KITOPARTS: A Virtual Playground To Explore Form, Space, & Order

Derek A. Ham
Architecture students use both analog and digital tools throughout their design process. Ideally, the affordances of each tool complement each other. Our goal with Kitoparts is to move beyond two-dimensional screen based computer modeling environments to create a system that feels analog but harnesses all the affordances of digital modeling environments. With the usage of VR and haptic controllers, we hope to provide a rich and flexible methodology for investigating forms and space. In educational settings, Kitoparts aims to solve three major problems with traditional beginning design exercises. First, it solves the scaling problem, allowing design students to see their designs visualized at full scale and in real-time. Second, it overcomes the combinatorial nature of physical building blocks by allowing 3D shapes to overlap and embed into each other in ways they could not within the physical world. Finally, we include the designer’s “hands” in the creative process. Virtual hands prove to be much more intuitive to use than the traditional mouse and keyboards commonly utilized in most CAD and modeling software. With Kitoparts, the computer model is no longer just a tool for representation; it becomes the user interface for design. Kitoparts allows both seasoned designers and novices to simply play, build, and explore.

Keywords

Education; Representation; Hands on learning; Slow computing; Shape grammars; Real and virtual; Play and design

References

Corbusier, L. (1946). Towards a New Architecture / by Le Corbusier. London: Architectural.

Friedberg, A. (2009). The Virtual Window: From Alberti to Microsoft. Cambridge: The MIT Press.

Ham, D. (2016). “How Designers Play: The Ludic Modalities of the Creative Process.” Design Issues 32 (4): 16-28

Knight, T. (2012). “Slow Computing: Teaching Generative Design With Shape Grammars.” In Computational Design Methods and Technologies: Applications in CAD, CAM and CAE Education, edited N. Gu and X. Wang. Hershey, PA: IGI Global, 34-55.

Love, T. (2003). “Kit-of-parts conceptualism.” Harvard Design Magazine 19: 40-47.

Stiny, G. (1980). “Kindergarten Grammars: Designing With Froebel’s Building Gifts.” Environment and Planning B: Planning and Design 7 (4): 409-462.

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