Hybrid Exhibit Project

Homework: Plan and Elevation Practice

  • With this homework, I learned how to translate and do conversions between scale and real life measurements
  • I added swing doors, and details to the windows
  • By making a floor plan, it can be easily turned into the base for a Parti diagram

Studio Homework Reflections:

Tuesday, November 3: Hybrid Spaces

What other types of environments are becoming hybrid? Give at least one specific example and note whether or not you think the hybridization of the environment improves the user experience.

One example of a hybrid space that I thought about was a boat ride I went on when I visited Disney World a year ago, and we had to wear these special goggles that was similar to virtual reality. As you go through the magical boat ride, there would be actual physical props and replications of jungles and scenery, but the goggles help bring to life and animate certain objects with lights. This makes it seem as though certain objects and lights are appearing and reappearing, or animals moving and jumping. I thought this was interesting to think about from the perspective of a child because they would enjoy it a lot, and it helps them become more inspired and think imaginatively. On the other hand, an adult would perceive the space differently, and even if they feel likes it’s not real, they could still have an appreciation for seeing a new world being brought to life through technology.

Tuesday, November 10: Designer’s role

How is the role of an architect and an environments designer different? Be specific when talking about projects, skillsets, tools, approaches, etc.

The role of an architect is slightly different from that of an environments designer, because architecture is more about functionality and focusing on the technical aspects of the infrastructure. Environments is more about the creative, experience side of making use of a space. Sometimes architects work under practical constraints and build more for functionality and usage, whereas environments designers are allowed to have more freedom and not restrict their thinking, so they can produce something extravagant, interesting, special, or sometimes temporary. With architecture, usually what is made is built to last, so there is the factor of permanence to be thought about. A human centered approach like trying to merge technology and in environmental experience, is not the main focus of an architect. Environments designers on the other hand can have others execute the logistics of their idea if their creative concept, aesthetic and feeling of space is worthwhile.

Hybrid Exhibit Project

Prompt: Your goal is to identify one issue, related to climate change or the anthropocene with the goal of getting them to change their behavior through an experience in an interactive exhibit.

How can technology augment content, increase learning and/or make the museum experience more interactive?

Exhibit from the Carnegie Museum of Natural History: Hall of Botany

To start off this project, I looked into the Carnegie Museum of Natural History online, and came across their hall of botany. By reading their site and about their diorama rooms, I was interested in how the hall educated people about the various plant species in the Pennsylvania area. In this part of the museum, plants are showcased like the Florida everglade, an Alpine meadow on Mt. Rainier, an Arizona desert, and a wooded Pennsylvania valley. People can look at the displays and also identify herbs by their smells, and learn about photosynthesis and the food chain.

Hall of Botany

This sparked my interest to research further about climate change’s impact on the environment, and I looked into the Broken Nature Exhibit that took place in Triennale Di Milano in Italy.

The Broken Nature Exhibit is an in-depth exploration of the strands that connect humans to the natural environment that have been intensely compromised because of human activity and climate change. One of the description about the exhibit says that it

“underlines the concept of restorative design, highlighting objects and concepts at all scales that reconsider human beings’ relationship with their environments”.

Additionally, I came across one artist by the name of Matilde Boelhouwer, whose work was compelling and I wanted to make a part of my project.

About the Artist

Matilde Boelhouwer is a writer, designer, and insect enthusiast from the Netherlands, and and she collects, observes and studies plants and insects with fascination. Working like a biologist and doing research, she tries to design for modern-day issues like food shortages, sustainability, and climate change. Food for Buzz is a series of artificial 3D printed flowers she designed that collects rainwater, mixes with sugar and gives insects in cities the ability to fly to the next flower. These flowers serve as emergency food sources for pollinators, namely bees, bumblebees, and hover flies.

One of her main concepts is to translate her natural observations into conceptual and speculative design. Her goals are to make people conscious about the importance of the nature surrounding us, and how humans largely have an impact on their environment. Her handmade artificial flowers offer a new way to encourage pollination in cities, and their artistry and craft reflects her fine level of care and detail to insects and their habitats.

Image from an interview

I watched some youtube interview videos and about her working progress to better understand her motives when designing. She mentioned,

“I’m quite scared of insects, but I know insects have a very important role in our ecosystem. I don’t want to replace real flowers. My flowers are a source of inspiration that encourages people to think about what they can do to solve the insect population problem.” — Matilde Boelhouwer

With most of the world population living in urban jungles made of concrete and stone, the of flower population plummeted. This, combined with the use of pesticide, the consequences of climate change, and the disruption of insects’ natural habitats, has resulted in a drastic decline of the insect population. The lack of flowering in cityscapes makes it hard for pollinators to continue the process.

