ART & DESIGN: A LITTLE OF WHAT I'VE WORKED ON FOR THE PAST YEAR

by - 5:45 PM

For the past year, people have heard me ramble about the development of the Graduate School thesis. There came a time where I realized that it was the only thing that comes out of my mouth when I'm with people and I somehow felt bad because I realized that I somehow gave off a very negative and draining vibe to most of the conversations. If there is one thing I realized, writing a Thesis book is indeed a tedious process of repetitive fact checks, revisions, restructuring, and countless nights of anxious reading and waiting. Looking back and being a bit greed driven, I know I could have done more but I know that my God has indeed directed me to finish where I was supposed to and continue the rest of my days searching and waiting for another opportunity to put this study to further use.
Sitting here quietly in my living room, I stare at the 50cm x 50cm bamboo scale model before me and realize: there is so much more to do, this should not stop with a scale model. The goal for this project was for it to be built in the future, to be honest I am financially and logistically incapacitated to have it produced right now, but I honestly am hoping that when all my projects come to a close this year, I will find the time to reach out and find ways to have this idea come to life.

In the meantime, let me humbly share with you a glimpse of this project that started with mere curiosity and desire to challenge myself creatively. Note that the complete process and research are not included in this entry. 

WHAT MADE ME DO IT
The idea of this study was enthused from collected childhood memories and daily work commute routes. For years, I have observed the presence of bamboo in various and random patches of land along main roads and highways. Seeing it grow and thrive in the middle of a creek or riverside juxtaposed with the rows and layers of shanty homes, I continued to observe how the community around it survived their day to day lives by using the abundance of the material as a source of livelihood and form of shelter. Often times while seeing this sight, I would be reminded of my summer vacations as a child and the distinct memory of a bamboo daybed where afternoons were spent lying down, sharing stories with her grandmother about the war, her father’s childhood, among other things.
Image Source
There are about a number of words that people can think of whenever they hear of bamboo. To children, they quickly associate the bamboo with pandas and forests. Around the world, the bamboo is celebrated as a material for construction and utilitarian objects that could be seen in homes and commercial establishments. To some cultures, the bamboo is often associated as an important element and theme in art, literature, and design. To many Asian countries where it is abundant, bamboo is experienced in their day to day activities from the finishes of the homes, to their utensils, their furniture, and cultural practices.

Bamboo has a universal experience among Asians particularly Filipinos. Aside from being a part of their homes, an average Filipino adult would often associate it with their childhood, breezy Christmas nights and lights, and vibrant festivals like the barangay fiestas and the Santa Cruzan. Often paired with rattan and nipa, bamboo is also primarily revered as the main element in making different forms of baskets and fish traps, making it a source of livelihood among craftsmen and different communities around the country.

As the study aimed to investigate and explore the idea and relation of experience, memory, and perception with a material, I have anchored on Phenomenology as a design philosophy. Phenomenology is a school of thought that studies various types of experience that ranges from perception, memory, imagination, emotion, social activity among others (Smith, W.). The influence of a plant or material to bring in memory, encourage survival and creativity, and be able to provide comfort and shelter drove me to investigate and explore the bamboo as a material and how it can be utilized further to develop the methods of designing it.

BACKGROUND
Designing with bamboo as a medium has been evolving and reshaping worldwide through the use of different design fundamentals and methods like Biomimicry and Parametric Design. In the Philippines, the design development of bamboo products is still considered to be far from what is being produced in its neighboring countries as there is a lack of exploration, tools, and knowledge in different techniques in utilizing this material for design and art production.
In the Philippines, bamboo is predominantly still recognized as a traditional and conventional material for the bahay kubo or nipa huts, local furniture, basketry, rafts, perimeter walls, landscaping and scaffoldings. The method of construction has been visibly consistent: vertical or horizontal in orientation, linked by friction-tight rope connections and nails. There has been a universal experience of bamboo among Filipinos and it is often about it becoming a vernacular version of timber often found in rural areas and vacation homes. But there has been a thriving community of Filipino researchers, designers, and artists that aim to modernize or contemporize the method of bamboo construction and the developments have been progressively evident in the realm of both traditional and modern architecture. 
TAO PHILIPPINES is a Permaculture Community in Palawan that is dedicated in the research and development of bamboo architecture and design in the Philippines.
Currently, the Bill of the Philippine Bamboo Industry Development Act of 2017 spearheaded by Senator Bam Aquino was developed to make the Philippine bamboo industry competitive in the local and international markets and provide opportunities for local employment and create a bamboo-based community.
LEEROY NEW builds a Bamboo installation in the middle of the Paoay Sand Dunes for the La Milagrosa Festival
The efforts have been developing, and with these, lie the query and search for how the form or shape of bamboo structures could be explored in a more organic and fluid manner as well as the validity and efficacy of these fluid forms structurally. Questions on longevity, flexibility, ability to adapt to contemporary needs and forms, market demand, and treatment of the bamboo have also been some of the many factors why this beautiful and sustainable material remain in the shadow of rural areas and traditional linear boxes.

