Sunday, January 30, 2011


Elements and Principles of Design....a comparative view.

In our history and theory of design I, we did a comparative analysis between the Acropolis temple complex in Greece and Xianyang palace of the Qin Dynasty in China. We used ten design elements to do our comparative analysis.

Acropolis vs Xianyang Palace
  • Space: The Acropolis is on a limestone hilltop which has several temples. The space is organized in a way to point the worshippers toward the Parthenon. The Xianyang palace is a symmetrical structure which looks like a fortress to protect from possible invaders.
  • Power: The Acropolis was built in honor of Athena who won a power struggle with Poseidon over the rule of the city. The massive Xianyang palace was built to show the power of the emperor in the Warring States during the Qin Dynasty.
  • Experience: The Acropolis represents a religious ceremonial experience in which the structure's placement and design directed the worshippers to different temples. The Xianyang palace was a symbolic structure to show the emperor's power by evoking awe from its visitors.
  • Principles: The Acropolis was used for belief purposes and the Xianyang palace was used to thwart off possible invasions and provide more authority and importance to the emperor.
  • Precedent: The precedent for the Acropolis was the same temple structure which was used in Greece. In the case of the Xianyang palace, politics and economics facilitated the use of new architectural elements via height to emphasize the ruler's authority.
  • Site: The Acropolis sits on top of a limestone hill overlooking the agora in honor of the city's patron deity, Athena. The high hilltop brings the temple complex closer to heaven. The Xianyang palace sits in a relatively flat valley as an imposing three-dimensional structure.
  • Order: The Doric order was used at the Acropolis. The gate towers provided verticality to the Xianyang palace which mostly appears to be a horizontal structure.
  • Scale: The Acropolis has several temples: The Propylaea, entrance into the temple complex; the Erechteum, named after Erectheus who presided over the contest between Athena and Poseidon; and the Temple of Athena Nike, the victor. The Xianyang palace was an eathern core surrounded by bays on all sides; this created the illusion of a three- story building unlike the massive open doric columns of the Acropolis.
  • Technology: The Acropolis is an example of a quest for perfection with Greek architecture. The Parthenon, which houses the statue of Athena, demonstrates that perfection was the ideal; however, in reality this was not achieved. The columns of the Parthenon are an example of this quest. The east and west facades of the Parthenon were lined with eight doric columns. The Xianyang palace was a series of rooms and corridors built on top of each other--giving the impression of multilevel structure with great height. Wood was used in the construction of the palace unlike the Acropolis, which was built with limestone. The palace structure was symmetrical with its two wings; it also had a drainage system in which water flowed through underground pipes. The balconies were decorated with bronze accessories and colorful murals.
  • Surface: The surfaces of the Acropolis are made of limestone whereas the surfaces of the Xianyang palace are colorful murals.

Social Network Space...Belgium

  • Capital: Brussels, also capital of EU (European Union)
  • Population: 10.4 million
  • Ethnic groups: 58% Fleming, 31% Walloon, and 11% mixed/other
  • Language: 60% Dutch and 40% French, and some German
  • Became an independent state from the Netherlands in 1830
  • Is a modern, technologically advanced European state, and member of NATO & EU
Economy and Communication

  • GDP/capita $37,900
  • Internet Users: 8.1 million
  • Cellular Lines: 12.4 million
  • Broadcast Media: 90% of households connected to cable

Belgium is a democratic western European country with a GDP/capita of $37000. Hence, it was not surprising to find a very high internet, mobile device, and social network media usage.

During my research, I found out that most Belgians use email and IM as their primary sources for communicating with their friends and colleagues and social media is used to make informal connections with peers.

All generations, young and old, have knowledge of cell phone, iphone, blackberry, and Netbook to access social media network while on the move. Internet access via mobile devices increased social media usage.

Another reason Belgium has high social media usage is because, access is provided in all their three official languages (Dutch, French, and German). Facebook and twitter are usually accessed in English.

Social networking in Belgium is used for socializing, business endeavors, and government conversations. The government uses social network media as a platform for communications. The government’s main focus is to increase transparency for its population and create conversation about political issues.

Most popular Social Network sites in Belgium are:

  • Manoeuvre
  • Zattevrienden
  • Asfaltkonijn
  • Blogtendances

I was not surprised about the social network usage statistics in Belgium. It appears that social media is used to enhance personal and public life.

Illuminated Box...

My assignment was to make a five sided corrugated box with one side open for viewing. The interior of the box is white and the overall dimensions are 12"x12"x18". I left one of the 12"x12' side open for viewing.

I made several openings into the box to accommodate a remote light source which divides the interior planes into four spaces. I experimented with linear, round, and floral shaped openings to achieve four distinct spaces via the remote light source. I finally settled on three linear cuts on the top plane of the box to successfully achieve my objective of four spaces. My four spaces are the dark spaces separated by the three light spaces. I also used bamboo skewers to delineate my interior planes further and enhance my four spaces.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011


We went on a field trip to discover how our current buildings in the landscape resembled the elements, principles, and diagrams used in humanity's first efforts to build structures on planet earth. I observed that even today, we use similar building principles as did the humans who built before us. We use circles, groves, and stacks to achieve contrast, emphasis, unity, harmony, balance, and proportion.
One of the questions to consider was if environments influence rituals or if rituals influence environments? I believe that both statements are true. In certain cases, the environment determines what gets built; however in other instances, it's the rituals that actually determine the type of building that is constructed.

The sketch is an example of repetition which emphasizes and unifies the building.

Both of these images depict the use of stacking to achieve balance, unity, and harmony. In addition, the stacks lead the eyes upward to draw attention to the central piece (fountain & plant).

The human shadows are the people who are performing an educational exploration. The groves of trees reaching vertically create harmony and balance.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Below are two examples of how circles can be used to contrast with stacks for directional purposes. The picture on the left depicts a large circle in the foreground contrasting sharply to lines leading the viewer down the path.
Similarly, the right picture shows layers in the building with a contrast to the circular tower in the background and draws attention to the building.

Reading response...

Monday, January 17, 2011

My design view

My Header

At the beginning of the semester, we were asked to design a header for our blog post which represented who we are as student designers. I pondered and came up with several ideas and yet could still not decide which direction to take.
I had many ideas and I was not sure how to visually communicate them since it was my first semester in the IARC program. I still was not sure about expectations. Our header had to be 2.5 x 8 inches and I originally came up with an idea which had a beige background and some old fashioned fonts. Every time I looked at the header, I did not like it nor did I feel like it represented who I was as a student designer.
I decided to wait a few weeks and see what I would learn in my Interior Architecture program. Once I felt that my R-mode was in session, I would give it another try with the design of my header.
I ended up coming up with an gradient gray header with many circles on the inside. To me, the gray scale is the quintessential representation of art and design students. The circles on the inside, represented my floating ideas about design, out in the cosmos, without rhyme or reason, they simply are there waiting to be trained and properly utilized.