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4.024, SPRING 2021


As the first of our three design "sprints", we were asked to blend two of our precedents from the previous exercise into a new, fantastical tool for observation. The new tool would be represented through a line drawing that resembled a new patent.


My chosen precedents, in order of their final structural hierarchy, were:

  • The Gyroscope/Mechanised Dome Rotation

  • The Armillary Sphere (a representation of the celestial heavens used to orient oneself in space and time)

  • The Planetarium Projector

Together, they make up the gyromillaservatory, a mobile platform for turning your world view, literally, on its head.

I had a great deal of fun with this project, and hope that I can carry on the themes of mechanical problem solving into the rest of the semester. What is notable about this model is that, while I initially sketched it out in Rhino, the final form was entirely developed in Grasshopper (a screenshot of the script is attached below). 




The gyromillaservatory seeks to resolve the conflict between humanity observing the universe from an internal perspective (i.e. looking from the planet Earth, or the solar system, outward), yet observing our representations of the universe from an external perspective more commonly associated with gods than mortals. This is accomplished by scaling traditional astronomical and cosmological instruments like the armillary sphere to the body, allowing the inhabitant to embrace the reality that the universe, as we perceive it, is a construction of comprehension layered atop the natural realities and wonders of the cosmos.


This project took place over the course of several days. While I was designing, a key consideration was "can this be manufactured". I hope to explore opportunities for manufacturing in the future, perhaps through 3D printing and later assembly.





Primary Structure: Gyroscope

  • The primary structure is made up of three concentric circular trusses. They are connected to one another at linear axes, allowing the rings to move independently of one another.

  • An asymmetrically weighted structure in the centre, designed to contain the body, will stay level regardless of the motion of the external sphere.


Secondary Structure: Armillary Sphere

  • The armillary sphere is both structural and functional. It is the frame upon which the lenses and filters making up the tertiary structure are mounted. In antiquity, the armillary sphere was used to orient oneself in time, and in space.

  • Since this structure is revolving around the observer, it forces them to constantly reorient themselves while in motion. When the sphere is static, the instrument can be used to reclaim one's position in the universe.

Tertiary Structure.png

Tertiary Structure: Lenses, Mirrors, Filters

  • The rings are populated by lenses, mirrors, and augmented reality filters. They spin around the observer while the sphere is in motion, disorienting them and flashing hints of alternative realities, or alternative perspectives, that overlap and ultimately are united with the exterior landscape.

  • The location of each ring is equivalent to the fifty brightest stars in the night sky. Their size is proportional to the relative solar masses of each star. Thus, the tertiary structure complements the armillary sphere, the natural complement to the human, mechanical interpretation of the night sky.


To allow the different parts of the gyroscope to move with respect to one another, I created joints with an axel and a socket in each pair of trusses. With three rings, this gives the interior object freedom of movement in all three dimensions. The next step is to create a gyroscope that will fit into the structure (i.e. a rotating ring) and provide additional stability.






Screenshot 2021-03-07 at 21.19.07.png
  • The gyroscope is central to the function of the gyromillaservatory. Without it, the platform inside would be destabilised, and the person would be thrown around on the inside of the object. This could lead to injury or death.

  • Here, I have used an internal gyroscope to hold it stable. In contrast to most modern gyroscopes, which use very small spinning wheels (the gimbals) connected to actuators in order to correct for changes in position, the mechanical gyroscope requires no computational intervention. In essence, a weighted ring spinning on a mobile platform has the ability to stabilise the platform using simple mechanical principles.

  • The assembly is made up of a spinning gimbal (which, in a model version, can be set in motion by unreeling a string from the projecting axis, like a spinning top) and a platform upon which it rests. It is covered by a glass or crystal platform to allow transparency.


Screenshot 2021-03-07 at 21.21.17.png

Without Gyroscope

With Gyroscope

  • The armillary sphere is an ancient mechanism renowned for its simple elegance. I based my chair, from which the observer experiences the platform, on Mies van der Rohe's LC4 Chaise Lounge. Its tubular metal construction and circular structural elements draw parallels to the construction of the armillary sphere, and present a natural platform from which to experience the gyromillaservatory.

Screenshot 2021-03-07 at 20.34.54.png


Initial Tertiary Structure.png

Primary, Secondary, Tertiary Structures

Raw:Parametric Ball.png

With Internal Structure

Final Ball.jpg

Basic Rendering

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