This thesis aims to address the queries on how bamboo can be designed, shaped, and formed by exploring it as a material for contemporary design, focusing on site-specific installations as an example. Anchoring on Phenomenology as a design philosophy, submission to Biomimicry as a design principle and utilizing the aid of Parametric Design as a tool for form finding, the goal of this exploration is to develop and provide a design process for a site-specific bamboo installation that would contribute as a significant and communal learning device in the continuous development and use of the bamboo for contemporary art and design.

BAMBOO AS A MATERIAL
As the future goal of developing a blueprint for exploration project entails the use of an outdoor site, the risk of exposing bamboo to natural forces like termites and weathering is also an issue. Treatment of the material is also important. The durability of bamboo is dependent on its specie, length of culm, thickness of wall, and the time of harvesting. To be able to address the concern of durability and longevity of bamboo structures, proper treatment must be done. The designer-researcher has collected information on the basic and common methods of treating freshly cut bamboo poles for future reference.

Bamboo Treatment

Though durable on its natural state, bamboo has to be properly treated in order to enhance its durability and protection from insects and molds. When left untreated, bamboo that is used and exposed to soil and open air could last for 1-3 years; when used under a roof and enclosed walls, it can last 4-7 years and when placed in a location within promising conditions, it can last for 10-15 years.

There are various ways to naturally treat bamboo, they are universal practices among countries with thriving bamboo industries. Bamboo that is intended for construction must be mature and range from around 3-5 years old before it is selected and harvested. This amount of time allows the adult bamboo to shrink less when it is dry, it is also the best state of the bamboo where the starch and sugar content is low, making the possibility of insect infestation less possible. 

Depending on the diameter of the bamboo harvested, various sizes of drill bits are attached to a long steel rod that is used to drill and penetrate through the center of the pole from one end to another. This process allows room for the nodal diaphragms of the bamboo to be penetrated with the chemicals used for the treatment. Borax and Boric Acid preservation treatment is also the most common method known to bamboo manufacturers worldwide. This process entails the use of a bamboo pool or lathe, water, boric acid and borax. The harvested bamboo poles are soaked in the solution for 3-5 days to allow the chemicals to penetrate all the nodes and diaphragms of the bamboo pole. After a week of soaking, the bamboo poles are pulled out of the pool and is stacked on a vertical position in order to drain the preservation solution out of the culms. The poles are left to dry in open air in order to get enough amount of sun to naturally bleach and remove moisture on the interior of the culms. The poles are rotated daily to prevent cracking around the nodes and sections. Once the poles are dried and has no more trace of moisture and water, the bamboo poles are vertically stacked together to dry in a cool and dry place

Bending the Bamboo

Bamboo is said to be naturally flexible. It can be trained and shape to grow in unconventional shapes depending on the intent. Bamboo prior to harvest is known to be the most flexible, it may be easily bent and formed as an archway or other curved objects. The best time to bend bamboo is when it is green and freshly cut. It could be bent manually or with the aid of the mold or by applying heat. Once the bamboo pole settles through time, it can no longer be bent anymore. Another way to bend bamboo is by applying direct heat with the use of a flame torch. This method is done on freshly cut, green bamboo. The technique is also done as a method of staining the bamboo pole to achieve a caramel brown finish that is best used in furniture pieces. Applying high amount of heat or temperature on bamboo poles also prevent the possibility of splitting during bending.

DESIGN STUDY:
The selected site for the installation is a specific section at the elevated driveway of the De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde, School of Design and Arts. The specific location for the project would be the drop-off area for the electronic jeeps and other vehicles that do not wish to drive up the elevated driveway. This particular area serves as a landmark among passersby, motorists and students because of its undulating form and design.

Being my workplace for the last five years, the function of this particular space has always been a question. When students are asked as to what it is, some would say it’s a sculptural piece, some would recall it as the spot where Benildean graduates stand in their toga and take commemorative photographs, some would joke around and associate it as skating ramp, and while most admit that they do not really know what it is, they associate it and use it as a seating and waiting area. Upon verification with Architect Gerry Torres, the former Dean for the Benilde School of Design and Arts and now the Director for the Benilde Center for Campus Art, the jagged ramps were originally designed as a seating area for students. I initially took this idea in mind and envisioned how this space would interact with the users of the building and the passerby if something was built on it to create a distinction or function for it.

