Archive for the ‘design’ Category

Playing Footsie

So. Freakin. Cool. Robert Full’s TED talk on “Secrets of Movement” and designing artificial feet for all-terrain robots.

Once again the folks at TED are posting new talks from previous years. I think this completely rocks, for those of us keenly interested, but unable to attend. Unlike some similar conferences (many of which are, I believe, imitators of TED) which make talks available via expensive DVDs, these folks really care about the IDEAS and sharing them. Huzzah!


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One of the professions near and dear to my hear is that of graphic design. I’m still not sure if it’s Brigadoon lost or a bullet dodged, but either way, I pay attention when I can. I recently encountered a gem of a Laugh Out Loud moment courtesy of Speak Up, namely the long-suffering lament, now a soulful metal ballad: “Make the Logo Bigger”. “I don’t wanna tell you how to do your job, but could you make the logo bigger?.

The comments on this posting are a real humor-drizzled slice of life on their own, leading to places like Von Glitschka’s “Day in the Life”, documenting a “Make this 400% bigger” post-it note, and the inspired nonsense (brilliantly conceived, if gigglingly executed) of The Bauhaus Rap.

SRC art, worldtree, copyright 2007

I’m happily blown away by all the great design tutorials on the web these days, like Illustration Class and Computer Arts. These folks sure know how to teach– they walk you through the workflow from sketch to finished digital product, or tool-by-tool techniques for specific effects. There’s many a happy afternoon here for design dilettantes like myself who are thinking of taking our sketchbook art to the next level.

SRC art, serpent nest, copyright 2007

Just started checking out the pro-mag Design Tools Monthly, especially their great Mac tools section. It’s almost enough to make me go out and get a Design certificate. But I really should upgrade my own website first. Hey, maybe I should make the logo smaller!!

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I’ve been thinking about going back to school. What I’d study will either be a complete surprise to my friends, or an ‘yeah, I can see that’. I’ve been an amateur architect for many years, and have pages and pages of concept sketches. Dunno as I want to do 8 years of schooling, but I could see a 3-year stint, plus interning, to become a Certified Building Designer.

I’m still not sure, but I have been meaning to really learn sketchup for a while, rather than just throw things out of the library onto a planar surface. So, I present Arcfest Auditorium, a small community arts center and performance space. First sketchup model of any consequence by yours truly, and first start at a formal portfolio for applying to architecture programs.

Here are my notes on it so far:

Primary idea is an auditorium that is non-claustrophobic, gives some feel of an outdoor space
a la Shoreline, but has elegant lines. Will likely be an optional deployable canopy well beyond
my powers to represent in Sketchup at this time.

Sections are color-coded in the prism for ease of location; also a playful touch, as the ‘red carpet
area’ falls in sequence, ie the private box space (currently in red crushed gravel, not the planned
texture, although natural materials are favored). Several clear plexi booths will be along the
sides of the vip area, for people to go to take a cellular phone call, as so many must do.

Note that there are excellent possibilities for multiple entrances, and for the stream of
people to separate out by section, preventing crushing crowds. Ideally, the not=yet=drawn
parking lots, which will open around this like petals, will be colorcoded as well for ease
of parking and exiting. A variant of this could be an arena space, with locations for private
boxes created by the height differences between the sections.

A water garden and outside park allows onsite childcare, and opportunities for families to
arrive early and picnic, as I remember fondly from my childhood attending drive-in theatres.
The back wall of the structure, in fact, could double as a theatre. Note the long waterslide
feature– not actually a slide, but a pipe or trough that allows water to go out the sides as
well as down into the lower watergardens. This could be used for evaporative cooling with misters, or simply as a way to evaporate treated greywater, as long as the water was not accessible to the public. Better to have it as a public pool area, and omit the attractive nuisance ‘slide’ in favor of a simple waterfall from the roof garden. Shade-bearing solar collectors are not yet in place in the drawing.

The central feature of the play area is a small hill, allowing parents to spread out along the
edges yet still have good kid visibility. Must rethink this, as if kids dart onto another part
of the hill, parents will not be able to see them. Perhaps a bermed area with the playground
in a depression or at level vs raised berms. Would keep kids out of the parking lots (yay) and
allow good parent/caretaker visibility, ditto for security guard or park ranger visibility.

The entrances and exits, concession stand opportunities, restrooms, stage prep, crew entrances, control center, and so much more still need to be put in this drawing! Yet I just spent almost 3 hours completely entranced in where some simple playing with the arc tool brought me. Whee!

The basis for this sketch was a circle 144 feet in diameter. Why 144? I felt that the chord
and arc ratios would be more harmonious than using a round number– unless that number was
also divisible by 12. I vaguely blame reading Hofstaeder or similar ages ago.

Oh yes, the water garden area at rooftop, and the additional as-yet-created rooftop garden spaces and mini-stages are to allow good leveraging of the space for small concerts, community festivals, local theatre groups, art classes, etc. I’d like to see some art studio spaces built into the plan of the facility, so that Arcfest Auditorium could truly be a community arts center with all that entails– storage for things, classrooms, gallery space, etc.

Arcfest is meant to be a fully LEEDS-compliant building, and the long, gentle arcs will lend themselves to incorporate elements of alternative architecture, such as earthbag, or straw-bale. Obviously a multi-story building supporting rows of art appreciators needs a traditional steel structural component if built exactly as rendered, but the design is scaleable such that Arcfest becomes more of a mound than a cylinder. This would be reminiscent of community moundbuilders’ structures in many parts of the continental USA, and offer opportunities to tailor the presentation and materials to incorporate a sense of place. As the structure flattens out and becomes more mound-like, too, it becomes even more suitable for alternative construction materials, and also begins to take on aspects of an emergency shelter in areas prone to tornado activity. This aspect, and standardizing alterations of the Arcfest pattern, still need to be documented and sketched out.

SRC 8/29/2007
Auditorium Arcfest is copyright Strata R Chalup, 2007, all rights reserved.

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