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What is Beauty?

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.

Civil Engineer

Civil engineering is about the design, construction and maintenance of human-made structures and/or natural structures in the environment through the use of physics and mathematics. Actually, civil engineering includes many subcategories such as environmental engineering, geotechnical, structural, biomechanics, nanotechnology, transportation and many more.

The purpose of having civil engineers are to design the properties of the structures, such as its ability to support its own weight and the materials used for the manufacturing of it. For example, a water treatment plant can be made to aid in the purification of water to help people in developing countries obtain clean water; and civil engineering will aid in deciding the pressures, temperatures, material and other properties of the strucutre to ensure that it lasts long and strong. This is the differences between an architect and a civil engineer. The architect would play a greater part in designing how the building/structure would look and its purposes while the civil engineer would pay more attention to the background of how everything will work out.

Frank Lloyd Wright

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

"Falling Water"

“Falling Water”

"Falling Water" Interior

“Falling Water” Interior

 

The Eiffel Tower

It was first built in 1889 for the 100th anniversary of the French Revolution; now it’s one of the greatest tourist attractions in the world.

The design of the tower was actually based from a competition. Many architects had designed proposals for what the building would look like, but in the end the Eiffel Tower design (which was made by Alexendre-Gustave Eiffel, who was a chemical engineer) was selected. After its construction, it was to be dismantled; however due to the many protests from the civilians and tourists, it was decided that the structure was to stay. Starting from the 1900’s, the tower was used as a transmission tower once radios and televisions were widespread. Also, it was used for several scientific experiments involving temperature, pressure and more.

During the construction of the tower, the Eiffel Tower was the tallest man-made structure in the world (986 feet at the time. The height was later increased to 1052 feet because of an addition of a television antenna), and was able to stand against wind pressure of 82 PSF (at the top). During this time, people had thought that the look of the structure was unappealing; “an eyesore”. Once the structure was made, it took up 328 feet of space for each side of its square base, and weighed approximately 7300 tons.towerplan

To Be or Not to Be- Architect

An architect; an inventor of buildings. They’re job is to make buildings; generally speaking. Architects actually have a wide range of jobs, including site evaluation, project management, designing buildings, contract administration, builder/consultant qualification, planning, building code study, building contractor, building inspector, building researcher, lead consultant, project manager, business manager and many more. It’s like a hospital: Some people specialize in certain topics more than others. For example, people good at drawing will draw out designs while organized people can plan out everything (project management). Getting a degree in architecture can lead to many careers, like an architect critic and an urban planner (many more careers at http://www.raic.org/architecture_architects/becoming_an_architect/index_e.htm).

To become an architect requires a lot of education. A bachelors degree of architecture is needed (5 years of education) and possibly a masters Walt Disney Concert Halldegree as well (6-8 years). In addition, a program called IDP (Intern Development Program) must be completed to allow the graduates to gain real-life experience in architecture firms. Once this is finished, one must complete the ARE (Architect Registration Exam) which tests the graduates once again (This is for USA; I’m unsure whether this applies elsewhere). The median of wages of architects in 2010 was $72550 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The lower 10 percent of architects earned less than $41,320 while the higher 10 percent of architects earned more than $119,220.

In my own opinion, I have yet to experience the education needed to become an architect. In addition, I am inexperienced of how it would be like to be an architect; to know whether I like it or not. As a result (judging on the education and salary of an architect), I would not become an architect.

Green Walls

GreenWall_PatrickBlanccaixa-madridMy 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.

The Finished Cabin Model 2

For the site plan of the cabin, I used a large board of wood with a big piece of foam that I got from my dad from his workplace. The foam was covered with some green cloth that I found around my house. The intention of the foam was to let me pluck in small trees into the foam, as it was very difficult to glue/tape on the tiny trees. A river was made from an Aeropostal bag (as I couldn’t find anything blue to put on), and the wind-turbine generator was made from paper/Bristol board.

The following explains about how I made the insides of my model:

For the windows, I cut out small sheets of plastic and then taped them within the inner walls of the cabin with duct tape. I then covered the inner walls with white paper, which helped hide the duct tape and the cardboard. For other parts of the cabin (including the rocket stove and the bathroom) I pieced together some cardboard using a glue gun and then covered them with white paper to hide the zig-zag patterns of the cardboard. For the doors and the ladder, I used some leftover balsa wood from my classmates and then glued them on wherever I needed them. For the foundation, I used four small pieces of wood to elevate the cabin.

Here are some more pictures of the cabin:

 

 

The Finished Cabin Model

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:

I'll be sure to take more pictures after. The angle on this one's not the best, and the flash makes it look not-as-good

I’ll be sure to take more pictures after. The angle on this one’s not the best, and the flash makes it look not-as-good

AutoCad and Cabin Designing

After sketching the drawings on paper, I had to show my ideas on AutoCad in order to get the proper measurements for my design. This is done so that the construction of the model will be more precise/easier to make. Of course, the measurements are to scale to show inches and feet- architectural measurements.

For the drawings on AutoCad, I need to show everything from a birds-eye view; showing the first and second floors of my cabin. Also, elevations are required to show the side/front of the cabin. In addition, I will include a site plan to show what’s happening around my cabin (to include a river, some rocks, my pico-hydro and wind turbine generators and more).

I didn’t include many hatches to the AutoCad drawing (in AutoCad, hatching is used to add a texture/design to a closed shape). This was so that I wouldn’t get confused/distracted by my design. This also makes my design look really simple; which is good in that it gives me a better understanding of what I’m building, but bad in that the AutoCad design itself looks unappealing.

AutoCad 2007