Forms In Context-Hybrid Museum

Jacky Lococo
18 min readOct 22, 2021

Visiting Miller ICA

When I visited the space, I was very surprised at how small it was. Especially with the current exhibit and the walls put up in the space, it felt a bit small in comparison to the image I had in my head. The main things I want to consider when beginning to fill the space are:

  • how to create separation between the outdoor — indoor threshold and the rest of the museum with not a lot of space
  • How to “section off” the space to house different pieces of info without creating a lot of division in the space

Self Reflection: Map the course schedule to your own personal schedule

In oder to be a bit organized, I have mapped out E class schedule with my own schedule. I find this helpful for each class since it helps to have a visual reference of when everything is planned and mapped out. I also included the first project due date on my event calendar just so I have an idea of when the assignment is due. This will be very helpful to make sure that the due dat doesn't end up being a surprise.

Topic — Anthropocene:

The topic I want to center the exhibit around is the anthropocene more specifically air pollution. I think it would be an interesting journey to try and create interactions and visualizations for something like air pollution. Something that makes air pollution a difficult concept to holistically grasp is that it is harder to visualize.

Main Research Findings and Considerations:

  • The “challenges that define the anthropocene” include 3 topics related to air pollution: climate change, stratospheric ozone depletion, and aerosol loading into the atmosphere. A way that might be helpful to break down the exhibit is to pick these three portions and create different sections based on each. Another way could be choosing one and then tracing that issue throughout the exhibit. For the space constraints, it may work out that the latter would be best suited for the museum space itself.
  • An issue with doing greenhouse gas emissions and climate change is that CO2 is not necessarily considered a pollutant since it is something we naturally breathe out and plants absorb. The anthropomorphic element lies in the CO2 that we produced with fossil fuel emissions etc. If this is something I want to consider, it may turn out that I should re-define the museum space to discuss “air quality” or something else other than “pollutants.”
  • I also found that doing additional research will be key into fully understanding this topic and creating accurate interactions. I am a little unsure on how “different” our approach has to be when it comes to

MoodBoard

In my exhibit, I want to play with using light and darkness to create movement through the space. So, for my mood-board, I wanted to focus on images that provided this contrast between light and dark, whether that is with gradients, grayscale sketches, or shadows. In terms of materials, I want to combine natural and industrial elements in the space. I know we talked about how cement is a little difficult to place in the exhibit, but this material’s color and more natural texture is something I would like to replicate in the exhibit. I also want to include materials that provide a sense of transparency, like the grate-like material, back lit paper paneling, or opaque glass. I think that these materials will help to provide an interesting dimension to the interactions or maybe also help create separation in the space without it feeling too cramped. For my color palette, I mainly want to stick with a grayscale gradient with pops of grey-ish blue and green. For the type, I may want to stick with black for legibility, and also use more modern, sans serif fonts. As the project progresses, I may want to pick a font that has more organic elements, but for now I think the more rigid sans serif fonts would contrast with the gradient elements in the space.

Storyboard Oct. 26

Changes in light: The main element of my exhibit will be that the light around the visitor will change in order to create a more smog like interior. This will provide an alternative way of viewing air pollution, since a lot of how we view it is solely in the physical representation of smoke.

Self Reflection 10.27

The Honeygrow Ordering System

One hybrid space that came to mind is the Honeygrow restaurant. I was introduced to Honeygrow back home, and I was very surprised by their ordering system since it completely relied on using tablets. Instead of interacting with an employee, the customer goes through the entire order on the tablets, and then picks it up once it is ready. This is definitely not a new addition to the hybrid environment world, but it was something that really stuck out to me.

