Form follows Fiction

Laka2020 225 DesignAuthors’ description:

The urban fabric of the city [Edinburgh] inspires fictional stories. The hidden layer of
stories from literature – set in the city [Edinburgh] – excites certain spaces of the city. Our
proposal manifests itself in these areas of cultural importance. The excited physical
presence of visiting people informs the disposition of our proposal’s fabric.
The fabric acts as a device which merges the excitement of people and stories from
literature and reflects it back into the urban fabric of Edinburgh. This is done by projecting
the visual story of a place (e.g. The Porteous Riots for Edinburgh, The Adventures of
Sherlock Holmes for London etc.) directly onto the fabric of the device (architecture
generated by the physical energy of people).
We began our explorations by gaining a perspective on big data, by monitoring our
movement through GPS tracking. The mapping exercise provided an insight into the
lifestyle of a student. This inspired us to search for a different stream of data we could
process – leading to the mapping of routes found in literature. By analysing various books
and overlaying their routes, we arrived at a map of intersections denoting areas of cultural
importance and literary interest.
We developed three devices in order to analyse the data of these areas of interest. Our
devices captured sounds, the physical dimensions of a route, as well as, how these routes
were inhabited over time. Our next step was to visualise this captured data which resulted
in four drawings which gave an insight to what can’t be seen with the naked eye.
We then converted these 2D drawings into a 3D form- the fabric of our prototype model.
Our prototype has a series of motors, pulleys and wires which stretch and relax the fabric
contained within. We developed two modes of this prototype: one which was controlled via
the physical proximity to the model within the studio, and the other, displayed the data
captured by our devices from areas of cultural interest in Edinburgh.
We vastly increased the sample size of our research by developing an algorithm which
searched any digital book against a list of places in Edinburgh – producing a route following
the narrative of the story through Edinburgh. We then extracted quotations around each
location mentioned within each book. The adjectives from these quotations were translated
to positions of the prototype’s fabric, represented by a series of elevation drawings.
This concept, of an interactive fabric, informed the proposal of our urban devices in
Edinburgh. We furthered the concept by projecting the stories, which inspired the urban
devices, onto this dynamic fabric (interactive cinematic museum). Thus, rooting the
proposal not only in its physical context, but its literary and historical context as well. The
idea of the interactive fabric contorting to the presence and activity of people inspired the
addition of an energy harnessing system – paving tiles – which would capture this activity
and power electric bikes intended for commuting around Edinburgh and between each
urban device.

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