Our Organic Airport
We reprogrammed the concourse to accommodate a variety of amenities including gardens, children's play areas, and a spa — all arranged along a meandering path we came to envision as a sort of "Main Street" within the airport.
Functional Organic Geometries
A functional, easily legible organization of program was necessary to address the needs of the airport, yet we hoped not to recreate the repetitive, mundane geometry of most airports.
We began our process with simple massing models in form-Z, from auto-des-sys, Inc., to study and evaluate programming strategies. Using the software allowed us to quickly and accurately "sketch" ideas in three dimensions. It accommodated the complex programmatic relationships inherent in airport design and planning while allowing for the generation of visuals for presentation and feedback.
We used these functional diagrams of landside services to confirm quantitative data, such as areas, walking distances, and vertical relationships that formulated the groundwork for the development of an architectural language.
As we developed our formal ideas through sketches and additional models, we found that the smooth modeling capabilities of form-Z were not best suited for our requirements. We turned to 3DS Max, from Autodesk, and used low poly modeling techniques — commonly associated with character modeling — to produce surfaces that could be easily and dynamically subdivided for smoothing.
However, 3DS Max failed to provide us with the necessary tools to accurately construct these surfaces, so we began a dialogue between 3DS Max and form-Z to produce the roof structure.
We brought a series of pencil sketches into form-Z to dimension and scale using the program massing model. The sketches became the basis for contour lines that established the form of the surface. A triangulated reference cage was constructed in form-Z; this confirmed necessary clearances, spans, and other data. This reference cage was imported into 3DS Max and reconstructed in quadrangular polygons and smoothed with the Turbo Smooth function. Similar techniques were also applied to the interior surface of the concourse.
Pixels vs. Geometry
The geometry and appearance of each surface within the airport was intended to reinforce the directional flow of the system. To further this notion, we used a parametric map to simulate bamboo slats, giving the surface a "grain."
To allow for greater levels of natural light in the ticketing and baggage halls, we decided to pierce the roof surface with random circular tubes. Rather than physically modeling the pierced-roof geometry, we opted to produce a transparency map, drastically reducing our rendered polycount and preserving the editable surface.
However, when it came to rendering, the surface appeared to be too flat. So we tried keeping the simple transparency map and constructing 3D solids from extrusions traced onto the surface. These and other elements were rendered separately and later combined in Adobe Photoshop for the final image.
The roof and facades of the concourse presented another modeling problem. We wanted to produce a surface defined by linear structural elements in which the openings became a random organic mesh. For purposes of lighting and physical depth we decided that a transparency map would not suffice and this surface would need to be modeled.
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