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Dynamic Topography

Bike Shelters | Projects

  • Our group worked on designing a unique bike shelter in a local park. We were inspired and fascinated by dynamic topography, which is essentially the layout of an area that can be changed by a user. The entire project is not only a bike shelter, but also an urban gathering place. Chairs, tables, and platforms can be constructed out of triangles/triangular prisms that are pushed/pulled on a plane to become whatever the user wants. This is made possible by a simple knob on top of each prism, connected to a rod that goes down through the center of the triangle. When pulled up, the mechanism releases a stopper connected to the bottom of the rod, allowing for the movement of the prism.

    This was a really interesting and relevant project because despite the wealth of opportunities dynamic topography provides, there has been almost no work utilizing it.

  • We started this studio off learning about architecture-specifically about the architecture of unique bike shelters/racks over the world. When my team first came together, we were very focused on the form of our project, rather than the concept. The very first idea we came up with was a gathering place constructed out of varied-height triangular prisms. While potentially interesting, it just wasn't very interesting. However, the different heights and the triangular shape served as a base for the rest of our project.

    We were inspired by the Holocaust Memorial in Berlin and its very symbolic, purposeful construction. Coupled with the then-new-to-us concept of dynamic topography, we started to make a small scale model, and investigate our site (a nearby park by a Salvation Army).


    This iteration was the first chance we had to put our ideas into an actual object. We found that an easy, abundant, and accessible material we could use for a scale model were the .5x.5 wooden rods in the shop. We cut them up all into a uniform size of around 4’ in length. Tying a rubber band around 16 of them arranged in a square gave us a good, early representation of the kind of topography we would be using on the final project. This also helped us compare and contrast what the topography would be like with squares as opposed to triangles. An challenge with this model was the fact that the this model in particular didn’t represent what it would look like in our chosen site. We would later on have to remake this but the second time around surround it with mini buildings so it would look more realistic. Once the newer model had the mini objects around it, it will be a better representation of what our final would look like once it’s assembled and placed in the ground.

    The second iteration was an updated version of the last, with newly shaped topography including and a site plan surrounding it. The movable objects implanted in the cardboard were now triangular prisms, laser cut out of a triangle grid and taped together. Once this was completed, we cut out the same amount of triangles out of the cardboard, giving the prisms a place to slide in and out of. Now we had a bigger, prettier model, with a better idea of how it would look when integrated into society. However, in this iteration the triangles were still pretty hard to slide, and tended to bring others with them when moved. We also wanted in the next model to build up the surrounding buildings to 1/20 of their real size so as to give a more accurate representation of the possible future installation.

    Lastly, we made our third iteration with updated topography and a bigger site plan. In this model we printed out the site plan on an even bigger scale, and remade the triangular topography to be larger as well to fit the site. We printed these out of a tougher paper, so that they would hold together better and slide easier. We still used tape as our method of connection and still used cardboard for the base. (If we had a chance to continue with this project, we would have developed a better way of connection-probably a slotting system.) The 1/20 version provided us with a very solid idea of what our installed product would look like and function in public.