Between the ocean and the bay

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Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

"Between the Ocean and the Bay" is about a design process enabling the designer to see and know through three different graphic methods. The thesis concentrates both on the design of a specific structure, and on the ability to develop a design through two and three dimensional graphic manipulations. The three design methods are sketching, three-dimensional modeling, and computer drawing. All three have their unique qualities and all are effective.

The Sketching method evolved through observing, seeing and drawing architecture in western Europe. The intimate visual process formulated a greater sense and comprehension of architecture. The on site drawing experience initiated this particular design expression. Furthermore the fragments of architecture recorded in these visual sketches became a vocabulary for all future designs.

There are two kinds of three dimensional models. The first is for displaying a building or a project as an object in three dimensions. The second is a sketch, which is a fragment of a whole building or an idea. Fragmentary modeling provides a simple method of combining three dimensional elements enabling one to scrutinize them as they become part of a whole composition. This method of modeling allows the observer to see the spatial relationships between each element and the form as a whole. Modeling is a tactile experience. This physical involvement brings to the design a tangible relationship that develops scale and proportion. Fragment modeling was used in the development of the house between the ocean and the bay.

Computer drawing produces two dimensional drafted plans or wire frame models that are viewed from infinite angles and then reproduced. Computer drafting lacks immediate tactile involvement of the other two methods of design discussed here. The results can appear to be flat and not dynamic. However, the computer provides discipline; by forcing one to make decisions on a design, it organizes abstract visual thoughts. There was a point in the designing of the house when turning to the computer to explore order was essential.

The house between the ocean and the bay developed by employing the three different yet complementary design tools. Sketching was the strongest tool to explore a design problem through quick immediate production. Modeling forced the realization in space of the strengths and weaknesses of a design. The computer drawings in this project helped control the final shape of the house simply by forcing decisions and creating order. Each of these methods is productive by itself and together as they meld and feed on each other to create the product.