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• SOL •

The Ritual of Light

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SOL is an architecture designed by Burning Man for Burning Man as a celebration of its surrounding landscape.The design creates an enclosed space, which is flooded with light daily at 12pm for a limited time. This ritual occurs only when both sun and architecture line up, becoming one entity.

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SOL is 9m long, 3m wide and 5m tall. The entire structure is made out of 18mm birch plywood, cut with CNC and assembled on the Playa.

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SOL is directly connected with its surrounding landscape, mimicking the silhouette of the harsh mountains. A series of 9 chimneys, which rise from the ground create several sloped surfaces where users can lay down to relax and embrace the natural surrounding. During daytime SOL will be a climbable structure, which can also provide shelter from the challenging conditions of the desert.

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SOL was designed to act, appear and generate different experiences based on the user’s position. Frontally viewed it acts as a sun clock aligning with the sun at 12pm.

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The overall shape resembles a series of monolithic rocks emerging from the playa, which are inspired by the landscape. During night time, SOL is dynamically lit by LED strips both internally and externally, producing a colorful light show, which celebrates the darkness of the night through artificial light.

Over the years, Black Rock City has seen a multitude of projects which have been created to animate the Playa.

SOL aims to be a playful, interactive and informative design, which enhances the relationship between humans and celestial bodies, in particular with the sun. Human history has been driven by the cult of the sun, and divinities and architecture have been dedicated to it. With the help of parametric design and environmental analysis, SOL is a direct representation of a particular moment on the playa: 12pm of everyday.

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Internally, the light that penetrates and cast itself on the floor for only 30 minutes, wants to make the user aware of the sun’s movement in a more evident way. This phenomenon is a daily ritual, which brings people together in order to experience a connection with our universe that we sometimes take for granted since we cannot directly perceive it.

The wooden structure will be lit on fire on the last day of the festival since it was designed to exist only at Burning Man for the length of the festival.

My inspirations has a direct link to archeoastrology, a science that looks at the relationship between celestial bodies and architecture, i.e. Stonehenge, Chiceniza and the Parthenon in Rome. The common element between these projects is the attention, precision and relation with the sky and the movement of the sun. All of these projects and many more, create a different dimension where the architecture only becomes a tool to admire and contemplate what surrounds us.  

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In conclusion, SOL aims to be an example of how architecture can be shaped by the use of datas and parametric design, in order to deliver a project which is directly derived from its surrounding environment.


Whatever your creed your reliance on the sun is unquestionable.

We have worshipped it as a God.

Spent lifetimes studying it through science.

Yet human hands will never touch its surface.

Celestial Field brings our sun to the Playa for us to dance in its glory.

Triggering our own solar flare.

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Internal perspective of the Celestial Field Pavilion

 

From the dawn of time the sun has been a constant in human life. It has been central to the beliefs of nearly every civilisation throughout history. What was once an astrological wonder sustaining life; dictating when to plant and harvest our crops; evolved into a god and deity, woven into the stories and teachings of nearly every culture, from the Egyptians to the Ancient Greeks and even Christianity.

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Sun symbolism from across the globe and through the ages

 

The oldest man-made structures in the world have resounding astrological connections to both the sun and constellations, covered in carvings they unquestionably align to major astrological events.

Newgrange in Boyne Valley, Ireland, thought to be built in 3500BC, has a tomb in which sits a stone basin lit by a single beam of light at sunrise on the winter solstice.

 

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Newgrange Tomb- Borne Valley, Ireland; built around a single beam of light that exists only for a moment each year

 

The Egyptians, Greeks, and Christians have all referenced the sun within their religion and beliefs.

The Egyptians in 3000BC had Ra, the Greeks in 400BC believed Helios to be God of the sun, and Christians have often depicted Jesus in front of what is thought by many to be the solar cross.

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Ra, Helios and Jesus all depicted with solar symbols

 

In the past the sun has been depicted as a 2Dimensional disk of light travelling across the sky before dying only to be reborn at sunrise.

