Form & Viz Architecture

Pinterest board for inspiration

Pinterest ideas

Some keywords to guide concepts

  • organic vs hard
  • pivots
  • open, airy
  • facades
  • tie in with east/west concept, directions dictate function of space
  • slim, tall
  • acoustically sound open-space for concerts

Final idea, rough isometric drawing with scale

I first started off with some scribbling. I also drew a pretty detailed model of what I imagined after the paper prototypes.

Paper prototypes!

Concept 1 paper prototype

Concept 2 paper prototype

Then I proceed to explore shapes using paper prototypes, more tactile in my opinion. My main design inspiration is in the shape of a bonsai plant. It will be a 40+ stories skyscraper with outdoor platforms and semi-translucent flowy shelters.

Base structure construction

Raw wood is sized up to rough proportions. Then they are shaped with a wood rasp, files and sandpaper. Dowels are used as pins to allow for easy re-assembling.

Platforms and shelters construction

First, mockup is done with paper, then sheet aluminium is cut using paper templates. Shelters are made from tracing paper and supported by thin wire.

Final photos


Overall, I managed to try a few new things for this project:

– Using raw wood from roadside fallen trees to make the base structure. I left one of the pieces in a box for a few days and mould grew on it. I managed to remove most of it, but some of it is still visible in the final.

– Use thin sheet metal, it was a little tricky to work with as its pretty sharp, but the advantages are that it holds its shape very well without any support, unlike paper

– Converting complicated isometric drawing to physical model. It was challenging to draw, build and revise the model back and forth. The organic shapes and having the parts pointing in many different directions does not make it any easier. The shelters were kinda made impromptu, so translating them into drawing is also challenging. I try to keep the essence intact whenever possible.


The Petri Dish – Instructables

Making  “The Petri Dish …”


Table of Contents

Flower making

Making the installation


General materials list:

  • Servo motor, at least MG955 or equivalent
  • 0.96″ OLED display, I2C interface (you can use a bigger one too)
  • Two sets of 5v power supply adapter and 5v breadboard power module
  • Assortment of jumper wires or 28AWG wires
  • Thin gauge wire, ~10m
  • Thick gauge wire, ~2m
  • Tools; pliers, snips, wire strippers, power drill, 2 spanners
  • Wood glue
  • Scraps of plywood
  • 2×1″ wood planks, single 10ft piece will suffice
  • some clamps of various sizes
  • multimeter
  • M3 screws, M8 bolts

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1. Making petals

1. Making a petal

  1. Create drawing plan for how many petals to be included in flower
  2. Get tools in order; snips, wire cutters, pliers, ruler
  3. Cut wires to length, about 60cm in our case. I am twisting a pair to create an interesting pattern as well as to make the wire thicker
  4. Use rounded pliers to twist
  5. Shape a petal using the drawing as a guide
  6. End off with a loop in the middle to allow for connecting a linkage later
  7. Flatten the tip of the petal
  8. Apply curvature to the shape
  9. A petal is done! Repeat till you are done (5 times in our case)

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2. Attaching petals

2. Attaching the petals

  1. Use a thicker gauge wire to create a 6-sided polygon.
  2. Strip off a small section of the thin wire (~8cm)
  3. Coil on both ends to connect a petal to the polygon
  4. Repeat till all petals are connected! Make sure all petals can swivel back and forth freely

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3. Petals’ Base

3. Making base for petals

  1. Cut out a section of thicker gauge wire (~9.5cm)
  2. Twist on both ends, facing in different directions
  3. Connect one to each corner of the 6-sided polygon
  4. Twist an additional strand into one of a lollipop shape; this will act as the connector to the stationary plastic tube that supports the moving main metal linkage.
  5. Connect 2 linkages first, check if they are holding the petals equally. For my first try, it wasn’t(see picture with red circle). Adjust by making one of the linkages shorter.
  6. When fixed, continue with the rest of the linkages.
  7. With all the linkages connected to the stem base, you can twist the bottom of the wire around the plastic tube.
  8. Let’s begin making the final part of the flower!

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4. Flower mechanics

4. Linkages for petal mechanism

  1. Twist another strand in the similar lollipop shape. This piece goes all the way through the plastic tube to the bottom. (~35cm, depending how long you make the stem..)
  2. Create a linkage that is slightly different. One of the ends is at a 45 degree to the other. You will need 6 of these as well.
  3. Connect one end to the loop in the middle of the petal. The other goes to the ‘lollipop’ wire made in step 1 of this section.
  4. Again, some of the linkages might be longer than others. Adjust accordingly till all six are connected equally to the middle .
  5. When you are done, you can test it out by pushing and pulling gently at the other end of the rod made in step 1. (See video below)

The Flower is done!

