Project 02: Topographies

January 29, 2013


Part 1: Constructing Topography


As we continue to investigate the relationship between structure and ground in our studio project, the understanding of topography – or the characteristics of the given ground – becomes extremely crucial in the process of design. Typically, in site surveys, maps, and satellite data descriptions of topography and sites are given as two-dimensional representations. These representations include but are not limited to contour maps, height field images, and altitude points. It is important that we develop the skills to understand and interpret the two dimensional representations of topography as well as to be able to translate the information into three dimensional form. Working back and forth between the two modes of representation is essential to the process of design.

Download project brief for part 1 as .pdf file.


  1. To develop an understanding of two-dimensional representations of topography.
  2. To develop fluency in translating scales between different modes of representation.
  3. To translate two-dimensional representations into a three-dimensional form.

Part 2: Physical<->Digital Topographies


In our next series of exercises, we will simultaneously explore two modelling methods: physical and digital. We will investigate the processes of translation between the physical and the digital, and question the different qualities between the two media of production. Similar to drawing, model-making is not only a mode of representation but more importantly a tool for design. We must gain fluency in both physical and digital modelling techniques in order to expand our design ‘toolkit’ and to avoid relegating some techniques to merely representational tools.

Download project brief for part 2 as .pdf file.


  1. To understand the basics of three dimensional modeling – both physically and digitally.
  2. To develop techniques of translating information from physical models to digital models and vice versa.
  3. To understand differences in the ways in which physical and digital modelling tools can inform design.

Video Tutorials