In my opinion, I find that this integration of technology is not necessary. In our current design series class, Johnathan Chapman gave a lecture in which he talked about the idea that design shouldn’t always get rid of the uncomfortable. Having a bit of uncomfort in design is more natural and more representative of the human experience. Though it can be difficult both on the employee and the customer to have to be reliant on each other to order, these tiny interactions are very much a staple to the dining experience. For this reason, I was very shocked that they got rid of that interaction completely. Especially in this time when the world is coming out of so much isolation, getting rid of the moments where tiny interactions occur is not holistically representative of what the world needs.

Integration of Technology:

In my space, I think I am mainly going to focus on pressure sensors, motion sensors, and also sensors that detect distance (those might also be motion sensors). For the motion sensors, I want to create a molecular wall that shows what the molecular structure of the atmosphere is. Then, the visitors will be able to use motion to interact with the wall and see how different pollutants interact with the atmosphere and create pollution. I also want to implement pressure sensors on the floor of the exhibit to allow for viewers to stumble upon learning opportunities!

In the D.C Artechouse museum, there was an installation called Renewal 2121 which tried to show natures perseverance against industrialization and Climate Change. The artists were inspired by the annual Cherry Blossom Festival in D.C, and created an immersive space where visitors were surrounded by three walls of projections. There are also motion sensors that detect visitors proximity to the projections. As they get closer to the wall, trees pop up through the concrete, or cherry blossom petals outline the silhouette of the visitor. This detection of proximity and movement is something that I would like to include in my exhibit.

The Artechouse Museum Renewal 2121 Exhibit

Initial Parti Diagram

Right now, this is the sort of movement that I want to exist within the space. But, I am still very unsure on the flow of the space and how much space I actually have to work in. Right now things I am considering are

  • How am I going to change my process to understand the space in a scalar way a bit more?
  • To what extent does the exhibit have to see the concept in a nuanced way? Is it the interactions that will do this?
  • How will I refine this to incorporate the element of light a bit more?

Physical Model 10.28

This is the beginning of my physical model. I choose to go with concrete tile floors that

Feedback 10.28

  • Think about ways to focus on the social component of air pollution rather than the scientific.
  • It may also be good to focus on Pittsburgh as a way to provide context or ground the project.
  • Consider the space a bit more with wall usage and what wants to be in the space since everything might not be able to fit.
  • Look at Eames Mathematic exhibit as an example of trying to redefine a set idea.
  • Think about how the visitor turns and moves within the space.

I think that all the feedback. I do think though that I want to incorporate some scientific elements into the space. I think it would be interesting to have a what, why, how element to the space. What is the issue from a fundamental level (talking about how air pollution works), why is it an issue, and how can we intervene.

I was also able to talk to Ricky about his project and something I really liked about his was the idea that the visitor was unaware of the technology being used to track their movement, and just stumbled upon the interactions. I think this is something very interesting because I need to decide whether the visitor will be prompted to set off a specific interaction, or whether they happen upon it. Something thats interesting about not being prompted is that it instills a sense of accomplishment and discovery within the visitor.

Steps forward:

  • Consider interactions → refine ideas
  • Figure out the flow of information, dose it go through the what, why, how or maybe has an alternative process
  • Consider space → maybe visit Miller institute again to gauge the space a bit more

Little Bits — Scalar Interaction

Videos of Little Bits Interaction
Little Bits Technical Drawing

For the little bits interaction, I chose to showcase the scalar comparison part of my exhibit. In this section, the visitor will trigger a pressure sensor that will then turn on light strips that showcase how industry, the city, and the world contribute to air pollution. I included a dimmer to the light switch just to show that the lights turning on will be a bit more subtle rather than just flashing on.

Feedback:

  • Start diving into the detail of these interactions
  • move the wall over to the right a bit more to create more space
  • Make the door to the right of the entrance a sliding door so you don’t have to account for the opening radius
  • To make the past present future section incorporate the interactions in a more cohesive way for each section, cut off right wall a bit.
  • No need to focus on the informational aspects → focus on the interactions and space layout

LED Light Interactions

The interactions I want to include a lot of these floor-flushed LED light strips that will be connected to motion sensors and pressure sensors. I think in addition to being used for the interactions, I could also use these as design elements throughout the exhibit which I think will make everything a bit more cohesive. These will be used throughout the space to guide the visitor, and also be a main part of my interactions.

