Symbol- Language and Sound into System

Language has a strong symbolic meaning to the mankind. It is not just a sound but with meanings which then allows to self-express, communicate and inspire. The mechanism of the sound system of languages is translated into visually represented geometries using Chladni’s Law.

3-Dimensional computer generated Chladni Patterns 

When the frequencies increase, the pattern gets more complicated.


BabelTower of Babel – The origin of different languages

“Come, let’s make bricks and bake them thoroughly. […] Come let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves and not be scattered over the face of the whole earth.” (Genesis 11:3~4)

(The Tower of Babel by Pieter Bruegel)

It is the story from the Bible but also architectural structure found in Mesopotamia Civilisation – called Ziggurat. It was made of asphalt and baked bricks with total dimensions of 90m x 90m, 90m high. This is equivalent 30th floor building.

The united humanity spoke a single language and agreed to build a city and a tower that is ‘tall enough to reach heaven’. God found such behaviour as rude and disrespectful. He confounded man’s speech so that they could no longer understand each other. 


Concept Development through systematic studies of Ziggurat



The frequency and nodes of the word is analysed and recreated as two geometrical forms. They are proportioned according to the Ziggurat Algorithm ratio and timber pieces are stacked up vertically reaching the highest deck at 8m above. The structure encourages to climb complex geometry.

While reaching the top, less intense the space becomes. The LEDs are placed underneath the timber pieces which are concentrated on the top of the tower and scattered following the central void of the structure. Lights illuminate with the voice reactive sensor placed at the top of the tower.cymatictotal2

Human always wanted to reach higher points either physical or spiritual. The height of architecture symbolised one’s power and control. This can be observed from the tower of Babel and continues in architectural history. Such expression of the desire of heights lead to competition of building higher structure.

High rise buildings were often found in religious architecture where they had few typical characteristics. First, it was the only tower to observe your land and the only tower which can be seen from everywhere in town. It has a visual meaning that the land within the perspective is the land within control. Second, religious architecture often had music instruments embedded within. This represented the control of the land where music reaches. And finally, high-rise tower was a representation of the centre of universe and sacred space in religious term. The tower, architecture of height is a spatial symbol of man’s deep desires.

The ritual is all about finding the true desire of your own. This begins with constructing the tower where the ritual follows the biblical story of Babel. Climbing up 8m high construct is a challenge then the climbers are rewarded with the beautiful panoramic view of Black Rock city. The climbers will also interact with the installation by continuously stacking up the Babels with anything they can find. Eventually it will deform from the original shape. Then the Babels will be the collective symbol of the Burners’ pure desire.

The symbol of the spiral

Through the inviting but challenging spirals I want to bring you to the inside of the dust storms, to the dead zone where you don’t feel anything, not even a single hint of air or dust but you will still enjoy the beauty and the magic.


What is an spiral?

Spiral_stairs_(спирално_степениште).jpgA curve on a plane that winds around a fixed center point at a continuously increasing or decreasing distance from the point.

A three-dimensional curve that turns around an axis at a constant or continuously varying distance while moving parallel to the axis; a helix. By definition describes a planar curve, that extends in both of the perpendicular directions within its plane; the groove on one side of a record closely approximates a plane spiral (and it is by the finite width and depth of the groove, but not by the wider spacing between than within tracks, that it falls short of being a perfect example); note that successive loops differ in diameter. In another example, the “center lines” of the arms of a spiral galaxy trace logarithmic spirals.

161025_Construction of the spiral_002.jpg

Analysis of the construction of the spiral

 What does the spiral mean to us?

Spirals are some of the oldest geometric shapes in ancient artwork dating back at least to the Neolithic period, the product of people thousands of years away from having access to writing. As such, we know very little about their religious beliefs and can, at best, guess about general meanings of symbols based on context.

Maialen Calleja_210x594_120gsm_UniverisyOfWestminster_Page_32.jpg

Spiral to me means CHANGE, means CYCLE OF LIFE, means EVOLUTION all these is what The eye of the Storm is to me. A structure that will symbolize change as the same way Burning Man changes people; the cycle of life, the merging of completely different kinds of lives into the same place or same art structure or same festival; and evolution because it will attract you to the inside and will make you push yourself and challenge you towards the center where you will feel the peace of the eye of a storm as the same way life does to us.

To me The eye of the Storm symbolizes THE LIFE CHANGING, every frame of each spiral is an action, a decision you make in life that leads you to the place you want to be or the person you want to become. Although like in a windy storm that pushes you around, these events are not necessary your choice, many factors in life can change your path like a new elect president in the country or falling in love with a person, but all these merged together will consolidate our lives.Hence that is our task, putting all these frames together and connect them to become whatever we want to be and finally find the peace inside of each one of us.


Daytime render of “The eye of the storm”

Breaking down a six sided box The eye of the storm has six spirals, each one of them in a different orientation, symbolizing different kinds of paths in life. But each one of these spirals merge in the center of the cube creating a space of peace. Like the feeling of going through the Burning Man festival until the day the Temple burns when everything goes silent and calm.

