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Top Hat Terrariums

MicroWorlds | Projects

  • Because of our busy and chaotic lives, people don’t spend enough time in nature. The very way we have structured our lives prohibits it.

    Our solution was creating a top hat which would be filled with plants and there would be a rollercoaster in the center which would adapt to time.

    In this chaotically busy world, it is becoming harder and harder to free ourselves from the bounds of society to be with nature. What's the next best thing to being in nature? Bringing nature to you! We designed the top hat terrariums to bring nature right to  your head, as a wearable novelty that would remind you of nature just by being around it, with a little scene in the inside to liven it up.

  • The Problem: Humans don’t spend enough time in nature. The very way we have structured our lives prohibits it.

    The Solution: Creating a wearable top hat that needs little to no maintenance which can be left on your desk to bring the nature straight to you.

    2. Further Elaboration:

    In this chaotically busy world, it is becoming harder and harder to free ourselves from the bounds of society to be with nature. What's the next best thing to being in nature? Bringing nature to you! We designed the top hat terrariums to bring nature right to your head, as a wearable novelty that would remind you that there is more to life than man made things, with a little scene in the inside to liven it up.

    Our terrarium worked by having all  its pieces notched together, and having two compartments, one in the main hat part, and one in the rim. The one in the main hat part contained the main scene and plants, while the one in the rim was mainly moss. There were tape hinges to create doors make easy access to the terrariums for watering and such. It had a straw hat hidden on the inside to make it wearable.

    Our project was always going to be a dystopian theme park inside the top hat. The main changes we went through was originally, it was going to have four window panes and frames, and have all these mirror and magnifying lenses to create optical illusions, but then we ran out of time to do so. We also ended up with eight window panes, turning one of them into a door and also adding a second terrarium for the moss.

    Our biggest challenge was remembering about material thickness so that things would fit together right, but that was solved quickly and efficiently. Another technical problem we are still facing is that it is heavy to actually wear, meaning the only practical use is for a selfie or a photo booth.

    Our first iteration was a very rough idea of what we wanted. It had a circular flat base with a smaller cylinder for our scene. There was a roller coaster in the middle that was just a piece of twisted cardboard, and some model clay plants around it. There were also two pieces of tin foil to represent mirrors, and the center of the hat was a little bit higher than the base to represent soil. The plastic wrap we used to show acrylic was held up by four poles. There was also no top to it, and it was not wearable in any way shape or form unless you have a flat head.

    In our second iteration, we made the hat an octagon because it meant that we would be able to find acrylic more easily that would fit inside, instead of needing to buy a cylinder of it. This meant that each piece of ‘acrylic’, or plastic wrap in this version had a frame that was thicker at the bottom than the top. It also had a top that held everything together. After we made this version, we realized that we wanted to be able to put it on, so we bought a hat and cut a hole for it. We kept the same roller coaster design.

    In our third iteration, we made the base three dimensional. In our original idea, there would be moss growing on the brim so that you could touch something, but one of our coaches pointed out that that would be impermanent because it would need to be watered, as opposed to a tiny ecosystem the way terrariums are supposed to be. This way, we could water it once and have it not need to be watered again for a very long time. We also notched the parts together so that they would fit better. However, there was only notching on the top of the base, and only bent cardboard instead of hinges.

    In our fourth iteration, we didn’t make many changes. We noticed that in the third iteration, we had forgotten to account for the material thickness so they didn’t quite fit together. In this version we chopped off a little bit from each piece so that they fit together. We also redesigned the rollercoaster so that it could be cut out of wood which can’t bend as easily as cardboard. We had two versions that we were considering. One was completely solid, and the other had tracks on it. We also notched the base in two places instead of one, and finally laser cut a place for the head as opposed to just cutting a rough shape and adjusting the way we had in the last two iterations.

    In our final iteration, not much changed. We finally designed the inside, which involved destroying the roller coaster so that it looked like a tree could grow through it, along with some other things. We also put some ‘moss’ in the bottom, and made 3 of the pieces doors so that you can access the terrarium.