The Ancient Greeks believed Helios to be the personification of the sun. A man with a many rayed crown of light, pulling the sun across the open sky with a horse drawn chariot. The Helios named after the Greek god has been used and adapted through the ages, with one of the most recognisable iterations being the logo of global corporation BP which symbolises “a number of things – not least the greatest source of energy … the sun itself..” – bp.com

 

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Building the Helios

 

This once celestial being has now become a tangible thing. Through advances in our technological and scientific capability we have gained an understanding of the suns chemical make-up, uncovering many of its secrets from sun spots to solar flares. Although we have developed an increased understanding of the forces driving the sun, it is still no more accessible to us mere humans than on the first day on earth remaining an impenetrable sphere in the sky only to viewed from a far.

 

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Physical model light testing

 

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Digital animation of lighting tests

 

The suns surface has taught us much. Galileo’s sun spot diagrams unknowingly demonstrated the unique fluidity of the suns chromosphere. Further study of these sun spots and magnificent solar flares proved that the surface of the sun is covered in billions of interlaced magnetic fields all interacting together to form the whole. When these fields cross swirling plasma burst in an instance out into the corona bringing with it immense light displays that can be seen on earth as the aurora.

 

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Recording magnetic fields with computer models and physical experiments

 

In an age where endless streams of newfound knowledge are accessible with the touch of a finger – it is easy to lose our sense of innocent amazement and unquestioning awe. We have a constant need for explanation of why and how phenomena exist, no longer blindly excepting their beauty and revelling in it.

The indescribable beauty of these gigantic magnetic fields can often be lost and forgotten in the mundane when scaled down to earthly objects. Viewing them at a micro scale allows us to connect with their other-worldly nature.

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Macro photographs of physical tests of magnetic structure using iron filings

 

Science has taught us how a magnet attracts and repels enabling use in industry, medicine and everyday life. And as our knowledge expands, we move from child to adulthood and our desire to play diminishes – burdened by explanations and reasoning; we are no longer in awe of our ability to make metal move without laying hands on it. It has become the norm and the expected, it is no longer ‘magic’.

Life should be fun and full of mesmerising moments. Our increased knowledge should enable and enhance our experience of ‘magic’ not hinder it.

 

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Experimenting with magnetism to define levels of sensitivity for large scale interaction

 

Celestial Fields captures the unexplainable wonderment the sun once held and makes it accessible through modern mediums, combining two worlds; science and enchantment, imbedding them on the Playa at Black Rock City, Nevada, for people to explore and lose themselves in.

Thousands of swaying rods made of tubes of one-way mirror form an undulating field, rising high above your head, and falling like the plasma pulled in all directions by the phenomenal magnetic forces found on our sun.

By day a field of mirrors reflect and intensify the suns natural beauty and power. Creating a maze of ever changing light to explore, push through and play within. At sunset everything transforms. The field morphs, bursting into a sea of glowing beams reacting to movement and mimicking the fluid, almost pulsing nature of the suns corona.

Like the chromosphere, magnetic fields have informed density and pattern, creating patches of pure brightness and areas as dark as sunspots. With each rod built on a spring loaded base it can be pushed a manipulated, enabling you to forge your own path through the densest areas of Celestial Field, parting rods like magnets repelling polarised iron.

 

Individual rods are clad in a one-way mirror film - creating a reflection of the desert in the day and an illuminated environment at night

Individual rods are clad in a one-way mirror film – creating a reflection of the desert in the day and an illuminated environment at night

 

Movement through the sprung rods creates interest not only for the participants but also onlookers. During daylight hours people weaving in and out can be seen across the playa through the constant glinting of the sun on the reflective rods. An ever changing shimmer, like sunlight dancing across water in the distance, drawing people in from all directions out of wonder and intrigue.

