BIY – Build It Yourself

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Tiny house movement, which is a theme of DS10 second brief, is closely linked to the idea of self-build. It is commonly thought that both emerged simply as a response to housing crisis. However, compelled limitations can also encourage other unexpected movements. Here, I want to talk about how the self-build practice allowed discovering new possibilities that go beyond economy.

In 1980s, Berlin-born modernist architect Walter Segal proposed a solution to shorten the housing waiting list by allowing people to build their own homes. With the bold step of London borough of Lewisham, an ‘awkward’ piece of sloping land, that was found unsuitable for council’s programme, was donated for the experiment. People that got randomly chosen from the waiting list were allocated a site and given a basic induction in how to saw a straight line and drill a hole. Segal believed that a house should adapt to its occupants. Each household was invited to participate in the design stage, while the construction principles included lightweight timber frames and stilt foundations, meaning the layout could always be adjusted. New residents of Walter’s Way all worked collaboratively from the project commencement and as a result formed a tight community. At the end of the project, new occupants were given a chance to buy their homes. Walter’s Way became UK’s first self-built council housing project.

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In spring 2016 I visited the site to interview residents for my undergraduate dissertation project. I was keen to understand how design principles of community influenced the level of happiness of it’s residents and therefore affected sustainable behaviour. Walter’s Way was a unique case study. Walking onto the street felt nothing like the rest of London and more like an eco-village in a countryside. You could sense a spirit of community that seemed to work great almost naturally. The road slopes down and main entrances to houses are oriented in such way, that you always see your neighbours as soon as they walk out their private spaces. The central core is used for weekly community activities and as a kids playground. All residents were happy to talk and during the conversation it was common to hear “I’m not as sustainable as my neighbour, but I learn from them”, which is almost like a good eco-competition. That is without saying that certain homes achieve carbon savings of 73% (according to SuperHomes).

Today, all houses are private with many owners occupying their homes for over 20 years. Everyone remembers the history of Walter’s Way and feels proud to be a part of it. Many continued the legacy of self-build by attaching extensions or upgrading buildings. The fact that all houses were designed by those in need and built with their own hands allowed for an activist community to be born. It not only challenges the traditional approach to solving housing issue, but creates new opportunities in the city by building on ‘abandoned’ sites, creating a new model for urban life and teaching others sustainable lifestyles.

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Desire for Immortality

The proposal reflects on immortality and how our lives would look like if we could reach it. Evolution has sentenced us to the process of aging, and ultimately to death, but as we understand it more and more, we may be able to outwit it. Sounds like paradise? Wouldn’t you want to be immortal?

The art installation is composed of cone shaped cells that divide itself creating new cells, which in turn develop into new ones and the process repeats. The components are made of laser cut, rolled thin sheets of plywood and are connected with metal screws. The structure, measuring approximately 20 feet long and 26 feet high, becomes stronger with every iteration, is structurally stable and self-supporting but on the other side almost invisible and very fragile in appearance. By joining the cone-like shaped cells, a set of domes at different scale is formed which are composed into pavilion serving as shelter to partially protect from sun and wind and casting beautiful shadows at the same time.

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The pavilion is providing an opportunity to lay down, calm and contemplate. Look around and reflect on the surroundings – is it the blurred, crowded playa that attracts your attention? Or the cells of the structure that interest you? You have a chance to hide away for a moment and meditate. At night, the structure becomes illuminated from the inside, which highlights the pattern, casting even more beautiful shapes than during the day. You can move the bulb around and play with the light to explore different parts of the structure and look closer into the cells and how they divide themselves.

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The concept was born during my research on fractals and their exploration through the Mandelbulb 3D software where by composing different formulas and changing their parameters, I could create beautiful, endless shapes. Infinity is one of the main feature of fractals, therefore, trying to materialize the experiments into physical models was the biggest challenge. To represent endlessness, I started looking at cell division and unicellular organisms, such as bacteria and paramecia, which multiply by dividing themselves. The duration of the cell ends with the division, but the line can be considered immortal.
The life span of a cell usually has specific limits due to telomerase and a separate genetic program of aging and death of complex organisms that evolved only about a billion years ago. Single-celled organisms that lived on Earth before that did not experience either aging or death and at a certain stage of maturity, they divided into two new cells. The first death occurred, when the sexual reproduction appeared – evolution has sentenced us to the process of aging, and ultimately, to destruction. However, recent developments in the field of physiology and medicine show that the elixir of life does not sound like a myth anymore and may become a reality in the future. And what if it becomes a reality? Does it scare you or does it make you happy? The aim of the proposal is to reflect on immortality and how our live would look like if we could achieve it.

