muse, sketch

FEB // monthly update

Hey there end of February.

I’ll admit, I’m failing at keeping a schedule. It’s been hard to will myself to work on the next test. It’s been hard to make time for brainstorming interface ideas. It’s been hard just keeping up with a side project. No surprise. I’ve tried reading motivational, productivity, inspiring medium writing. They’re good, and they’re helpful, but sometimes an over-saturation of it starts to do the opposite — feels even more overwhelming. Sometimes you just gotta do it!

Thankfully, things are moving forward on site, which means I may just progress with my site series. It’ll be a little late, but it’s on it’s way!

Here’s a sketch of the next site series — steel is here!

sketch 009

Links ahead:

  1. Freddy Mamani’s New Andean Architecture adds colour to Bolivian city
    This is pretty amazing. It’s trippy as heck, but colourful and unique. I don’t know how this style of work will fare around the world, because it’s very bold, but the splashes of colour and fantastical geometric forms can certainly brighten up the street. I’m now wondering how my Artifact app idea can bring more of these unique designs to the surface. I guess there could be a global search function that highlights certain styles of details? Colour perhaps? Architizer probably has a good system for that.
  2. How the Internet of Things (IoT) is Changing Modern Office Design
    More on the Internet of things. Office design is really fascinating to me, somehow.

    “It is embedded in everyday objects we use and allows them to communicate autonomously with each other.”

    What if they’re communicating to us through a digital overlay of information? The article discusses the use of VR to enhance communication between coworkers, customers, etc. On the flip side of such an integrated work experience, will this be the end of work-life balance? Probably more to be said about that model in another discussion.

  3. The healthy Architect or how to master Stress in Architecture
    An older article but a good read to refresh our mindset of how to work successfully, productively and also balanced.

    “Stress as part of the profession or part of the culture?”

    This is a long and loaded one. But a lot of the pointers are very standard and practical advice. Sometimes you just really get into a project, or a problem to solve and consume-ing-ly (not a word) hack at it non-stop. And sometimes you go at it too long and burn out. I’m no stranger to this cycle. So what’s better, this extreme ends cycle or a seemingly less stressful series of habits to approach ‘balance’ from a different perspective? Honestly I’m not sure. I think both could be viable solutions, and really it pends on so many factors. Including a considerable amount of self-control, understanding of one-self’s capabilities and limitations, as well as knowing one’s threshold of fun and active. What’s your way?

 

I’ve been testing out development on android this past month. Started with something very simple like a sticker pack using a template Android Studio package. But it worked and at the very least I can say I have officially joined the Android development world. Next steps for this app may be a lot more complicated, especially without a concrete idea. So more brainstorming to come.

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Hyperreality

I happened on this article and blog a week or two ago and it’s got me pretty excited. First, the name of the site is great — failedarchitecture. Not unlike baseball, architecture’s playing a tough ball game of success vs. failure. We’re talking about stats where edging below 50% is considered phenomenal. More often than not, the chances are pretty low for ringing out truly remarkable and amazing work of architecture. Not that there are not enough successes versus failures out there, but architecture in itself is just such a long long process. But I digress — the baseball season just wrapped up (congrats to the Red Sox!) so that was on my mind.

What’s fascinating about this article? Aside from the excellent examples of explorations in AR, I think the author has really highlighted the increased importance that AR can play in our urban environment.  Hyperreality is a fantastic video, definitely take a look. The overlay of digital information added to an extreme case of gamification and identity crisis really sheds light on a potential future for humanity. Both terrifying and inspiring, to say the least.

“Matsuda’s film ultimately suggests that augmented reality may become so commonplace as to be essential to making sense of one’s world.”

The merging of AR with reality reminds me an old anime from 2007 I watched, called Dennou Coil. That feeling when a majority of life is experienced through a digital overlay, including pets.

dennou

dennou coil screenshot from the internet

I was also excited to read about ‘Urban Tapestries‘, a research project that combined the flexibility of the mobile device and GIS with internet technology to develop a network of shared locations. It reminds me of an early predecessor to the ‘check-in’ app Foursquare or Facebook’s check-in status update. I’m intrigued with this project, particularly because it explores something very similar to what I had in mind. The article puts it best: a “thoughtfully-considered and collectively-generated vision of spatial augmentation through mobile digital technology”.

While the project was completed well over 10 years ago, this level of depth and expanse of a research project is along the trajectory of where I want my project to go. But who knows, things may divert once I actually start developing.

“At turns both wildly hypothetical and eerily prescient, Headmap explores in-depth the implications of “location-aware” augmented reality as a kind of “parasitic architecture” affording ordinary people the chance to annotate and re-interpret their environments.”