A changing climate is posing another challenge for honey bees and other pollinators. Crop yield and quality would be greatly reduced without honey bee pollination. As honey bees gather pollen and nectar for their survival, they pollinate crops such as apples, cranberries, melons and broccoli. Some crops, including blueberries and cherries, are 90-percent dependent on honey bee pollination.

Here are some of Boelhouwer’s artificial flower artwork, and photographs in closeup of the fine handicraft and pattern details.

Bee Flower, Insectology Food for Buzz
Bubblebee Flower, Insectology Food for Buzz
Butterfly Flower, Insectology Food for Buzz
Moth flower Butterfly Flower, Insectology Food for Buzz

Additionally, Terra Incognita is Boelhouwer’s series of “outer worldly” still lifes zooming in on the delicate forms of insects and plants. She shapes golden metal to create platforms and decorative work that insects land on. Sometimes inspired on real phenomena, sometimes inspired on imagination and dreams, it reminds people of the importance of wonder and the beauty of all things small.

I thought about displaying some photos of these other works, because it speaks to the interaction and connection plants and insects have to their environment.

Next, I browed Pinterest for examples of exhibit spaces and different paths viewers could take. I also looked into brainstorming what my interaction with technology could be. One idea is to have cards that when pulled, a screen lights up that gives more in-depth info on that plant species. This would help me introduce some of the plants featured in the Carnegie Mellon of Natural History’s Hall of Botany.

After researching and identifying what exactly I wanted to place in my exhibit, I needed to craft the story of the experience that people would have walking through. I made a list of the stages or components of the exhibit.

photos of the artist working from research
  1. Intro to the artist and how she crafted her work

2. Display the work and learn about pollinators and their role

3. Interactive element- cards with screen displays of plants in Pittsburgh area

4. Call to action and why important? (Pollinators help grow our food)

5. Exit

For my mood board, I chose images that were earthy, with a bright color scheme and pops of yellow to make the association to the bees which are one of the main pollinators. For typeface, I thought about a flowy and cursive one to highlight the different intricacies of flowers and each insect. For body text such as paragraphs on the walls, or descriptions and captions that that exhibit would have, I wanted a clean, legible and modern typeface such as Avenir or Futura.

From the feedback I received, I realized that my parti diagram needed some work, and have a completely freed up room without any dividers would create a sense of confusion on where to go. To make the experience more interesting and guided, I chose to think about included intersecting planes that would also proved wall space for more artwork.

What is the Storyline through the Exhibit? Revised.

Revisting the components of my museum exhibit, I really process the why and the significance of each individual designer choice and why I would display something.

  • about the artist bio
  • display photos and some of her work
  • her artist statement

(Interactive part 1)

  1. Greenhouses gasses warm the Earth’s temperature. Fossil fuels are burned to produce electricity and heat
  • manufacturing, transportation, factories
  • removing forests (trees cannot absorb carbon dioxide)
  • flooding, droughts, heatwaves, are all effects

2. Impacts the water cycle- air temperatures increase, more water evaporates into air, so causes more intense storms in one area and droughts in another and lack of a habitable environment for flowers and plants year round.

3. lack of pollen = lack of pollinators which impacts ecosystems as well as growth of fruits and nuts

Inspo: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/556546466456519414/

By mapping out the chain of reactions that human activity and climate change has on pollinators, I was able to develop the ideas for the animated infographic I wanted to design. Below, I sketches out some ideas for how I could illustrate different icons like smoke and buildings.

My idea for this interactive part of the exhibit is that as the viewer would walk past the wall, their motion would be detected and it would trigger the wall to light up a caption or indicate the portion that needs to be read, while simultaneously animating a white light border to highlight the graphic.

With tinkerCAD, I experimented with the idea of a motion detector. If a person is within a certain mile radius to the sensor, it produces a welcoming message on a wall or screen, and changes the message as the person walks either away or closer to the sensor. As the person enters they see a welcome, but as they move closer the message either could be the exhibit title, or and indication that they’re going to learn knowledge going through the exhibit.

For the next steps, I translated the illustrator plan diagram into the sketchUp model to represent the space in 3D.

basic structure

Next, by taking down more idea notes, I thought about additional interactions that could happen with technology that would enhance the viewer’s experience learning about climate change and pollinators. First i had the screen with the light up cards, then the wall that illuminates a graphic about climate change as you walk past. Finally I thought it would be interesting to have a kiosk type questionare at the end that people could take and it would help them identify how much their personal living styles contribute to climate change.

first 3 stages
additional views
closeup of card display and desk attendant spot

After modeling in SketchUp, I got a new perspective on visualizing the space, and it brought to light ways I can improve my Parti Diagram. I revised it so that it is split into the same numbered sections, but the divider walls in the center would additionally section off parts of the museum.

