final project . gradients . the modulation of light and material
Like a stone embedded within a lush desert landscape, the gradient center sits firmly within its natural environment. It’s angled form opens to light and reaches toward visitors, inviting them to enter and learn about natural light, parametrics and concrete. Harnessing facet reflected light within a modular concrete block, the learning center leads visitors throughout its spaces, progressing them through gradients of facets, gradients of light and gradients of material.
review critiques and reflection
The major critique that the project received was with the building form; it was stated that there were many contrasting ideas occurring with the angular form of the building and the prominent presence of the rectilinear block module. The conflicts were leading to many complications and overly complex situations occurring throughout the project making it unfocused and confusing. I agree. After the mid-term, I had long debated about simplifying the building form and focusing the project to the detail level of the block module. Unfortunately, I had decided to try and make both ideas work instead. As I continue to develop the project, I would like to take a step back see how the project would develop with a much more rectilinear form, one that would fit more cohesively with the block module. I think testing this direction would open the project to new possibilities and I’m interested to see where it might lead.
mid-term review project
exercise 4.1: concept model
Utilize reflective faceted surfaces to bring light to dark spaces.
exercise 3: assembling light
exercise 2: one module of light
Building off of the ideas generated from exercise 1, I began exploring different block ideas with lots of sketches.
After modeling and testing ideas, I eventually decided on three block ideas: reveal, split and stretch.
With the reveal block, I was interested in exploring how the halo phenomenon can be utilized to capture light along the contours of a form. Throughout the day the movement of the sun would reveal the different aspects within the block. The contours of the two openings follow different slopes allowing different depths of the suns penetration.
In the split block, I was playing with the idea of reflected light. With two highly reflective surfaces positioned along the center of the block the single strip of light source is split in two, casting two beams within the block: one of natural light and the other of reflected light. Throughout the day, the natural light sweeps across the confines of the block while the reflected light acts as a mirror, reflecting and copying the movement or the natural.
The stretch block plays off of a few light phenomenon: the opening of light is minimized to create a cavernous feel within the block, yet it is from this small opening that the light is pulled and stretched across the faceted surfaces. These facets are also reflective so the light becomes contained and bounced within the block creating geometric patterns with the gradient of the lights intensity.
Overall, I was happy with how the overall designs turned out, I just need to work on being able to manifest them within the production of an actual concrete block.
As for which block to continue for exercise 3, I feel like all the blocks have potential, but the stretch block leaves the most room for me to push the design in different directions. I feel like it also grants me the ability to take the ideas I learned from reveal and split and still be able to combine and apply them in a more developed stretch block design.
exercise 1. mapping light
In the exercise of mapping light, I had chosen to look at cavernous light in the ASU Art Museum, reflected light off of the Fulton Center and shattered light from the screen wall at the Mesa Center for the Arts.
In studying cavernous light, I was intrigued by the emotional affects that the few openings of light had on the space. When within a dark space, the impact of light is intensified, the eye adjust to the dark and any openings to light seems very bright. It can be very powerful in directing movement within the space and visitors are pulled toward these openings. As I watched the phenomenon over time, I witnessed the light creep into the opening as the sun angled descended, revealing different characteristics of the spaces surfaces, then see the light pull you towards the opening as the sunlight faded.
With the reflected light study, I was initially intending to use the reflected surface of the Fulton Center to capture the movement of the sun throughout the day. I felt that being the source of natural light, it is important to understand how it moves. Additionally, however, I began to realize how the reflectivity of light made the building seem as if it wasn’t even there. As I looked through the pictures it was as if I was taking pictures of the sunset directly; the building had disappeared. The reflected light conceals the building and creates the illusion that it is actually invisible.
Composed of thousands of individual metal squares hung onto a low friction surface, the screen wall uses the reflected light to capture and give a visible form to the wind. As the wind blows and the panels move, the angle of light being reflected from each panel is altered, changing its color and revealing the movement of the wind across the screen. I found the play on the elements intriguing in the fact that light is being used to capture wind to mimic water.
In analyzing my light studies as a whole I began to realize that the phenomenon I was actually studying at each location was simply that of reflected light. Whether it was off the cavernous walls of a dark space, the glass facade of a building or the surfaces of thousands of metal squares, each phenomena existed as a different way of reflecting light. And further still, I realized that it is through means of reflection that we are actually seeing light. Light itself is invisible (unless staring directly at the sun) and most of our interaction with it is from reflection off of different surfaces. And depending on how those surfaces are manipulated, light can be used, as I found in my studies, to both reveal and conceal different things.