muse

SUMMER + SEPT // Monthly Progress

Sometimes when you spread yourself too thin, things get attention much less frequently. That isn’t to say I have forgotten my pet project. Here I am, renewed and refreshed with a new test and taking a small break from the site series. It seemed like an easy series to keep up, given that I was matching the pace of the build — it is now complete. So I have some catching up to do.

Apart from hustling and bustling between work, side work, side projects, hobby projects and my pet project, I think what’s been a difficult hill to climb is to break out of the comfort zone of illustrative sketches and reach out to learn the tech side of my project. I still have an invested interest in the idea and the technology, but my skill sets lie elsewhere. Suffice to say, I am no tech wiz and I don’t know the slightest about producing an AR app. I suppose my starting an illustrative test series was my way to get started, but now that I’ve reached double digits, it should be about time to step into the cold water.

Quick read today:

This New AR App is Like Minecraft for Drone Pilots
It’s neat that apps like this are cropping up. I imagine the detail callouts for buildings could be viewed similarly, whether from ground level or up above. In either case it involves the mirage of merging the built environment with the virtual environment.

“But the app isn’t just all fun and games. DroneBase believes that AirCraft can be helpful in visualizing construction projects, particularly when using the blocks with building material textures.”

Tommy Palladino, This New AR App is Like Minecraft for Drone Pilots

Expect some more test sketches soon. 🙂

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Site Series // a test 006

a test 006 –
1 UNIT: space under construction
OCCUPANCY: n/a
TYPE(s): architecture, new building
AR/TIFACT(s): 01

As with my last few, developing unit tests based on my
own personal experiences has been the easiest way to learn. It also helps me go from experience
> pen > paper > digital production > blog
a lot more smoothly. Amidst attending
lectures, visiting site tours and hobby doodling, in my day job, I am still a
full-time (almost) architect. What better place to extract from?

The project I have been on for the past two years is finally
under construction, and being both blessed with great leaders and lucky to have
seen all parts of the project so far, I am now able to drop in site to watch
the building physically take shape. And so this next series (an undetermined
amount as of now) will be an exploration of ground-up architecture. This test actually compiles a few phases of the start of
construction. From site preparation and soil analysis to formwork for the
foundations to sheeting foundation walls with the proper water vapour barriers
and insulation. These diagrammatic tests are in no way an accurate
representation of the exact building construction, but they serve as an
illustration for the phases that I get to observe when I go to site.

There are
currently already several technologies utilizing mixed reality to not only aid
the construction process, for example in commissioning or building inspection
that enable users of a hardhat + visor to get a digital augmented visualization
of the innards of the building as it is getting constructed. One such would be
Daqri’s Smart Helmet. Pretty neat. My idea is focused more on a
finished product detail, but that isn’t to say am AR overlay couldn’t be
applied early on during it’s construction.

I’m excited
for this series because I can see a lot of growth out of it, even if all the unit will ever show is the corner of a building. The only sad part is  the CAT won’t always be in the
picture.

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Treading

I have been both busy and tardy about working on my next test as well as keeping up the research. Of course it happens. But I do try to keep up the sketching at the very least, as well as plans for the next tests.

Here’s a sketch of the alternate wework test (from the interior!)

Because of the busy-ness though, I haven’t had too many experiences to provoke thoughts for the next test. The past week I have been reading about neat AR/VR related articles related to construction.

This one is particularly interesting, posted on Redshift, Autodesks’ technology editorial:

“With the combination of where you are with the visual odometry system and what is around you, you know pretty much everything you need to know about the world,” he says. (link)

Did I just do a quote of a quote? In any case, this kind of technology is definitely the direction I want to go. It makes me a bit nervous that all this research and tech is already in development and supported by massive companies like Autodesk. (I wouldn’t be opposed to trying to get my foot in the door.) While the content of this article focuses specifically on use for in-progress construction, I love the idea of being able to ‘see through walls’.