So what of my turtle of a project so far? Well test 007, part of my ‘site series’ is underway. By means of a sketch below. I’ll pick up the pace quite soon, just been delayed by my distracted nature of being interested in too many things at the same time.

Following along with the construction of the project I’m working on in my full-time job has been very helpful though, so the goal is to keep up with that in the near future. I’m probably a couple weeks behind relative to what’s actually happening on site, but as I mentioned in the beginning of this post, architecture just takes so so long. So I think I will catch up soon enough. Cheers!

sketch 007

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Site Series // a test 006

a test 006 –
1 UNIT: space under construction
OCCUPANCY: n/a
TYPE(s): architecture, new building
AR/TIFACT(s): 01

As with my last few, developing unit tests based on my
own personal experiences has been the easiest way to learn. It also helps me go from experience
> pen > paper > digital production > blog
a lot more smoothly. Amidst attending
lectures, visiting site tours and hobby doodling, in my day job, I am still a
full-time (almost) architect. What better place to extract from?

The project I have been on for the past two years is finally
under construction, and being both blessed with great leaders and lucky to have
seen all parts of the project so far, I am now able to drop in site to watch
the building physically take shape. And so this next series (an undetermined
amount as of now) will be an exploration of ground-up architecture. This test actually compiles a few phases of the start of
construction. From site preparation and soil analysis to formwork for the
foundations to sheeting foundation walls with the proper water vapour barriers
and insulation. These diagrammatic tests are in no way an accurate
representation of the exact building construction, but they serve as an
illustration for the phases that I get to observe when I go to site.

There are
currently already several technologies utilizing mixed reality to not only aid
the construction process, for example in commissioning or building inspection
that enable users of a hardhat + visor to get a digital augmented visualization
of the innards of the building as it is getting constructed. One such would be
Daqri’s Smart Helmet. Pretty neat. My idea is focused more on a
finished product detail, but that isn’t to say am AR overlay couldn’t be
applied early on during it’s construction.

I’m excited
for this series because I can see a lot of growth out of it, even if all the unit will ever show is the corner of a building. The only sad part is  the CAT won’t always be in the
picture.

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wework

I have found that this being an ongoing side project of mine,  the smoothest way for
me to integrate and keep up with it is to draw my tests from real life experiences. Not unlike many of the architecture blogs out there of architects with real full time jobs.

This week, I had a lot of exposure to that global phenomenon that is ’wework’. Participated in a tour of one of Toronto’s first wework offices, listening to a podcast interview with the co-founder (see below), reading many articles about the latest quarterly news on the company…etc.

What does this have to do with my idea? Possibly nothing. But at the same time, thinking more broadly about the project, I want to work on something that can have impact on the multiple streams of architecture, from the urban scale to the interior scale. I have also been quite enamored by ideas of work and office culture – design of the workplace, efficiencies and communities, data driven design – so it has been a fruitful exploration into this so called ‘new’ model of work.

For those of you unfamiliar, WeWork is a co-working startup currently valued at somewhere between $20B and $35B, with almost 400 locations scattered around the world in 69 cities. While WeWork wasn’t the first company to enter the coworking space, they approached it in a very different way, focusing on creating physical environments that connected with workers and business owners, while crafting a culture of super-dedicated members.

interview with Miguel McKelvey, co-founder of wework

I can’t exactly pinpoint how the idea of AR can work congruently with this co-working space model, let alone an office culture setting. The basis of my idea comes from an overlay of information or access to additional information of something in real life. It’s incredibly vague, and the details of that overlay can be anything. So I can’t discount the
connection quite yet. At the same time, the premise of the overlay is to introduce a user base and community interaction, which, as I’ve learned, wework has integrated quite seamlessly into their model.

The best thing to ask then, is how can what I design or helpful to those who choose to use it? And following up, can I move from making it a choice to using it, to encouraging its use regularly in education and knowledge building? In my opinion, it’s not

Test 004 to follow.

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Architecture + Research

The architect and mathematician Christopher Alexander once suggested that architectural design was the obligation to create “an intangible form in an indeterminate context.” This can certainly be true of the serious, ineffable qualities of good design. But in our modern age, the practical context is increasingly determinate, and outcome-based design practice—enabled by new attitudes, business models, and technology—will empower us to deliver the real value of both.” – Phil Bernstein (on Architectural Record, “Why the Field of Architecture Needs a New Business Model”)

I used to really enjoy Phil’s classes at Yale. He’s a downright downer sometimes (I mean this in a very positive way!), but speaks some really real truths about the industry. I took
his ‘Exploring New Value in Design Practice’ elective as well as the required Professional Practice course. What he’s summarized in this article is essentially the vein of thought that prevailed in his lectures and seminars.

