Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Unfold Sketchup - Sphere

Starting with a sphere...with holes cut into it.
Sphere is gradually unfolded, slice by slice...
Sphere has been unfolded, but is still not entirely flat...
Each slice is unfolded further to align to adjacent slice, until all are resting on the same plane...
Final Unfolded sphere in 2D format ready for cutting and building...

Barangaroo Conversations

"Grand slam for Barangaroo's grand plan: harbour makeover looks like 'worst of Dubai' "


Potential Site

Barangaroo, Sydney Harbour

This development comprising of a new ferry terminal, financial & commercial hub, and numerous public space and parkland, is the next harbour development planned for Sydney, and the last undeveloped land of the harbour.

One of the most vigorous and eye-catching components of the design is the island hotel that protrudes into the harbour, providing an iconic tower which compliments the Sydney skyline. Certainly a controversial proposal, igniting much debate about architecture and development in Sydney, we feel this site will give us the flexibility we want to design a tower that is revolutionary; inspired by the future, but residing in a historic location, a tower that will snugly fit into the dense Sydney skyline, but is situated in its own prominent location at the new gateway to the city, where its radical aesthetics and technology-advanced building and façade system will be visible from afar.
This site also allows us, as previous Canberrans, to engage with Sydney in a topical subject, and be a part of the conversation. We were fortunate enough to attend a recent public seminar regarding the joint Lendlease and Richard Rogers’ proposal for this site, which included speakers such as Paul Keating and Richard Rogers, who both highly praised the design and outlined its benefits to the Sydney community. We look forward to finding out more information about the proposal and are excited that now we have selected a site for our building, we can progress with our experimentation and research, confident that we have a ‘place’, to ground our play.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Drawings, Models & Digital Media

Frascari acknowledges that value-laden tools of representation underlie the conception and realisation of architecture. Drawings, prints, models, photographs and computer graphics and suggests that new ways of exploring representation stimulus from digital media provides alternatives to the ideological stagnation plaguing architectural creating.
“During the last two decades, the seductive potential of virtual space has expanded beyond all expectations, through both technological breakthroughs and artistic endeavours, yet the architectural profession is still reluctant to question certain fundamental premises concerning the transparency and homogeneity of its means of representation.”
Analogical thinking is a key element when deciphering architectural drawings and models being the materialization of fluid visible thoughts. By nature drawings make sensory conjunction between feeling and seeing and architectural drawings are an art form, praised for their aesthetic value to poetically demonstrate the architect’s concept. As a tool of representation models act as a balance between realism and creativity, providing a link with the 3 Dimensional world, being a universal language.

The importance of the two different mediums working together can be explained through Piaget’s (1977) theory of two inextricable aspects of knowledge:
The first is the ‘figurative’, which is concerned with the spatial and physical aspects of objects, namely the ‘spatial code’ (Tallandini 2008, pg 217). Spatial coding is experienced through the senses and is associated with the physical model.
Secondly, the ‘operative’ concerns an object’s semantic characteristics and instruments for interpreting the information that is available, namely the ‘symbolic code’ (Tallandini 2008, pg 218). Symbolic coding is the representation of the cognitive processes of comprehension and interpretation associated with drawing.

The creation of new architectural space can be explained as the abstraction and then synergy of symbolic interpretation to generate new forms and patterns from seemingly unrelated information. The combined process of spatial and symbolic coding can be evidenced through the work of Frank Gehry and Zaha Hadid (Smith 2005, pg 227) as these architects work dualistically with models and drawings.

Frank Gehry commonly uses sketches to conceptualise his ideas, and continues to sketch throughout his design process. The initial sketches are fluid and expressive which generates a symbolic perception of form and volume (Smith 2005, pg 227). Gehry then heavily depends on physical models in all scales and highly sophisticated 3-dimensional modelling programs to accurately rationalise his concepts spatially, and to represent internal energy (Smith 2005, pg 227).

Zaha Hadid uses drawings and paintings to explore her design process from conceptualisation to completion (Smith 2005, pg 229). Hadid plays with the kinaesthetic of forms and lines. The horizontal line is interpreted as being at rest. The vertical line represents upward motion and the diagonal is associated with the dynamic action of movement (Roth 1993, pg 61). In the spiral house, Hadid integrates the line as a form within a box through the use of vertically ascending landings, linked by ramps. Her sketches show that the spiral is kinked to evoke a change in direction while the parallel lines that dissect the circles suggest a beginning and an end (Smith 2005, pg 229). Through the use of modelling and her further self-analysis via painting, she articulates a resolution.

Inspired by the concept generating strategies that Frank Gehry and Zaha Hadid have developed we will endeavour to investigate our own unique process of a figurative and operative synergy. Through the exploitation of newly emerging digital media we will investigate processes of interpreting 2 dimensional media into 3D form and explore the implications this will have on our design processes. To initiate the process we will investigate the geometry of famous art works and convert them into a 3d representation.

As described in Karen Moons' book ‘Modelling Messages; The Architect and the Model, we will be using models as:
Informative; Of all forms of representation, the model is the only truly physical 3 dimensional realization of the architect’s idea, thus providing an instant comprehensible picture, and perception of the project.

Translator; Inspired by the twentieth century rise of abstraction in the fine arts. We will endeavour to isolate theoretical ideas and translate them into models, unformulated as architecture but rather as beautiful artefacts.

