D1 reflective writing about the design process

PG Reflective Writing on D1  

I guess you could consider this a condensed version - or an abbreviated version of the D1 process post I wrote and recently published. But both "reports" needed to be produced, so I will go ahead and post this one as well.

Grid -> Model -> 2D -> Pegging It Out -> 2D

Grids, Grids, Grids

This is the part of the process that gave me the biggest headache literally. My head was hurting so badly after I finished with all of my grids, I think I went and bought some aspirin! I remember coming to the point of delirium and I couldn't tell if what I was doing was leading towards anywhere positive or not. It's a good thing Andrew and Marcus were there to tell me which ones to develop further. I do remember thinking, “if I use this process after I leave the school how will I know which grid to explore and use without someone telling me?” I was concerned.

I am not sure if I would have chosen the grid that Andrew and Marcus selected for me had I been on my own. I really don't know what would have happened or which direction my grids would have taken – I don't think I would have done as many grids as I did, but I am learning the value of persistence and exploring in the process.

In the end, I was grateful for the guidance and I enjoyed the result and the process. As I was thinking the other day – Process is Progress!

Moving into Model: Cardboard @ 1:100 / Foam Core @ 1:50 / Photos

I had never made any kind of model for any design I had done so I was very excited about this part of the design process – and that we were exploring with model so early on, even before we could think about gardens (sure, sure). The models were a challenge for me. I started out using cardboard at a scale of 1:100 and focused on positive and negative shapes and tried to focus on mass and void as well (which was the point?), though I felt rather inhibited by the cardboard in creating mass especially. It was at the 1:100 scale that I resolved the overall motivation for my garden, but felt like I was blocked by the small scale I was working with. When I moved to 1:50 I brought some foam core to work with, which was MUCH easier to cut. And while I was able to develop my model a bit further by way of structures and existing tree placement, I still felt frustrated in creating mass and void. I did not have the patience to cut out the same shape 10 times just to create height. Also – I couldn't see it in my minds eye, I couldn't see via the model where there should be mass and void and that was frustrating to me, because I believe that mass and void are very important elements in design and a space, especially a garden. I remember staring into the space, waiting for it to tell me something, but it never spoke. Once I reached my limit with the foam core model at 1:50 I needed to go back to the paper/2D to get my mass and void (kind of ironic, I think).

Looking back I am still not sure if I nailed mass and void in my design. I can see visions of my design, but the vignettes that flash through my mind...have I captured them on paper? I suppose a 3D computer system would help me decide that. But I want to be able to see it and know it on paper. I think that is something I will make a conscious effort to create in my designs this year – effective mass!! And void!!

Back to 2D

After the models were completed (or as far as I could take them with my patience) I went back to paper and developed the skeleton of my design (now being allowed to think of it as a garden). It was here that I was able to better push and pull with the mass and void, define obscure areas and also make some practical decisions. Soon enough I had a semi-final layout that was ready to be pegged in the square to see how it was working in reality.

Pegging It Out in Eccleston Square

I knew what I had come up with on paper wasn't working for me 100%...there was a nagging that I couldn't quite shake or resolve, but I didn't know what to do. When my turn came I was curious, nervous and anticipatory. And while I enjoyed this part of the process, it was a disappointing day for me in that what I had prepared on paper didn't work fantastically in the real world. I knew beforehand it wasn't working...and pegging it out only confirmed that. But it was through creating it in real life that I was able to know that the seating area needed to be larger, the pond a tad smaller...and that is what made the difference, pegging it out made the difference.

I do need to add here that the day didn't quite end in too much disappointment, read on to see why...

Resolving Concerns – Back to 2D!

Once I was done with my “pegging out” I was motivated to do some twisting and turning in my design back on paper – with the dining area and the pond especially. And it wasn't too long before I came to a resolution I could live with, that the garden could live with! It was a relief and I knew I had it when I did. I was back in the saddle!


  • Creating (many) grids led me to positive and negative space, the beginnings of mass and void.

  • Model helped push that agenda further and started to define strong elements in the garden.

  • Once I was blocked there I moved back to paper to develop the spaces in 2D, now thinking of it as a garden (although I was earlier) – still struggling a bit seeing mass and void.

  • Once I exhausted that process – pegging it out confirmed my uneasiness about some areas of my design, but it also helped me pinpoint where the problems were exactly.

  • Back at the drawing board, I was able to come to a design resolution that I was happy with.

The process of moving between design methods, for me, was a really great way to break through designer's block, which I seemed to run into in each method of the process. It allowed me to consider ideas that otherwise, would have gone unthought of. When did I have my eureka moment? I am not sure – it seemed that each stage of the design process had a eureka moment – I can't say that my design would have been as successful if one of those steps had been omitted. Receiving guidance from Andrew and Marcus also proved invaluable.