It seems a little cynical as a designer and artist to be so in agreement with what he’s saying. To be fair, I still believe the real lovers and talents of their craft will still exist and flourish, because good design will always be appreciated and their value upheld. On the other hand however, I will say that not everyone is that designer. Some of us (myself included) aren’t at that peak, and thus exploring new value in the world of architecture
is almost a must. For me, I’m highly interested in research and development.

I’m inspired by firms like Kieran Timberlake and Foster + Partners, who dedicate entire departments to R & D. Most recently, I’ve discovered Superflux (why haven’t I checked them out before!), a studio in the UK that focuses on accessing possibilities of the future and how to tackle them with present day solutions.

While this project has only surfaced recently, a lot of the ideas and interests have been brewing over many years (as I noted in the Pilot), and the more I read and learn, the more interesting everything just gets. You could almost say it’s getting dangerous how many things I have told myself I’m  “interested” in.

It is very hard, also, to stay motivated on something I’m such a beginner at, when there are multitudes of large corporate companies researching AND producing similar ideas. The neat thing, however, is that I’m so small no one will notice as I build my kingdom.
And that, is what motivates me to keep pursuing.

Research needs to combine actual research including knowledge acquiring along with theorizing and ideas generating with doing and producing. Tests aside, within the next few months I will get my hands on ARKit, and see where I can go with those.

Test 003 progress is being attempted. It’s been busy here.

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Keynote

I tuned into the Apple keynote today. I mostly just listened while having real work to do. But something really caught my attention that I ended up watching all some 20 min. of that segment. It wouldn’t be hard to guess, but it was the section on Augmented Reality. Apple’s doing a lot of incredible things with AR technology and I want in.

ARKit2 has expanded it’s spectrum, allowing for more advanced and accurate real-life tracking of surroundings. This includes live measuring of objects just by clicking from one point to another through their new app ‘Measure’. It can also register geometric shapes (demonstrated was the rectangle, but I imagine other polygonal shapes are possible) and give a relatively accurate measurement of it’s dimensions as well as area. The other neat demonstration was a completely AR interactive game just from registering one built lego building on a table. The ipad was able to detect and then present an entire lego world directly on the table for the users to interact with. Note the use of plural. Now we can have multi-user interaction, live and augmented to reality all from one scan of the surrounding.

You can see, then, where I want to go with AR/TIFACT, relative to these features. What if it weren’t just a lego building that could get scanned, but a real building? In the AEC industry, aside from having a fun filled AR interaction video game with real life buildings, I would like to use this feature to overlay building data – not just your typical building stats and numbers, but 3D details and material samples. Is that useful? I think not quite yet. But this is the vein I want to keep thinking along until it does become something useful. Some great testing grounds for this? Doors Open Toronto? The Venice Biennale?

The next step in my research would be to get a hands-on for ARKit2 and see where I can take it. I’m excited.

Also Test 003 is coming, I promise.

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Reconstruction

I had the pleasure of creating some light-hearted illustrations to accompany the work of art historian Alex Stumm in his recent interview for Pulp #52 (Pulp Architecture). In his book “Architectural Concepts of Reconstruction” (translated from Architektonische Konzepte der Rekonstruktion), he discusses five categories of ‘Reconstruction’ and the different ways architects have approached renovation of, additions to, or for lack of better word, reconstructing a ruin. While I am still teetering between drawing a connection between the large urban scale to the micro detail scale, another spectrum of
thought came to light from this exercise. That spectrum being ‘time’, the scale of ruin to rebuild. There are a lot of things to explore not just in historical architecture still standing today, but also the added layer of the invisible ruin. But let me move forward a little bit and speak to the buildings that are still physically with us today. Rather, what piques my interest is how architects address the dichotomy of working with both new and old buildings.

New building + old building = ?

Downtown Toronto is ripe with reconstructions. UofT in particular, is quite special in that it has such a historically rich campus of old buildings yet also has an alarmingly large number of renovations and additions to said historical buildings. (A personal observation. It happens all over the city obviously, but I happen to notice it more within the university) It seems oddly fitting then, that my last post discussed the new School of Architecture at UofT as it is quite a fine example of some form of reconstruction. While the original home of Knox College and then the Connaught Laboratories, the new building at 1 Spadina Crescent which opened for the 2017-2018 school year has been transformed into the new home of the John H. Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape and Design, with a bright new addition designed by architects Nader Tehrani and Katherine Faulkner of New York based firm NADAAA.

What are the design strategies, principals, approaches, etc. involved with additions or renovations, particularly with a historically significant building? What are the details that exist in that intersection between the old and the new?

Test 003 will explore this new spectrum to my AR/tifact collection

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