“Quaked” Maison Caneel ·
INTERACTIVE WALKTHROUGH SIMULATION
This is an architecture school project I completed in the fall of 1997
for Prof. Harris Sobin. The project involved creating an interactive simulation
of Le Corbusier's Maison Caneel, a villa designed in 1929 for a site in
Brussels, Belgium. Although it was never built, the building design is
an interesting application of Le Corbusier's first five principles of
architecture on an extremely narrow site.
Using Le Corbusier’s unfinished working drawings and sketches as a guide,
I created a 3ds max model which was then imported into Quake, a video
game popular in the mid-90's. (Of course, the monsters and weapons removed.)
The game's simple controls, collision detection, and fast rendering speed
then provided a compelling walk-through and simulation tool.
I had previously used the Quake engine to create walkthroughs of interior
office spaces while working as an intern. Maison Caneel, however, was
much more complex geometrically, and in many respects was far more challenging
to import into the Quake engine.
One of the distinctive elements of the design best represented by the
simulation is the set of two curved stairways. A main stairway for residents
and guests wraps around a smaller one reserved for service staff. This
creates a complex yet functional 3D circulation system that isn't immediately
clear from plans and sections alone. Another element that comes across
well is the pool over the garage, an element playfully depicted in one
of Le Corbusier’s perspective sketches. The Quake simulation allows one
to splash around as the architect intended.
The old Quake engine was not without its shortcomings, however. The
game’s gloomy and hard-coded color palette can’t quite represent a Purist
color scheme, and the lighting system is designed more for murky game
dungeons than the light-filled spaces envisioned by Le Corbusier. Also,
even this simplified model contains far more visible detail than the game
system was designed to handle. Quite a bit of tweaking was needed to keep
the walls and floors from randomly disappearing.
Although today’s game technology is far more advanced, this project
remains an effective way of showing the building design.
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