uses of camera angles to then reverse project from the focal or vanishing point of the view, to recreate the space and further explore from there. We shall see how the rest of the semester unfolds, or is discovered. Either way, it would be interesting if in the field of architecture, we could rely on collaboration with a series of new, elite, craftsman to simply build and carry out our ideas, which we could further define and design if we didn’t have to spend so much time on construction documents.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Forms of Expression: The Proto-Functional Potential of Diagrams in Arctitectural Design _Greg Lynn

Most important points and reflections…

Diagrams as not just a drawing or vision of an initial idea or driving concept, but as a conceptual technique that should come before any particular technology.

Digital potential of virtual diagrams has brought to life new methods for getting ideas across in a potentially more powerful and complete fashion.

Newly emerging design process that is a more open correspondence between concepts and form.

Fact that sometimes this dimensionless environment is hard to understand from many viewers. The ‘vague essences’ created by work of this type will fall into the category of the anexact and for most architects and designers, hard to interpret from a lack of Cartesian orthogonality, however this process can still maintain the rigor used in the stereotypical design process.

However, this guy Van Berkel uses diagrams and systematic constraints to derive his forms and designs, and can therefore be unlinked with a simple sense of expressionism. His work involving the systematization of abstraction is very intriguing. This philosophy gives a means to his work which is many times lacking form less educated designers trying to embody these principles.

Systematic diagramming helps Van Berkel’s work incorporate urban influences from a surrounding context in his designs. The way he diagrams can take cues from outside forces (much like a meta-ball) and influence his designs. However, this method is highly regularized, yet unique. He finds urban infrastructure and incorporates these through various levels of information to develop conceptual diagramming for his designs. This is an interesting approach and I feel gives his ideas an atypical foundation for beginning. This approach will assuredly lead to interesting designs.

Diagram as an ‘abstract machine’ is a very fitting term for this process of design.

His method of bringing life into functionalism and formalism by using abstraction in a generative rather than reductive manner, as Lynn states, is truly remarkable. If we all could diagram with this much intensity and rigor, who knows what exciting architecture we might create. Although this is still only one way to approach a process, it is a new enlightening method which could be further enhanced by the plethora of digital media and simply the amount of information that is available.

Who knew that a seemingly simple process of diagramming could be held in a new light and expounded upon to such great detail as one such as Van Berkel has demonstrated?