This post is going to talk about aesthetics and its purposes in the world of design.
Aesthetics are defined as “The branch of philosophy that deals with the nature and expression of beauty, as in the fine arts” (From http://www.thefreedictionary.com/aesthetics). Whether something is beautiful varies depending on the different perspectives of the viewers. In design, aesthetics play a great role, similar to the function of the structure and its mechanics. Analogy: When I buy running shoes, I look at the shoes not based on their function and ability to make me run faster, but based on their look and how “cool” they looked to me (well at least when I was young). It’s no different today: at first glance, people would usually have preferences on a design that looks beautiful compared to a dull looking design with similar functions and abilities. Fashion, houses, cell phones, toys, food and many more things are greatly affected by their aesthetic appeal over their functions, mechanics and other properties.
In design, aesthetics are based upon what everyone thinks looks nice; what the creator thinks that what everyone thinks looks nice, because our views of beauty are greatly affected by the media and its uniqueness; hence what is “beautiful” could also be “what is trending.” As a result, the designs of things are always altered to suit the ever-changing definitions of beauty, such as the designs of “iPhones.” Although aesthetic appeal plays a great role in design (and in the market), I think that we, as consumers, should focus more on the functions, mechanics and other properties of structures as they would aid society more, and they would also influence more useful designs to be built to aid the people who need it the most.
During the time in our technological design class when everyone was still building cabins, my teacher spoke to us about a famous architect named Frank Lloyd Wright who made unique American architecture, and thought that we could be inspired by his work. It was until now that I decided to research about his works.
Frank Lloyd Wright was known for his prairie-styled buildings; buildings located close to grassland and/or in a natural environment. What made his buildings so famous was mostly because of their aesthetic appeal which was complemented by synchronizing the structures and materials of the building with the surrounding environment. In addition, Frank Lloyd Wright had designed many of his own furniture (which were built into the house), along with stained glass.
“The prairie has a beauty of its own and we should recognize and accentuate this natural beauty, its quiet level. Hence, gently sloping roofs, low proportions, quiet sky lines, suppressed heavy-set chimneys and sheltering overhangs, low terraces and out-reaching walls sequestering private gardens” – Frank Lloyd Wright
My high school is planning on building a green wall, and my class is to design different proposals for the construction of it. In addition to the green wall, the school is going to install solar panels to generate electricity for the power grid.
A green wall is basically a wall of plants. The purpose of a green wall (environmentally) is to provide insulation for the inner walls of the school. In addition, growing more plants will increase the biodiversity (to increase the amount of bees, butterflies and more) and also rid of some carbon dioxide. Green walls can provide food for the Food and Nutrition courses in my school through growing eatable plants. The plants grown on the green wall can also absorb the rainwater to prevent the flooding of sewers. Green walls are also used to boost up aesthetic appeal.
Our job (as students) is to create a design brief for the wall, provide a bill of materials and their specifications, decide different locations for where to place the green wall, create a design to be used for the green wall (including water system, structure of wall and more), find stakeholders for the project, propose plants to be used for the wall and to provide a construction plan. My group used this neat video on YouTube to place the plants to the wall: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DtzqRv3WYXQ
As I was working on this assignment, I’ve learned about the challenges and stress it takes to build an actual structure that will be staying on the school. Unlike our other school projects; this project has a specific budget, a specific area/space that the green wall will be placed on, and other limitations. While planning designs for this assignment, I felt a little restrained to what we were capable of doing. Through this “Green Wall” assignment, I have experienced a little of what it is like to be an architect and to design real structures for buildings. I can’t say I like it very much.
I’ve finally finished my final cabin model! The cabin turned out better than I expected. Here’s a brief summary of how the construction went:
Since I used cardboard to make the walls of my cabin, I had some problems painting it with watercolours, as the paint wasn’t very visible (I could still see the Cheerios logo in the background from where I got the box from). As a result, I decided to cover the cardboard with white paper and then paint over it. This, however, caused to the paper to get really soggy and sometimes rip, so I had to tear off the white paper. Now that I think about it; this idea could have worked a lot better if I were to just use a thicker type of paper – one used especially for water colouring, or if I used a different kind of paint, like the paint used to paint walls. Instead, I thought of a much worse idea by covering the cardboard with drywall compound to help make the paint stick on it more easily (The actual use of drywall compound is to stick sheets of drywall together like a type of plaster or mud). In the end, the drywall compound caused the cardboard walls to curve slightly once it dried. Also, it caused some of the drywall to peel off and/or crack; thus revealing the cardboard within the cabin (in which I had to fix after); although this was probably due to my limited skills in using drywall compound, as the drywall compound appeared really bumpy in texture and had an uneven coating. When I glued every piece together, the four outer walls looked better than I expected (what I expected was having large ovular gaps between each corner in which the walls were glued together; however the walls stayed together appropriately due to the strength of the glue from the glue gun). All in all, I would advise planning your steps beforehand using project management to reduce the workload to yourself and to increase efficiency while working. Here’s a document I found on Google about the basis of Project Management: http://www.personal.psu.edu/mum28/blogs/Mairead/Project%20Management%20Steps.pdf
For the roof of the cabin, I also used cardboard. I cut out the pieces of the cardboard according to the measurements made on AutoCad, and then pieced them together. I then covered the roof with cut out strips of black Bristol board to make the shingles look more realistic. I then added shish-kabob skewers within the roof to act as roof trusses (I don’t have any pictures of that now, but I’ll include them in my next post).
As for what I learned about the process of model-building; I find it quite relaxing and fun to do. Looking at my final product, I feel as if though I’ve accomplished a great goal in my life. Modelling the building allowed me to gain a better idea about what it was that I was trying to build. While constructing the cabin, I’ve discovered several problems about my design (such as having a roof that was too small to fit a rain barrel within it); hence through modelling I was able to improve my design aesthetically and structurally. In addition, I found it frustrating to work with such small pieces in the cabin; so I guess model-building also requires a lot of patience and diligence.
Here’s a picture of the cabin: