Monday, February 19, 2018

Camp Team goes to China

The camp industry is a fairly new, but rapidly growing trend in China. Our partner, aeCamps believed that it was essential to bring a team of experts to China to share knowledge about design for youth recreation camps. With Greg Copeland’s 45+ years of experience working with youth recreation camps and as author of, Camp Design: Master Planning Basics coupled with Stefanie Smith’s experience living and working in Suzhou, China, the Domokur team was a natural fit. After one year of planning for the trip and support from the entire Domokur Camp Design Team, Greg, Stefanie, and John Simpson made the twenty four-hour trip to Beijing, China in early December.
Greg Copeland leads Master Planning Workshop

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Virtual Reality for Architecture

Virtual Reality is giving Architectural Visualization a whole new dimension.

A client exploring a new design option
Displaying designs and ideas to clients has been a challenge for Architects for many years. Even if the client is shown 3D renderings for visualization, it can still very difficult to communicate the scale and feel of a space. Enter the emerging technology of Virtual Reality (VR). VR has been defined as "a realistic and immersive simulation of a three-dimensional 360-degree environment, created using interactive software and hardware, and experienced or controlled by movement of the body" [Wikipedia]. Or more simply, Virtual Reality is a means of displaying a graphically rendered 3D model within a fully-immersive, head mounted display. This way of displaying creates a stereoscopic 360-degree 3D view with depth, scale, and the feeling of being in the space – sensations that cannot be fully conveyed with 2D renderings on paper or even 3D renderings on a flat screen.

Our new cardboard VR viewers 

With the help of a newly-hired Virtual Reality enthusiast, we have invested in portable VR headsets that can be given to clients for remote viewing of the panoramic renders we provide. These are great for clients that cannot make it to meetings, or live far away and want continuous design updates. The user scans a QR code with their smartphone that links to the render. The smartphone is then inserted into the headset and viewed.

Our VR expert, Dylan, giving Stefanie an in-house demonstration

Another form of Virtual Reality we have invested in is Room-Scale VR. Room-Scale VR allows our staff and clients to walk around inside their space before it's constructed or even before the design is finished - allowing for up-close observation and on-the-fly communication. Through our newly acquired HTC Vive head-mounted display, we have created a high-end virtual reality space in the lower level of our office where these interactive design presentations can be held. Our system displays a high quality, real-time rendering that gives the user a much more realistic experience (even than the smartphone VR). Our system can also be mobile, allowing us to bring Virtual Reality to conferences and clients’ offices – and ideally, to the actual existing space that is being designed (in renovation projects) and letting the client see the design in its actual environment. Headset off – see the existing conditions in real reality . . . headset on – see the newly designed space in virtual reality.

Already have your own Google Cardboard or cellphone friendly VR Viewer? Step into some of our camp projects by opening these links on your phone:

YMCA of Greenville
Treehouse at Camp Greenville – Greenville, SC

VR 1:

VR 2:

Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana
Camp Juniper Knoll – East Troy, WI

VR 1:

VR 2:

Girl Scouts of Northern California
Camp Butano Creek – Pescadero, CA

VR 1:

VR 2:

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Camps 'N Codes

Take a moment, close your eyes, and paint a picture in your mind of your childhood summer camp. Can you see it? Little rustic cabins, a fire ring in the forest, a wooden dock with canoes tethered to it, and an overall sense of magic adrift in the air. Now let me ask, did you remember to include the fire suppression systems, accessibility features, and the correct number of plumbing fixtures? I didn’t think so. While these elements don’t contribute to the overall allure of camp, they are all crucial to the construction of camp structures. This post kick starts our ‘Camps ‘N Codes’ series about Building Codes and Regulations and how they affect summer camps.  After the break is an introduction to the series. Be sure to check back over the next few months as we debut our ‘Case Study’ posts where we dive into our previous projects and discuss how we have handled camp specific code issues in the past.


Thursday, February 11, 2016

Droning on about Unmanned Aerial Systems

The DJI - Phantom 3 Advanced

There might not be a more exciting and buzzworthy area of commercial technological advancement than that of the small Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) platforms; commonly referred to as “drones”.  In the last ten years, advancement in radio controlled (RC) technology and many of the inner-working components of commercial drones has seen exponential growth and development, which has truly opened the door for the general public to assist in the exploration of the role(s) that small UAS will have in the future of unmanned flight.

People often forget how far drone technology has come since the early years of unmanned piloting. It’s hard to believe, but unmanned aerial systems were first developed in the 1850s!  Largely used during wartime for military reconnaissance, early platforms involved slow moving balloons, tethered kites, and later, remotely piloted planes.

Civil War era Balloon "Intrepid" and Kettering Aerial Torpedo "Bug"

Thankfully, the desire to push boundaries was not lost due to the limited capability of these primitive drone examples. The continued innovation in the design and technology of unmanned piloting has ushered in a new era of functions and uses – specifically for non-governmental or non-military applications.  Accessibility to more affordable parts and manufacturing has made commercial drone production economically viable for a wider range of companies.  So you might be wondering, what does all of this have to do with camp planning and architecture?  

Well, even when unmanned piloting was first being developed over 160 years ago, the creators had a particular idea in mind:  how can we provide a perspective that few people have seen before?  This might be the most significant benefit that commercial drones present to the greater public.  As is often the case in large scale architectural planning and design projects, it is difficult to provide the client (and also the community at large) with a wide enough perspective of a site that illustrates just how complex and involved a given project is.

Specifically, as it relates to camp architecture; property size and accessibility to remote areas on some properties can present unique challenges – not least of which being difficult terrain that can make documentation time-consuming, uncomfortable and possibly even dangerous. 

