Spatial experience

Jayden Liu
12 min readFeb 4, 2021

Feb 4th

There are endless possibilities with modular repetition. And with our obsession with repetition, there are great potential in this form of design. I was in awe of some of the designs that we saw in the presentation and wanted to make some of my own. As I began to brainstorm some of the ideas that i had, I realized that figuring out the geometry and physics of things was harder than I imagined, and not any set of shape is going to work the way I intend to.

First, I started with simple square shapes but with the indents made at about a third of the square’s width, deviated from the conventional center or the angles. Though past experience and my intuition told me that it could form back into a cube with a 90 degree construction, it still surprised me when I arrive at the cubes on the first image.

The mountain range/ crown shape shown on the right took more trials and errors. It did not have a clear image in mind when I created the module but i knew i wanted to do something that involves folding, which opens up possibilities that are beyond 90 degrees conjunctions.

I used cardboard this time for these designs but I think the thickness and the flute within the cardboard makes the material wrinkle easily and difficult to conjunct at an angle other than 90 degrees. I am looking to get some chipboards for my next exploration of spatial experience.

Feb 9th

Different from the last renditions I have done on this project, I need to focus more on the environment aspect of my model this time. I was still quite foreign to the idea of modular design and wanted to do a little bit of research on why do we us it on an environmental design project like this.

Still confused about some of the aspects of modular design, I jot down some notes that I think will help me along the way. Aside from being aesthetically pleasing, the form of design excels in its customizability, transportability, and being cohesive.

In the beginning, I wanted to have a clear goal as to what I wanted in the end, which was a capsule seat that is designed for isolation and reflection in a larger space. But as I progressed through the project, I realized it was much more difficult to design modules to make a certain form than to design the module first and come up with the model later, at least for the lack of expertise. So I moved back to making individual modules.

The first module that I came up with was a circular one. Trying to adhere to the initial design I was going for, I thought circles are a great starting point to build up my design with.

I designed the module with three slits in order to create a stable base for further designs.

To add on to the circular base, I designed a triangular module also with three slits to add variety and complexity to my design.

Now I had my two modules, It was time to experiment. I made different models with these modules and realized the angled cut on the triangular module served as a great base for the circular module that is more subtle and straightforward.

I thought the form it created was really interesting. Each circular module is pointed at an interesting angle.

Out of the two structures I’ve experimented with, I liked the one on the right better because it creates a nice sense of space underneath and in-between the different modules.

As for interaction, I realized the round panels are constructed at different angles, which could be used for a variety of purposes. But I think the most intuitive and helpful things to do with them is resting- leaning or sitting. The round panel with the higher angle could be used for leaning while one checks the phone and the one with the lower angle could be used for sitting while reading a book.

As for my next step, I think there are a lot that i could improve on. I think the very first step is to improve the complexity of my single modules. They look plain and uninviting at the moment. The second step would be to add onto the structure. The structure is at a minimum right now, and i think there are great potentials with what this structure could do. And lastly, I think I needed to do more explorations.

Feb 11th

Color and lighting impacts the experience of a space tremendously. Depending on the color and lighting-choices, our responses to an environment can vary drastically. I began my exploration by trying out the colors that I usually use in my painting, which are quite saturated pre-mixed.

In my design, the circular form is more prevalent and makes up the majority of the structure, which is why I chose bolder colors like sap green and cadmium yellow. On the other hand, the triangular form is more ambient, which is why I used painted one of them in white.

I then tried out the colors in combinations. Because the designs that I saw in the presentation usually use bold contrasts, I thought I could incorporate that in my design as well. Color combinations like green and red, and yellow and blue came intuitively to me and they looked fun as exploration. For the other two combinations, I tried combining the white triangles to the two colors of the round disks. They did not have the inviting look to me than in the other designs.

I ended up choosing the green and red color way for my design, because I thought for an outdoor structure/environment, the sap green would look more natural and cohesive to the surroundings. And the warm atmosphere that the red oxide creates is simply more inviting than the more unnatural yellow and blue. I slightly lightened and desaturated the sap green with some titanium white because the original looked quite dull and on the darker side. I am quite happy with the results but like the design itself, it needs some tweaking and improvements.

As for lighting, I did not have a lot of options. There is a general light fixture in the main room and the only portable light source in my apartment is a super warm reading lamp. So I tried out the lightings with just the ceiling light, a combination of ceiling light and lamp , and one with just the lamp .

