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  • Writer's pictureLingheng Tao

IAAI-P1 #2 Initial Sketches

Updated: Feb 15, 2023

Now it is time to create some architectural study drawings to represent the relation ships between human, birds and buildings.

Research Data

Here's some information gathered from iNaturalist and ABC(American Bird's Conservation) website. I searched for information of Frick Park(Pittsburgh, PA) birds.


Here are some sketches I drew for initial studies. They are about the bird flying trajectories, bird's perspective of reflective or transparent material, etc.

Sectional Building Scale Drawing

Elevation Human Scale Drawing

Drawing Iterations

I decided to move forward through the human scale drawing, which investigate the bird's perception of buildings as obstacles. In critiques, my professor asked me to validate my choices of colors, opaqueness and differentiations. For example, why in the elevation the ground is shown as black and the tree is also black and white?

The following drawings are the revised versions, and the following are some self Q&A critiques.

Elevational Bird Perception Study, Glass House of Philips Johnson.

Elevational Bird Perception Study, Villa Savoye of Le Corbusier

Elevational Bird Perception Study, What if we add window panes to the ground space of Villa Savoye of Le Corbusier?

Elevational Bird Perception Study, Seagram Building of Mies van der Rohe

Q: Why am I making the building(non-transparent parts) and ground the same color, namely, black?

A: They are both "not accessible" for the birds, meaning that birds will perceive them as obstacles that they cannot fly over. Also, this is an elevational view instead of a sectional cut, so there's less confusion in terms of semantics here for the ground to also be black.

Q: Why am I making the trees dark grey-green?

A: Definitely birds can view much more colors than human do, but reading more saturated colors may not be the decisive factor for them to collide into windows. Therefore, colorful rendering is not what I am trying to achieve; I kept the saturations low, which makes the colors look grey, to eliminate some visually-distracting elements from the analytical drawings.

In the former version I made trees black and white as well, but that left confusion because it uses the same color as the ground, making them look like not accessible for birds as well. Therefore, I gave a little hue to them this time to distinguish trees and non-accessible elements.

Q: Why am I making the tree reflections dark grey-blue?

A: The readings have told us that bird strikes happen both when the surface is transparent or reflexive. It is not reasonable to make assumption that birds can tell difference between transparency, reflections and real trees. I tried to add a layer of low-opaqueness white area to indicate the existence of glass like the following, but I finally remove it.

I think emphasizing the existence of glass may leave the confusion that "birds know that there is something". The reasons that strikes happen is that they don't realize there is something, therefore, in their perception, such area should never exist.

But I do admit the possibility that they can tell the difference between reflection and real trees. Human eyes view the reflections as some dimmer images of the real object, so I just give the reflection a dimmer hue to indicate the existence of reflection and the difference between transparency.

Q: Why am I choosing Glass House, Villa Savoye, and Seagram Building as subjects? A: Modern architecture is the major subject which uses large amount of glass in the design. Among them, these three have representative scales. Glass House is more like a pavilion or a small dwelling house; Villa Savoye has a scale of a larger dwelling house; and Seagram Building is a representative city skyscraper building. They represent different heights: below the normal bird flight height, about the bird flight height, and over that height.

On the other hand, Glass House and Seagram Builiding are great examples of using a lot of window panes in the facade, while Villa Savoye almost refused to use window panes. Both Glass House and Seagram Building generate scary reflections or transparency that may even deceive human. However, I am including Villa Savoye here because I want to make a contrast: what if we add window panes to the ground floor open area of it? That may make little difference to human, but will immediately make it vulnerable for bird strikes. These concludes the reason why I am choosing these buildings.

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