If you follow me on the Instagram you may be aware that yesterday was my presentation for final review. And if you follow this blog, or my ‘gram, or my Twitter, you would know I haven’t been shy in sharing my struggles with this semester’s studio. It has been a challenge from the first second studio session, up until yesterday evening. The last week or two leading up to review was particularly difficult, feeling like I never had enough time to complete everything. However, I managed to present my project yesterday and thought I’d spend some time talking about representing and presenting projects.
I can’t remember exactly the feedback I received but criticisms were directed at my graphical representation, which I half-expected. They didn’t have much to say about the actual project/design as it seemed fine to them so I class that as a win! The guest critic noted that my poster layout was good, but my drawings and renders needed work. Although another small win was their passing-comment right at the end where the guest critic and my tutor both agreed to really like an interior render.
Architecture can be quite gruelling, not only do you need to design the building (thus solving layout issues, materiality, structure, detailing, etc) but you THEN need to represent the design through plans, sections, diagrams, perspectives and so on. It doesn’t matter how good your design is, if you can’t represent it clearly people won’t get it. The opposite can apply where you can make a sh*tty building appear great through how you represent it. And how you represent it can alter how the building is perceived, and I have the perfect example.
A strong element of my design was this perforated mesh, “shrink wrapped” over the site, with inspiration from SO-IL and their Kukie Gallery (above). Mine was on a much larger scale but the same idea and principles applied, wanting a ‘light-weight’ approach to it. I modelled this mesh with this idea, applying a light-frame to it in an attempt to hold it up, and did a test render with small (and many) perforations. I was, for lack of a better word, disappointed that it didn’t achieve what I had thought it might, which is I wanted a strong light/shadow effect but the perforations were to small to achieve it. With only a few days until review I decided to alter the material properties to make the perforations larger, and when I rendered I got the effect I was after.
At my review the guest critic asked about this mesh, and what type is it. I stumbled and fumbled, not being unable to clearly articulate until he explained why he was asking. He believed the way I graphically represented this mesh made it appear heavy, the large holes don’t exactly scream light-weight. It came across as perforated sheets, as opposed to mesh, and because of that I would have need a much beefier structure to hold up all the tonnes of steel. I then explained how I changed it for the render effect, but it was a very good point he brought up. I ended up kicking myself over the change after hearing that (but not literally, that would be weird) because I went against a big principle of mine, truth to the material. I wasn’t being truthful to the light-weight mesh, instead altered it to appear as something else. I do like the end effect that happened but it wasn’t truthful, the graphical representation was a lie. In fact the way I represented it is confusing, and those who see it without my poor explanation won’t understand or see it as purely being wrong.
The other criticism I received was in regards to my renders, in a general matter. I will be the first to you, rendering isn’t a strong point. In fact this is the first time in two years I actually used a ‘rendering’ program to produce the base image (and worked up in Photoshop). The main criticism came from two in particular, and it was due to some advice I heard on a forum a while ago but never really questioned or explored. I heard to always have your verticals straight, in SketchUp that means switching to a 2-point perspective. Due to some glitchy problem with my renderer, it doesn’t work with 2-point perspectives so I changed the focal length to 55mm or something, to help achieve straighter verticals in perspective. However having the focal length set that high leads to a more parallel-project style instead of a proper human perspective. The guest critic mentioned that axos are generally around the 55mm and the human eye is around 25-30mm, and when doing perspectives you want to emulate that.
Did any of that makes sense?
He also talked about perhaps changing the view height, so maybe the camera is a bit lower and looking up, and begged (not literally) to remove the balloons and helicopter. That comment caused small laughter in the class. If trees and people are overbearing, or block your design, relocate or play around with the opacity. My tutor added that if the context buildings are appearing too strongly, drop them back a bit (by changing the opacity). It’s small tweaks and changes like this that can make a huge difference to a render, and thus how your project/design is perceived by others.
I was given homework over the summer to practice rendering and my graphic representation, to take my current project, and the drawings and renders, and try again so to speak. He suggested taking the above image and try re-working it, reduce the presence of the tree, reduce the people, etc and it would come across as a much stronger design. In my defence I have in the past applied opacity to trees and people, and wanted to try a style where I’d desaturate extras but leave them 100% opaque. My reasoning for this originally was wanting to showcase the architecture the way it would be in real life. In real life people aren’t see-through, nor are trees or surrounding buildings. However I will take on their advice and over the summer practice rendering, Photoshop, Illustrator and all that stuff to try and reproduce much better drawings and renders for this project.
And if you’re wondering what the interior render they loved, looks like, it’s the main image on this post.