In the same manner, I took this location in mind as it is deemed to be a good avenue and opportunity to showcase a bamboo pavilion that would serve as an experiential space that aims to encourage the students of the design school to explore on different ways and methods of how bamboo can be utilized for contemporary design and art.
As a result of the online survey and personal interviews collated, the designer-researcher found a common theme of how bamboo is remembered in today’s society. There were five major keywords that came out: weaving, baskets, the province, rest or vacation, and childhood. Applying the basic principle of hermeneutics, these keywords were employed to map out a concept that is anchored on the phenomenon of collective experiences with bamboo.

Concept

The site-specific installation shall be named as ‘the habi pavilion’. Pag-hahabi is a Filipino term that can be translated to the weaving in the English language. A universal form of craft among ethnic groups around the world, weaving has become a form of identity, livelihood, and culture. The design of the Habi pavilion is inspired by the common weaving pattern used in baskets and mats as well as the bamboo’s natural bending or arching behavior when it reaches adulthood. The concept of weaving the bamboo is both a physical and metaphoric representation in this project. The physical aspect deals with the vernacular pattern and the manner of constructing it into one volume. It is a familiar visual language for most people and therefore encouraging a memory recall of either the form, structure, or pattern and the material; the metaphor lies within the idea of combining a traditional practice, weaving in this case, and applying it to Site-Specific Art using contemporary tools and applications to further manipulate and come up with undulating and forms.

The weaving pattern of the installation took inspiration from the common design of baskets that are made of bamboo and rattan. Following the weaving principle of warp and weft, the bamboo strips shall be weaved in the same manner where a longitudinal warp are held stationary in tension while the weft is inserted over and under the warp.

Grasshopper 3D
The Script for the Habi Pavilion developed by Ira Yap
Grasshopper 3D is a visual programming software developed by David Rutten, Robert McNeel and Associates (Tedeschi, A.). The program runs within the application of Rhinoceros 3D. Grasshopper was primarily designed to build generative algorithms in 3D form for the production of generative art (Loomis, M.). In Grasshopper, programs are created by the method of dragging components that are connected to inputs of subsequent components. The programs may contain various types of algorithms such as numeric and textual algorithms.

Grasshopper 3D has advanced from art production into building parametric modelling systems for Structural Engineering (Georgiou, O.), Architecture and fabrication (Tadeschi, A.), Lighting Performance Analysis, and Sustainable Design (Echarri, V. & Willis, D.).

In Grasshopper 3D, the workflow is considered to be different than drawing things manually (Alonso, N.). This parametric design tool is programmed to automate things in an accurate and sustainable manner as compared to the regular CAD tools like AutoCAD and SketchUp.

Aside from automating repetitive processes, Grasshopper 3D helps the designer or artist to create their own modules to perform a certain task through the generation of different mathematical functions and quickly creating complex forms. The program helps the possibility of revision and process of producing various iterations more efficient and quick. Grasshopper 3D requires the basic to advanced understanding of programming and scripting. Once mastered, this allows designers to create a works of high quality, flexibility, and complexity.

In the process of developing the final form, I sought the assistance of De La Salle - College of Saint Benilde Architecture Student Ira Yap who had the knowledge and skill in scripting in order to develop and realize my initial design idea to life. The design was formed using the Parametric Design software Grasshopper 3D and Rhinoceros 3D. With the initial idea of combining arches and weaved segments, the exploration of form started with the encoding of the script in Grasshopper 3D which consists the algorithms and mathematical data of the structure.
Design by Hannah Dumlao
Coding and Modelling by Ira Yap
The preliminary form resulted to a series of arches with almost the same height, allowing us to realize that there should be a variation in height in order to create a more undulated viewing experience and to be able to create a more fluid play of light, wind, and shadow. 
Design by Hannah DumlaoCoding and Modelling by Ira Yap
Design by Hannah Dumlao
Coding and Modelling by Ira Yap
The points in the script were manipulated until the desired form and behavior was realized. We added 3 meeting points on the center of the installation in order to maximize the fluidity and emphasize the natural sloping behavior of the site. It was only until this process was finalized, that the design and form development took place.

Design by Hannah Dumlao
Coding and Modelling by Ira Yap
The framework of the pavilion follows the form of cells where a membrane connects all segments at a focal point. These frameworks are actually a series of arches bending from various heights and are anchored on a concrete base to add weight to the structure. Three segments of a group of arches are combined to form one volume that would serve as the framework of the pavilion.
Design by Hannah Dumlao
Coding and Modelling by Ira Yap
The bamboo arch framework is combined with the strips of weaving that follows the undulated form of the framing resulting to a fluid and dynamic form.
Design by Hannah Dumlao
Coding and Modelling by Ira Yap
This exploration project highlighted the intention of utilizing the bamboo as a material for contemporary design without deviating from the ideals of traditional craftsmanship and the lived experience with the material. The collective lived experience with the bamboo in the Filipino community has always been about the idea of a shelter or a home, a source of refuge and peace. To design the future with bamboo means to understand how it has been utilized from the beginning of time up until the present and to explore other means and possibilities of applying it accordingly and appropriately. As the designer, I chose the form of Site-Specific Art in order to reach a broad audience and imbue a significant message to its viewers. By exploring through the principles of phenomenology, I was able to provide a blueprint for a site-specific installation that is visually stimulating in order to encourage its viewers to learn by seeing, touching, reflecting, comprehending, and defining their own message of the designed space.

Design by Hannah Dumlao
Coding and Modelling by Ira Yap ; Digital Rendering by Jay Pelo and Jerald Martinez
In relation to the site - the primary intent of the pavilion is to serve as a symbol of what the institution stands for and serve as an avenue for learning through the direct experience with the material and its application to the space. With the site being an educational hub that caters to the cultivation of the future designers and artists of our society, explorative and collaborative projects such as the Habi Pavilion would inculcate ideas on the application of traditional and conventional design methods with the current innovations available to make design and production more efficient and sustainable. I have addressed the change in the built environment by creating a space that remains to be sensitive to the user’s shifts in attachment to place and interaction by providing a design that suits the vast scale and scenes of the site and creating a sense of enclosure, shade, and seating.
Design by Hannah Dumlao
Coding and Modelling by Ira Yap ; Digital Rendering by Jay Pelo and Jerald Martinez
In relation to the people - both the users of the building and passersby, the pavilion intends to provoke memory recall, imagination, and invoke a sense of emotion or desire. The design of the pavilion intentionally mimics the experience of sitting under a tree, inviting the feeling of the breeze and occasionally getting their share of the sunlight or rain drops, momentarily creating an interaction between the viewer, the space, and the place in which it stands. With the intention to trigger a thought to its viewer upon direct interaction, the pavilion in itself extends as a conscious experience to the viewer that later on transcends to the reflection of its content and eventually form their own understanding and meaning out of their experience within the space.
The design concept formed for the Habi Pavilion celebrates both complexity of form and intricacy of detailed craftsmanship. The design of the Habi Pavilion taps on two types of phenomena; the familiarity and memory of a design pattern and material as well as the unfamiliarity of a design tool to develop its form in context to its location. The inspiration for the design has applied a familiar weaving pattern that can be seen in baskets and fish traps that are novelty pieces among different indigenous communities around the Philippines. In order to address the problematic on repetitiveness and lack of form exploration among existing bamboo products and structures in the country, the three levels of designing with Biomimicry was applied. This allowed me as the designer-researcher to combine traditional design patterns with an organic and contemporary form producing an output that is fluid in shape, adaptive with the material and site, and conversant in pattern and manner of form. The utilization of Parametric Design tools allowed the designer-researcher to digitally manipulate the form and final design, provide a systematic method of building by creating an in depth labeling and tagging system for each element used in the pavilion as well as accurately compute for the number of bamboo strips, its length, the number and exact measurement of each supporting arches as well as its structural integrity. This provided data allows this idea or blueprint to be built and developed in the future. The parametric design tool makes designing and building with bamboo less problematic when it comes to logistics as everything is labeled and wastage will be omitted. 

The design exploration proves that bamboo can be formed and designed for different applications in the needs and demands of the contemporary market. This study also proves that there is more to the research and development of bamboo products than purely producing engineered or laminated bamboo. It endorses the idea of maintaining traditional methods of crafting and building, drawing inspiration from familiar patterns and combining modern design methods and tools in order to derive with design projects that commemorate indigenous materials, preserving the craftsmanship and procedures of building with it and meet the competitive needs of the design industry worldwide. 

Though the exploration on forms has been deemed to be successful, the designer also met and recognized a few setbacks in the process. Although bamboo is deemed to be a flexible material and abundant in our country, the development of designing with it and producing new ideas for building and treating it has been an issue. As an artist and a designer, I have realized that the bridging difference between craft, fine art, and design has been an important factor on the paralyzed development of the bamboo industry in the Philippines. The craft of weaving bamboo baskets and mats as well as building the bahay kubo and bamboo furniture sets has been a constant practice between ethnic groups and livelihood communities, it has become a part of their lives, a practice that is passed down from generation to generation. The methods and patterns remain almost the same particularly because it is representative of their cultural beliefs and practices but it is also because of the lack in technological and theoretical knowledge. 
Through this exploration, I have realized that if the technological advancement, theoretical and philosophical knowledge, and design fundamentals that designers and artists are bred with will be combined with the knowledge, skills, and craftsmanship of the artisans and communities, a better design culture and new community can and will be formed. This commune of industry practitioners, artisans, craftsmen, and entrepreneurs can develop a remastered bamboo industry that could help the Philippine design thrive, succeed, and be competitive not only in the local market but also internationally.