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Making the Installation

1. Prepping the materials

1. Materials Prep

Plywood(1.2cm or thicker)

  • 4pc: 20x11cm (housing sides, A)
  • 2pc: 15x15cm (housing lids, B)
  • 1pc: 20x25cm (console surface, C)

2 x 1 inch planks(pictured darker colored here)

  • 1pc: 20cm (center connector, right notch on both sides: 2.5cm depth, half width, D)
  • 1pc: 30cm (middle connector, left-right notch, E)
  • 1pc: 7cm (console surface connector, left notch, angled cut at other end, 60-degrees, F)
  1. Cut to dimensions the above.
  2. Use a compass to draw a circle to act as a guide to cut out rounded ends.
  3. Drill 8mm holes or whatever size bolts that you are using to link the connectors together.

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2. Electronics box

2. Making the electronics box

  1. Attach the center connector(D) to one of the housing lids(B). You can use M3, 25mm screws.
  2. Drill a hole that is big enough for the plastic tube through the middle of the center connector(D) and the housing lid(B). An additional hole is drilled for some wires for  electronics.
  3. Connect two pieces of housing sides(A) with a small hinge. You can use M3, 10mm screws. Do the same for the remaining two pieces(A).
  4. Place the two sets of the connected housings at right angles to each other to form a 4-sided box.
  5. Align the top housing lid to this housing and drill a screw through to connect them.
  6. Take note to only connect one of each of the two sets of housing sides(A), so that we are still able to open the box on two sides. (see picture for a view from the underside)
  7. Attach the bottom housing lid(B) as well, with screws.
  8. Short sticky foams are placed to limit how much the housing sides can be pushed in.
  9. A hole is drilled on the attached side of the housing for wires.

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3. The console

3. Making the console

Plywood(~1.8cm thickness)

  • 2pc: 7 x 8cm (cuboid sides, G)
  • 1pc: 5 x 8cm (cuboid side, H)
  • 1pc: 13 x 8cm (cuboid base, I)
  • 3pc: 5 x 8cm (jar sides, J)
  • 1pc: 8 x 8cm (jar base, K)
  1. Cut to dimensions using the above specifications; these are for making slots for holding a cuboid and a small glass jar.
  2. Draw a 4x3cm rectangle and a circle of 4.6cm diameter on the console surface(C), then cut them out.
  3. Drill four equally spaced holes in the middle connector(E); these are for LEDs
  4. For the cuboid container, use 2 pieces of (G) and 1 piece of (H) as sides, and 1 piece of (I) as base, and glue them together, you can use wood glue like Titebond.
  5. For the glass jar, use 4 pieces of (J) and 1 piece of (K) and glue them up as well. See picture for reference.
  6. Glue console surface connector(F) to the top, middle part of console surface(C).

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4. Arduino + servo + linkages + breadboard

4. Install Arduino, servo and linkage and breadboard

Scrap Plywood

  • 5pc: 1.3 x 2.5 x1.6(thickness) cm (servo supports, L)
  • 1pc: 7 x 4 x 0.5(thickness) cm (servo base plate, M)
  1. Cut to dimensions using the above specifications; these are for making a housing to hold the servo in place.
  2. Drill 2 holes or more on the base plate(M) for screwing it to the enclosure. Make sure that you can still access these after the servo is installed.
  3. Glue two sets of two pieces of (L) together to form (L2)
  4. Align the servo and glue up a piece of (L2) to the base plate on one end, to allow for the servo to be attached via m3 screws.
  5. Then glue a piece of (L) at an angle, and glue a piece of (L2) lying flat on top of it. See picture for reference. Make sure that you glue these two pieces in a way that allows you to remove the servo later. Then screw the servo onto this support with M3 screws as well.
  6. Install plate with servo onto enclosure. You can temporarily remove one of the screws from the top and bottom of one side of the enclosure, and swing open the side to have more access to the inside of the enclosure.
  7. Create a linkage as shown to connect it from the servo to the bottom of the metal linkage of the flower.
  8. Install Arduino onto one of the swinging side panels with M3, 10mm screws. Attach breadboards with double sided tape as desired on the inside. Here you can see I have attached a short one inside, and another extra breadboard on the other swinging side panel.