From class discussions, I took notes about interesting and unique design ideas from the film we watched. One example was the 4 seasons hotel which gave people maracas and the noise created confetti particle movement in a giant globe. Another example is that the Cosmopolitan hotel turned their concrete columns into an ambiance of leaves falling with variability. All these examples helped further my design thinking to learn more about experience design in the real world as both a form of art and practicality.

With physical building, I tried to construct the space cutting with exacto and olfa blades, and initially joining the pieces together with masking tape to see how things would look. Later I used glue and clear tape to seal edges and refine with craft.

Here, I started sketching how the actual infographic wall could look like. I then began animating in Procreate and adding the white line animations to think about what parts I could draw attention to.

Moving back to SketchUp, I began placing elevations and assigning walls with their key information or display of artwork. I experimented with wall colors, and chose yellow and teal and white text.

progress 1
progress 2

From Peter and Jason, I got feedback about my exhibit, and points to consider when making my presentation slides. One thing suggested was to think about how technology can be combined in ways to produce a more intense feeling or experience for the viewer. For example, as a person walks down the infographic wall, there could be sound paired with the white light up outlines. Sounds like thunderstorms, wind, flapping insect wings, and buzzing bees could be considerations. In terms of my final presentation to the class, Peter suggested that saying the “why” aspect and the purpose is so important when introducing as well as recapping. Therefore in my presentation, I knew I had to emphasize the story and explain the problems of climate change well, to get people to realize this is a pressing issue and action needs to be taken.

For the questionare “kiosk” component at the end of the exhibit, here are some questions the user could be asked:

Where do you live? How often do you turn your lights on? How long is your average shower? How often do you drive? Do you use pesticide? Do you have electric or gas stove? How often do you cook?

In the end, the user will be told based on their answers and section, whether they minimally, moderately, or highly have a negative impact on climate change. The call to action would be a smaller wall that lists some small steps they can take to improve their habits.

To answer some of the rubric’s points I thought about everything I learnt and what I was able to execute.

  • How do materials, lighting, scale, pathways, etc. impact our perception of space? With perception of space, I think the viewer would get an interesting experience most at the light up infographic part because it is an idea that is unique, and is a way of delivering content in an engaging, surprising, illuminated way. The path they take through the exhibit also is in sections with either artwork work to admire, or knowledge to gain.
  • How does environmental form influence our perception of a place? Environmental form affects perception of space through the surrounding walls, and interior furnishings. I kept my exhibit minimal with decor. At first I wanted to recreate the nature atmosphere with plants and many greeneries, but thought it would be a distraction to the main goal of the exhibit which is to learn about climate change and admire an artist’s work who lends a hand to insects and pollinators.
  • What are commonly agreed upon environmental forms and conventions?What types of interactions enhance learning? Some common forms and conventions I was able to use were the standardization of wall height, font sizes, and typefaces. For my walls I only chose one typeface for the titles and a simple one for body text so it helps readability walking past the walls. For interactions that enhance learning, I made sure to make everything a special revealing process so that captions or questions are presented at a pace and people can have a steady focus reading.

From this project, I learnt about visualizing a space, and gained a lot of inspiration for how technology can be incorporated to creating engaging interactions. I enjoyed being able to see my classmates work in class and learning about examples of design in the real world. By gaining this knowledge, I tried my best to think novel and apply these ideas into my work.

Some challenges I ran into were that my printer was only black and white, so it impacted my overall physical model. With SketchUp, I found that looking at the virtual space from eye level was the best way to picture how to make progress. I spent a lot of time panning, and using the move tool just to gain a sense of the surroundings. Some things I can work on is using more dynamic silhouettes of people and varied stances. I used the default person at first, and filled the figure in, but from my classmates I realized I should go back and perhaps make the figures more varied to make it realistic.

For some positive things, I think my interaction with the white animated light up wall was unique and it is something that can have the potential to be explored in greater depth. From talking to Peter I learned that these ideas can be creative and very imaginative and there are so many things to consider in the real world when thinking of this type of interaction. I wanted to push my thinking and was interested to pursue this idea for my project, and feel that it helps makes content more interesting to grasp.

Overall, this project made me understand how designing for environments combines all branches of design. I found myself implementing things I learnt in the C mini about typography and hierarchy. Going forward I want to grow by refining in terms of overall craft, and brainstorming more ideas in the beginning stages.




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Shruti Prasanth

Shruti Prasanth

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