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Sunday, December 28, 2008

KU 'Design 3' Student Work...

Our (Maysaa, Jassim, and mine) first term of teaching design (Design 3) at the Department of Architecture at Kuwait University is approaching its conclusion. It has certainly been an interesting and worthwhile experience, and hopefully as educational for the students as it has been for us.
Included below are a few, somewhat random, images from the studio's initial project, which involved the students exploring various cast or tessellated materials which only later were turned into drawings - a process that somewhat reversed the usual sequence of design conception (starting a design by sketches which only later are turned into physical representations or models). This approach allowed the materials, be it plaster, resin, plastic sticks or string, etc., to suggests and direct what the outcome could be, rather than the design being determined by the logistics of a CAD package. The images below are of these first experiments which eventually were used to determine a design for a small symbiont structure (a caretaker's habitat), attached to one of the campuses existing buildings...









If any of our students have any further worthy pictures of your work, please feel free to send them to me. I'll include them in our records and might even feature them in a future blog...

Happy New Year...

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Lamella Exhibition at Dar Al-Funoon, Kuwait, January 6 - 9, 2009

We're finally, fingers crossed, going to have our exhibition at the Dar Al-Funoon Gallery in Kuwait between January 6 - 9, 2009. Our previous attempts have all been cancelled due to various calamities (a fire and follow up storm that blew off the roof of the gallery; the art works being 'misplaced' (lost) by the shipping company, etc.). Hopefully this time the event will take place as it would be great to have a chance to show our stuff on home turf... The exhibition is a follow up to a presentation we did this years May at Kuwait University with the same name. The latest (and last) rendition of the invite is included below.
If you happen to be in the neighbourhood please join us for the opening event...

Saturday, December 20, 2008

smArchitecture to Participate in Kuwait's First Pecha Kucha Night...

We've also been invited to participate in Kuwait's first ever Pecha Kucha Night, organized by Dr. Asseel Al-Ragam. It will certainly be a worthwhile event and we're delighted to be a part of it. Time and place are yet to be set, but we'll keep you updated...

T-Square Magazine...

I've been asked to write a short piece for T-Square Magazine, a local architectural publication put together and run by students of the Architectural Department at Kuwait University. The magazine, which is free and can be picket up at various local cultural institutions and galleries, is going from strength to strength and can be counted amongst the more competent cultural publications in the region. More about the piece, which deals with the notion of 'Skin' in the context of design and architecture, later...


Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Chess House Update...

Currently stuck overnight at the Emirates Terminal at Dubai International Airport - a true mish-mash of 24 hour culture(s), dress styles and skin tones...

Paul sent me this image a few days back of one of our London office's ongoing conversion projects, run by Eng-Ling. It seems to be coming along nicely and, even though perhaps a bit too 'Liberace' for my taste, the clients seem to be very chuffed with it and it is evolving into a true reflection of their colourful personalities...

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

La fontaine Textures...

Whilst skimming through material on my small pile of USB memory sticks (which I plan to turn into a mnemonic necklage at a future date) I came across some images of various details and textures from La fontaine. These were taken this years April (2008) during Maysaa's and mine trip to Bahrain (the first time I visited the centre)...

London Visit

Had to briefly visit London for a few days and had a chance to catch up with Dr. Rupert Soar (who was my PhD advisor at Loughborough) which was great. I plan to write more about his projects in the future (for now check out some of related projects here and here). Also had a chance to visit and catch up with the London posse on Southwark street...


Clockwise from top left: Edward, Eisuke, David, Peter (my dad), Tom, Paul and Agron...

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Syncretic Exhibit Work - Continued III...

A final example of work being displayed at the Syncretic Exhibition at the La fontaine Contemporary Arts Centre in Manama, Bahrain. This design has probably been, both in time and effort, the most involved and comprehensive design research project we've done until now...

Snakeskin

The Snakeskin provides a, somewhat Braille or Moon type like, touch based method and language for how to communicate things about the users surroundings and to prompt actions he or she might wish to take. The design is predominantly 'read' through running ones hand across the wall mounted relief patterns, but it can occasionally also be used as a floor based texture.


The design has five main components in its repertoire.

Tactile Spine
The central raised spine which provides the user, through a set of Tactile Icons (which are a set of tactile graphics that provide a form of short-hand through which to communicate a message), with a more literal note of information, such as approaching left or right turn, speed up or slow down, stop, etc.


