1. Playing with Lego Blocks
In my first year in architecture school around 2003, while doing an architecture design assignment, I came up with the idea of using Lego blocks to try different compositions within a given space. The varying sizes of Lego blocks simplified my understanding of the constraints of the space and inspired me to play around with their layout accordingly.
Cut to 2022 in the digital space, I often use block diagrams to define the space requirements, sizes, and priorities of the information blocks at hand, as Figure 1 depicts. These information blocks are very similar to the Lego blocks I used. They let me try out various compositions to determine the optimal flow of information and understand how the user should navigate through the product. The things I must consider are very similar to those that determine how a person moves through an architectural space.
2. Adding Layers to Make Things Interesting
During my second year in architecture school, we completed an exercise during which we traced an interesting space on a city map, limiting that space to a 2-inch by 2-inch square. We needed to find an interesting area within the space that we traced, then create a composition based on it using cardboard and Polystyrene sheets. I started by creating a flat composition of the area that I had selected. This did not work out well initially. But the moment I added different layers to it that space, the composition came alive. It made the structure that I was trying to build dynamic.