Tuesday, June 15, 2010


Excerpt from Invisible Cities by Italo Calvino, from which I gathered my ideas about the bridge, landscape and the fragility of power.

Thin Cities 5

If you choose to believe me, good. Now I will tell how Octavia, the spider-web city, is made. There is a precipice between two steep mountains: the city is over the void, bound to the two crests with ropes and chains and catwalks. You walk on the little wooden ties, careful not to set your foot in the open spaces, or you cling to the hempen strands. Below there is nothing for hundreds and hundreds of feet: a few clouds glide past; farther down you can glimpse the chasm's bed.

This is the foundation of the city: a net which serves as passage and as support. All the rest, instead of rising up, is hung below: rope ladders, hammocks, houses made like sacks, clothes hangers, terraces like gondolas, skins of water, gas jets, spits, baskets on strings, dumb-waiters, showers, trapezes and rings for children's games, cable cars, chandeliers, pots with trailing plants.

Suspended over the abyss, the life of Octavia's inhabitants is less uncertain than in other cities. They know the net will last only so long.

Monday, June 14, 2010

5 Images from Final Crysis Model

The Power of Dependence
In this experiment we were asked to design architecture that reflect ideas of power. I was interested in the flipside of having great power. Those in power depend on the populace for support, the critieria by which they are judged and the general context.

The valley is based on the last glacier in Germany, Zugspitze, which is fast disappearing most likely due to effects of Climate Change. The natural landscape has always had a powerful presence over us, but poor decisions made by those in power can weaken it. As we are dependent on the environment, it will affect us in return. The bridge represents our precarious existence within nature.

The 'arms' of the bridge hang from mountain peaks and join at a point to form a web like structure. If the arms of the bridge represent how citizens are directed, the intersection would represent how their fate and interactions can be controlled by the few in power. This could result in a disaster (dysfunctional bridge where vehicles collide) or success (vehicles avoid each other at the intersection). The two offices belonging to Angela Merkel (right) and Helen Keller (left) are made out of ice (like igloos) kept frozen by the chill from the glacier. They have been put to their positions by popular support and are thus are highly dependent on the citizens and social 'web'. If they are not careful, they can fall through the web. The offices are threatened by the slow melt over time like the glacier... no power lasts forever. (Melting worsened by climate change)

But there is no absolute idea of power. The strengths and weaknesses of those in power vary depending on their field. On an individual basis, they are judged by society according to different sets of criteria. This is Angela Merkel's office. As the Chancellor of Germany, she oversees a lot of political power with the potential for making big decisions. This is represented by the height of her office and the hierarchical, tiered structure of her office. Below her office are levels for meeting staff, press room and lobby. However, the height and strict shape of the office will mean she is more in danger of falling. Her ruling position calls for scrutiny and she can be easily voted out.

Helen Keller holds another kind of power. The story of her condition and achievements motivate citizens of her country. She is integrated into the national psyche as a kind of heroine not likely to completely lose favour. The arms of her office integrate better into the web, she is less in danger of falling. As a social activist, she is not directly responsible for making decisions, hence she is at a lower height relative to Merkel. She is closer to the people, and is known to engage in small meetings with her aide by her side. There is a big area for talks and rallies with her supporters.

The elevators take the form of melting pieces of office that slide down the arms of the bridge before falling to the valley floor. The paths of the elevators are different for Merkel and Keller. Merkel has a more dramatic fall while Keller slides down. The elevators float back to the offices like subliming ice. The table is inspired by the shape of a spider, which is the natural ruler of the web like bridge. Legs of the spider form seats for Merkel, Keller and her aide. The legs of the table normally hang like icicles on the arms of the bridge. On demand, the pieces fall to join at the valley floor. (analogous to how leaders gather information from citizens) This is where the clients can discuss leadership and pour over public opinion. The table has long legs to prevent the clients from touching the freezing glacier.

Videos of Crysis

Elevator from Helen Keller's office

Elevator from Angela Merkel's office


Crysis Model

Level and Objects at Drop.io:

note, if terrain texture does not appear on loading, do the following:
Terrain>Layer Painter> select largest radius, zero hardness, pick any texture> apply anywhere in landscape and the terrain should recover its texture.

Merkel's elevator to valley floor: n
Merkel's elevator returning to office: t
Keller's elevator to valley floor: o
Keller's elevator returning to office: r
For table to appear once at valley floor: u
Merkel's elevator within office, from top floor down to entrance: p
Merkel's elevator within office back to top floor: q

Recommended order:
1. Starting from Merkel's top floor office, press p to go down
2. Hop onto elevator outside bottom floor entrance and press n
3. Once at valley floor, press u for table to appear
4. Return to Merkel's office by pressing t
5. Starting from Keller's elevator, press o
6. Once at valley floor, press u for table or press r to return to Keller's office.

Merkel's elevator to valley floor is at the bottom of the office, small white oval in this picture.

Keller's elevator to valley floor is at the end of the longest 'protrusion', small white oval in this picture at bottom.

Sketchup Model

Sketchup model including elevators (left) and table (right) at:

18 Perspectives

top left: Peak
middle: Receeding
bottom right: Ruins

top: Inspiring
middle: Conspiring
bottom: Encapsulating

top left: Conspiracy

middle: Transparency

bottom right: Disclosure

left: Balance
top right: Frame
bottom right: Grasp

left: Reigning
top right: Receeding
bottom right: Progressional

top right: Coporation
middle: Transparency
bottom left: Confederation

36 Textures