Once the sun has set the lights come on, and the show only gets better. The rods now glow and pulse, changing colour, transforming the world around them – each equipped with a sensor so as to react to movement as people push past; creating tracks of swirling light shifting like the turbulent surface of the sun. Areas of intense and overwhelming light can occur when people team together to trigger a cluster of rods forming a concentration of light evocative of a solar flare.

The sun is not solely about light, with it comes inevitable darkness. Shadows too have been used throughout time as a symbol in opposition to that of the sun; and in this instance the areas of shadow formed in the magnetic layout create areas of calm within the thrill of the lights where one can sit and ponder everything from the dessert to the sky and the sun that brings life to earth.

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The pavilion layout is informed by the patterns of sunspots and flares forming on the suns surface

 

What was once worshipped as a distant god and celestial being can now exist on the surface of the earth as a Celestial Field in Nevada. The sun has risen and set, bringing with it heat and light; powering life on earth since the dawn of time, a focus of incomprehensible wonder and fascination for each and every culture across the globe.

Celestial Field intends to reignite our faith in the intangible, while showing us there are powers and beauty still to be found in the modern world.

 

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This project is a physical exploration of anamorphosis in three dimensions centred around the theme of duality. It aims to combine two widely recognisable figures into a pavilion that will attract burners, provoke debate, and catalyse interaction.



Duality DayThe theme of this project arose from the realisation that even the most widely recognisable symbols contain multiple layers of meaning and mystery.  Social, historical and sometimes even spiritual contexts give a symbol its perceived meaning. For example, while the Christian cross is a symbol of hope it is literally a scaled representation of an ancient torture device – an icon synonymous with good carries with it a darker elucidation. This interpretation led to the emergence of duality as a topic and a title. 
There are many symbols which have multiple meanings and nuances to those who interpret them.

pages-for-blog-re-systemI began by looking at the Ankh, the Egyptian symbol for life/fertility. The Loop of the Ankh represents the feminine discipline or the womb, while the elongated section represent the masculine discipline or the penis. These two sacred units then come together and form life. This is a perfect representation of man and woman in perfect union. I then was led to study the symbol for mercury, which is used in botany to indicate a flower with both male and female reproductive organs.

This duality of meaning in symbols led me to the desire to study how I could physically combine other symbols and forms to create one form. Anamorphosis, from the Greek anamorphōsis meaning ‘transformation,’ from ana- ‘back, again’ + morphosis ‘a shaping’, became an interesting opportunity to do just this.

 

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I want to explore this theme using the iconic faces of Donald Trump and Kim Kardashian as instigators. From a random vantage point or even from up close, the subject matter of the piece is evidently unclear, the image changes until the viewer arrives at a specific pre-set location, only then does the likeness reveal itself. This echoes our warped perception of figures in limelight; anything the media choose to present to the world is an engineered production and if taken out of its context it becomes incomprehensible. My aim is to stir ambivalence among the burners, for them to engage in discussion with one another about these two incredibly famous personalities and what they seemingly represent.

As a physical entity, the sculpture is purposefully made durable enough to be able to endure the brunt of any elicited reactions. Its exposed surfaces are smooth, an open invitation to graffiti, carve or deface in any manner possible. It is large enough to climb and to gather within as a group – it only takes a spontaneous suggestion from a creative festival goer to give the sculpture another unforeseen use.

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The aim of my proposed sculpture is to provoke an exchange of opinions and interactions between burners. It depicts two iconic and highly controversial public figures who personify two tremendously important issues that we as a society face today; political and social change.

As festival goers approach the installation, and the two widely recognisable faces reveal themselves, comments about the likenesses will spiral inevitably highlighting or at least touching upon the shift that these two personalities represent.

The sculpture’s physical form comprises of several spatial elements that lend themselves to fostering the kind of debates that I wished to promote. The hollow centre creates an enclosure, to enable hosting or housing for a meeting, it gives its participants a sense of protection; this is an open forum, please take part. The raised base on the peripheries can act as stages or podia. The expansive smooth external surfaces can act as billboards or banners, the skin of the sculpture will bear the physical outcome of the issues discussed here.

