Interview with designer Rajat Sodhi (RS), regarding views on design, and for the award-winning design Or2 Photochromic Canopy Structure.

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Interview with Rajat Sodhi at Saturday 9th of March 2013: DI: What is the main principle, idea and inspiration behind your design?
RS : Both our installations Or1 and Or2 are using photochromic polypropylene in order to create roof structures which can passively control the environment underneath them. The smart material reacts to UV light and automatically blocks out the sun if there is too much light.

DI: What has been your main focus in designing this work? Especially what did you want to achieve?
RS : Or1 is a hanging structure. In order to make Or2 more self-supporting we took inspiration from the internal geometries of seasquirts: We created a branching system to hold up the canopy. This structure is stable due to the small radii at each point, which create bending within each pp segment and therefore stiffness within the branches.

DI: What are your future plans for this award winning design?
RS : Using space-colonisation algorithms we have developed larger geometries for canopy structures which we are envisioning for the construction of large scale roofs. We have designed a shopping mall in London using this system, and we are working on other applications for medium to large scale buildings.

DI: How long did it take you to design this particular concept?
RS : The design took about 2 months, finding sponsorship took more than 6 months, and the construction took about 4 weeks.

DI: Why did you design this particular concept? Was this design commissioned or did you decide to pursuit an inspiration?
RS : Orproject is often building installations in order to test new geometries or materials for their architectural potential. Those projects are usually self-initiated, but we are always looking for exhibition opportunities and sponsorship to construct them.

DI: Is your design being produced or used by another company, or do you plan to sell or lease the production rights or do you intent to produce your work yourself?
RS : The spcific design of Or2 is a one-off, however we are applying the design principles for our architectural commissions.

DI: What made you design this particular type of work?
RS : Architectural installations are prototypes with which we can test new ideas on a small scale. They help us to test materials and geometries, and they also help us to understand how certain types of structures or systems can be constructed and used. Whenever we build an installation we are always envisioning it's application as a large scale building.

DI: Where there any other designs and/or designers that helped the influence the design of your work?
RS : For our installation Or1 we have collaborated with our friends from Scenario Architecture.

DI: Which design tools did you use when you were working on this project?
RS : We used a lot of digital design tools and developed our own software tools for the design development. In parallel we worked with small scale models in order to test the structural behaviour of the system.

DI: Who did you collaborate with for this design? Did you work with people with technical / specialized skills?
RS : We had the assistance of Arup engineers for this project.