Advocate; High tech models are not always “push-button models” and provide a great tool through precise reproduction of a digital file, the articulation of precise details will enable us to explore the final resolution of buildability.

Frascari, Marco 2007, “Questions of representation: the poetic origin of the architecture” The cornwell Press, England, Wiltshire
Moon, Karen 2005, “Modeling Messages: The Architect and the Model”, The Monacelli Press, Inc, New York, New York
Smith, Kendra S. 2005, “Architects’ Drawings: A selection of sketches by world famous architects through history”, Architectural Press, England, Burlington pg 227, 229
Tallandini M. & Luisa M. 2008, “Drawing and the Non-Verbal Mind: A Life-Span Perspective”, Cambridge University Press, New York pg 217-239

The Image of the Skyscraper

The First Skyscrapers

From about 1865, American architects developed an ‘original building type’, the skyscraper. Innovations in metal-frame construction, the safety elevator, fire-proofing techniques and other technical improvements, in conjunction with rising real estate prices, led to their feasibility.

Previously, buildings were constructed of masonry bearing-walls, whose thick walls were not economical, and were limited in height. However, with these technological developments and James Bogardus’s introduction of the European iron I-section, the new building form emerged.

In Chicago, the business district was largely destroyed by fire in 1871, leading to a series of new high-rise fireproofed metal-frame buildings by architects collectively termed the Chicago School. Although containing pioneering structures, most were clad in masonry.

Home Life Insurance Building, 1885

Reliance Building, Chicago, 1894-95

A world History of Architecture, Marian Moffett, Michael Fazio & Laurence Wodehouse

The term ‘Skyscraper’

The word ‘skyscraper’ came about in the 1880s, after the first 10-20 story buildings were built in Chicago and New York. Somewhat confusing in definition, it is not to be confused with ‘high-rise’.

Skyscraper; “Colloquial term referring to a multi-storey building designed for human occupancy (usually for office use), the height of which greatly exceeds one or both of its horizontal dimensions.” (Oxford University Press)

The Rise of the Skyscraper

The skyscraper trend was quick to take off, encouraged by further developments in concrete, the use of steel reinforcement enabling large-scale structures, and glass ‘curtain’ walls, non-structural cladding or infill glass applied to the structure. The exploration into curtain wall buildings lasted much of the twentieth century, with improvements in air-conditioning and breakthroughs in glass technology. From the 1950s, the invention of float glass, made large areas of glass possible, and the repetitive grids of extruded aluminium mullions fixed to the structure, with supportive panels of glass in-between, became commonplace.

SOM's Lever House: early 1950s curtain wall

Bauhaus early steel and glass construction

The Commercial Skyscraper

Increasingly, the curtain-glass wall began to appear on commercial and institutional buildings. The desire to build bigger, taller buildings has been around since ancient times, notably in Egypt, the pyramids represented the power and wealth of the Emperor. In the early twentieth century, corporations built skyscrapers to increase their brand recognition. A prime example of this is the Chrysler Building in New York (briefly the world's tallest in 1930 at 1046 feet, 77 stories), but still one of the most recognisable skyscrapers in the world today.

Chrysler Building, New York

The Race for the Sky

Since the beginning of the twentieth century, the race for the sky has continued. The Empire State Building (1,250 feet and 102 stories) became the world’s tallest building after the Chrysler Building, and managed to withhold this record for 41 years, until the World Trade Centre came along in 1972 (1,368 feet, 110 stories). Soon after, the race become international, with Malaysia holding the record for some time with the Petronas Towers, built in 1998, followed by Taiwan’s Taipei 101, built in 2004 (1,670 feet and 101 stories). This building held the record for the tallest tower until only very recently when the Burj Khalifa (formerly the Burj Dubai) was built in 2010 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (2,716 feet, or 828 metres, and 160 stories).

Graph showing comparison of skyscraper height


The Image of the Skyscraper

“More than a century of literature art film and new media representations have built an image of the skyscraper inside the space of our collective imagination.” (Scott Johnson, Building Tall: Image of the Skyscraper)

Certainly Scott Johnson’s idea of the present image of the skyscraper (associated with wealth, power and ambition) and his argument that the towering presence of the skyscraper has come to embody society’s unexamined notions and secret desires, are critical ideas to explore.

“Paradoxically as the skyscraper building type changed to address shifting socio-economic conditions its perception by mainstream culture has become simpler and more consumable.” (Scott Johnson, Building Tall: Image of the Skyscraper)

In addition, the book "Skyplane" explores the impact of high-rise towers on city life and culture. The book contains a number of essays from architects and theorists, examining the global phenomenon of the skyscraper.

Further investigation into the socio-economic influences on skyscrapers and society’s visions of urban environments, might lead us to understand why the skyscraper is embraced for some building typologies, but not others. In addition, the perceptions by mainstream culture of skyscrapers and the notion of consumerism and ‘building branding’, are further topics for discussion.

Noticeably the skyscraper is a subject that provokes opinion from almost everybody, and opens architecture up to mainstream society. It has become a tool for manipulation of urban form, exploration of new materials, and a solution to expensive real estate and overpopulation. It contains references to culture and consumerism, and provides us with a brilliant, topical subject for our final year research studio, and an opportunity to partake in the conversation and debate.