Exhibition Animation First Attempt

As my project has evolved I have changed my main focus multiple times, bouncing around different ideas and trying to find a topic that would hit the spot and allow ideas to flow freely. At this point I have landed on the renovation and re-invigoration of Brutalist structures in Berlin. I am exploring the structures themselves, their place in the life of Berlin and the way in which people’s perception of them has changed.

The primary point I am going to explore the ‘Turmkunst’ (Tower Art Project) that began in 2010. Where a number of old buildings, including Brutalist structures were left to the whims of a number of notable Graffiti Artists, to turn into their own canvases and do with as they wished.

The term ‘Brutalist Playground’ which I am using as my title describes both the free reign architects had in rebuilding Berlin in the time immediately after WWII, as well as the open sandbox these buildings then came to represent for contemporary artists.

Here is an example of the Tower Art Project’s impact that I have looked at closely. The ‘Bierpinsel’ (Beer Brush’ was originally part of a railway station finished in 1976. It has recently been repainted (right) and is being converted into a restaurant.


So here is my finished piece. It is by no means what I will present at my final presentation, but I am pleased have done it and to have brushed up on my Adobe Aftereffects skills as basic as they may be.

The idea behind this was to emulate the Graffiti Artists impact on the bare concrete of the Brutalist buildings of Berlin. The human experience and interaction with these structures is what make them valuable to society, so I felt that was an important angle to focus upon.

The concrete was a hassle to create, as my type was originally going to stand proud on a plain background. Each word of my title was created on the same image of concrete, which meant placing on line above the other would leave an obvious seam in the center. I therefore had to work out how to duplicate the image and weld them together in a way that removed any visible seam.

Concrete seamconcrete seamless contrast

This was an obscure but quite simple task, I created a continuous repeating pattern with the image of the concrete, before molding all the seams so that they blended perfectly into one smooth surface.

brutalist playground coloured1036958392..jpg

I then placed the text over this background and traced a path over the lettering, making sure to completely cover every letter. I then set that path to steadily peel back and reveal the lettering as the video progressed, so as to give the impression of it being painted on. I then found a YouTube video with the spray can sound effect (if you missed this, please re-watch the video with sound, it really makes it less mediocre). This was what I was most pleased with. The audio was pretty closely if not perfectly synchronized the moving of the imagery on screen.

My Thoughts

It really is amazing how much research and development it takes to produce even something as simple as a basic 12 second animation. It took several hours, if you include the time I spent watching YouTube tutorials to understand each step of the work. I am no expert at using After Effects. I feel that although this piece is not up to standard for my final presentation, it has set me up well by giving me a base on which to improve.



Creating my Ephemera

Having created my typeface I have been trying to move forward with my project while taking the advice I was given in my recent tutorial session.

One piece of valuable feedback I got was to clarify my message. I needed to take a stance or try to educate people. My idea had been to make Brutalism more appealing. Or simply to help people understand its appeal if possible.

I was told that possibly my typeface was not playful enough. It was well received but it didn’t reflect my message. My solution has thrown up some interesting results.

So here is my finished typeface as it will look in my ephemera. I wanted to retain the rough concrete finish but add a little flamboyance. The colours are taken directly from a building in Berlin, the Bierpinsel (Beer Bush).

The Bierpinsel (Beer Bush) originally intended to look like a tree, it was completed in 1976

So this funky looking building was part of some work I have already been trying out. There was an effort to spruce up Berlin starting in 2010 called the Turmkunst (Tower Art) project. Notable Graffiti artists were given free reign to paint building such as the Bierpinsel.

The image has been edited by yours truly. I simply desaturated the background to highlight the vivid colours of the building itself. It’s a really beautiful example of the human interaction with architecture which I want to explore in my project.

I used the colours by taking swatches directly from this image and applying them in a semitransparent later over my letters. This left me with a vibrant typeface without the loss of its bare bones feel.

My reasons I chose the Bierpinsel for my colours are. One, I loved the random assortment of bright colours, some floors are one colour, some two, none of them matching any coordinated layout. And two, because I want to tie every element of my project together to showcase the beauty of Berlin’s Brutalist structures to best effect.

Using this new typeface, I decided to apply it to some ephemera and see if it would make a good base for a mark that would carry across platforms. As of yet I’ve only created an exhibition admissions ticket, but I’m really pleased with the outcome.

It’s very simplistic, but this isn’t an issue in my opinion, I think a crisp, minimalist design is inkeeping with the ethos of Brutalism. I played around a little with the vibrance and contrast of my colours and I think it has improved the final product.

The white bar on the edge may be preferred in the final design to allow the concrete element to be kept separately once the ticket has been used to gain entry. But that is yet to be decided.

I’m pleased with my progress thus far and I’m eager to see where the next big break in my project will come.

Brutalist Berlin – Examples

While I have done a lot of research on Berlin and its architectural history, I have neglected to make a blog post exploring these buildings and explaining how they have influenced my designs thus far and how I will utilize them further in my project.

