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Taking Measure:

fall 2019 | design I | warke, büttner dias, mecattaf

A rock was found in nature, recorded and measured. Later, it was abstracted into an island based on programs such as arriving departing, cleansing, witnessing, and gathering. 


graphite studies of fossil imprints on the rock, increasingly abstracted.


measuring tool

negative (-)


The measuring tool records sectional data with eight radial poles. Sections taken with the tool was then translated into a 10” conceptual cube that captures the negative of the rock.


Inspired by the fossil imprints, the positive of the rock with captured with paper spirals and sheared through the negative to create a hybrid model.


An axonometric drawing of the hybrid model informed the sections of the model of the island.

It measures 33" long, 36" wide and 11" tall. Its scale is 1/8" = 1'.

Topographic map of the island and islet with interventions: shrine, light house, gathering shelter, and guiding columns. 


This treacherous island is home to the powerful natural spirits and serves as a rite of passage for oracles. To be confirmed as an oracle, the young woman brought here by the current oracle must withstand the trials of nature and win the spirits’ approval.

The women, young and old, arrive well after midnight. After docking their boat deep in the cave, they cleanse physically and spiritually--first in a cave pool then through watching the sunrise at the tip of the island. Once it’s day time, they proceed towards the lighthouse and shrine.

On their way, they look for signs and omens that indicate the spirits’ mood. Two high peaks create the first significant threshold, and two sets of columns appear to guide them. The columns are oriented radially around the two significant structures, the lighthouse and the shrine, and their heights increase the closer they are to the corresponding structure. The women also use the columns to measure water level in the freshwater pool, which rises and falls with the spirits’ temper. Another two high points form the second threshold, marking the end of omen-spotting. 

The women arrive at the lighthouse, where the younger waits for permission to precede. It must be after 12pm, and the wind must point in the direction of the shrine before she can continue. When conditions are met, she goes to the shrine alone to perform rituals and secure the spirits’ blessings. She ascends to the top by a very steep and narrow passage and worships the sacred rock.The old oracle moves directly to the enclosed shelter and waits for the young women to join her. 

When she does, they gather from the gardens and eat a simple meal before returning to the cave and leaving by boat. 

Island Narrative

Desai Wang

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