Tetra Forming


Research Project


University of Southern California / School of Cinematic Arts


Alex McDowell, Ye Tian


World Building, Generative Design, Game of Life, Cellular Automata


Spring 2014



Description: Tetra Forming is a study on combining the notion of world building with the world of gaming and the concept of computational design and digital fabrication in architecture. Worldbuilding or conworlding is the process of constructing a fictitious world, sometimes associated with a whole fictional universe. It is a metaphoric vehicle that allows us to imagine a set of problems and contextualize them within a worldview. We investigate this topic as a potential empowering tool that can provide us with a new set of tools and skills to contextualize and tackle design problems. Therefore we use it as metaphor to create the design space upon which we develop a non linear computational design scenario. This approach combines gaming theory (Game of Life), with basic tectonic and geometric principles as well as the real time user experience via Immersive Virtual Environments (IVE).
Inspired by natural phenomena such as termites and their building activities, as well as technological advancements in digital fabrication and material science this project describes a ubiquitous game that speculates on a distributed construction system in which robots and people cooperate to build 3D structures much larger than themselves in order to expand the territory of an fictitious island located in the pacific ocean.The project is developed in Unity using javascript, can be played in VR using a headmounted display and offers the functionality to directly export the geometry the user creates.