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Finding Crystal.

Project Summary

Crystal is lost within a sea of flashing lights. She is surrounded by a 6.4×12.8ft cubic lattice structure. She reacts to motion and touch. Walk through the interactive cube that holds Crystal hostage. Can you find her before she fades, and becomes one with the cube?

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Physical Description

Finding Crystal is an interactive installation that takes the principles of Crystallography and Bravais Lattices, and uses these principles to create a structural lattice cube. This cube is made of 0.4×0.4ft cubic pieces, fixed on top of, and next to each other to create a 6.4×12.8×12.8ft cube. I have chosen to use a cubic body centered lattice, removing the given structural frame, to allow the internal arrangement to determine the overall structure. The structure is made of steel spheres, steel rods and motion sensor LED lights. Each 0.4×0.4ft structure holds 3 spheres, 4 rods and 3 LED light. These pieces are put together in a puzzle manner to create the entirety of the structure. The art piece is modular and can be easily assembled on site.

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Interactivity & Mission

Finding Crystal takes principles from science and combines it with design to create a truly interactive art piece. It uses the science behind crystal lattice structures to produces a structural modular that encompasses the principles of crystallography. Each modular is sized specifically to produce a lightweight structure, reflecting back on the idea of a crystal flake and its lightweight properties.

The entire structure consists of 16384 0.4×0.4ftcubic lattice pieces, with 49152 LED lights. This creates a platform for the experience. The cube is programmed to displays ghost like figures that walk “through” the cube, the figures use human motion to “follow” or “escape” the users. This evokes a form of playfulness between the figure, which is Crystal, and its users.

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Philosophy

Crystal is a human. The cube is a symbol of an AI being that is attempting to deceive Crystal. Crystal is trying to escape the hold of the cube, but she is finding it extremely difficult to, the cube keeps misleading her into thinking that she is dependent on it. This piece explores addiction, in any form, by using the cube to confine the users perception of Crystal. Crystal doesn’t believe she can escape the cube, but ultimately, she is the only one that can help herself escape it.

I am deploying this piece in hope that it creates a curiosity behind the connection between technology, science and design. As well as creating a better understanding of someone who is in Crystals position. I’d like to evoke a desire to take these principles and explore with them, I want this piece to inspire and motive people to be creative. I want it to awaken the users curiosity. I want the user to want to explore, understand and interact with the artwork, and take this curiosity further by exploring their own artistic expression.

The intention of this piece is for it to be used as an interactive play experience. In the end, we are just trying to save crystal from herself.

Omnis Stellae

Omnis Stellae – Redrawing your own constellation

“Only in the darkness can you see the stars”
Martin Luther King

 

This project involves the conception and design of a new way of mapping constellations, based on subdivision processes like Stellation. It explores how subdivision can define and embellish architectural design with an elaborate system of fractals based on mathematics and complex algorithms.

Example of Stellation diagram on a platonic polygon

An abstracted form of galaxy is used as an input form to the subdivision process called Stellation. In geometry, meaning the process of extending a polytope in n dimensions to form a new figure. Starting with an original figure, the process extends specific elements such as its edges or face planes, usually in a symmetrical way, until they meet each other again to form the closed boundary of a new figure.

Omnis Stellae – Daytime interior render view

The material used for this installation will be timber sheets of 1/3 of an inch thickness that will be laser-cut.The panels will be connected to each other with standard connection elements which have already been tested structurally based on an origami structure.

The lighting of the installation will consist on LED strips that will light with burners interactions.

Omnis Stellae – Daytime exterior render view

Although stars in constellations appear near each other in the sky, they usually lie at a variety of distances away from the observer. Since stars also travel along their own orbits through the Milky Way, the constellation outlines change slowly over time and through perspective.

There are 88 constellations set at the moment, but I would like to prove that there are infinite amount of stars that have infinite amount of connections with each other.The installation will show you all the possible connections between this stars, but will never rule which connection is the one you need to make.

Omnis Stellae – Daytime interior render view from the ground

I would like burners to choose their own stars and draw their own constellations. Any constellation that they can possibly imagine from their one and only perspective, using coloured lights that react to their touch.

The end result will have thousands of different geometries/constellations that will have a meaning for each one of the burners and together will create a new meaningful lighted galaxy full of stars.