Whether people get photographed with it, or whether they deface, damage or even burn it to the ground, I will have succeeded if among any of the interactions the agenda was heard and a heartfelt reaction was made.

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The sculpture will be made of 8mm CNC routed plywood sheets fixed to a heavy plywood formwork. Standing at 6m tall, one side will represent a 25:1 scale stencilled portrait of president-elect Donald Trump, the other side; the likeness of reality television personality and socialite Kim Kardashian. Much like the oblique anamorphosis incorporated in Holbien’s The Ambassadors, the sculpture’s subject matters will reveal themselves only from some 60m away, but from close up, the installation will seem like a mass of abstract wooden extrusions, something suggestive of an adult-sized climbing frame. Fluorescent LEDs recessed into junctions of the outer plywood skin layer will illuminate the piece at night.

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The pavilion achieves the incredible feat of allowing the viewer to have a personal and intimate connection with it whilst also allowing for reflection. The two images are intended to bring moments of delight to viewers to allow for interaction even from a distance.

Combined with its symbolic and evocative power, it should indeed conjure a deeper sense of place and self, and bring a subtlety and complexity to what might have been just another pavilion.

 


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Project Summary

S(l)OSH (standing for ‘ slosh= to move through mud’) is a new Pop-Up Spa situated in Hackney Road, in East London. It is designed as an interactive relaxation area to be experienced through exploring and reflecting within a cavernous space, surrounded by mysterious voids, while soaking in a healing mud tub. S(l)OSH represents a new concept of fun mud house, that tells a different side of the wellness story.

The Spa aims to promote the cleaning and health rituals around the world and invite the users to become aware of the areas in need of healthy kickstarts. The new concept started from the idea that spas and relaxation areas are generally luxurious places to relax and heal and sometimes they are too expensive for the general citizen. S(l)OSH wants to bring healthy hedonism to the city while boosting urban areas that need a little support, while making the cleaning and health rituals accessible and fun to everyone.

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Philosophy

Bathhouses, spas and saunas have long been part of cleaning and health rituals around the world. Mud baths have existed for thousands of years, and can be found now in high-end spas in many countries of the world. Mud wraps are spa treatments where the skin is covered in mud for a shorter or longer period. The mud causes sweating, and proponents claim that mud baths can slim and tone the body, hydrate or firm the skin, or relax and soothe the muscles. It is alleged that some mud baths are able to relieve tired and aching joints, ease inflammation, or help to “flush out toxins” through sweating.2aOpportunity

The design is composed of layers of horizontal wooden planks that follow the mathematical formula of a Scherk’s Minimal Surface geometry of a continuous surface, placed in and around a shipping container. The Spa has been designed after several form manipulation and shape iterations of the initial system, followed by massing of standard bath tubs in a tight space. The proposal stands somewhere between the realms of both sculpture and architecture – a spatial construct where movement through will encourage intimate social interaction, and a full emerge into the relaxation experience.

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Physical Description

Visually, the main part of the Spa is composed of three main areas: the reception, the mud baths and the outdoor pools. The spas includes hot mud tubes, cold water plunges, a changing area, shower and relaxation platforms. The structure will be built from layers of horizontal CNC cut wooden planks stacked on top of each other and fixed together. Internally, the bathtubes will have a smooth concrete walls to hold the liquid and make the stay more pleasant for the sitting. Despite being designed to fit in one or two containers, the spa can expand even outdoors and other spaces.

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Thousand Line Construction :

Hamish Macpherson

A spatial exploration into the interplay of materials, construction techniques, and delicate and precise design.

Inspired by Hanakago; the craft of Japanese Bamboo basketry, to celebrate the western discovery of tea and its associated culture during the renaissance.