After the devastation of the Second World War in Berlin, architecture became a discipline where new technological solutions, techniques and future-visions could be demonstrated. Divided Berlin became a showcase for the Western and Eastern powers and public building projects became conspicuous expressions of attempted supremacy. While the architectural progression of Soviet-controlled sector was generally guided by a Communist worldview, the Western sectors – trying to reflect architecture styles prevailing in the wider world at the time.

The Research Institute for Experimental Medicine – part of the Free University in the south west of the city.

This behemoth is known colloquially as ‘ The Mouse Bunker’ as it is an Animal Testing Facility (the bunker part is self explanatory). Completed in 1980 this is a perfect example of the unique kind of flamboyance that brutalism can throw up. It’s grey, weather stained exterior is forbidding and grim. But it has this form akin to a battle ship which lends it a strange beauty. It looks as if it’s a war ship squeezing its way down a narrow canal in this image.

The Bierpinsel (Beer Brush) – built as part of the Schloßstrasse U-bahn station from 1972-76

The 46m high Bladerunner-esque Steglitzer Bierpinsel. Added to lessen the impact of the connected flyover and containing a restaurant, it was originally clad in red fibre cement panels. Starting in April 2010, several prominent graffiti artists painted the exterior of the structure over several weeks, as part of the Turmkunst (Tower art) 2010 project – an exhibition of street-art taking place both in and around the tower.

This is a powerful example of the human interaction with these buildings, They are blank canvases that can be interpreted by those around them. I think the design of this building is really striking and beautiful colour or no.

The Pallasseum apartment block

This huge apartment block near Kleistpark was completed in 1976. It became much-maligned, receiving the nickname ‘Social Palace’, until recently undergoing many improvements and being rebranded as the ‘Pallasseum’. It has a total floor area of 37,000 square metres, houses approximately 2,000 residents and spans a Second World War high-rise bunker.

I love the way that in their attempt to rebuild and redefine the architectural landscape of Berlin, designers simply slotted this great big building over the top of an existing building from another era. It looks like it has been carelessly stacked on top to be saved for later. This is another way in which the playful side of brutalism can be seen.

An apartment block in Wilhelmstadt, Spandau.

I couldn’t find information on the date that this was constructed. But what fascinated me was the integration taking place in this structure. Its mathematically perfect angular frame is softened by the greenery on every level. It’s almost like the vertical garden designs currently in vogue in major cities. The human interaction with these buildings is what makes them special.

These are just a few examples of structures I have studied. They are the inpiration behind my typeface design in my previous posts. All the angular wedge shapes are inspired by those on brutalist buildings.

Brutalist inspired typeface 

In my work on the ‘On Display’ brief I have struggled to produce polished work since nailing down a solid basis for my work presented me a lot of a difficulty. Now that I am at the stage of building my brand identity I am pleased to be progressing more smoothly. 

I have been mulling over the idea of producing my own typeface for the project for a while with sketches and doodles of how it could look. But recently I decided to collate all this and design my own typeface. 

Original ideas

My first idea was to create a type that had the appreance of segmented concrete construction inspired by the techniques of Brutalist Architecture. One hallmark of the movement is the replacement of tradition methods with a Lego esc construction of large blocks. 

This idea, although solid in theory, led to one quite ugly and simplistic lettering that I felt had limited potential. So I decided to adapt front there. 

Typeface exploring the use of Brutalist shapes

Here is my first really attempt at an abstract typeface that follows the forms I have found while researching Brutalist Architecture. I was honestly very pleased with this work. 

I found it very difficult to balance the need for it to resemble the structures I was trying to emulate while remaining legible. But I think I achieved a happy medium. 

The issue with this piece was that a classmate was doing a very similar piece and after seeing it I admitted to him that his was better and decided I’d have to do more to distinguish mine. 

Concrete effect typeface in 3D

Here was a brief doodle I did while pondering my project ideas. This was going to be in regards to the topic of my project being the misunderstanding people have when it comes to Brutalist Architecture. 

My idea was that I would explore the reasons people see Brutalist buildings as so hideous and oppressive and seek to educate them of the philosophy of Le Corbusier and the socialist and populist ideals he harboured. 

Angular concrete type 3D
Here is my most advanced illustration of the typeface I have since decided to continue with. The exaggerated strength and thickness of the lettering was very intentional. 

Almost all the letter are designed to resemble solid blocks with details to distinguish letters being indents in the blocks rather than empty space. I wanted to create something geometric and angular that would follow the line software Brutalist design while remaining simple and legible. Nothing extrvigent as Le Corbusier intended for his structures. 

Digitised Typeface

Although the colouration will require much adjustment from this point (the type was created in CMYK so in RGB it looked a sickly green. I chose these colours because they looked far crisper for display purposes). 

As I mentioned, with such abstract typefaces, the concern is with striking a balance between being true to the brief (emulate Brutalist forms) and allow the type to be legible. 