 

Omnis Stellae – Nightime exterior render view

On a clear night, away from artificial light, it’s possible to see over 5000 stars with the naked eye. These appear to orbit the Earth in a fixed pattern, as if they are attached to a giant sphere that makes one revolution a day.This stars though are organised in Constellations.

The word “constellation” seems to come from the Late Latin term cōnstellātiō, which can be translated as “set of stars”. The relationship between this sets of stars has been drawn by the perspective of the human eye.

Omnis Stellae – Daytime interior render view from above

“Omnis Stellae” is a manifestation of the existence of different perspectives. For me, there is great value in recognising different perspectives in life, because nothing is really Black and White, everything relates to the point of view and whose point of view and background that is.

As a fractal geometry this installation embodies an endless number of stars that each person can connect and imagine endless geometries, that will only make sense from their own perspective. The stellated geometry will show you all the possible connections but will never impose any.

Omnis Stellae – Daytime and Nightime

“Omnis Stellae” is about creating your own constellations and sharing them with the rest of the burners, is about sharing your own perspective of the galaxy and create some meaningful geometries that might not mean anything to other people but would mean the world to you.

Omnis Stellae – Daytime interior render view

The grand finale is if it could become the physical illustration of all the perspectives of the participants at Burning Man 2018 shown as one.

With Love,

Maya

 

 

 

The Amazing Surf

Project Summary

The Amazing Surf is a complex fractal geometry which ascends toward the light, symbolizing our obsession with reaching for the stars. We use our increasingly digital world to help us extend our reach, but at what point do the shadows we cast reach out above us?

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Physical Description

The shape is inspired by the Amazing surf fractal which is generated by a mathematical formula and visualized in Mandelbulb3D. A visually imposing 25ft tall Ply wood hyperbolic structure, with intricate evolving folded panels. Each folded panel is digitally unrolled into a 2D net and CNC milled, the resultant ply components will be glued to a layer of fabric and folded back to their original 3D shape. This construction technique removes the need for a supporting frame, keeping the complex geometry unobstructed from view. A few panels have been removed at the base to make way for an entry point. Neon strips attached to each panel will produce dramatic light patterns on the surface at night. The installation will orient toward the sunset, where the sun appears at it’s closest.

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Interactivity & Mission

The piece is intended to be used as an impromptu climbing frame, a ladder to ascend burners above the desert and into the stars. Sunlight will bounce off the multi-faceted shapes, creating intricate patterns of light and shadow. Burners are invited to dance in the light shafts and seek shelter in the shadows. As the shape begins to flatten toward the top, the folded panels can be used as armchairs, where vision will be limited to that of the sky and light above; burners can sit and watch as the sky transforms from day to night.

Philosophy

“Keep your face always toward the sunshine – and shadows will fall behind you”

-Walt Whitman

As a race we strive to advance, developing new tools and machines to help us in this process. There will come a point in the not too distant future where the machines we have developed to help us will supersede us; we will become so reliant on technology, it will begin to control us. I see the Amazing Surf installation as a juxtaposition to this potential future; on the one hand we are using technology to create built environments that are intricate, beautiful and unique, on the other hand these environments are only attainable through the use of technology. If only we took a moment to look back into the shadows, we could avoid the fate that we are gradually bringing upon ourselves.

(IN)Finitely Bound

Project Summary

(IN)Finitely Bound is a recursive fractal geometrical form, similar to that found in nature. It symbolises the universe and its finite boundary, and is an expression to show us the limitations to which technology can take us. As nothing can be bigger and more powerful than the universe.Fractal Geometry

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(IN)Finitely Bound is a recursive fractal Dodecahedron form, consisting of lengths of 2 by 4 timber held into place using bolts and metal plate joints. The structure will be fully burnable and will be both approximately 7m high and wide. On approach to the piece the structures beauty will be be hard to work out, symbolising our confusion with the colossal scale of the universe but as you get closer you realise the receptive nature of the form and come rest on the structure and understanding as we zoom in on aspects which make up the universe and include ourself within it. The piece will be lit up to gently to allow for meditation, contemplation and open our bodies up to mindfulness.