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5. OLED + magnifier

5. OLED + Magnifier

Plywood(5mm thickness)

  • 2pc: 11.6 x 2cm (glue up these 2 pieces together, the OLED will be attached to this, N)
  • 4pc: 5 x 3.2cm (side supports to hold m8 bolts, O)

Plywood strip(width: 1.1cm , height: 1cm)

  • 4pc: 8.4cm (housing’s top and bottom frames, P)
  • 1pc: 2cm (housing’s bottom spacer, Q)
  • 2pc: 7.2cm (housing’s side spacers, R)
  1. Cut to dimensions using the above specifications; these are for making a magnifier to increase the viewing size of the tiny 0.96″ OLED we are using.
  2. Glue up the pieces using the supplied CAD pictures as reference.
  3. Drill a M8-sized hole on each side of panel (O)
  4. Align with the glued up panels (N) and drill m8-sized holes.
  5. Attach the magnifier housing and OLED pieces with M8 bolts and nuts as shown.
  6. Attach hinge(0.5 x 1.5inch) at back, bottom of housing.
  7. Then attach this assembly to the center connector as shown.
  8. The OLED display is held in place with blu-tack, and wires can be tucked from behind as shown.

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6. Neopixels installation

6. Let’s install some Neopixels!

  1. Solder wires onto Neopixel(SK6812)
  2. For center connector(E), feed wires through holes and attach them together in series. Remember to follow the indicated direction on the underside of each Neopixel.
  3. Place a Neopixel a little above the center area of the petal as shown.
  4. Feed a Neopixel through hole in console area.
  5. Add another breadboard power supply module for powering the center connector and console’s Neopixels.
  6. The flower petal’s Neopixel will be powered together with the servo motor.

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7. Finishing touches

7. Finishing touches

1.5cm wide single-sided sponge tape

  • 2pc: 6.8cm (horizontal outer linings)
  • 2pc: 10.5cm (vertical outer linings)
  • 2pc: 3.2cm (horizontal inner linings)
  • 2pc: 3.8cm (vertical inner linings)
  • 1pc: 3.5cm (bottom lining for pipette)
  • 2pc: 11.5cm (side linings for pipette)
  • 2pc: 5cm (side linings for magnifier)
  • 1pc: 8cm (left vertical line for manual area)
  • 1pc: 14.5cm (horizontal line for manual area)
  • 1pc: 6cm (right vertical line for manual area)
  • 2pc: 20.7cm (side linings for central connector)
  • 3pc: 6cm (for wrapping flower stem)
  • 1pc: 16cm, cut to half of width (lining electrolyte area)

1pc: 10 x 60cm cloth

  1. Cut single-sided foam tape according to dimensions and stick them onto the console area.
  2. Use bubble wrap to insulate stem area. Then use aluminium foil to wrap it up. As we are going for an all-metal look for the flower, its a good choice.
  3. Then use wide masking tape to cover the neopixels as shown.
  4. We will next use bubble wrap to cover these areas, partly to act as a sort of diffuser for the LED lights. Do this for both the dripping area and the center connector as shown.
  5. The finished product with lights is shown above.
  6. Fix the black cloth around the console area, you can use your own methods. Here I used double-sided tape and some straps.
  7. Print the artwork(below) for an instruction manual and paste it at the manual area.

“Instruction manual”

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8. We are done !

Wiring Schematic

  1. Use M8 bolts to connect the 3 connectors(D, E, F)
  2. Wire up all the electronics using provided schematic(above).
  3. Load up the code to Arduino.
  4. Connect 5v power supplies to the two breadboard power supply modules.
  5. Cross your fingers and fire up the installation!

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9. Demo video

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The Petri Dish

Concept premise

At the dawn of the 21st century, the Internet’s birth enabled social media, unlimited 24/7 news on a global scale and free information about any topic imaginable. There’s also Youtube and a million other media sharing outlets in the digital sea of bits.

Information has become commonplace and democratised. But as we head further into the next few decades, how will information continue shaping our daily lives and influence how we carry out our daily tasks?

My project, affectionately named “The Petri Dish”, is a social commentary on how we have come to embrace information that is fed to us in an unquestioning manner. Will we use our intuition to understand and make wise choices, or will we lose our ability to perceive, succumb to our ‘technological overlords’ and follow their instructions blindly?

On a side note, it is named as such because we are used to thinking of performing experiments in a lab using a petri dish. Here I am presenting the notion of the participant at the installation as “The Petri Dish” instead.