It is difficult to judge this having poured so much time into the work and become so familiar with it. I asked my flatmates and some members of the course and they had no issues with it. But feel free to leave a comment with your opinion. 

I am broadly happy with the outcome and this will allow me to progress by incorporating this typeface in my ephemera and my animation work. I will refine it further, however. It needs some organic texture, concrete isnt smooth. I also need to nail down a final colour scheme. 

100 Marques – Conclusions

We recently presented our finished 100 marques project. I was surprised by the immense learning curve it was to increase the quantity of work produced so drastically, but this was not a bad thing. Theo’s rationale was that if we had one hundred pieces we would be able to explore far more options than if we had five and the far more variation could be achieved and evaluated. I could certainly see the benefits this brought, I was very impressed by the work produced by others in the course, and I will create a separate post highlighting my favourites.

We were all provided with six stickers each; three blue and three orange. The blue were to denote the marques we found to have immediate professional appeal. Well executed ideas with promise. The orange were to denote the pieces we found compelling and instantly communicative. I was surprised to find a few stickers on my work.

In the process of creating my marques I started rather off target. My initial fourty designs were simply variations of my initials ‘D R’, my design initial ‘R D’ (Rothwell Design) and simply my name. In our first tutorial two days into the project, David explained the error of my ways. I was thinking in to much of a linear, basic way and not exploring my style as a designer.

This was actually a double sided page so the second image went unseen, sadly. But given the slightly rushed nature of the pieces, I’m very happy that some of the ideas themselves were well received. Regardless of the fact that they are initials, I think some of them contain the basis for a good design.

All of the designs up to this point are pre-tutorial and so they are rather constrained in their design. I was largely caught up trying to hybridise the letter forms, which can only be done so much before I started running out of ideas. Again, the second image is the reverse of the first and s o it went unseen, although it wasn’t anything special.

After the tutorial I began working from a more abstract perspective. Try out shapes and weights. Addressing variations in complexity. Knowing I couldn’t make things to complex or they wouldn’t be vivid enough. The rule of thumb provided by Dave was that if they were shrunk to the size of postage stamp and were still graphically strong, then they were appropriate.

None of these marques were ones I intended on taking further into the design process, at least without significant alterations. But again, a couple received stickers, which was a pleasant surprise.

Here re my final two pages of designs. Again, I didn’t want to get caught up making endless variations of the same thing as I did at the beginning of the project. Very few of these designs are even vaguely similar, which for me was one of the main objectives. I’m very happy to see that on these two pages, all of my personal favorite marques received some attention.

My thoughts

I really found this task enlightening. to me, design has always been about quality over quantity, but quantity can throw up quality that wouldn’t otherwise have been achieved. I think the only downside of creating so many logos, is your ability to discern what works and what doesn’t begins to wain. So the addition of fresh perspectives really helped me. I’d never have thought of  the marques that received stickers as my best designs.

Changing Faces – Finalising the Piece

The deadline is right around the corner and so my Changing Faces Project is just about completed. After receiving feedback from David I had a few final changes to implement. Some of them were technical issues to do with misalignment from columns and some were design alterations of a more subjective perspective. I made all the essential changes and did some other alterations to compromise between what I had envisioned and what was recommended to me.

Screen Shot 2017-06-05 at 11.54.56

The next stage was printing which caused me some issue as the recommended printer was overcapacity. I found a new printer promptly but was unable to get my work cut to size by them. The cutting process with scalpel and ruler was tense because my crop marks had not printed correctly and £15 and a lot of time was in the balance.

Thankfully my margins were large enough to cover any errors in cutting. I could simply trim slightly closer in to correct for any mistakes. This is something I’ll consider whenever I have to do this in future. The gluing and binding went rather more smoothly with some help and final adjustments could be made one all three spreads were together.




Here is the finished piece. I was overwhelmed by how perfectly it turned out. The print quality was exceptional which made every tiny detail included and adjustment made, stand out. It really made my work look better than I could have hoped.

Across the course of the project my design has fundamentally changed due to constant edits and improvements. It really seems strange the amount of time it took to design three double page spreads. But completed,  it really allows me to understand the difference using professional methods can have. I feel I have learnt a great deal throughout this year and here is the pinnacle of my work. Looking back to the work I produced at the beginning, it really looks quite poor now.

Despite how stressful it was to have to create my own imagery, I’m very pleased it was a condition of the brief. It took ages but I developed my ideas and refined my images to a point where I could not see how to improve upon them. The colour scheme is clear and allows the piece to flow and remain uniform while not being repetitive.

I learnt a great deal from my research, not only into the topic of climate change but into typography and layout design. I am especially happy with the design of my pullout quotes. I used a bold serif font and reduced the leading to near zero, the size of the font allows it to remain clear while being compact, chunky and powerful.

The quality of all the work I have seen during this project has been exceptional and I am eager to see it displayed as part of our end of year exhibition.