 

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Interactivity and Mission

The initial singularity was a singularity of infinite density thought to have contained all of the mass and space-time of the Universe. The standard model of cosmology predicts that the universe is infinite and flat. However, cosmologists in France and the US are now suggesting that space could be finite and shaped like a dodecahedron instead. They claim that a universe with the same shape as the twelve-sided polygon can explain measurements of the cosmic microwave background – the radiation left over from the big bang – that spaces with more mundane shapes cannot. In a world where “computational power is increasing exponentially, much like the singularity which created the universe” realising our own finite boundaries is where we take power back from the robots and become masters of our own minds, bodies and universe. The piece through its self-replicating fractal structure creates a dodecahedron (Universal) Boundary defined by perspective. In defining our boundary we are then able to instead of focus our mind inwards, a symbol towards mindfulness.

 

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Moon Rocks

 

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Project Summary*

Moon rocks are about challenging the way we experience voids within confined geometries.Inspired by the nature of the sea sponge and its porosity, it is designed to stand as a contrasting installation that references natural geometries confined within a perfect cube, a shape achieved only by human intervention. Ideally the cube will be made out of the earth, naturally and locally sourced, binding naturally with the playa landscape. An internal geometry that looks like something that has been naturally formed by the passage of time, confined within the geometrical precision of the cube,  it is a manifesto of nature and manufacture, a very apparent, very human, extension of nature. A temple honoring the natural playa and celebrating our ability in erecting structures that cohere with nature. Also, they look like pieces of the moon!

 

Physical Description*

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In order to achieve the complex geometry of the moon rocks, we will need to create a mould and fill it with a viscous structural material. I’m currently experimenting with plaster because plaster is just great at picking up detail!
Balloons of varying sizes are inflated to a preferable shape, bound, put in a box, anchored in position to prevent any displacement of the balloons and poured over with plaster. The viscous material that is used to fill the voids inside the balloon box may vary from plaster to concrete,to…anything that behaves like a liquid enough to crawl in all the crevices and eventually dries to solid form. When building on the playa, what better than to use the earth that we will find beneath our feet to create the giant porous sand cube. If it’s one thing that’s easy to find in the desert, its soil.
The project is envisioned basically as a porous sand cube achieved by pouring wet sand (with a bit of natural adhesive) in a 16x16x16 foot cubic mould, potentially built out of prefabricated timber, brought to the desert in a container and fixed together easily on site.Sand will be collected using buckets and shovels, then, a single layer prefabricated inflatable PVC skin, that is basically a bunch of inflatable spheres of various sizes, stitched together, will be placed in the mould, inflated and poured over with the wet sand mix. After the sand crawls in all the corners of the mould, the sand should be compressed to maximum density so it withstands standing under its own weight and the harsh desert conditions throughout the festival. After all is done, the spheres can be deflated or popped like balloons and removed along with the box mould, leaving behind the porous sand cube, or moon rock! When the festival is over, we can knock down the moon rock and spread the sand, returning it to where we found it. Another idea is to pour a mix of wood chips and adhesive to fill the mould instead of sand. Then it can be Burned at the end of the Festival!

 

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Interactivity and Mission*

Moon rocks purpose is to question the way we create spaces, proposing learning from irregular natural geometries. It’s designed to create a clear juxtaposition between its fluid internal structure and its linear cubic confinement and acts as a call to inspire integrating organic natural geometries within our strict linear manmade lives. But let my intent aside for a bit. Seeing an unusual giant sand cube, that looks like a piece of the moon, in the desert, just has so many interpretations, I’m sure the expression of the piece will be received in multiple forms.
Burners are invited to let go of their previous experience of structures by observing inside the cube and exploring its intricate internal form, discovering more and more interconnected naturally fluid spaces of varying sizes, the deeper within the cube their vision ventures. The piece offers shelter from the harsh weather conditions and a nice place to sit and rethink what kind of space we feel comfortable being in. Cubic or fluent? Simple or complex? Natural or artificial?
It’s an object that leaves the observer’s conclusion about the piece with the freedom to wander. But whatever the conclusion may be, I hope it will have to do with the beauty found in nature.

Philosophy the piece*

Creating a piece showing appreciation for the intricacy and beauty found in the natural world.
The philosophy behind the piece is one that suggests that we learn from naturally formed geometries when we create things. I aspire to make visitors rethink how we build, by creating an object that looks like something between a man-made object and a naturally formed shape. The Moon rocks are the embodiment of the threshold of the artificial and the natural. A structure that mimics nature but also imprisons it within a cube, expressing that we are still far from building like nature does and calls for humanity to realise the importance of building in coherence to our surroundings,  and work harder towards recreating nature.