Development of Idea

It all started out with the idea of highlighting social issues that are deeply relevant to the current century. My initial attempt was to bring to attention the problem of waste products, and how our insatiable consumerism habits will ultimately come round and bite us. It was a simple idea; there was to be a trash can that will project whatever goes in towards two artificial ‘local environments’, a terrarium and an aquarium. The terrarium represents our living environment, and the aquarium represents our water bodies, e.g. a lake. On further development, there were a few issues that prompted a pivot. Firstly, the scale and scope was too big and wide respectively, and I didn’t feel a certain intimacy was achieved as the object was not focused and directed.

“The Petri Dish” was thus born.

The participant will get to nurture a flower, guided by instructions from a screen. Initially, I was hoping to utilise the whole lineup of gardening stuff: soil, fertilisers and water. In the initial body-storm exercise, I was given feedback that it probably is a little too much, and doesn’t add to the fact that the flower is kinda ‘unreal’ in the first place, so mimicking ‘real gardening’ with all bells and whistles might not be the best approach. Thus, the setup was dramatically reduced to only one element, an ‘electrolyte’, and the participant will decide accordingly how he/she will approach the task on hand and achieve a ‘satisfactory’ result.

The screen will always give false instructions, so after a few rounds, the patient but eager participant will realise that he/she must use her own intuition to nurture the plant sufficiently and stop when its just right and ignore any contradicting instructions from the screen.

Ultimately, the installation is designed to frustrate participants and stimulate distrust of the screen.

Design Process

Inspiration for flower mechanics: Ever Blooming Mechanical Tulip by jiripraus

Initial Ideas

Overview of how it works

Dimensions, dimensions…

Interaction console details

See here for details on initial conceptualisation.

Further development after class feedback

Design refinement

As mentioned above, after two rounds of user feedback, I have refined the interaction to become much simpler. Now the user only controls the amount of electrolyte(water) he/she wants to apply. And information will be presented through the flower’s mechanics and the OLED screen.

Prototypes (Rough & Polished)  &  User Feedback

Rough Prototype

Rough Prototype

Feedback for rough prototype:

  • Replace soil with something representational(try not to use real soil..)
  • Participants feel obligated to not kill the flower
  • Signage with instructions is sometimes not considered to be important to look at
  • Indicators for current state of flower is crucial for participants to make ongoing decisions
  • Usage of perhaps colors to guide participants with indicators and ingredients to use

See here for more details on body-storming session..

Polished Prototype

Feedback for polished prototype:

  • What does the 53% represent? Seem like it doesn’t matter.
  • Is there supposed to be something else after the growth part? Lack of further instructions from screen.
  • Currently, participant is unclear if he/she is following the instruction closely (this is partly due to the fact that the code is not working properly).
  • Consider change 53% to 53ml, could work better as the dropper is measured in ml.
  • Servo motor creates alien-ish sound; visual and audio links to the character of being a alien
  • Use Optic fibre to create lights for flower
  • If flower is dying, the movement can be glitchy to signify ‘dying’ in the ‘alien’ sense
  • The fact that following instructions doesn’t work could perhaps somehow be more emphasised

The interaction of liquid versus flower bloom is somewhat effective. I feel that overall the code needs to work much better(it was only working 20% ..), and the OLED screen’s instructions has to work in tandem with the participant’s interaction.

Grand Finale !

Final improvements:

I added some lights on the console and center connector to suggest movement of the electrolyte. There is also a light on the flower to hint at its state. Overall the lights add to the installation’s visual mood when deployed in a dim area.

The code is working pretty much this time, and I have figured out the quirks associated with the OLED, that is perhaps for another post.

An instruction manual has been added to the console , but it is not merely aesthetic. There is some information regarding the flower that can help the player make informed choices.

Buzzer sounds have been added as well to help with providing feedback throughout the interaction process.

Lastly, part superficial part practical, the OLED has gained a magnifier in front of it to help players make out stuff on its tiny screen. It kind of adds a little character to the whole piece as well.

Make your own !

Instructables w/ code and schematics

In-class final presentation

Parting thoughts:

I could sense the urge in participants to “win” the game, I guess that’s the power of ‘gamification’. It is also interesting to see everyone’s different approaches, even though they were all pretty aware of the underlying premise of the installation. I think the refinements worked quite well too as I think theres less confusion about what is to be done, and the screen is much easier to be read this time.

The information on the manual is pretty crucial, and it was a pity it could be read easily with the lights off. Engaging the installation in a dark environment is definitely more desirable, and sets up the mood appropriately as well.

