Thursday, February 28, 2008

Skyscratcher Model Vid

Here's a rough-cut video of my tower as its coming along in studio these days. The unsightly blocky section has yet to be cut down like the rest of the tower - wait till next week for that get trimmed down.

All of the three dimensional design work is so much like making a sculpture. This is where our life drawing skills are starting to overflow into studio, in the likeness of shaping an anthropomorphic figure. Each tower should possess the innate beauty of a human body. In my situation, I have one and a half towers which raises the challenge of avoiding an obese looking building. This will likely be the ongoing struggle with my design -- to give the illusion of Olympian physique on a Siamese twin. I was able to get away with adding a half tower to the requirements because it satisfied my conceptual narrative. Ofcourse, that means 1.5x the work, but the proportion and contextual scale of one and a half towers to the site is appealing to me.

Haha, this video really is crappy, worthy of a professor's boot in the behind, but who cares. I don't want to reveal too much of the model just yet. At the very least, just to share some ongoing progress of the design.

Monday, February 25, 2008

The Birth of a Skyscraper

...And...twins! The main one will stand 65 storeys tall, and the mini tower, at around 35 floors. Putting together the elevator cores took about an hour a piece. Each floor has to be scored into the plywood core about a centimeter deep on all sides and then split down the middle for the section cut (you can see the section line at the opening in the base which runs through the center of both cores).
Floor plates are added to the elevator core of the 65 storey tower. At the bottom is a 10 floor parking garage that collides into the tower, with the craziest circulation plan I've come up with yet. When that's presentable I'll give you a peek...

Here's a sneak preview of a 4th year student's tower they're finishing up now from last semester. Once all of my plates are chopped, I'll be moving onto soldering the structure together, like this one.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Found Object Model

Part of the requirements for our skyscraper is to model the tower out of found objects. This includes anything out of metal or plastic that we can take apart from its original form. So far, a group of us have scavenged the hills of junk metal in Ottawa for anything of apparent value for our models. I picked up a 60 lb engine block as one potential unit to take apart, as well as a number of parts from car transmissions, a couple head-lights, a gas tank and a gear shift. This all probably sounds mad at first, but as the model develops, you'll see how the tower will come together. It turns into a three-dimensional collage.

Fallen Art - Tomasz Bagiński

A personal favourite animation short.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

I've just discovered this great website which is a pretty big collection of interesting talks taken place in Monterey, California about art, culture, sustainability, design, architecture, science etc. Have a browse for yourself, it's worth it. Here's a sample, on suburbia.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

BBC-Horizon-The Six Billion Dollar Experiment

Food for my thoughts: BBC segment on the particle accelerator in Cern, Switzerland:

Monday, February 11, 2008

Tower Revisions

The sketch I posted a week or two ago describing my tower's program never really saw any fruition whatsoever. My prof half-glanced at it and repeatedly demanded I hide it from his sight. It was a bit premature in that it was way too detailed for that stage in the semester. So, it's inches away from the trash pile now. Since then however, the project has developed quite a bit in a slightly different direction.

Monday was a major pin-up in the Pit and our group was theatrically maimed in front of an all-school audience. I was able to show a near-finished site plan which was a plus, but I was obliterated for my sectional drawing, not for completion, but for common sense. I got a little hung up on articulating the tower's profile, without enough structural support or even conceptual justification. (I'll show just a rough sketch of the section because the full two-meter drawing has already changed a lot overnight...and I can't get a decent photo of it either).

In terms of the concept, I've been having tons of fun exploring 'colliding particles'. I've seen a number of clips of the Large Hadron Collider in Cern Switzerland which is completely fascinating. As of recently I wanted to literally put in an atom smasher in or around my building as part of its function, but never mind being ballsy, it's kinda ridiculous. It's gigantic to begin with and costs six billion dollars to build. So, instead I'm taking the cheap route: metaphor. In declaring people as particles, I'm using the Highline as the metaphorical particle accelerator, sending people whipping around my entire site, as shown in the site plan above (outer green circular line), eventually colliding with oncoming pedestrians at the very center of my tower, giving the tower its explosive form. In the explosion, energy gets destroyed (to operate certain programmatic uses, such as a ferris wheel, drop zone, etc.) and energy created as well (wind generators, photovoltaics, solar panels etc).

Since I haven't really talked enough about the Highline, here's a brief description of its redevelopment project by Friends of the Highline, showing the winning design by Diller & Scofidio. There's also an interview with Edward Norton. Huh?

Why the atom smasher? Well, it works. As for being appropriate for New York City, maybe not at all...particularly the exploding skyscraper part...yeeeesh. As an urban gesture, it's great -- the tower becomes an illusion brought to life out of a big bang (like the proton accelerator in Cern). The tower emerges as a fragmentation of the block grid of Manhattan, a universe on its own. This goes along the lines of Koolhaas' theory in Delirious New York of Manhattan becoming lobotomized in its overlay of fantasy skyscrapers on the mundane NY grid giving the city its core identity.

Colliding particles is a sub-human phenomenon, in that we don't physically experience this sort of event in nature, but rendering the idea inspires the imagination to create its potential 'observed' experience for the human senses. Applied architecturally, the idea of colliding particles works well. Based on the behaviour of particles in their collision, I can start drawing out circulation patterns, programmatic transitions, structure. As mentioned before, the idea of creating energy to be consumed and consuming energy to be created is an extremely powerful idea for a skyscraper, which will continue to evolve in the latter half of the semester.

Stand by.