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There are a lot of things I know I missed out on, I am still left on the limbo somehow and feel a void inside knowing that this pavilion has yet to be built and materialized. I do also acknowledge that there are steps and processes that still need to be added and realized to further improve the design. But to be able to present this in a panel of artists and theorists and be able to land on a common desire and agreement, I have so much hope that maybe, in the near future, this small idea of mine could be a contribution to the future of Philippine Bamboo design and art production.
My heart sings melodies of praise to my Lord and Savior for in Him and through Him, all things are made possible. I thank the Lord for the wisdom and the strength that He has supplied in the course of going through this season in my academic life. To Him be all the honor, glory, and praise! 

To my dad Engr. Winston Galang, you have always been my source of strength as you continue to live a testimony of faith, endurance, and will. Thank you for encouraging me to pursue this. For the moral, financial, and creative support, I am extremely grateful. To my mom, Marivel Mari-Galang, the artist. You have always been my role model and inspiration. Your desire to veer away from the norm and break paradigms has indeed given me the drive to go through life and its challenges. Thank you for being my source of hope, of love, of laughs. Thank you for being my best friend, especially in times when I broke down in the midst of pursuing this study. I dedicate this to you and dad. I love you! To my brother David Daniel, I continuously dream and strive hard because of you. God has used your life as a motivation for the family to go on, press forward, and stick together. Your quirky attitude and outlook in life is indeed something to be admired, I continue to praise the Lord for how He is working in you and through you! 

To the love of my life, my husband Dennis, you are a symbol of grace, humility, and strength. Thank you for continuously and unconditionally loving me. I feel very grateful and honored for all the times that you have willingly supported me in every way you can while I was working on this thesis. Thank you for walking with me in the midst of pursuing my dreams. Now, it’s time for me to walk with you as we pursue ours. You will always be my dear. To our dear and loving aunt, Dr. Lucila Dumlao-Olson, thank you for continuously encouraging us to press on and work hard for the future. Thank you for the support and provision to make this study possible. To my brother in law David James, your warm chicken noodle soup has indeed brought me joy and encouragement while painstakingly going through an all-nighter. Your way of showing your care and support is something that I will always hold dear to. Thank you! 

This thesis will not be possible without the direction and dedication of my thesis adviser, Mr. Samm Occeno. Thank you for unconditionally pushing me to press on and move forward. I’m forever grateful to you for supporting me in every possible way that you could, indeed you have served as an advisor, critique, friend and father. Along with my parents, I honor you through this thesis! To Dean Don Amorsolo, being under your mentorship has indeed expanded my view on things that are ordinary and arbitrary. Your wide knowledge, life testimony, and teachings will always be something that I will carry on as a designer, mentor, artist, and person. It is indeed an honor to be able to learn from you. 
To my design assistant Ira Yap, thank you bai. This project will never be possible and successful without your expertise, patience, and dedication. Your passion has indeed exceeded all expectations! Your knowledge in Parametric Design will take you places, I shall continue to envision that you will continue to use this as a means of educating people in the design field and helping the development of our design community. 
To students turned good friends and brothers - Jay Pelo, Lorenz Esteban, Seph Galang, Jerald Martinez, Ryan Suarez, Nikoli Manez, and Troy Esguerra, thank you for imparting your knowledge in Design and Architecture. Your suggestions and opinions have contributed to the development of this thesis. I’m also grateful for the support, company, encouragement and laughs while I was writing this book, you all kept me sane and awake! 

To Mrs. Carolina Jimenez of Carolina Bamboo Garden, the members of Bread from Heaven Christian Fellowship, Interior Design students and Architecture students of CSB-SDA, Arch. Joshua Cunanan and IDr. Katherine Correa thank you for the suggestions, knowledge and expertise that you have imparted with me during the process of producing this study. To all my friends who have extended their concern, words of encouragement, and prayers, you all helped me gain enough strength each day to move forward. This exploration will never be complete without all of you, maraming salamat!

Now that this season in my life is done, I have the rest of my life to walk along and continue to look for mundane things to explore and see the beauty of!

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