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1.2: Modular MODel

4.023, FALL 2019


Building off the previous project, we switched floorplans with someone else in our group and proceeded to reinterpret it within the contexts of our own narratives. We were tasked with creating rough, gestural models of our new ideas. The model should:

  • Be a module/multiple modules (3-6) which can be aggregated to form larger constructs.

  • Have a gathering space for 15-20 people.

  • Have smaller spaces for private gatherings of 1-6 people.

  • Include a circulation space linking them.

Erica Liu's floorplan, which I inherited (and whose work I will presumably be inheriting for the rest of the semester, while I give mine to Seif Eses and he, in turn, passes his to Erica), posed an interesting challenge: it heavily emphasised the use of light. By contrast, so far, my narrative had been exclusively underground.​

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As you can see above, this family house has a central point from which all the rooms can be observed. This plays into Erica's narrative, which discusses themes of growing up and the experiences of children as compared to those of adults. The child observes from this point. It was designed to be devoid of any material, be it furniture, wall, pool, or another artefact. This parallels the fleeting and insubstantial nature of childhood memories, which we return to infrequently and are difficult to pin down.​


(First, I did some writing.)


While I was sketching out ideas for the model, I realised that I found Erica's sightline feature extremely compelling, and accordingly designed my model around this concept. As you can see above, I did so by elevating them from being characteristic of the space to becoming architectural statements which define the space in their own right. The resulting apertures frame both vistas and entryways. As in my initial design, there is a central axis point, here called the oculus. It picks up Erica's intention with the void space at the vanishing point. Like her void, the axis is unstable, for there are no artefacts intersecting with it. Instead, it acts as an open invitation to people inhabiting the space to walk towards it and commingle.

To complicate things further, there are two vanishing points that are relevant to this space. The first is at eye level, and defines the vista extrusions (going up and outwards), while the second, representing a camera, is high above ground level, and defines the entrances. In this way, an advanced civilisation might monitor the identities of those exiting and entering a space, adding a level of security to this gathering place.

My means of circulation take the form of a spiral staircase. This begins quite narrow at the edges of the atrium, and widens as it goes upward, nearing the oculus. In this manner, it suggests a dome-like enclosure within the atrium, turning it from a crossroads into a usable room. Additionally

I used multiple materials to suggest different kinds of spaces within the walls. My narrative, which takes place in a sci-fi, dystopian future, makes heavy use of machinery and the way bots augment the activities of human beings. I reckoned they would require a parallel space for transit. While the final execution of this idea could have been more successful and did not quite reflect how I imagine these regions, I appreciate how it gives the model materiality and mass. In a future iteration, I would try to divorce the behaviour of these walls from that of modern walls. Instead, I want the bots to have eroded into the thicker sections, creating an untraversable landscape of crannies in the ceilings and the walls that seems less designed than organically grown. It needs to be... more unsettling.

A couple of other considerations which occurred to me:

  • This space is designed for people who use virtual/augmented reality goggles in order to interact with technology and the world around them. What implications does this have for design?: Do there need to be large open spaces so that group projections can be shown (the atrium), and should there be a limit to the number of corners so that people distracted by their devices do not run into them? And what colour should the walls have? Are they white, so that each wall forms a sort of canvas for projections to be painted on?

  • The floorplan of this model is based on a wind-rose. This means that each module can be constructed to a great degree of site-specificity.

  • The modules can aggregate both vertically (stacking atriums on top of one another, each with its own radial arrangement of aperture corridors) and horizontally.


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