Biomimetics or biomimicry is the imitation of the models, systems, and elements of nature for the purpose of solving complex human problems.
This small hunting cabin was designed and constructed in Colusa County, California. The living room provides a view of the nearby lake, while windows on all sides utilize natural daylight for passive heating in the winter and strong winds for passive cooling in the summer. The cabin uses 100% solar energy for electrical, mechanical and plumbing systems, and utilizes local on-site well water.
Two years were spent by student and faculty at California College of the Arts and Santa Clara University for the solar home Refract House. Refract House won first place for architecture in the Solar Decathlon 2009 and third place overall. The house was a single family home that was meant to be assembled on site from two pieces delivered by truck. It operated completely off the grid. I spent the first semester in a studio working on the schematic design of the mechanical systems, and the final semester in a studio focusing on construction of the house.
Fractal Ecologies was a senior level studio project utilizing the Koch curve as a tool for developing site strategies, program and architectural form. The Biotic Catalogue (last image) became a kit of parts from which to pull social, floral and faunal programmatic elements. The Biotic Catalogue was based on extensive research of native species in the San Francisco Bay Area Wetlands. The final proposal addressed rising sea level and environmentally-adaptive architecture.
Studying human patterns of movement and occupation can prove beneficial to designers, in particular when looking at urban planning and site strategies. The following images represent social analysis and boundary mappings for Jerusalem: Israel / Palestine (work completed in 2009) and Chongqing: China (work completed in 2010). The Jerusalem mappings were used to understand national zoning, figure ground, zoning at the border, public - private spaces, precipitation, and the social calendar (measured by religious observations and holidays). For Chongqing, changes to the Chinese border over several thousand years had a huge impact on historical narrative and migration patterns, in addition to cultural traditions and customs. These mappings looked at how the national border impacted the city of Chongqing over time.
Mixed Media, often referred to as Collage, is a helpful tool in exploring use and potential of existing and projected spaces and strategies. Text, diagrams and photos coexist and traditional drawing methods are abandoned in favor of a more experimental form. These collages are effective in communicating qualitative ideas that may be missed in other forms of representation. For more information on the Growing Green Office (background of first image) click here.
Parametric Design is design based on known parameters which allow for controlled permutations. This type of design is ideal for creating families and alternatives, and allows for quick form-finding and form explorations.
Digital Fabrication techniques like laser-cutting and 3D printing offer a precise way to build objects and models to scale. Laser-cut corrugated cardboard and acrylic were used in this model for site strategies and a translucent commercial tower. The models fit into a scaled topographic model with programmatic context, so the utmost precision was absolutely necessary.
A fractal AutoCAD script was created to segment lines utilizing the Koch curve equation. A catalogue of possible quadratic manipulations was used to explore form in 2 and 3 dimensions, though fractals of generators with movement in both axes did not prove beneficial for the site or architectural program.
This process was then applied to component geometry in Fractal Ecologies to explore programmatic implications across the proposed site.
Digital modeling differs from 3D modeling as it is much more complex than form-finding. It integrates existing site constraints like topography and programmatic context, with 3D form explorations, while providing a medium for iterative design and even 2D diagramming. This project incorporated 2D program diagrams, existing topography, water and site, with digitally fabricated architecture made of laser-cut acrylic.
This rendering was done using Maxwell with an emphasis on tactile materials, transparency and light. The Rhino model was a cost-effective way to explore the use of acrylic and glass without wasting physical materials.
The following images represent three dimensional studies in movement and circulation. The first image is for ThirdLife - a social experiment utilizing an elevator matrix. The remaining images are for structural and site studies for a tower and patterned landscape in Chongqing, China.
Two dimensional drawing is still a powerful way to communicate strategies and perform analyses. These drawings show a large scale urban planning proposal and topographic / programmatic context for Jerusalem at the Israel / Palestine border.