Narrow, deep, and low - DramaticThis project focused on creating specific spatial effects through lighting. I built a model to given proportions and had to create multiple lids for it, which would mimic the effects of different treatments when lit from above by the classic architect’s desk lamp.

The first effect was “narrow, deep, and low,” seen in the feature image above. I used long, slender slits pushed to one side of the room, running front to back. This was to create a series of lines leading the eye deep into the space, which were all close together, leaving the other side of the room unlit, so that viewers would not notice that area so much. The slits were also cut so that on top, they were wide, and at the bottom they were narrow. This produced interesting patterns with the light source held at certain angles and distances. Very little light hit the ceiling, pushing it down.

Narrow, deep, and low - Unexpected effects
Narrow, deep, and low -- patterns created by triangular slits
Wide, Shallow, and Tall - Shadow patterns
Wide, shallow, and tall
Dapples - Sidelit
Dappled light

The second effect was “wide, shallow, and tall.” For this one, I cut wide rectangles running across, and then built dropped reflectors that bounced light back onto the ceiling. One opening was specifically placed by the back wall, to make sure that wall was well-lit, bringing it forward. The wide bars of light running across the space made it look wider and shallower. The reflectors also created patterns of shadow when lit at angles.

The final effect was one of our choosing. I wanted to create a dappled light with different intensities, by filtering some openings but not all with translucent paper. The paper was also an openwork Japanese tissue, to further break down the light. Many small organic shapes were punched through the ceiling, and they created an effect somewhere between a disco and a forest.

See the whole set and the presentation slide deck on Flickr.

Real-World Stress Test

Our smashable structure For this assignment, our Building Materials and Construction class split into small groups and built structures large enough to hold an 8 x 8 x 14 inch box, out of any materials, joined any way except welding or soldering, with no member thicker than half an inch. They also had to have flat tops, because on the due date, we stress-tested them by loading them down with bricks — or people — until they collapsed under the load. They were scored according to how much weight they carried versus how much they weighed, with the most efficient structure winning. Continue reading

Witch’s Treehouse

Treehouse Model: view from ground Whoever it was that said “it takes twice as long as you think it will” was an optimist. Sometimes it takes three times — as this project did. The silver lining for you is that it taught me how not to manage my time, and how to recognize when I need advice in order to stop banging my head on the wall.

We were asked to design, draw and model a 650 sq. ft. house for two people anywhere in the world but North America. Outdoor spaces were encouraged since they didn’t count towards our square footage, but no major functions could be left outdoors. I asked my friend Allison if she and her husband Paul would be my clients, and we promptly had a brainstorming session over tea. She wanted the house to be on New Zealand’s North Island, but didn’t have a specific town in mind. I located it in the Coromandel Peninsula, between Tararu and Whakatete Bay. Allison is a witch, Paul is a shaman and energy healer, and they are both tall, so they both wanted the house to be in harmony with nature, have high ceilings, and have quiet space to meditate in. There were many other desiderata, but these were the most important. Continue reading

Bytowne Cinema Moodbox

Bytowne Theatre moodbox

For this project, we were asked to visit a place with a strong character and then make a moodbox (a sort of three-dimensional display) to convey what it was like. Maryam, Candace, and I visited the Bytowne Cinema, which has some interesting Modern details, especially on the facade and lobby. It also has a very recognizable mural.

We considered what elements from the Bytowne ought to be used in the moodbox, and decided on the mural, the sign, and red velvet (for the silver screen’s curtain). We also used film and a copy of the schedule in our composition. The curls of film made our entry unique.

The Spacebox

Spacebox, overview

For this project, our professor wanted us to define a certain number and types of spaces within an 8 x 8 x 8 inch cube, by using a minimal number of walls and columns, which we could colour white or black. We needed to have at least one space of each type: large, small, overlapping, and double-height.

This is one of the projects that shows why I enjoy design so much: even though the rules of the assignment are strict, everybody makes something different. For example, mine is symmetrical, abstract, and sculptural, while many of the other submissions looked architectural.

The model is based around two intersecting cubes that form a diagonal hourglass within the implied outer cube. These three cubes are my large spaces. The rest are all defined by the framework at the pinch in the hourglass. That creates the small space, overlapping space, and double-height space.

The professor kept the model for the next CIDA review, and put it in the display case outside the Interior Design office, along with a couple other entries from the same assignment.

The Agglomeration

Agglomeration, perspective #4 Our final project in Interior Design I was to make a construction that combined volumes, planes, and lines, and would make exciting black and white photographs, since we were still working on the theme “light as inhabitant,” with the goals of learning composition, light, texture, and craft.

Agglomeration, perspective #1Since it began with my hacking holes out of hotglued boxes of battered foamcore board, and wedging them into each other, I called it the agglomeration. The official project name “Light as Inhabitant Part Three” was much too pretentious for it then, and the nickname stuck.

Even though it was constructed entirely out of right-angled boxes and planes, the final composition feels much more dynamic than you would expect from that. Again, we were invited to craft interesting joints, and I did. Headache-inducing joints, like these multiple angled crossings and wedgings:

Leaf Tower

Leaf tower, lit from above, side view

The leaf tower was one of my favourite assignments of the year, since I managed to make it do something a bit special. The rules were to make a three-dimensional structure out of one sheet of bristol board, with only cuts and folds, and without removing any of the paper. Here’s what I came up with.

The zipper up the back holds the two edges of the sheet together into a circle, and the “windows” on the back are really tensioning struts that hold the front to the back. These struts are then folded on the front side to lock them in place, which along with the fold between them, brings the tower to form an asymmetrical heart shape. I then added the ornamental leaf cut-outs, and bent the leaves slightly outward to make it look as though it was covered with vines.

Texture Composition

Experiment with height and texture After our two-dimensional work, our professor had us tackle the third.

This piece was to make us experiment with using the height and texture of the cardboard to create an effect. Having done a lot of cutting of cardboard recently, I made a grid and then blocked out the size, height, and directions I wanted, so that everything would be easy to measure and cut. It worked out quite well and the professor kept it for the next CIDA review.

Three-Volume Compositions

Sketch 3 For Interior Design I, Tony wanted us to learn about composition, light, texture, and craft. Our first project was to make three-volume assemblies out of corrugated cardboard and then photograph them. Each was supposed to have a clear dominant, subdominant, and subordinate volume, and to make use of the cardboard’s texture. We started by creating ten sketches:

Since Tony was interested in joinery I borrowed some ideas from woodworking, such as pegs and dovetails.

The next stage was to pick the best two. Number three (the feature photo) was one of my favourites, but I had to admit it didn’t make an exciting photo in elevation and display the light-pipe effects that made me love it. Tony and I selected sketches five and seven as the best. I remade them at higher quality and took a full set of photographs for each.

My favourite pieces played with balance, in both physical and power terms. They were supported or held together by the subordinate piece, such as the slices in five and seven, and the slender column in three. If that piece was taken away, the assembly would tip over or fall apart, so it was subordinate and dominant at the same time.