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Weather Station

Part 1 Project 2003
Jessica Lai
Phillip Hedges
University of Auckland Auckland New Zealand
The Design of a Weather Station began with a (blurred)focus on the observation of Clouds – a figural representation of a solidly delineated body of a determinate volume of vapour, apparently in a borderless and seamless shape but constantly undergoes with its internal spatial transformation.
2D Surfaces Vs Pictorial perspective

Hubert Damisch in the Theory of clouds argues that the ambiguous appearance of Cloud that we found in those 2D architectural paintings (e.g. fresco on the domes) is an icon signifying its image, it allures the viewer by projecting spaces to its substratum implying the infinite pictorial space within, as well as its mobility and dynamism of ascensional imagination that is invisible in a static surface. In a limited perspectival vision as a portrayal of an infinite, which must be beyond representation.
Cloud can therefore only appear by veiling.
The aim of this design is to create a seamless passage of continuity appears to lead from pictorial matter to imaginary substance. The sensuous texture of cloud is the very material of construction.

A surface study on Moiré (see

I perceive weather as a network accumulated with regular patterns whereas at some points significant figure will emerge. In this design exercise sets of 2D drawings have been animated to depict the sensation of Cloud that are continuously changing of its shape as well as its spatial quality. Diagrams help to analyse the thickening effects from the surface, it loses the depth of the surface but as Stan Allen had pointed out ‘…by layering surface on surface, a new kind of depth-effect is created.’ An immediacy is gained in order to search for the meanings for the architectural envelope such as the potential of spatial transformation. The diagram works show not only the building itself but rather to imply the emergence of building from it surrounding weather and landscape.

This is a drawing exercise of investigating the tactile qualities of cloud and weather, to establish an experience of getting into the weather. The design is presented by series of architectural dissections, as if this misty and permeable nature of cloud could be visited as the concrete like structure.

Jessica Lai
Phillip Hedges

Weather is a cultural production that is framed by changeability, cast in fluidity and formed by external forces. Unpredictable and uncontrollable, weather is also persistently patterned and seasonally familiar. Weather could stand as a metaphor for architecture at the beginning of the twenty-first century.

Jessica Lai's design of a weather station, to be situated on the perimeter of Auckland Airport, Auckland, New Zealand, was structured by clouds and their spatial positioning. It addressed the fluctuations and mobility of clouds and their resistance to definition by mobilising precise and generally static geometry.

Jessica generated on the computer a sequence of bubbles that emerged from the ground, rising and falling in response to notions of barometric pressure. The intersecting spherical forms became the shape and space of the weather station.

As mutable weather is fixed and codified in weather maps in local newspapers and on television screens so Jessica Lai's movie was subjected to the codified and static language of architectural drawing. She drew out of the computer plans and sections. This strategy transferred the literal movement of the computer into a sweep of circulation within the station: intersections of the spheres were utilised for their momentary stability to house static and accumulative functions.

The sectional drawings seem to retain the active quality of the movie, appearing as emergent forms. Despite the violence of the act of sectioning the drawings convey the architecture as full of breath. Inhabitation of the expansive space of the weather station can be imagined within the glowing, curved and variably translucent surfaces of the bubble domes.


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