A white sheet.
For the first time for as long as I can remember, I start drawing on a white sheet. Not a sheet of paper. A clean, untouched white canvas on a computer screen. I use white paper sheets all the time, but I have never started to draw on a white drawing canvas on a computer before. At least not on a real building project.
This magic happens in a meeting room with two friends working on the same project. I watch the first lines I produce while discussing dimensions with my friends. I sense the thrilling feeling of starting on a new adventure, all the possibilities in an empty room with no noise. I realize that this has never happened before. I have always started every drawing bringing in someone else’s work, smudging every white spot with filthy realities of past projects and real world. Dirty groundwork and zoning plans. But not this time. This time me and my friends have all the space and tranquility of an infinite silent white room. Perfect.
The white sheet is one of four things that I absolutely love with the building project I work on now. The other things are:
- It’s tall.
- It has edge cutting technology.
- It has awesome people working on it.
The height of the building project was the first property that caught my attention. It will be the tallest building In Norway, probably some 46 meters taller than Oslo Plaza, which is the tallest today. How many times do you get to work on the tallest building in the country? That’s right: not many.
I suspect there’s some kind of masculine phallus complex going on. I don’t know. But I really like tall buildings. Apparently the owner does too. Perhaps we have that in common. Tall buildings look epic and inspiring from distance. They are terrifying when standing on the top floor looking down. And they make you feel humble, small and insignificant looking up from close. Every ingredient of a femme fatale. Perhaps that’s why some of us feel so fascinated.
Apart from height and the white canvas, or perhaps because of them, we have had the chance to do some design research while building the digital and physical models. We have used visual scripting to generate loads of facade modules for various skin iterations. These facade modules have been constructed using native building information model elements, with parameters and materials, allowing us to design parametrically and fast, while also maintaining all the benefits of working in a building database. For instance, it has been crucial that we have had control of glass versus solid material ratio in the facade, and area use in the different parts of the tower. (It’s rather expensive to build floors 150 meters above ground – you should make sure you’re within the regulations and also utilize every square centimeter.)
We have had the chance to use some new daylighting tools that calculate and render visual design feedback that we can evaluate directly in our modeling software. Like the visual scripting, these tools are either beta’s or open source software, and of course free. This means we have had to do a lot of research analyzing software behavior, analysis results, and the odd crash. That’s the prize you pay using edge cutting technology, but to me that’s a no brainer. I’ll rather do that any day of the week, instead of repeating myself with old workflows. Besides, we learn a lot about how digital technology works, building our own scripts, debugging and re-reading mathematical curriculum that we forgot in a bar 10 years ago. (I’m speaking for myself.)
As a comic contrast to the above ranting about technology, and directly related to the white sheet, for the first time ever I have given life to a form, and I did it with pen and paper. We had been evaluating multiple shapes for the top of the building, without finding an alternative that had function, aligned with the owner’s wishes, and balanced the dimensions of the structure. One morning, when I had breakfast with my son, we drew a design alternative that I really liked. I went early to the office, modeled it on my computer and showed it to our CEO Christine, whereupon she responded “that’s nice”. Awesome moment.
Together with Christine, I work on this project with some fantastic people. Caroline, always positive and never give up; Ida, with the great imagination and always new ideas; Jeanette, with tons of knowledge on interior design and always smiling; and Kaja, with the fantastic design skills and good sense of humor. Young Henrik runs the workshop operations like a champ. In addition I’ve had the privilege of working with two of our inters: Olaf; with a secret passion for adaptive components, and Elena; her 3ds Max skills and ability to both learn and teach has impressed more than just me.
My sheet is not white any longer. But it doesn’t matter. It has been filled sky high with beautiful edge cutting technology by fantastic people, and I am pleased.