Virtual Environments

In order to be able to imagine the future, designers usually have to explore its virtual version. Such imaginary virtual environments can exist in thoughts, texts, drawings, models or computational representations. This first-year subject explores how such virtual environments support designing in architecture and other disciplines. Conceptually, the course helps the students to obtain skills in design reasoning, critical thinking and multi-modal communication. It aims to encourage experimental ways of working and independent research. Technically, it helps to develop essential skills in drawing and modeling, demonstrating how representational techniques enable creativity and determine design outcomes in the natural and built environments.

This is a 12-week course that consists of lectures, tutorials and independent project work.

This video was used as a continuous loop in the HEADSPACE 1 exhibition (Wunderlich Gallery, Melbourne, 7-11 June 2010) along with other content. For full HD see HEADSPACE 1 - showcase.

HEADSPACE 1 Project (2010, above) demonstrates some of the outcomes of the Virtual Environments course, a first-year constituent of the Bachelor of Environments degree. The course focuses on design representations and teaches a broad range of skills essential in a number of professional occupations and creative practices. Such skills cannot be acquired in a theoretical course and Virtual Environments is structured around a practical project. This project necessitates learning about design precedents, understanding theoretical concepts and utilizing skills in practice.

The project is called HEADSPACE because it invites students to take ideas from within their heads and place them, literally, on the outside. Students do this by building a complex form that is made from paper and can be worn on the head.

Headwear was chosen as a design topic because it gives students an opportunity to design in reference to their own personae and produce visually interesting outcomes that can be manufactured and tested in context.

To design their headpieces, students analyzed functional affordances of headwear and responded to this analysis with innovative solutions inspired by natural and/or constructed environments.

To design their headpieces, students analyzed functional affordances of headwear and responded to this analysis with innovative solutions inspired by natural and/or constructed environments. The HEADSPACE project consisted of four modules:

Module I - Engender
1. Students used drawings and physical scale models to develop three-dimensional forms and chose one for further development.

Module II - Digitize & Elaborate
1. Students used orthographic projections and contouring techniques to describe their models and convert them into three-dimensional computational representations; and 2. Students developed their designs further using digital modelling techniques.

Module III - Fabricate
1. Students used computer software to unfold their models into cutting templates; and 2. They organised the logistics of fabrication and manufactured self-supporting paper models from triangulated patches.

Module IV - Reflect & Report
Students produced documents describing their projects including technical drawings and illustrations of their headpieces in context.

Course/project credits:

Virtual Environments course, Semester 1, 2010
Bachelor of Environments degree
Faculty of Architecture, Building and Planning
University of Melbourne

Course coordinator (project idea): Stanislav Roudavski

Senior Tutor: John Bleaney
Tutors: Jessica Chidester, Danny Griffin, Gustavo Goncalves, Enlai Hooi, Mike Hornblow, Flynn Lewer, Andrew Reynolds, Anne Marie Walsh
Individual designs by students (too many to mention)

Movie credits:

Direction and editing: Stanislav Roudavski
Videography: Ben Loveridge, James Rafferty
Photography and music: Flynn Lewer

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For examples of student presentations see:

HEADSPACE 1 (2010-1)

HEADSPACE 2 (2010-2)

BODYSPACE 1 (2011-1)

BODYSPACE 2 (2011-2)