Self Reflection 2: Architecture v.s Environmental Designer

In what I’ve observed in this course, I think that there is some overlap in the. Throughout my own life I have been exposed to a lot about how an architecture firm works and the architectural process. My dad has his own residential architectural firm, and so my family is exposed to a lot of the inner workings of the process. This makes my view a bit more subjective so my outlook on architectural design firms is heavily influenced by the way my dad’s is structured (I understand that what I say here may not be the case for all firms). One of the differences I’ve found is in the scale and scope of projects. In many of the examples of Environmental work we have taken a look at, the environmental designers mainly focus on a space, whether that is a Lobby, or a museum, or an event space. However, an architects job is to see how that one space fits into the system of a larger building/house/structure. However, since the scale can be a bit smaller for environment designers they push creativity within technology and the interaction between physical and digital a lot more. Within that smaller scale, they incorporate a lot more elements, especially technical elements.

In terms of the different tools used, I would argue that architecture dosen’t require a lot of coding or technological skill outside of AutoCAD, SketchUP, and more drafting technologies. When I see the new developments my dad uses, its mainly in material or software, and it doesn’t really drive a design as much.

However, there are some similarities in the idea that both consider people’s interaction with a space. They also both have a lot of collaboration that has to occur. For my dad’s firm (which is extremely small and is usually max 3–4 people including himself), he collaborates with contractors, engineers, interior designers, landscape designers, and carpenters, to get his designs to materialize. Similarly, I’ve noticed that Environmental designers can work alongside computer scientists, structural engineers, architects, designers, ect.

Updated Parti — Progression: Nov. 2

Left is what I had before I came up with the right diagram

I decided to change the layout of my exhibit from what I had before since there seemed to be a lot being cramped in a very tiny amount of space. In the left parti diagram, I had around 5 sections where as in the updated version there are only 4. This is a bit more feasible for the space. I also switched the layout of the inner walls so that the desk was on the opposite side. This would make a lot more sense for trying to guide the visitor since it will be more open, it would be brighter, and the intro information is on that side now. Mihika also said that in order to place the scalar interaction and the pollutant interaction in the “present” section, I would cut off the wall a bit. This would create a bit more cohesion in that section.

Visitors view when entering the exhibit

When I got to this point, I also finalized the different types of interactions Im going to have. Instead of doing an entire molecular wall that has many different pollutants at once, I think it would be better to just have a wall that focuses on one pollutant. The interactive element would be what i was trying to achieve before with the molecular wall. In this interaction, it would be interesting if the visitor was able to actually make the pollutant themselves to see how its structure is created.

The scalar interaction is pretty similar to before, and the new addition is the timeline interaction. In this portion, the timeline will light up along the path of the visitors walk. Different moments in Pittsburgh’s air pollution history will be focused on as they walk into the exhibit. The majority of my interactions use pressure sensors along the floor.

Things to consider:

  • how will the user know to go up to the molecules and interact with them/move them?
  • Is flow of the museum seamless or does it seem disconnected? Does the break up of past, present, future make sense with the issue?
  • Is there a way to move away from only using pressure sensors?
  • How will light be a guiding force in the interactions and space?

I think something that I keep being a bit worried about is the informational significance and accuracy of my exhibit. I get bogged down in the idea that the information I’m presenting in the interactions isn’t very refined or “new” to the visitor, but after talking to the TA’s this portion of the exhibit doesn’t need to be considered as much as the rest of it. Because of this, moving forward I’m going to try to not focus on the informational aspects and only focus on refining the interactions.