Speaking of moods, I think that’s an aspect that I can work on more. The establishing of surroundings can be better utilised, great examples include the ah gong photo frame and the space dome pieces.

Though thoroughly challenging, I had a great 13 weeks for this module and look forward to more in my upcoming years! cheers!

Locale Zine – Final Outcome

Conceptualisation from Locale Research…

Idea 1: Zen in concrete city

Idea 2: Poetic Justice

References for idea 2

Idea 3: Reflections

References for idea 3

Photoshoot 1 from Locale Research

See locale research presentation here.

My initial trip down from Mt Faber to the Southern Ridges was pretty enjoyable. I felt really blessed to be surrounded by such an abundance of greenery and natural beauty. It had been quite some time since I last immersed myself in the great outdoors. Going through my photoset, the recurring theme of doing something related to cultivation, contemplation and zen kept going through my mind.

Thus , the three ideas that I have generated all share common threads, each with its own focus and graphic ideas. Although I had a rough idea of the kind of imagery I intended to present, I combed through Pinterest to form a mood board to base my ideas in more concrete forms. It also helps to somewhat communicate my ideas if required.

A plethora of imagery

I then started coining some phrases to loosely create a narrative to adequately convey my ideas. Selecting suitably similar photos also helps develop the ideas further. And this brings us to a mood board with some initial wordings…

MoodBoard pg1

MoodBoard pg2

MoodBoard pg3

To gain more inspiration and widen my choices of base imagery, I decided to pay HortPark a visit as well. The field trip resulted in the following photoset:

I am now ready to begin making some pictures! My initial set of 8 pages came out as shown.

Rough draft

These are mostly placeholders, I will be compositing stuff onto them. On a side note, most of these images came from another visit back to Mt Faber and Southern Ridges. And through the magic of RAW images I was able to create pretty compelling base images to work on.

Let’s composite !

Cover Page

Page 1

Page 2

Page 3

Page 4

Page 5

Page 6

Back Cover

Final Artwork

Because of serious time constraints, I have to think of effective and simple ideas to convey the messages. Dedicated photoshoots with subjects and props were avoided as much as possible. For some of the pieces I try to use existing photos that I have on file of family outings. For the Self-Belief piece I was able to make use of a recent paper sculpture that I have completed. I added a couple of folded paper strips to suggest as flora.

Due to restrictions in material acquisition, I rely heavily on other design elements to help create viewer interest. For the Declutter piece, I played around with sense of scale. The mum with child is intentionally made so small that they can hardly be made out. In the back cover, the figure-spatial relationship is reversed as I portray myself peeking into the coastal landscape. For the Anger and Acceptance piece, I relied mostly on light and dark contrasts to create an provocative sense of mood.

For all pieces, I also tried to maximise the play with words and the image. I try to have both interact whenever feasible, as seen in the pieces Feeling frustrated, Declutter and Surrender yourself.

In terms of general artistic considerations, I really try to push the latitude of color range from the compositions. I wanted the images to look as rich as they possibly can, even if at some point they can start to look “hyperreal”. Innately, our brains are hardwired to detect inconsistencies in what we see and what is real-life.

All in all, I enjoyed the process of compositing and integrating the disparate elements together to form a short narrative that hopefully can inspire its reader!

Crafting the zine

Using clips to align all pages before poking holes with needle

Will attempt to trim to align the right edges…

Doesn’t look too bad, but could have been better…

A few lessons learnt here… I think I was to greedy and printed on paper stock that was too thick.. When folded, the pages were misaligned by quite a bit because of the substantial paper thickness. Therefore I tried to trim the edges. The right edge trimming went pretty smoothly, but when I tried to trim the top edge, it DID NOT went well at all 🙁 So I didn’t trim the bottom edges. Lesson learnt..

Final thoughts after presentation

I shall start off with one of my favourite comments from a fellow classmate,

“The zine showers me with images of nature/landscape and on pages w/o human elements, I feel peaceful and can even ‘hear’ the sounds of crickets. I feel that the zine has bring me to another place and am fascinated by the landscape. The paper is thick and reminds me of a photobook.”

The thickness of the paper made viewers treat it as a photobook, which honestly wasn’t necessarily an important aspect of what I was going for, but I guess it was also a happy accident in a way.

On another note, some comments were regarding the readability of the words, which I totally agree. Also, Mimi commented that the compositions could have been a bit more adventurous, and I feel that I might have been too caught up with the technical aspect of piecing everything together and missed an opportunity to push further design-wise.