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My initial studies stemmed from researching into Stellation. This, in simple terms, is the process of extending  polygon in two dimensions, polyhedron in three dimensions, or, in general, a polytope in n dimensions, to form a new figure. Through researching the application of this process, I came across the sculptures created by George Hart, as he has experimented with stellated geometries to which are subdivided to create mathematical interweaving structures.Stellation 1

My Research into the method and calculations of George Hart’s Mathematical Sculpture’s focused on the sculpture ‘Frabjous’. Through rigorous testing and model making I have understood the rules behind the complex form. This is based on the form of a stellated icosahedron, whose shape is contained within a dodecahedron.grey card model

Lines are drawn from one point, to a point mirrored at one edge of the face of the dodecahedron form – as shown in the diagram. This creates intersecting lines at each face as you can see from the diagrams below. Each dividing line has two intersection points, with symmetry at the center of the line. The sculpture aims to avoid the intersections of these lines by introducing a sine curve with the domain 0 to 2*pi. As you can see, each component is exactly the same – for this model, 30 components are used.

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`To simplify the construction of the sculpture, I extracted a build-able section which uses ten components in total. Two of these sections are then weaved together and joined up by a further ten single components to form the entire sculpture.Diagram Sequence of Researched SculptureOne Component ImageryGeometry 2

Following this research, I extracted the concept of avoiding the intersection and subdivided a cube with lines from each corner of the cube. These lines were then weaved around eachother using a sine curve with a domain of 0 to pi. I then mirrored the curves and rotated them to create an intertwining form.Avoiding Self Intersection 2

Another test was created with the same process, however subdividing a cube using the midpoint of each face. – This creates an octahedral geometry.Avoiding Self Intersection octahedron

Using this interweaving geometry, I have created different three dimensional arrays to create a spatial form. The concept of avoiding intersections naturally cause a structure to fail. To form a structurally efficient version of this geometry, I introduced the idea of a reciprocal structure, and allowed the beams to self support by resting on eachother. This did not create a structure strong enough to stand on, however through adding a cube whose dimensions are equal to the width of the beams, the structure became very strong.

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Testing the component at a small scale required the design of a joint which allowed me to assemble these components together through interlocking elements. Each beam element slots into the joint; When two joints and two beams are connected together the curves naturally stay in place due to the angle cut into the joint. Three of these connected elements together form the component.

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As mentioned previously, avoiding intersections create inefficient structures – For this small scale experimentation, the concept of Tensegrity was implemented. Tensegrity is a structural principle based on using isolated compression components within a net of continuous tension, allowing the compression members to not need to touch each other. This model was constructed using 1.5mm plywood which has been laser cut; the modularity of the system ensures minimal material wastage.

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The three dimensional array of this geometry creates many interesting shapes and patterns when viewed from different angles – this is visible in the following video:

 

 

 

 

 

An exploration of the simplest Hyperbolic Paraboloidic ‘saddle’ form has lead to the development of a modular system that combines the principles of the hypar (Hyperbolic Paraboloid) and elastic potential energy.

A hyperbolic paraboloid is an infinite doubly ruled surface in three dimensions with hyperbolic and parabolic cross-sections. It can be parametrized using the following equations:

Mathematical:   z = x2 – yor  x = y z

Parametric:   x(u,v)=u   y(u,v)=v   z(u,v)=uv

The physical manifestation of the above equations can be achieved by constructing a square and forcing the surface area to minimalise by introducing cross bracing that has shorter lengths than the  square edges.

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A particular square hypar defined by b = n * √2 (b=boundary, n=initial geometry or ‘cross bracing’) thus constricting the four points to the corners of a cube leads to interesting tessellations in three dimensions.

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Using a simple elastic lashing system to construct a hypar module binds all intersections together whilst allowing rotational movement. The rotational movement at any given intersection is proportionally distributed to all others. This combined with the elasticity of the joints means that the module has elastic potential energy (spring-like properties) therefore an array of many modules can adopt the same elastic properties.

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The system can be scaled, shaped, locked and adapted to suit programmatic requirements.

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