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Behind the Scenes Frontiers in Design Human Experience Tools and Technology

Look, no hands!

One of the goals we set from the beginning with T.E.A.M. was to make the VR experience as natural as possible, even for users without previous experience with virtual reality headsets. In this regard, the use of the Oculus Quest headset has been almost mandatory. Besides the fact that it’s the only VR headset on the market today capable of providing a complete VR experience (with 6 degrees of freedom) without the need to be connected to an external PC, the Quest also allows – thanks to four cameras that scan and process the physical space all around – to trace the user’s hands in real time, using them as controllers directly within the VR environment. “So great!”, we said to ourselves, “We can make digital experiences without worrying about cables and external sensors, and above all we can allow the user to use their own hands!”

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Frontiers in Design Human Experience Human Spaces The Osaka Experience

The Osaka Experience II: the Competition

“An architecture in continuous motion is not utopian… if you consider the normal perception of today’s individual, accustomed to current modes of transportation, television and fast-moving information, this perception is a mutable and dynamic one.”

Maurizio Sacripanti

If you missed the first introductory article about Maurizio Sacripanti, you can find it here.

In 1968 Sacripanti and his team joined the competition to design the Italian pavilion for the Universal Exposition of 1970 in Osaka. He proposed the idea of a space in perpetual motion, a living organism, experimental and courageous, which clearly differed from the other competing projects. This proposal was aimed at the promotion of the messages and contents that were supposed to represent the Italian values of the time. His idea of Italy was clear: “a reality in motion, amidst a thousand difficulties, and with a thousand obstacles, but with a commitment to vital and continuous dynamism” [1].

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Frontiers in Design Human Experience Human Spaces The Osaka Experience

The Osaka Experience I: Maurizio Sacripanti

“[…] this man who, using time as an instrument of something else, treated it, as an architect, as if it were matter […]”

Renato Pedio

T.E.A.M. research is based on experimentation. The Piattaforma Zero represents the first laboratory in which to test basic dynamic structures, detached from a precise context. In order to both get a better understanding of the phenomena we are studying and to test the tools of our workflow, we felt even the need to confront existing projects of kinetic architecture.
As a first case study we have chosen to deal with an iconic project of recent architectural history: the pavilion for the 1970 World Expo in Osaka by Maurizio Sacripanti. This architecture, unfortunaely never realized, was presented at the competition of ideas held in 1968 to select the building that would represent Italy at the international exhibition.

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Frontiers in Design Human Experience Must-Read Tools and Technology

Piattaforma Chronicles I

Everything started with a simple exercise:

“[…] please build a basic 3D game experience with a 2100 mm diameter circular platform suspended in a vacuum. On this platform identify three circular areas of 600mm diameter each, which we will call A, B and C. Rules of the game: the player is free to move on the platform, each of the three circular areas is interactive; each interaction is activated with the presence of the player above the area itself; each interaction triggers an event […]”

That’s what we asked all the aspiring T.E.A.M. project participants. This 3D experience later evolved, becoming the “Piattaforma Zero”: our very first act in the study and research for the representation and manipulation of mathematically correct dynamic design elements in Virtual Reality.

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Frontiers in Design Human Experience Human Spaces Must-Read

Putting Time in a (virtual) Box

“I despair not that, even here, in this region of Three Dimensions, your Lordship’s art may make the Fourth Dimension visible to me; just as in the Land of Two Dimensions my Teacher’s skill would fain have opened the eyes of his blind servant to the invisible presence of a Third Dimension, though I saw it not.”

Edwin A. Abbott, Flatland

A couple of years ago, a client commissioned us to design a small exhibition pavilion to promote the wine products of his territory, and at the same time to draw attention to the region and its artistic and natural beauty.

The exhibition structure required maximum flexibility: it had to be suitable both for indoor and outdoor installation, it had to be easily assembled and disassembled – and therefore easily transportable – and it should impact the visitor with its attractive aesthetics.
Given the requests and the temporary nature of the set up, we imagined applying to the project the studies on kinetic structures under development within Poplab. These studies explore the idea of a variable structure architecture, able to modify its shape according to parameters related to the external environment, and, above all, to the interaction with the user.