Environment Process: The Museum (and loving research)

Posted by Glen Moyes on Saturday, 28 August, 2010 at 5:09 am

Recently I’ve been talking a lot about pushing the environmental designs in Hackberry Hollow to make them a lot more memorable and interesting. You’ll also notice that we’ve been posting a lot more modern architecture in our concept art as we move further along in the story.

We just started designing a brand new area, which means I get to play architect and design a building for our imaginary client: an art museum.

But first let me just give you some background on my affinity towards modern architecture: I love modern architecture! Almost inappropriately. So how did that happen?

It’s very important to note that people often love the topics they study. During one of my previous (unfinished) projects I ended up doing a lot of research on the following topics: modern architecture, lighting design, concept car design, and a myriad of other topics which incidentally also included squirrels. Thanks to that, I now love modern architecture, lighting design, sports cars, and um…squirrels. So let that be a lesson: you will most likely start to love the things you research.

So now we get to the part of this story where things start to happen in the big city, in art museums, and fancy office buildings. Of course I start to go nuts because I get to design architecture like my hero Santiago Calatrava. So yes, I’m pretty excited. Thank goodness the city we are designing isn’t full of squirrels because I would probably go into a coma.

Even though I love modern architecture and vehicle design, that doesn’t mean that it’s going to be easy for me. You may remember my previous rage while utterly failing at vehicle design, even though I love it so much. Hopefully that won’t happen here, but I’m certainly going to be spending a lot of time and effort making this museum look awesome

To start the process I’m going to do tons of sketches and really try to push the designs in the early stages as opposed to pushing the designs after the fact. The more different and wild the designs I come up with early on the better.

My plan of attack is to try two different processes: design from the outside in, and then the inside out. The sketches you see up there are for the “outside in” approach, where I’m only trying to find cool shapes of the overall structure, only thinking about style and not what is going on inside of the structure. While I sketched I pretended to be one of three architects in the Hackberry Hollow world that were contracted to come up with competing designs for the museum: Ferret Gehry, Leopard Corbusier, and Armadillo Calatrava. (Any resemblance to persons living or dead is purely coincidental).

Once I find a style that I like, I’ll try the “inside out” approach so that I’m actually design a building that will be functional. I’ll pretend that this is for an actual client, so I’ll be thinking about what the client wants, what their needs are, and so on.

Then there’s coming up with 3D mock-ups of the design. I’ve been using Blender for all my mock-ups in the past which has served me very well, but I’m increasingly hearing about concept artists using Sketchup because of how easy it is to use. So for this project I’m going to use Skechup to help me create a mock-up of the museum. I learned the modeling tools in about 30 minutes (yes, it held up to its reputation), and the Blender importer is pretty good but not perfect. So we’ll see how that goes. If this part of the process goes well we’ll probably use Sketchup for other mock-up work too because it’s architectural modeling tools are so good, and it outputs nice illustrative renderings that can easily be painted upon, and forces me to not be as dependent on Blender for figuring out the lighting in a scene.

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