Archive for March, 2012

Behind the Scenes

Another short. Behind the scenes of a modern special effects shoot:

and behind the scenes on an older special effects shoot:

and this because I love this film:

On an actually architectural note I’ve been redesigning a building I’ve been having some trouble with and now I’m relatively happy with it. I’ll do some proper visualisations in the next couple of days which I’d love to share but here is the preliminary one:



What I’ve really been appreciating recently is the huge dirth of interesting maps that have been popping up over the last few months. From the amazingly detailed rethinking of America’s fundamental mapping system from David Imus to simpler open source programs like IndieMapper. So without further ad0 here are a few interesting ones I’ve come across:

Step into my office

Speaking as a person used to working in solitude in a too-dark room in a crappy student house, this is my idea of heaven. Speaking also as a student in a city like Manchester, I might go into shock any second now! No rain, no clouds and a bbq happening a couple of gardens over, it doesn’t get much better than this.

Just an update on what I’m working on at the moment: I’m starting work on the “design report” for this most recent project which involves  detailing every process of my work this term. This is where having a pad that you write EVERYTHING in comes in handy, I can just flick through, find books that I’ve read, places I’ve visited and ideas I’ve had. Design Report done… almost. Not quite. I’ve been scanning in my sketchbook today so I might upload the more interesting bits soon.

Remedial Time Travel

On Friday night I decided it was time to revisit a film that has been rattling round in my brain for a long time. “Primer” is a low-budget, low-maintenence time-travel film that is just utterly brilliant for what it is. Scripted, directed and produced by Shane Carruth the film follows two entrepreneurial engineers as they wrestle with this newest in a line of “error-checking machines” they’ve been working on. This latest itteration is a bit different, however, in that it can let objects travel back and forth along a time gap.

Whatever the film’s short-comings in story (running into a terribly complicated cul-de-sac as most time-based stories seem to do) what is hard to fathom is how it was made on the budget that has been released: $7,000. Now this is of particular interest since recently I’ve started to read a book by Joe Queenan called “The Unkindest Cut” in which he discusses the impossible task of making a $7,000 film as costs of both production and post-production spiral out of control. Because “Primer” is not a handy-cam job, because it’s well lit and because the list of locations is more than just this guy’s house I find the figure of $7,000 more than a bit dubious… This is no Paranormal Activity but that is in no way a bad thing, this is so much more than shitty suspense, this is proper science fiction at it’s best, a pure story (for the most part) and a proper understanding of the material really allows for a deep and intelligent look at time-travel and how it works. Plus it contains the line “Are you hungry? I haven’t eaten since later this afternoon”. Watch it, then watch it again, this could get confusing…

Taking a step back

One of the most important parts of the design process can be getting distance from your work. It may seem like your convincing yourself of this because you love napping or you really want to go out tonight but it’s true that taking a step back can reveal a lot more than mindless graft day-in day-out. Now I’m not saying that napping is the answer because we all know that napping often leaves you irritable, bed-headed and more tired than when you lay down, one of the great mysteries but there you go. What I’m pushing for is responsible work-ethic, working during the day and relaxing in the evening, taking a step back from the drawing board can be a relief and an exercise in itself. This is why I don’t pull all-nighters, I go to sleep before 12 and I wake up early so that I have a regular and happy work-pattern rather than a mad rush to the finish.

This is why, since our final crit on Tuesday (which didn’t exactly go well) I’ve been taking several steps back, out of the door of my room and out into the real world for some much needed unwinding. It’s also great to be home, way from other architect students for, although they are my close friends, the constant updating on how much work is done and needs to be done can drive you absolutely bonkers.

So since Wednesday I’ve been to see the football, had a late breakfast, driven home, watched a film, and had a lovely dinner with my Dad. Not a particularly archi-centric post but maybe that’s the point.

N.B. If you have a Pinterest Account, feel free to add me on

Super Graphics

So we’re swiftly approaching the final presentation for this Camera Obscura Project and I’ve spent this weekend knocking up my sheets for Tuesday. What I’ve done is instead of walking the viewer through my inspirations, my precedents and my site analysis, what I’ve sided with is a more aspirational, experiential montage of how the spaces relate to each other. My design revolves around the projection of data and film and the different ways a person can experience that, be it through immersion, information, scale, reaction or interaction.

This is what is being called a “super graphic”, a quick, punchy explanation of a project in two A1 sheets, It will be presented alongside a 1:500 site model and 1:100 individual models of the different interventions.

Statify or Die

Gamification has been a big trend over the last few years in business as well as social media. Games like foursquare encourage users to log places and opinions for rewards and the Cow Clicker debacle really went to show that a meaningless and mundane task can be seen to be attractive if there is some sort of reward no matter how stupid, in this case, a golden cow…

This has more than a little effect on me and I know that I’ve spent hours in my life playing a game that I don’t necessarily find enjoyable or even interesting just because 100% brings that satisfying end screen. But it’s when a game is truely dense and what matters is your performance that I really get interested and will invest god-knows how much time. Games like Football Manager that have banks and banks of records and stats that are there to be explored, acknowledged and, if you have the patience, analysed to improve your decisions in game. “Statifying” an experience will always be the key to my heart.

Possibly this stems from a slightly obsessive nature or maybe just because numbers and data are something you can deal with and notice patterns from. Maybe it’s because my memory is so poor… Whatever the reason, I recently stumbled onto Daytum, which is a website, started by a man called Feltron who produces amazing yearly reports on his life, noting down how he spends his time, who he spends it with and the patterns within his relationships. More than a little insane but he’s been appointed as a leading designer on the facebook team so there you go. I would say that insanity is more interesting than normality but, strangely, Feltron’s reports prove just the opposite. The maniacal collection of mundane data can prove, if it is abundant enough, the most interesting…

On the free service at Daytum you get 24 categories (food, sleep, drink, no. of runs) and 1000 items. These can be displayed in any number of combinations in all types of graphs, it just depends on what data you’re collecting and what you want to show. Here are some of my examples:

What I’ve found most interesting is how my work is split between the different programs and activities. It reflects how much work goes into a tiny half hour presentation and the amount of work is done on a computer as apposed to say model making or sketching.

This data has been collected over the last couple of weeks and I will endeavour to continue and build a more comprehensive picture of hour I work and the like.

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