The spirals, made out of standard size timber, will attract you to the center but these will be challenging like going towards a storm.The shape of the structure could become an obstacle but if you success you will get your reward of peacefulness in the center, protected by all these wooden spirals and with the chance to share these moment with whoever makes it through the storm with you.


Nightime render

Making the storm real

Starting from a box and breaking its frame into spirals is the basic starting geometry of The eye of the Storm. Going through many different testings and alterations on the parameters and after an structural analysis leading to the final shape.


Design process through parametric modelling

Looking at the materializing of the structure and mimicking the aesthetics of a storm, the overlaying wood planks give the sense of it. Structured but at the same time crazy, just like Black Rock City.

161031_Diagram spiral CREATING A SOLID_004.jpg

Testing of different materials

Building the eye of the storm

The structure is composed of 6 identical modules called twists, arranged in cuboid manner. Each twist is formed of frame elements and ribs connecting those frames, which act as ruled surfaces.

Vertical loads are spread between the outer frames and the central bottom twist that acts in vending and axial force to carry the vertical load to the ground. Lateral forces are resisted using the perimeter frames acting as bracing or the in-plane rigidity of the modules themselves.


Structural analysis from engineering

The frames with a cross section of 50 by 50 mm will be the main structure. Eleven frames on each side of the 6 sides of the cube, making a total of 66 frames.

The overall length of this out of the shelve timber will be 45.5 meters.

By the interpolation of the division points on the main frames we create the secondary structure which will support and interlock the main frame, with a cross section of 10 by 50 mm.

The overall length of this out of the shelve timber is 672 meters


Building sequence: One of the six sides of the cube


The structure is arranged in a cubic form of 14 x 14 x 14 feet and will invite the people to climb,interact and inhabit it. This can represent a health and safety risk. In order to ensure the safety of all actors interacting with the sculpture at each stage of the project, we will be following the right safety requirements.



Construction on The Playa

Feeling the dust at Black Rock City

Sand storms that make you lose sense of time, space, people or anything else that happens around you create these magical moments in Playa when every burner feels alone in a place full of people.


With The Eye of the Storm I want to bring you to the inside of these dust storms, to the dead zone where you don’t feel anything not even a single hint of air or dust but you still enjoy the beautiful magic of the storm. Through the challenging spiral structure inviting burners to come in, I want them to come inside the eye to the safety of being inside the storm and at the same time experiencing all the dust storms happening in Playa which are a natural ritual that happens every year.

We can compare the plague from the Exodus with any of the dust storms that we go through at burning man, The eye of the storm is a structure calling at the sun on these occasions.


People experiencing the inside of the storm

The experience from the outside is compared with a tornado in a sand storm. Symbolizing a constant sand storm, kept in a broken box, which often happens in Playa. Within the overlaying of the wood frames experiencing the messiness of a storm but at the same time the spiral of the rotating structured nature force.While in the inner geometry you will sense none of this in the same way as in the dead zone or in the eye of the storm. All the layers of the structure will protect everyone inside from any sand storms in the outside. It wont be easy to reach that inner point as this all wooden layer will be complicated to cross like when you go through a storm and you are not able to find anyone around you and you feel in a place of nowhere.


Construction diagram

The overall dimensions of the structure are 14 x 14 x 14 feet. Allowing people to get inside and experience the space in between the frames.


Front view: Technical drawing

The shadows from the structure will project a similar form as an spider web.Simulating as the sun goes around through the day, a tornado moving through The Playa.


Perspective plan view of the structure

The reward to cross all these layers of wood through is to be in this protected space inside the Eye and experience the storm from the inside until you are ready to leave the peace and call Ra the god of the sun as in Egyptian rituals when the Pharaoh called the God to clear the skies from the storm and get back the sun to Black Rock City.


Abstract render of the structure

Once the ritual is finished the burners will enjoy a view of the dust storm in a protected space while they wait the answer of the call to Ra the god of sun, who will finish with the dust storm and bring the sun back again.


Entrance to the structure from the top spiral

The thunder-light

The LED lights will be located on each one of the frames on every side of the cube. They will be located on the inner face of these frames flowing from the outside to the inside of the cube, giving the sensation of the spiral coming inwards the structure.

TOTAL LENGTH : 45.5 meters


Night render of the structure

At night the structure will become and spiral of colorful thunder lights that you will recognize from everywhere in The Playa.


Inside night render



By Maialen Calleja , Master of Architecture ( University of Westminster)

Screen Shot 2016-03-03 at 22.20.30

As part of my research to inform my final thesis project on the London Housing Crisis, I have created a short multiple choice survey that would benefit greatly from the input of members of the WeWantToLearn community who have lived in London at any point over the past six years. The survey only takes a few minutes to complete and will directly influence the design progression of my project in the coming weeks. Please spare a few moments to participate, and/or share with friends and relatives who may be able to contribute also.

