Friday, September 30, 2011

Botanical Gardens (Visit Photos)

Botanical Gardens Visit (Notes)

Botanical Gardens Notes

· There are typically four parts to plants. Occasionally one is missing, and that’s when it gets interesting.

· The four parts are: roots (nutrient collectors), stems (connecting tissues), leaves (light capturing component), and reproductive parts.

· Plants try to maximize solar gain with petals and leaves that track the sun by growth. Every moment they are trying to reorient to the sun.

· Multiple leaves are better at getting more sunlight (nodes)

· How resilient is something to calamity? Tree trunks? Storms wipe them out. Other plants are trickier. They don’t invest in woody infrastructure. They have storage/energy batteries that serve as a reserve to rebuild the leaf canopy. These plants could outlive trees. It is a good way of persisting if a place has lots issues. The “battery” lies in wait until warm soil, rain, and light trigger growing.

· Tamarind…Leaflets have an area that inflate allowing them to reposition with water pressure.

· Different leaves (aka: those more in shad and those more in sun) can function differently.

· Abscession: does it get more than it takes to run? If not, this occurs. Positive feedback loop.

· Plants never have fungus on leaves (usually). They are repulsive, gummy, and have toxins that kill.

· Leaves acquire energy, keep cool, and kill off or repel anything that touches it.

· Lots of a plant’s energy goes to toxic defense, aka toxic warfare.

· Structural parasites don’t have the energy to hold themselves up, so they become parasites and find something to grow on. Interesting example is the vines we were shown, that initially grow toward shade before growing upward toward light.

· 99% of seeds don’t make it – leads to the interesting thought that plants are inefficient

· Leaves are like photovoltaic cells – the hotter they get, the less efficient they are

· Crop plants are incapable of surviving in water. They are totally dependant on us because we domesticated them. Any plants that are domesticated are grown for efficiency. There is one harvest. Plants with wild ancestors don’t do that.

· Leaves have different durations. Evergreen oak leaves last 3 to 4 years. Tough leaves holds itself up with nonliving structure.

· Yellow pitcher plants grow in very low pH levels. At certain pH’s, nitrogen becomes fixed/immobile. Leaves are used to acquire minerals. Animals are not nitrogen limited, so the plant collects buds, and is a nitrogen extractor. The plant is able to keep it from hurting itself from digestion and rot.

· Papyrus stalks are vertical, triangular in cross section. You can slice and hammer the interior fibers to make paper.

· All plants are in competition for light. Bamboo stems in repeating units. Each one is free form at the base. It is telescoped and continues to telescope until it beats others to light. It only takes a few days and the highest ones get up to 35 meters.

· Wilt occurs to a loss of water pressure. It is how plants move quickly.

· Venus flytraps have something like an electrical impulse that trips, and then pumps water away and it shuts. It takes a couple of hours to get water pumped places.

· Hairy plants can capture dew

· Barrel Cactus uses accordion structure to unfold to collect energy. Thorns protect the interior area.

· “Plants are smart. We shouldn’t eat them. “ –Karl

· Welwitschia: interesting plant that only has two long curling leaves, yet is related to pine trees.

· Living stone, Lithops species, Aizoaceae in South Africa. All the photosynthesis is happening under ground. Acts just like a subterranean light pipe. Photosynthesis occurs at the edges, and the middle is doing water storage.

· Tropical plants are the hardest to maintain. The temperature can’t go below 55 degrees, and if it does, the plants will never recover. One of the other issues are bugs. It would be wise to plan There is an extensive history with growing citrus indoors. The British Empire had classic palm houses, which was the first to make use of tinted glass. They created a food production house, which is considered an origin of the concept of slaves. It was all for European political vanity. It started with citrus. A heat source, a hot water delivery system, a vent to the side for air exchange, and a steel infrastructure was the solution to issues with prior greenhouses.

· Email Michener if we have any plant related questions!

A Look Back Before a Look Forward (Weds/Friday Week 2)

So at the beginning of week two, my group had a line up of Dylan, Erika, Lauren, Garrett, Ted, Justin, and I. Justin was our returner, and the project we received was Water, Folding, & Hourly. At this point in time, the project we had received from the week prior had been purely an outdoor index of how much water was being used indoors. Pockets with the ability to fold and unfold would be filled with rainwater from a cistern as applied to how much was being used in the house on an hourly basis.

