50 Shades of Camouflage

Camouflage is a set of methods or concealment that allow otherwise visible animals, military vehicles, or other objects to remain unnoticed by blending in with their environments by resembling something else. Camouflage can be achieved in what may seem opposite ways. Mimesis means being seen, but resembling something else, whereas crypsis means being hidden. In both cases, camouflage is achieved by not being noticed. As designers we have the opportunity to work in this method if we choose and design in a way that complements the natural environment.

One project that I found particularly interesting was done by for the advertising agency Clemenger BBDO, and the Motor Accident Commission of South Australia. Artist Emma Hack spent 18 hours painting 12 men and 5 women and forming them into the shape of a car. The painting was to serve as an image for the anti-sppeding campaign with the symbolic message of “We all play a part.”

In this project we see that camouflage has the opportunity to work on about everything and has the ability to represent a bigger idea.

Building design should embrace the culture it is intended while reflecting and complimenting the surroundings and communities. Construction should be a catalyst for a community. The innovation involved with construction has the ability to inspire a community. Looking at specific projects all over the world I hope to explore how both new and old construction have utilized natural and local materials in an attempt to become one with the site. I am hoping to discover a rich connection of completely natural materials and newer technologies.

The Liyuan Library by LiXiadong and Atelier is located in the small village of Huairou on the outer ring of Beijing. This community has existed for years and most of the traditional building types still standing and occupied. In order to complement the existing architecture of the community the designers took materials from the natural environment, such as wood, to clad the building. The building blends into the landscape its’ reflective cladding material.

The choice of material for the cladding helps the structure blend in with some regional characteristics. Most of the homes in the area have large piles of wooden sticks piled around them, these sticks are gathered and used by the villagers in the homes as fuel for their cooking stoves. This project uses the same wood in a new way, and helps shelter the building while creating an innovative solution for a rain screen.

The familiar texture of this system looks as natural and fitting from the outside as it does from the inside. The Liyuan Library rain screen offers a beautiful solution for a shading mechanism for the interior of the library. The building is mostly glass curtain wall on a laminated wooden beam system with steel. The layering effect of interior spaces reflects the landscapes topography.

Designers should remember too explore the connections buildings have with there sites.

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