You can find the survey at the following link: Here

All survey responses are anonymous.

Thank you in advance.


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.


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.


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.


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


Inspired by the hypothesis of parallel universes, The Multiverse is a timber pavilion that ultilises curved crease folding system to create a fluid-like body that loops infinitely, aiming to evoke a myriad of moral conundrums. The research first looked into curved crease folding, where by introducing concentric fold lines to a flat surface would allow the surface to bend freely and flexibly. Experiments are done by testing with semi-circular modules, where a closed end loop is introduced to create different resultant forms.

CCF1 CITA Presentation-5 CITA Presentation-12 CITA Presentation-13

Model Photos

In cosmology, parallel universe describes the hypothetical set of infinite possible universes that exist as we make decisions in our lives – with each choice spawning a multitude of universes. In life, we are often met with these choices where we must make our own decisions in order to move on, and over time we have grown to regret and rejoice. Although it is important to realize that the present times only exist the way it does because of the choices we have made, what is more curative to the mind is that we stay true to these decisions – for it matter not what choice we made, but that we made one. We were in control of our own paths, we are, and will always be.

The Multiverse questions the nature of reality. Burners are encouraged to interact with the pavilion by writing on the surface moments of regrets and joy, leaving a piece of themselves together with others; thus they are encouraged to contemplate on their past and present, questioning their beliefs and morality, and gradually fall into a complete moral maze.



The Multiverse is constructed of a segments of 4mm plywood components which, when bolted together, forms a series of semi circular surfaces. By applying the principals of curved crease origami, where the fold angles are proportional to the curvature of the resultant surface, the semi-circular surfaces are able to bend into various forms as desired. Consequently, by fixing the hinge angles between the segmented faces, a resultant form can be established.

The pavilion appears to loop infinitely, symbolizing the hypothesis of infinite universes as generated by our decisions in life. Within the pavilion, burners are encouraged to interact with the pavilion by writing on the surface moments of regrets and joy, leaving a piece of themselves. Overtime the pavilion will be a home to emotions, where burners can sympathize one another and at the same time reflect on the self and one’s morality.

At night, the pavilion will be lit by a series of EL wires placed at the fold of the structure, thus further emphasizing the pavilion’s curvatures.

Multiverse Night

Help us reach our Kickstarter target!

Inspired by the geometry from the crystalline growth pattern of the element Bismuth (Bi), the Bismuth Bivouac is a playful pavilion that celebrates the orthogonal geometries that can exist in natural Bismuth crystals to form an intriguing cubic structure, with spiralling disruptions on each face that are governed by the golden ratio. From a distance, the structure appears as a seemingly solid cube, but upon closer inspection, the internal spaces can be explored and utilised.The beautiful iridescent colours of crystal are to be translated into the proposal through coloured LED strip lighting, built into the simple dimensional lumber structure of the pavilion, so at night the Bismuth Bivouac gives has the same visually mesmerizing, colourful effect of the bismuth crystals in nature. The project aims to play with the participants perception of depth and scale in this mirroring structure – from afar, the structure will appear as a dense cube that sits on the playa, but as the participants move towards the structure, they will begin to be able to see through parts of the structure due to the stepped nature of the geometry and holes formed from spiral disruptions. The structure provides sheltered from harsh desert sun, but also provides a plaything for the sun to casts its shadows during the day, and for people to cast their own shadows with their own illuminations at night.













The history of curved crease folding goes back to as early as the Bauhaus, where a student had scored circular creases onto a paper in order to study its materiality. When a circular surface is folded along concentric rings, the resultant form bends on itself and forms a paraboloid in order to make up for the loss in circumference. Initial investigation involved the replication of such system and multiplying the modules which are then interlocked into each other to create various origami sculptures.

Circular Modules

Circular Modules

The system is then digitally simulated in order to extract the parameters which may affect the resultant geometry of the surface. With a combination of Kangaroo Physics, Hinge Forces and Springs, the digital simulation is created which allows anchor points to be placed, thus dragging for surface into various forms. Tests are carried out on different surfaces, including a closed circle of equal concentric rings, a closed circle of increasing concentric rings as well as an open circular strip with concentric rings. With an increasing fold angle, the bend angle increases.

System Exploration

System Exploration2

System Exploration

System Exploration

Upon cutting the closed circle, the surface becomes an open ended circular strip. The constraints that follow a closed surface no longer presents itself, thus allowing the strip to bend freely – although the principles of the system still applies. With increasing fold angles, the strip bends at greater angle. Having this revelation, different open ended strips are then tested against different parameters to extract the system further.






In parallel to the research of curved crease folding is the investigation into the probability of transferring the system onto a more rigid, larger material, such as plywood. Here lattice hinge / kerf folds are employed, allowing the plywood to bend in a similar manner to card and paper. The final patterns for the hinges are a result of rigorous testing through trial and error. By repeating the modules we begin to see that, due to the folds, plywood can be as flexible as card.