My Favorite Models

Here’s a variation on a theme I’m calling Infinity House:

The front entry is flanked by “accent” walls in red tile, taking an interior design concept and applying it to the exterior.

Here you can see it’s connection to Infinity:

The geometric primitives in this one are the circle (or hexagon, as a rough approximation of a circle) and the trapezoid, which you can see surrounding the skylight as well as intersecting with the major circular structures.

The Left side view from above:

And the view from the back:

I haven’t bothered to lay out the grounds on this one, though I envision twin patios in back. Nor have I added a garage / car port so far…

Having done some of these more recent models, I can understand why Frank Lloyd Wright designed most of the furnishings for his houses, and why much of it is built-in. Odd angles really limit the possible arrangements, and standard rectangular furniture may not always work. So FLW figured out a good arrangement / solution and provided it with the house.

A week ago I was down for a few days with the latest viral crud (not COVID-19, thankfully), so I had plenty of time to model…

I decided to work up an idea that had come to me. Since then, I learned that this concept can be described as a 15-minute city - the idea that one can reach just about any part of the city by walking 15 minutes.

Here’s a top-down view of one of my most massive models to date:

I located this model in western Illinois, near the Mississippi River. The structure is surrounded by farmland, providing locally-sourced produce for use by city residents, and enhancing the sustainability of the city. Solar panels are planned for much of the rooftop space, to help provide for the energy needs of the public spaces.

In this model, aesthetics are secondary to community. Here’s the city program:

The orange structure in the center is the city administration, including public safety (police, fire, etc.). At the top is a domed auditorium for public hearings.

The 13 green structures are vertical parks, with 36 levels and each level above the first.

The 2 blue-gray structures are office towers, each with 48 levels, 6 levels of parking and over 3 million square feet of space.

The 14 red structures are apartment stacks, each with 30 levels of apartments in 1-, 2-, 3- and 4-bedroom configurations. In total there are 9,240 residences to house more than 34,000 people. On one side of each stack are retail spaces for shops and cafes, totaling nearly 5 million square feet of commercial space. In the center of each stack is a large light well, allowing sunlight down to the staggered balconies of the apartments. These apartment levels are built up over 6-level parking structures for the tenants and visitors.

The 3 yellow structures are entertainment venues - on the east side is the stadium and on the west side are two performing arts complexes for theatrical productions and music concerts.

The idea here is that the city would be largely free from private vehicles. The residents would be able to take elevators or stairs between levels and could walk along sidewalks for a few blocks to get to wherever they were going. The streets would have public trams for those who need them. And there are bike lanes along each street in the grid, totalling more than a million and a half feet or 309 miles of bikeway.

Here’s a view from the North:

2 Feeder roads lead to the north and south sides of the city. Each one is split into entry and exit lanes. Vehicle traffic can enter the bottom 3 levels of the city and make their way to a parking structure. Ramps within the parking structures allow movement between levels and access to the 3 upper levels. Deliveries from suppliers to the retail stores would come here as well. The ramps clinging to the sides of the city allow the public trams to move between levels.

As mentioned above, this is a massive model containing component definitions with more than 1.2 million component instances, encompassing more than 30 million faces, painted with 33 different textures. Seven structures were modelled separately and the brought together into this one model. Great care was taken to manage the performance load on SketchUp, and even then I needed to leave off some details in order to be sure I could complete the model.

I learned that it isn’t the size of the file that matters so much for performance as the complexity of the geometry that SketchUp must render. The file size of this model is 20.5MB; whereas I have other models up to 240MB which actually have better performance!

Continuing with views of my vertical city…

Here’s a view of the upper apartment balconies, looking through a window in the side hallway:

As seen in the post above, across from the apartments are park areas. Here is a view looking back from the park toward the retail spaces on one side of the apartment stack:

These retail spaces are designed to accommodate markets, pharmacies, restaurants and cafes, salons and spas, gift shops, specialty stores, along with clinics and financial services.

Here is a view from one of the retail spaces across to the municipal center on the right and a park on the left:

Here is a view of the sports venue:

And here is a view toward the performance complexes:

A view from the upper corner of the concert hall toward Sunset Park:

And finally, a view toward the water features of one of the other parks in the city:

Cascading falls not only provide visual interest, but also add auditory interest to the ambience, cloaking other noises from the city. They also provide a bit of misting, which ensures enough moisture for greenery which is shielded from the rain by the levels above. These water features are fed by rainwater catchment systems within the structure of the city.

Sorry, this design limits the view from balconies.

Yes, you’re right. I figured that out too late to fix it. Though it really depends on the seating arrangement, which is not visible here.

Please bear in mind I didn’t set out to design a stadium, I’m designing a city. The stadium model here is simply a placeholder. It says, “Stadium goes here.” Also, this is a concept model, not a model to build from.

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Here’s a concept I worked up over Christmas break: Serpentine Ridge Apartments…

This complex is envisioned for a mountainous location…

There are apartments on 6 levels, with 2 levels of underground parking…

The material palette consists of light stone, dark brick and wood. Each unit features an expansive patio/balcony…

There are 4 quarter-arcs of private residences, separated by vertical circulation…

The inside of each arc is formed by 1- and 2-bedroom units. The outside of each arc is formed by 3- and 4-bedroom units.

Here’s an entryway:

Here’s a view inside the parking level:

And here’s a view of an interior hallway, toward the lift and stairs:

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Here’s a model I put together over the last week or so. It’s based on intersecting circles…

The circular walls and the off-center roof ridges set it apart from the traditional home, while still fitting in with the rest of the neighborhood.

The clerestory windows are large, allowing more light in, but less of the direct sunlight.

The south-facing roof, which is oriented toward the rear of the home, has a larger surface area and a more relaxed slope, which is better for solar arrays. This shows the shadows on a mid-Summer afternoon. The circular pergola provides interesting shadows which shift with the sun through both the day and the seasons.

The garage is also mostly circular, with clerestory windows to reduce the need for artificial light throughout the day.

Seen from above, the intersecting circles are more obvious.

Here is a view of the entry way from within the living room on a Winter day.

And a view toward the patio doors and the fireplace, which would be good to light up on this late December afternoon.