Project 3: Patterns & Structures

September 3, 2012

Introduction

This project launches an inquiry into geometric patterns through constructed line drawings.  Geometric patterns can be found in art, architecture, and vernacular craft throughout the world.  These patterns are not only interesting due to their geometry – relationships between part and whole, the process of construction, hierarchy, and optical/illusory qualities – but also on a cultural and philosophical level.  This investigation challenges the student to discover and derive the hidden structures underlying these ornate patterns and to further develop technical capabilities.

Download project brief as .pdf file.

Download selected patterns from Owen Jones’s books as a .zip archive here.

Part 1: Underlying Structures

The student will begin by selecting a pattern from a given set of patterns (11 or more per studio group) and will be challenged to derive the underlying structure of the pattern through geometric construction techniques using a compass, ruler, and pencil.  The project is not to copy the pattern, but to understand and communicate the underlying structure of the pattern.

Part 1: Constraints

Drawings are to be made using a drafting pencil, ruler, and compass only.

Part 1: Deliverables

One Drawing (minimum) of the underlying structure of the pattern using 1/2 Imperial Scale paper.  The number sheets of paper that are needed depends on the scale of the pattern, conceptual layout of the pattern on the sheet, and global variation of the pattern.  

Part 2: Didactic Grammar

In this part of the project the student is asked to produce a set of didactic drawings – drawings that would teach another person how to construct the pattern using the same set of tools.  In making this drawing, one must consider not only sequence but also how one could explore variations and open-ended results by leaving some of the rules of the “global” structure less constrained, while defining local rules or grammars. 

Part 2: Objectives

  1. To develop a clear grammar for the pattern using only drawings (and minimal graphic symbols).
  2. To create a series of didactic drawings that will allow someone else to construct the pattern using the same set of given tools.  In creating this set of drawings, consider the specificity of the rules and constraints and how one can allow for variation while still retaining geometric/grammars of the patterns.

Part 2: Constraints

  1. Drawings are to be made using a drafting pencil, ruler, and compass only.
  2. Drawings are to be made on sheets of A5 paper only. Translucent paper, such as vellum, may be used.

Part 2: Deliverables

  1. One set of drawings on A5 paper. The number of sheets used is not limited, but it is unlikely that you will need less than five sheets. You will be exchanging these drawings with your colleagues, so the rules of the patterns must be clear and drawings technically well executed.   

Part 3: Variation & Detail

In this part of the project the student is challenged to develop a variation of the pattern, based on the rules that were derived from the pattern in the earlier steps. The instructors will organize an exchange of Didactic Grammar drawings between students in their groups. Therefore the student will be presented with a new pattern, now known only from the grammar rules. This series of given drawings should be used to generate a pattern, that may be a variation of the actual pattern and explore a detail within this drawing. Students should discuss the definition of a “detail” with their instructors.

Part 3: Objectives

  1. To create a pattern based on the grammars created in the previous part of the project.
  2. Explore variation in the construction of the pattern
  3. Develop a detail within the pattern drawing.

Part 3: Constraints

  1. Drawings are to be made using a drafting pencil, ruler, and compass only.
  2. Drawings are to be executed on 1/2 Imperial scale paper. The number of sheets used is not limited.

Part 3: Deliverables

  1. One Drawing that is made using the didactic drawings from another student (from part 2 of this project) that explores variations on a pattern from given rules and examines details within a pattern. This drawing is not limited in scale, but should use 1/2 Imperial scale paper as medium.