Saturday, May 6, 2017

EXP2: Feedback + General Comments

Hi guys,

The following is some general comments and feedback on your submissions for EXP2;

Sustainability – a number of people wanted to emphasise ‘sustainability’ as an area of focus in their projects. This is a very noble gesture, however not as straight forward a task than you might think. Sustainability is much more than ‘green washing’ which is an easy trap to fall into. Simply proposing that having plants on your building, using timber as a key material or a lake next to your tram stop is not necessarily sustainable… yes, plants sequester carbon dioxide, however you need to analyse your proposal in a whole life cycle perspective. If you plant a tree on top of your tram stop and it consumes gallons upon gallons of water to maintain the plants health, not to mention the electricity to run the pumps to get the water up to that height, and don’t forget the weight of all those trees, soil and water means the structure needs to be oversized using five times as much concrete (concrete is a hugely unsustainable material) may mean that your sustainable ideas may not be as sustainable as you might have thought. Now, I do appreciate that you are first year students and experimenting with concepts that are new to you so this did not bear too much weight on your marks, I just want you to be aware. If you want to use landscaping all over your building because it looks cool, then just emphasise that aspect - “You wanted to create a direct connection with the built environment and the natural environment in a context where the natural environment is typically subdued by the built so that people were given a sense of calm and a moment of enjoyment along a busy arterial road”. Done.

Process – a few people are still getting lost on the importance of the process as much as the final product. Yes, an impressive final design is important, but as first year students the process is equally important. A few of you are catching on that adhering to the original concept doesn’t mean you can’t develop the design to a point where the physical resemblance to the original concept is not immediately apparent, but this is very different to simply going through the motions for each of the development steps and then doing something totally different for the final design. Here is an example of how the design developed for one student but the adherence to the process is clearly demonstrated. 

Materiality – A lot of people are using materials as a way to “prop up” their designs. A simple test I encourage you all to do is to make your entire design one colour. If the ideas and the architecture are convincing enough without adding material, you’re on the right track. You can now use your created textures to emphasise or highlight a particular aspect of the design. You can also use shades of white/grey/black to demonstrate materiality but I would discourage you from using actual materials, trust me, it might look cool but it doesn’t go far to communicate architectural skill in these early projects. For your final assignment I would discourage you from using timber, steel, concrete, etc. materials – I’m more interested in the thoughtful arrangement of form, mass, light, shadow and vantage points than I am in the thoughtful use of real-world materials. Even restrain yourselves with the use of glass for entire roofs, walls, etc. unless you are also proposing the structural system that will support such an extensive glass element.

People – people are a great addition to explain your design but sometimes they can be distracting if there are too many moonwalking lumion people. Try to either animate the walkers so that they are moving, or use people in static locations, or simply restrain yourself from going overboard with putting too many people in. 

Animations – when you have an animation make sure the camera doesn’t crash through walls, or people or trees. This is first person perspective… it’s hard to watch a video comfortably if I’m being dragged through walls and columns!!

Generic elements – putting things into your design such as escalators, turnstiles, ticket machines and traffic lights emphasises a sort of sensibility to your design but in a negative way. At this point in your design careers we’re looking for you to shake off the shackles of ‘normal society’ and think outside the box. A design that creatively diverts traffic around the tram stop (such as the image below) is a more thoughtful and architectural solution than putting in traffic lights so that pedestrians can cross the road safely. Also, things like escalators simply take the attention away from your design and can make things look ugly. Design everything! Here’s an example of a designed sign and tap on/tap off.

Presentation – as a whole you guys are presenting your work fantastically. Here is a project from another studio that stood out. Not only was it a good project but it was presented in a professional and impressionable way.

Textures – another aspect of your work across the board that stood out were your textures. Here’s one of my favourites - beautiful and simple.

Finishing details – don’t overlook the finishing touches such as balustrades for stairs, and don’t just whack any old balustrade on there… Design everything!!

Cohesiveness – the most successful designs were the ones that took a holistic approach to the design and every facet builds off the same concept – otherwise things look disjointed and ‘bitsy’.

Overall I was hugely impressed with what you guys put together. Now let's dig deep for the home stretch with EXP3: The Bridge!!!

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