What I imagine with my project is seeing through walls, but not necessarily of pipes and ducts or beams and columns, but neat architectural details and building assemblies that you can’t fully appreciate or admire from the outside. Another issue I would like to tackle is providing this data as information of value to people not involved in the industry so that it can reach a wider audience.

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Architecture + Research

The architect and mathematician Christopher Alexander once suggested that architectural design was the obligation to create “an intangible form in an indeterminate context.” This can certainly be true of the serious, ineffable qualities of good design. But in our modern age, the practical context is increasingly determinate, and outcome-based design practice—enabled by new attitudes, business models, and technology—will empower us to deliver the real value of both.” – Phil Bernstein (on Architectural Record, “Why the Field of Architecture Needs a New Business Model”)

I used to really enjoy Phil’s classes at Yale. He’s a downright downer sometimes (I mean this in a very positive way!), but speaks some really real truths about the industry. I took
his ‘Exploring New Value in Design Practice’ elective as well as the required Professional Practice course. What he’s summarized in this article is essentially the vein of thought that prevailed in his lectures and seminars.

It seems a little cynical as a designer and artist to be so in agreement with what he’s saying. To be fair, I still believe the real lovers and talents of their craft will still exist and flourish, because good design will always be appreciated and their value upheld. On the other hand however, I will say that not everyone is that designer. Some of us (myself included) aren’t at that peak, and thus exploring new value in the world of architecture
is almost a must. For me, I’m highly interested in research and development.

I’m inspired by firms like Kieran Timberlake and Foster + Partners, who dedicate entire departments to R & D. Most recently, I’ve discovered Superflux (why haven’t I checked them out before!), a studio in the UK that focuses on accessing possibilities of the future and how to tackle them with present day solutions.

While this project has only surfaced recently, a lot of the ideas and interests have been brewing over many years (as I noted in the Pilot), and the more I read and learn, the more interesting everything just gets. You could almost say it’s getting dangerous how many things I have told myself I’m  “interested” in.

It is very hard, also, to stay motivated on something I’m such a beginner at, when there are multitudes of large corporate companies researching AND producing similar ideas. The neat thing, however, is that I’m so small no one will notice as I build my kingdom.
And that, is what motivates me to keep pursuing.

Research needs to combine actual research including knowledge acquiring along with theorizing and ideas generating with doing and producing. Tests aside, within the next few months I will get my hands on ARKit, and see where I can go with those.

Test 003 progress is being attempted. It’s been busy here.

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Keynote

I tuned into the Apple keynote today. I mostly just listened while having real work to do. But something really caught my attention that I ended up watching all some 20 min. of that segment. It wouldn’t be hard to guess, but it was the section on Augmented Reality. Apple’s doing a lot of incredible things with AR technology and I want in.

ARKit2 has expanded it’s spectrum, allowing for more advanced and accurate real-life tracking of surroundings. This includes live measuring of objects just by clicking from one point to another through their new app ‘Measure’. It can also register geometric shapes (demonstrated was the rectangle, but I imagine other polygonal shapes are possible) and give a relatively accurate measurement of it’s dimensions as well as area. The other neat demonstration was a completely AR interactive game just from registering one built lego building on a table. The ipad was able to detect and then present an entire lego world directly on the table for the users to interact with. Note the use of plural. Now we can have multi-user interaction, live and augmented to reality all from one scan of the surrounding.

You can see, then, where I want to go with AR/TIFACT, relative to these features. What if it weren’t just a lego building that could get scanned, but a real building? In the AEC industry, aside from having a fun filled AR interaction video game with real life buildings, I would like to use this feature to overlay building data – not just your typical building stats and numbers, but 3D details and material samples. Is that useful? I think not quite yet. But this is the vein I want to keep thinking along until it does become something useful. Some great testing grounds for this? Doors Open Toronto? The Venice Biennale?

The next step in my research would be to get a hands-on for ARKit2 and see where I can take it. I’m excited.

Also Test 003 is coming, I promise.

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