explorations around dimensions, scale, modularity, and materials

A few years ago I went through the making+meaning program at the Southern California Institute of Architecture. Five weeks of intensive creative explorations, lectures, critiques, and field trips. In the course of the program I did a series of projects meant to explore dimensions, scale, modularity, and materials.


The starting point was a collection of lines and shapes following a two-dimensional pattern, which was then converted into a three-dimensional cube. That cube was then turned into three projects: the Solid Cube, the Folly, and the Tower. The Tower, shown above, is 3 feet high (or 6 cubes) and made mostly of metal. For this I learned to weld in one day, not an easy thing, especially in a parking lot under a boiling sun. We also had to make a model for the site of the tower, which was created in plaster from a mold made with the site used for the Folly (see below). The tower design had to reflect a relationship with the site. In designing the tower, I included ideas of cracks, and the contrast of curved versus straight lines previously introduced in the Folly. The wood slats provide a way to establish scale, and the metal pieces are a reflection of modularity.


The picture above shows the initial cube which lead to all three projects. In the cube I treated the lines and shapes as voids instead of solids. Something you have to know is that for several years I did research in hydrogeology and the issue of scale in soil properties. Using that inspiration, the Solid Cube is a representation of a block of soil, or representative elementary volume, with the lines and ellipses being cracks and holes in the ground.


The requirement for the Folly was that it would be a meditation space, based on two heights of the base cube model. Looking at the water flowing through the cracks and holes of the cube as if they were Tai Chi movements, I made it into a single structure, representing the simplification of thoughts into one focus. The idea behind the panel is that approaching the structure from the front, you would have to turn around it and experience the passage from the straight-line world into the curved world. In this metaphor, the straight-line world is where we live our hectic lives with our head bombarded by a million thoughts, and the curved world is the place where we can hum in peace…


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