In the beginning of this project we were tasked with researching the Cuming Museum and an individual artefact from the museum’s collection. We did our own object research separately and divided the museum research fairly between every member.
We systematically uploaded our information onto the blog to keep each other updated and informed – this continued throughout the entire project and helped to keep everything organised and cohesive, as to prevent disorder and confusion.
After completing our personal object research we spent a few days producing sketches and ideas; these were uploaded onto the blog and were very helpful when inspiring others. This led to us scheduling meetings where we would swap designs and draw on top of or improve them to combine different ideas. We reached a general design that we all loved and that contained elements of all our work. We all agreed that we wanted to create a public art piece and we started to take that idea forward.
We created several sketch models as a group using paper and card. These models were all homogenous and only differed slightly (some walls had different cut-out shapes, etc.), keeping strictly to our design. We experimented with the idea of salvaged wood (from the burnt remains of the building) and decided to scorch one of the models to see how this would look. The model actually caught fire and was charred completely, but we loved the raw, destructive aesthetic and the smell that it created and therefore planned to incorporate this in our design. This then became a symbol of regeneration for the museum and became a very sensitive element in our design proposal.
The idea for mechanical moving walls was suggested as to incorporate the mechanical qualities of the Chinese fan, which sparked a lot of interest among the group. We agreed that it would be a challenge to achieve, but if executed well it would look phenomenal and far different than any other design being proposed. We wanted to stand-out as well as pushing ourselves individually since we had never produced an idea like this before.
The time we had to produce our prototype model for the Green Week exhibition was limited, but we agreed that we would allocate one week to research and experimentation and one week to build the final model, however we did not have enough time to produce a mechanical, locomotive design in the remaining week. We agreed to have one static model that would represent the plan and materials used in the space, and leave the mechanism for the final model. We ended up presenting 3 models for Green Week; the static prototype model, the charred model and a model that represented the idea of moving walls which invited visitors to push and pull it.
In preparation for submission we again divided the workload between all members. Caleb, Julia and Harry worked on the final model and mechanics; Harry produced detailed hand drawings of the wall mechanism; Daria and Zacharoula made the site model and researched materials used for the final design; Julia organised the document with the help of Zacharoula; Daria organised the blog and Caleb and Daria created the Vectorworks drawings.
Every member contributed equally to this project and we worked effectively and professionally as a team. We had no lazy members and are delighted with our final outcome and the overall progression of our project.
I started the project by researching the Cuming family and the beginnings of the museum, such as how the collection was founded and how the family acquired the artefacts. I found information on the Internet and in the British Museum library for this.
The object I chose was a canopic jar; this item intrigued me because they come in sets of four, with each jar containing different organs. This idea of compartmentalisation was interesting to me and I thought it could be translated into a physical space somehow. I visited the Ancient Egypt and Sudan section of British Museum library (the only library I could find with a book on the Cuming Museum’s collection). What I thought was interesting was that the only book containing any information was actually a scanned copy of the original that was handwritten in microscopic detail. It was very difficult for me to decipher some of the writings but I managed to understand most of it and upload it onto the blog. In order to greater understand the function and history of canopic jars I found a book on notorious Egyptian artefacts in the same library and found some great information which helped me to understand the intricacies of mummification and the significance of the jars. This is where the idea of compartmentalisation came into importance.
After producing some design sketches inspired by the jars we had several meetings where we presented our work to the group. We discussed each other’s designs and swapped them so that we could amalgamate some key ideas that some group members were interested in, while also ensuring that every group member had some contribution to the final design. I ended up veering away from the idea of compartmentalisation and as a result my artefact is not explicitly obvious in the final design, as I became interested in the idea of layers of perforated walls as shown in the Chinese puzzle ball and produced ideas based on this and the Chinese fan instead.
I prompted the creation of several sketch models and led the group to experiment with different wall shapes and designs. We came upon a design that we all liked and decided to take this idea forward. Zacharoula suggested the idea of moving walls and we incorporated this into our design.
In preparation for the Green Week exhibition Harry, Daria, Zacharoula and I made the prototype model while Julia made the push and pull model, and I made the charred model.
For the final submission I was tasked with creating a mechanism for the moving model, along with Harry. Harry, Julia and myself made the final model. I also created the final floor plan on Vectorworks and edited elements of the document with Julia.
This project was so far my favourite for several reasons. Not only was I able to work in a group with individuals who are talented, hard working and incredibly creative, I was also able to learn a lot from each of them. When placed in a group with proactive members you are able to see how each member operates, and I have learned a lot about presentation and communication when it comes to a project like this. I also have pushed myself further than ever before by testing my model-making skills and design skills with the mechanical design that we have produced. These are things that I hope to carry over into future projects that I undertake in order to gain higher grades and improve my performance in this course, as well as my enjoyment!