Work on Elevations (Continuously updated)

A lot of the process work that I did was in Illustrator and it was mainly flushing out the look of each interaction and elevation. Here are some of the screenshots from the documents:

The steps forward in this portion of the project is more in just actually making the different elevations, putting them into sketch up, and then editing them in photoshop. Photoshop will have the bulk of the work since that is where I will be able to show the lighting changes that will occur.

Final Deliverables

Final Parti Diagram and Elevations

Visualizations:

For the visualizations, my process was very photoshop heavy since I had to add the lighting changes, strip lights, and also the back lit dots. I think the main challenge was just how tedious the process really was. It was a lot of selecting what was on the sketchUp model and adding things that were too distorted in the model.

Animations of Interactions:

In order to show my interactions, I wanted to use an animation format. In my updated interaction storyboard, I found it difficult to communicate each interaction through the drawing medium. Since I also wont have a lot of time during the presentation, this method would make it a bit more effective.

Interaction 1: Walk with Time

For the timeline interaction, I mainly showed how the visitors walking progression will be tracked by pressure sensors and allow different dates to pop up on the timeline.

Interaction 2: Understanding Pollutants

The different pollutants being represented (2 shown of the 4)

For this interaction, the visitor will select one of the four circles on the ground that corresponds to a different pollutant. Once they have done so, they can go up to the projection and learn more about the pollutant. They can also interact with the molecule and then drag it into the center to show an animation on how it is emitted or the effect it has.

Interaction 3: Scalar Comparison

In the scalar interaction, I show how the blinking circle light on the floor will gesture to the interaction. When the visitor moves over to that space, they will light up the lighting strips, pieces of information, and back lit dot visualizations.

Physical Model

Sources for Project Information:

https://docs.google.com/document/d/11ReLWd-O5R_1A3-H8MmCq9IupD8Wh48mrDAuTFjfeL4/edit?usp=sharing

Paneling in the Physical and Sketch-up Model

In both my physical and sketch-up model, I used a paper paneling system along the walls of the inner wall cluster. In these panels, there would be strip lights at the bottom that get dimmer each panel. This would be on of the ways that I could control the lighting a bit more so that the space gets darker as you move through it.

Final Presentation Slides:

Self Reflection 3: Meta-Cognitive Experience

What motivates you?

I think in general, I am motivated by the want to grow and change. In a lot of ways, I get very afraid of change when it happens quickly, but I think I am even more afraid of staying the same. In design and in life, I think just trying find ways to learn, refine and accumulate skills are some things that motivate me. A lot of it is about looking to the future and planning for what skills i need in order to grow as both a designer and a person.

What distracts you?

I often get distracted by alternative ideas when working on a project. I think that sometimes I like to keep projects at a distance so that I don’t go deep and get lost within the details or possibilities. This can sometimes suspend a project a bit for me, which makes me end up being a bit behind. However, I think the nature of how this project is set up and the time frame that exists made it so that I had to dive into the details very early on. When I did this, it was a bit overwhelming at times and I definitely did get distracted, but I think I was able to hone in and focus more than I have in the past.

What keeps you engaged?

I think what keeps me engaged is the process of creating deliverables. I really enjoy creating more tangible artifacts and going through the process helps me be very engaged with a project. I find that when I’m engaged I’ve already done all of the conceptual parts and focus on taking the steps to produce the final product. I think it is in these stages of a project, when I have a clear sense of what I am doing, that I am most engaged. I also find that being able to learn new skills and then have to apply them keep me pretty engaged. Learning more about sketch-up and having to apply it in our designs definitely kept me engaged through the process.

Looking back on the project:

Overall I enjoyed this project very much! The actual process of creating the exhibit was a lot different than the process I experienced last mini. I found that there was a lot less emphasis on the final product and more emphasis on the process that gets you to the final product. I also found that I was being more cognizant of the different steps we went through like idea formulation, iterations, physical building, technical interaction building etc. I think my spatial awareness definitely had to improve for this project as well. Before, I wasn’t too aware of the significance behind how people move through space, but now I see how important it really is.

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