I wish I had more choices than these and I really wanted to see them in a natural blue light.

I like the combination of colors that I ended up choosing but I’m still not quite satisfied with the structure itself. For the next step, I plan to add complexity to the singular modules and irregularity to the overall structure. I think I am confined to the mindset where symmetry and organization is better than irregularity but seeing some of my classmates work had proved to me that that is far from the case.

Feb 16th

I changed up my whole design this week because the previous design sort of happened when I was experimenting with different modules and geometry, and I did not necessarily believe what I was making. For this new design, I had a vision in mind and inspirations to go off of.

Traditional Asian buildings utilize a lot of gate shapes in corridors, in sacred spaces, and a lot of larger spaces to provide direction. I also share a personal connection with these sort of buildings because they are not uncommon where I grew up. And lastly, I just thought that they are beautiful and they help define and shape the spaces that they are placed in. For my design, I wanted to compress and incorporate all these merits into much simpler modules that will eventually create a more irregular structure to make it more visually challenging and complex.

I began by making my first F shape. I started off with this because i thought the interaction between two F Shapes is very interesting and fits the overall visual that I had in mind.

To build the complexity of the structure I then made the N shape, which is a simple gate shape.

With these two simple modules, I could start building simple structures that to me gives a sense of direction and resemble a corridor in some way. But I felt the structure looked really flat from a viewer perspective and i wanted to try out different scales with this design. So i created another “A” shape that is two times bigger and two times thicker on the edges as well.

The magnitude that they provide to me immediately enhanced the sense of space. and having all three modules combined, I was able to arrive at something that is structurally sound and visually interesting.

While I think this is a step up from my previous design, I think there are still a lot to improve. First of all, I wanted to experiment with more scales, because right now, the distinction between the two sizes is jarring. And I thought that having a middle ground between the two sizes would make the structure more appealing. Second, I still have to figure out a color for this structure. My initial idea for the color is red because it resembles the Asian buildings that I took inspiration from.

Feb 18th

Given my last minute change of design, I still have a lot to figure out before our final presentation, including but not limited to an additional set of medium sized modules, an adequate color for the structure, and the proper verb and adjectives to describe it. While the schedule is definitely tight, I was optimistic about how my structure will turn out and wanted to bring it to another level for our final presentation.

For the color of the structure, i wanted it to be an integration between the industrial and the natural world. Ideally this structure would be placed in a park setting where it is surrounded by both nature and man made structures. My first consideration was red oxide, a color commonly used in the building of Japanese sacred spaces. While I thought using the color can reinforce the inspiration and the roots of my design, it does not necessarily convey the idea that i wanted to express with my structure that is to be reflective and inviting. The color red can also be quite alarming and overwhelming when incorporated in a structure of this scale. Therefore, I tried out ochre, a natural earthy color that reinforces the idea of nature and is also distinct from the greeness of the park. However, after some research online, I have realized that yellow can be quite anxiety producing. And I would have to agree after looking at some of the yellow architectures online. Eventually, I decided to take the best from both worlds and use a carrot color to complement my form, which turned out very well.

I knew I needed to make a middle ground between the two scales of modules as soon as I finished making the prototype. The contrast was way too jarring, and it would not be pleasant for the people wandering below it. So I simply make another set of modules in between those two and it not only increased the cohesiveness of the entire structure, it also smooths out the user experience quite a bit.

And lastly, I had to figure out a verb and some adjectives for my structure. Inspired by Daphne’s comments last class, I decided to keep my verb simple and stick to the verb wander. I wanted to use verbs like to reflect, but I figured that mental activities are not directly linked with this structure I’m building, whereas, they are only a voluntary byproduct after seeing and experiencing the structure. For the adjectives, I remember that when I showed my mom the picture of my structure, her initial reaction was that it was curious, as she is gravitated by the intricate way that the structure is sequenced and constructed. I decided to keep that, because it would have been my reaction as well, if i were to see this structure for the first time. My second adjective is grand. Given that as people proceeds, my structure grows more spacious that it eventually towers above the wanderers, I thought that it would only be adequate the use the adjective grand to describe this structure. And lastly, I used the adjective reflective because it wanted people to reflect as they are experiencing this environment. As people move from the smaller gates to the larger gates, as they experience the change in scale, hopefully they can discover something about themselves as well. This might be an epiphany to become more openminded, an inspiration to travel the world, or simply a refreshment of their perspectives. I cannot tell and I do not wish to confine people’s different experiences and interpretations.