Bottom line, a high value problem was not being tackled with this project, and we needed to change that. Thus, on Wednesday evening our group got together and began a massive brainstorm. Three hours or more finally ended. Unfortunately, I learned the hard way that white boards are really useful things. Only once during the entire process did we actually draw something; the rest of the time was pure thoughts. Not once did we pick up materials to make something. We did end up gleaning a few things along the way, which is good. So here is what we initially figured out:

What we'd keep: Folding pockets, an index of some kind, and repeating forms
Two primary uses for water: filter for reuse or use to grow plants

We also had quite a few inspiration photos of uses being thrown around, but we kept having tangents and debates, and all in all efficiency was pretty much nil. The defining moment came when we decided that it would be wisest to grow plants, and that to save space it should be in a vertical format. This was the moment when the white board came out and Ted drew something on the white board. It was a green wall. I balked. I not so subtly informed the group that if we made just a green wall, that looked like the rectangle thing Ted had drawn, I'd be really upset. Then I continued to inform them that we should not, COULD NOT, do that. I got stares from around the table, and then a slight eruption occurred as people could not understand my reaction.

It was then that words failed me. For the life of me, I had the greatest trouble in the world articulating what bothered me so greatly about it. Erika pushed me to explain, and I tried, and quite frankly failed. As soon as I figured it out, I would let everyone know what my problem was with this thing. At this point, I just knew that every time I looked at that drawing I winced.

Later that evening, Erika and Garrett stuck around, and I was able to figure it out. First, while I'm no opposer of modern looks, to me, many green walls look like science experiments tossed onto a wall. It feels cold, impersonal, and planned instead of comforting, welcoming, and organic. Part of the difference was the idea of a rigid grid composed of squares, like growing plants is a math equation. Second, green walls have been done before. What in the world were we offering new to the project, if anything? Couldn't the form at least be something different?

Realistically, this was an important step in this class for me. Sometimes I'm really bad at explaining what I think and why it's important. This was a step up: I HAD to articulate myself, or my voice wouldn't/couldn't be heard and my ideas would not be valid. So regardless of how much time I'd spent doing virtually nothing, the evening was a success in that I realized an area of improvement that I need to work on.

Over the next two days, our group met in two sets separately with the vow that neither group would try to make decisions without everyone else. I met with the second group, which had the liaison of Garrett to explain to Dylan and I what we had missed from the other group. This was a productive meeting. White boards were used, and AGAIN I got challenged to articulate myself better. Dylan slammed me with the fact that I had resorted to using the word "like" in between a majority of my words. I had eliminated the use of that darn word from my vocabulary sufficiently a few semesters back, but over summer it crept back into my speech. Another thing to work on as I try to articulate myself. So we dissected what the other half of us had done, decided what we would jointly state at the next meeting (Sunday) and then departed.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

A Look Back Before a Look Forward (Week 1)

So I really suck at blog posting. But I have a lot from past weeks that I want to throw up here so here it goes! After the Wednesday meeting with my group in week one, we agreed to each make models of what we THOUGHT Ted was talking about with his drawing. So I went home, and the more I thought about the idea, the less I understood how it was going to function inflation. So I actually took another perspective to see if there would be a way to move the air through the space instead of only having a passive role. This resulted in me thinking of fans > paddle fan blades > the repetitive form of paddle fan blades > the way the blades can be stacked > a way to make blades unfurl and then continue spinning > a collapsable form that could inflate to force the blades to unfurl and then continue spinning. From there I started thinking material wise, and how if wind is supposed to unfurl this fan, then the material has to be lightweight but durable. I ended up looking up Windsurfing sails, which incidentally have a similar form to paddle fan blades. I also started looking into bellows and found a tutorial on how to make camera bellows. Here are some of the links I used, the photos I found, and then the models I made.

I've gotta say that this work was really enlightening for me, and far more enjoyable than I could have imagined. I got really invested in my models, and spent two whole days hand cutting out each of the parts, glueing things together, and seeing how pristine of forms I could make with only chipboard, duct tape, cardboard, paper, and glue. I am now convinced that you could make absolutely anything from those materials, and I will probably try in the future.

Anyways, here are some of the links I looked at and some images that inspired form. Nothing elaborate, just interesting. Also, after that, are the notes we wrote on the white board during our first meeting, then some photos of our group as we worked, and more white board work that got us to our final product.