BeLoose Graphic Workshop

Bloomfield Farms - A Design Process

This month's blog highlights one of my favorite architecture studios here in San Francisco, Aidlin Darling Architecture. Aidlin Darling bridges the demands of artistic endeavor, environmental responsibility, functional pragmatics, and financial considerations. As a multidisciplinary firm, they believe that innovations discovered through the process of design and construction can be applied to projects of any scale, use, or purpose. Partners Joshua Aidlin and David Darling have cultivated a team that strives to deliver the highest level of project management, service, and design. Their approach is client and site specific, and questions conventional assumptions. A collaborative process with clients, consultants, fabricators, and builders allows an open and impassioned exploration and enables a clear understanding of appropriate solutions. In each project, they seek to uncover an inherent spirit of place and interpret constraints as catalysts for performative design. The individual character of each project emerges through poetic spatial relationships, material richness, and exacting detail.

The project highlighted here is the design process for Bloomfield Farms. Among the rolling Sonoma hills, the residence at Bloomfield Farms sits nestled just below a high ridge, providing panoramic views of neighboring farms. Incised into the earth, this glass and board-formed concrete house uses passive heating and cooling, wind and solar power, and green roofs to reflect the farm's commitment to sustainable agricultural practices. Inspired by Isamu Noguchi's early bas-reliefs, the architecture and land become indivisible elements of the design.

Process Design Sketches. Process sketches is when the birth of an idea in set onto paper as a gesture. Volumes and program are drawn out as bubbles to see relationships in space, and then further refined into drawings that give form and function to the initial idea. Drawn loose, these manifest into refined sketches that are developed with further in-depth detail.


Site Studies and Physical Modeling. Starting with context, the design team created a physical study model with the intent of weaving the building program into the rolling landscape of the Sonoma Hills. The act of measuring, cutting, folding, gluing, seeing...these are all aspects that a designer must use to understand a design problem with hopes that an opportunity will manifest through exploration of ideas. A site plan colored quickly with colored pencil effectively explains the site topography and the intent of weaving the natural landscape with (and on top) of the building.


Vignette Sketching on the Fly. Quick vignette sketches help the design team convey spatial concepts by putting them directly onto paper.

Most of these kinds of sketches are created at client meetings, sometimes drawn while the client is talking about their aspirations of design and space.

It is an effective tool that Aidlin Darling utilizes as graphic dialogue, like thinking with a pencil. This sketch of the mezzanine walkway highlights ideas about natural light and linear expression with simple color pencil to give gestural character to glass, wood, and concrete. 


Hand Rendered Sectional Studies. These are AutoCAD sections plotted onto bond paper with color pencil technique on top. Sectional studies give vertical scale and dimension to the program. Notice the importance of people in the sections for scale.

Final Digital Renderings. In tandem with the development of the design sketches, a Revit/BIM model was produced while design decisions were confirmed and implemented. Post production was done in Photoshop to create a realistic effect with lighting, texture, and filters.

I hope you found this blog helpful and informational. If you have specific questions about any particular parts of this process, just send me a message. [photos courtesy of Aidlan Darling Architects]

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Comment by Nirajan Shrestha on June 12, 2012 at 8:19pm

looking great, the sections, 3d's and hand renderings and would love to see the concept drawings more clearly

Comment by Mason Mullendore on May 31, 2012 at 7:23pm

I enjoyed the mixture of autocad and colored pencil. Amazing work for a local studio! : )

Comment by rafael palacios on May 31, 2012 at 1:09pm

great process and way to work on projects that evolve with each line the pencil/pen make. 

Comment by Mike Lin on May 31, 2012 at 1:05pm

Great blog, thanks.

BeLoose is a workshop where the experience will definitely change people's lives and increase their confidence beyond their expectation.

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