So what are some of the tangible benefits that drones can provide to the camp architecture market?  With the advent of inexpensive and easy-to-fly commercial drones, tasks such as aerial photography, surveying and mapping, and videography can be completed with ease...and with a single operator.  Other industries such as agriculture, movie and film production, and professional photography have already begun utilizing drone platforms for business purposes.

Before commercial drones were really a viable option, the best way to capture a true bird’s-eye perspective was through the use of small airplanes.  However, this type of resource is expensive and often unreliable due to the higher altitudes and higher speeds with which the aircraft must operate…not to mention having to hire a trained, professional pilot to get the job done!

Downtown Brevard, NC

This is not the case with many of the off-the-shelf drone models available today, as they are easily maneuverable and incorporate an intuitive, smart-phone interface along with savvy, video-game like controls that most people can learn quickly.  Some of these same drone platforms also come fitted with the latest GPS technology that can be used to generate a mapped flight path through the use of “waypoints”.  This could be a great tool for capturing a consistent, repeating bird’s-eye view of larger construction projects, and for generating time-lapse photography or video segments to illustrate the before and after conditions of a particular site.

Domokur's own Stefan Young making a test flight

Domokur Architects is always looking to the future, and searching for new and improved ways to enhance the client experience.  We are thrilled to announce that we will officially take to the skies with our own commercial drone platform, with services available beginning in the summer of 2016!  Stay tuned - and in the meantime, check out this preliminary training video we recently recorded.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Light The Night Walk

The Domokur Architects Team is dusting off their walking shoes as they prepare for the Light The Night Walk on October 18th at Cuyahoga Falls River Square. 

2015 marks the fourth year that Domokur Architects is participating in the walk and raising money to benefit the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Click here to learn more about Light The Night and how to get involved.

We would love your support and encouragement as we participate this year. 

Thank you!

Monday, August 31, 2015

The Official Domokur Architects Coloring Book!

Domokur Architects turned forty this year! In case you missed the party at our Akron headquarters this past weekend you can get in on the fun by downloading the party favor below. The team made a 40th Anniversary edition coloring book featuring several Domokur projects! Pictures from the event coming soon!

CLICK HERE to download the Domokur Architects Coloring Book:

Happy Coloring!

...and remember, coloring is not a 'kids only' activity! So break out those Basic Eights!

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Harmonizing Architecture and Nature: The Art of Feng Shui

written by | Kyle Peppard

In the camping experience it is not only important that people are comfortable in the cabin where they sleep, but also that the cabin is comfortable on the site in which it rests.

Camping has always been about social interactions, and creating lasting memories, but it is also an opportunity to be surrounded by nature at its purest and most undisturbed. Though the addition of architecture to a natural environment can sometimes taint it, a respectful and appropriate integration of the two can actually enhance experiences by creating harmony between the built environment and its natural surroundings. One philosophy for creating this synergy is Feng Shui, an idea thousands of years old.

Feng Shui involves creating a natural energy through clever building practices that range from manipulation of building and site geometry to a very specific placement of interior furnishings, but is primarily built upon the belief that all of natural existence falls into one of the five elements: Water, Fire, Earth, Metal, and Wood. In nature each of these elements serves their own purpose and has a direct effect in some way on each of the others, and the natural energy created by these interactions is known as Chi. Feng Shui takes these relationships and arranges the placement of the elements into a perfectly balanced cycle that will allow for the maximum flow of Chi. This cycle is formed by placing these elements along a path around the building. Each material is to be placed in between one other material that would strengthen it, as well as one that would weaken it theoretically keeping the materials following a natural order, such as fire being fed by wood but tamed by sand. However, it is also very important within this arrangement that if the interaction between elements is of a purely destructive nature they be placed opposite one another, such as the way water will douse a flame with no benefit to itself or metal will slice through wood without gain.  When a building supports this cycle, then the building itself can be harmonious with nature.

So what could all of this possibly mean for camping? It means that the feeling of true connection between people and nature doesn’t have to stop when going inside. When Feng Shui is properly applied, shelter is no longer separate from the five elements. In the design of cabins, dining halls or any other camp building the elements can be incorporated so that the architecture is a continuation of its site, and a natural environment is formed within the building heightening the essence of the camping experience. When attempting to set up a camp building following principles of Feng Shui it is best to start with site geometry. Feng Shui believes that certain things help carry existing Chi into a building, such as a road that passes by or goes directly towards the entry, or a body of water that lies in front of the entry. The next step would be to attract that energy into the building by avoiding jagged or complex geometry and providing a large and inviting entry wall. Lastly the Chi needs to be properly hosted within the building which is where the very specific use of material is to be incorporated. The first application can be through building materials and layout by making decisions such as placing a wooden entry porch waterfront with the building’s back wall being stone. The process could then be taken further by using wood planks on the interior entry wall, and oppose it with a fireplace and metal screen. As various furnishings are placed in the interior according to the rules of Feng Shui the cycle becomes stronger and creates a new home for positive Chi energy.

Feng Shui is nothing new to camping, and some Chi savvy campers always make sure to arrange their tent site according to its rules. Some of those same campers are gravitating towards BubbleTree tents by French designer Pierre Stephane Dumas. These tents were designed with Feng Shui in mind adopting soft rounded geometry with a large and open transparent entry bubble in order to strategically attract Chi. However, due to the limitations of the temporary shelter and a lack of materiality it is still up to the camper to place the tent and their personal belongings according to the principles of Feng Shui. Unlike these tents, camp design is not bound to these limitations and provides a unique opportunity to plan out and build in Feng Shui providing the experience to all campers, and creating a structure that is meant as an addition to the natural environment.

While it may be true that there is no substitute for the great outdoors, by applying the principles of Feng Shui we can create a positive relationship between the elements that exist and the elements we design.


Photo Credits (From Top)