How to create breathing movement on a wall? Creative process of mechanical flowers. (part 1/2)

Updated: Oct 17

Heaven Bloom:The Background

Heaven Bloom was a kinetic art installation commissioned by Golden Jade Construction & Development Corp. Located at the lobby of its residential project ‘Sky Green’, Heaven Bloom served as a highlight in the building.



Designed by Singapore-based architecture practice WOHA*, ‘Sky Green’ was a mixed-use development located at the heart of Taichung City, Taiwan. The concept of the building was ‘garden cities’ combining plants and housing, creating high ratio of greenery covering on the façades to achieve greening functions like temperature decreases and shading—and thus making it ‘a breathing building’ as well as a benchmark and an exemplar in green buildings.

🔍【WOHA Architects】

WOHA Architects was co-founded by Wong Mun Summ and Richard Hassell. For years, their architectural creations focused on integration of the environment and the society, and won numerous international awards through constant exploring and implementing.


‘Sky Green’ also won the architecture awards for the best residential building design in German iF Design Award 2020.


❖ References / Further readings: :https://www.goldenjade.com.tw/whoateam.php


🔍【Heaven Bloom】

 
Phase One: Digging for Design Inspiration

Mechanical Plants Combined with Elements of Gears


To correspond to the concept of the building—cycles in nature, the client wanted the design starting with natural elements in Taiwan. After intensive discussions, we decided to use ‘local plants’ as main theme of the installation. And the design was developed on the basis of original texture of the lobby, and a mechanism composed of mechanical gears symbolizing sustainability.


‘Mechanical plants containing elements of gears’ was an exciting combination to us. We often saw related features in Sci-Fi subject matters, such as Burning Man*, movies by Studio Ghibli* or cyberpunk* style arts. These Sci-Fi elements were so fascinating because that people discovered the aesthetic of mechanical movements and began to reclaim the connection between technology and art.

🔍【Burning Man】

Burning Man was an annual event held in the Black Rock Desert of Nevada in the United States. The gathering called for foreign arts and arts that were full of imagination, including art installation in various sizes from small to huge ones, and usually sculptures with elements of kinetics, electronics, and fire.

❖ References / Further readings: https://reurl.cc/4R53N2

🔍【Cyberpunk】



 
Phase Two: In Search of the Species of Plants

“How to Integrate Localness into Design? ”


Map of East Asian Land ■ Area of East Asian Land at Present □ Area of Exposed Land after Sea Level Falling in Ice Age

Taiwan was once a land connected to the Euro-Asia continent. Water flooded into low-lying areas after regression of iced rivers, and Taiwan Strait was made. Unable to retreat to the northern continent in a warming climate, fauna and flora originated in temperate zone migrated to mountain areas. An ecosystem of species richness was thus formed, where various temperate animals and plants thrived in the subtropics.





Because of the need to survive, animals and plants in various-altitude areas evolved into beings with various characteristics fitting in different environments, and later grew into unique species in Taiwan. It showed why natural history in Taiwan was extraordinary.

Bumping into Nanhu Rhododendrons on the Way up to Nanhu Mountain / Author of this Article, Pan

“Often time hiking allowed me to visit natural landscape in high altitude areas. I was particularly impressed by junipers and rhododendrons growing on 3,000-meter-high ridges against freezing strong wind throughout years—for their way of striving and struggling for survival, and powerful life force revealed in such barren and difficult environment.” explained Pan. “

Overall, in modern history of Taiwan, we all came from different places and lived together in this land. We were adaptive and receptive to each other and moved forward together—just like the animals and plants progressing and adapting to natural environments in this island, Taiwan. These experiences and realizations had all enriched my design process. Finally, I decided to choose Nanhu Rhododendrons, the endemic species in Taiwan, to be the main concept of this art installation." Nanhu Rhododendrons* survived high-altitude and harsh environment. When they were not yet in bloom, their leaves were uniquely yellow in metallic shade; but when they blossomed, they were like pieces of snow-white paper flowers in full bloom across mountaintops. Such an image of delicacy and perseverance was perfect to be a symbol of spirit of Taiwan. Also, it completely represented the unique DNA on this island.


🔍【Nanhu Rhododendron】

The scientific name for Nanhu Rhododendron was Rhododendron hyperythrum Hayata. It was first published by Hayata Bunzō* in his work Icones Plantarum Formosanarum in 1913. It contained detailed Latin descriptions, literature, places of origin and illustrations. It was a timeless masterwork in the history of the study of flora in Taiwan. ❖ References / Further readings:https://reurl.cc/4R53N2

🔍【Hayata Bunzō】


 
Phase Three (I): Creating Life

Prototype Design


Concept of mechanism of gears continued to develop, and mechanism design of mechanical flowers was naturally related to the structure inside a watch. Opening and closing movement of flowers symbolized breathing, and operating cycles of mechanism of gears metaphorically revealed elements of time. These two ideas combined to be the concept of reincarnation of life.

Structure inside a Watch © Michel Villeneuve

A Poem by William Blake, Describing the Value of Seeing Eternal Universe within a Tiny Thing.

The arrangement of flower bushes was based on the concept of eternal life.

Visual references included examples of tessellations*, like geometrical arrangements of floral tiles or patterns of repeating units of Arabesque*. They were like collective lives derived from sequential single graphics. Countless geometric shapes combining together revealed the existence of infinite entities beyond this visible physical world. A metaphor of endlessness of life.

Marrakech Tiles Were Edge-to-edge and a Type of Tessellations © Ian Alexander Arabesque underneath a Dome © Pentocelo 🔍【Tessellation】

A tessellation of a flat surface was the covering of a plane using one or more geometric shapes, called tiles, with no overlaps and no gaps in between. A periodic tiling had a repeating pattern.

❖ References / Further readings:https://reurl.cc/exv3xK


🔍【Arabesque】

The arabesque was a form of artistic decoration consisting of linear patterns of geometrical shapes repeatedly appearing on the surface of a plane. Geometry was the rational products of living beings and displayed the underlying order and unity of nature.

❖ References / Further readings:https://reurl.cc/8G4b64

 
The Development of Style of Heaven Bloom

Considering the visual effects of an individual flower and collective ones, we decided to change the original curved surfaces to geometrical shapes for each flower, and the arrangement of flower bushes progressed from orderly shapes to organic ones.


 

The Development of Distribution on the Wall of Heaven Bloom


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