Handscape
The scaled area on each side (top and bottom) of the Tactile Spine. This surface amplifies the message communicated by the Tactile Spine by modifying the textural qualities of the scale patterns provide a more intuitive reading of the information. For example, if one wishes the user to slow down or even to stop one can, by gradually raising the scale pattern (which are directional - smoother to touch in the intended direction of motion) increase the friction of the hand on the scale pattern and thus 'suggest' that slowing down might be a option worth considering. This action can obviously be reversed by smoothing out and elongating the scales if one wishes the user to speed up (along, say, a long corridor with nothing noteworthy to experience). More asymmetrical applications of the scale pattern can also be used to suggest various other actions or features...


Clicks
Are a regular pattern at the top side of the Handscape that provide a set metric means to distinguish the distance covered (highlighted in red).


Quivers
Occupy the bottom flank of the Handscape (highlighted in red in the image below). They provide a bespoke pattern specific to one location or demarcation. For example, each department or wing of a building can have its own Quiver pattern.


InfoIntro
Provides a breviated summary of upcoming features along a specific segment of the Snakeskin. It is always at the beginning of a stretch of Snakeskin and acts as a tactile rendition of the tube map (of sorts)...



All of the aforementioned elements work in conjunction to convey its tactile (haptic) message, and, as a more accurate sense than vision (see this recent NYT article for some interesting facts), the richness of nuances that can be used in creating such messages seem almost infinite...

The design also used some of the same haptic interface tools mentioned in previous posts.


The design was fabricated through Rapid Manufacturing, a form of three-dimensional printing (the only realistic way to make something as infinitely variable as this design), and, in the almost eleven meter long piece of the design (of which only an about five meter section is being displayed at the La fontaine Centre) which was made as a part of our research, we would like to cautiously claim it to be amongst the biggest ever pieces realized through these additive CAD-CAM methods.


This design would not have been possible without the invaluable help of Loughborough University's Rapid Manufacturing Research Group (RMRG), one of the foremost centres involved with related research.

The Snakeskin was initially exhibited in April - May, 2008 at the nous Gallery in London.


This is a breviated outline of research we've been involved with for the last seven years. If you have any further questions or comments please don't hesitate to get in touch. I can be reached through my e-mail at thomas@small-architecture.com .

Monday, December 8, 2008

Syncretic Exhibit Work - Continued II...

A few more examples of work from the exhibition...

Saltworks
A set of salt blocks (usually used to soften water) which have been manipulated in different ways (water or ink drips and soaks, sand-blasting, laser, melting tar, to mention a few) into their final form.


SaltWorks - Red



SaltWorks - Tar


SaltWorks - White


SaltWorks - Black & Yellow



Finger-Run
A design which used a haptic interface (a SensAble device - which allows one to 'feel' the object displayed on the computer screen) in its realization.



Initially inspired by studies of various roundabouts and intersections found on Google Earth, the piece explores the various layers of touch and the act of exploring something through the sense of touch.


The design, which is 'read' by moving ones arm in a circular motion across the design's two adjacent panels, is also experienced through the fingertips, fingerss, palm, forearm and arm, for which various textures and overlapping routes are provided.


The final piece was made through Stereolithography, a form of three-dimensional printing, using two different resins for each half of the Finger-Run design.


...And a few close-up details of the design's various textures, made through the sense of touch for the sense of touch, and all through fully digitized means...




The pieces in this posting have previously been exhibited at the nous Gallery in London (April-May 2008).

Syncretic Exhibit Work - Continued...

A few more examples of pieces being displayed at the La fontaine Centre of Contemporary Arts.

The gallery spaces themselves are quite hermetic and almost cave-like, with the central gallery space made up of a set of textured niches within which the work is displayed.



The work itself also benefitted from the more muted colour scheme of the spaces...



Another set of projects being displayed are the Parametric Mashrabiyas, are a take on the traditional privacy screen (an oriel like structure) still occasionally found in many Middle-Eastern cities. Here this idea is customized, by assembling a set of matching laser-cut canvas banners, to a particular condition and location, i.e. the pattern of the mashrabiya has been made to allow for a particular set of views or to allow for specific lighting conditions in the space in which it is used in. The patterns through which these aims are achieved can be varied. Below are some examples.

The Archipelago Mashrabiya...



A detail of the Bubble Mashrabiya...


And a detail of the Flap Mashrabiya...