Sunday, February 13, 2011

How do we communicate ideas?

A lot of what I have been doing on the computer is creating a collection of images with four viewer groups in mind:

1. the city planning department (givers of permits)
2. an engineer (to approve the structural integrity of my design)
3. my parents (the clients)
4. myself (when I want to look back at this project in the future and remember exactly what I was thinking)

In a lot of cases, the same image can satisfy all four groups. In some cases, it helps to first make a technical drawing and then a more visual image, both representing the same thing, but for two different sets of eyes.

In any case, it's interesting to think about visual communication. The benefit to being my own boss and not being tied to conventional construction is the freedom I have to design a unique visual identity for expressing my projects. If I was an engineer or a general contractor, I'd be drawing things up in the same way, by the book, for every project. Consider this: the planning examiners at city hall had offices around the perimeter of a room full of cubbies - and all of the cubbies were the same size, and were filled with very similar-looking scrolls of drawings, which look less-than-stimulating (void of color, mostly void of the third dimension, etc...). It's very obvious why the common aesthetic for new residential construction in this country is as terrifying as it is - check out this song (this is the original, and the best - there are versions by countless other artists, including regina spektor, if you want a different voice), and consider its meaning.

Even without getting into building ethics, it's very interesting to think about communication. For example, in my head I can say "I want my parents to understand that from this hallway, these rooms can be accessed, and because it is high-traffic, the hallway has a wood floor, while the rooms have earthen floors, and the outlet in the hallway is for a lamp that can be turned on by it's cord, or by a switch at the other end of the hall, etc..." - but I don't want to say all of that over and over to every person I talk to; I want an image that says it all. (I am pretty happy with the "mini floor plans" in the previous post, as a way to explain important information about the layout that cannot be gleaned from looking at the unadulterated floor plan alone). Below are three things that I've been working on, and am going to continue with today. I'll post the updates later on...

Here is the same image from the previous post, but with the simple addition of arrows and 2 quadrilaterals (which represent planes in space, corresponding to sides of the building). Instead of using words, like "south side" and "west side," and encouraging the viewer to match the corresponding words, maybe this is a more visually-competent solution?

Here is my latest attempt to provide structural information about the details in the post-and-beam framing that are difficult to understand in the larger context. Playing with the transparency of certain structural members in the smaller images has allowed me to show all of the details around a complex construction point, and then reference the dimensions of each member.

Here is the first (and rough) draft of my wiring layout. There will additionally need to be a more schematic-like diagram to show all of the circuits, but this image is more appropriate for the client, in order to open up a discussion about where certain outlets are, what switches need to be operable from different points in a room/hallway, where appliances should go, and much more (like the location of outdoor outlets, dimming switches, details, details, etc...). The whole floor plan has been altered since making this drawing - this was pre-post-and-beam, even - so I will make some drastic changes to this today).

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