The long, windy and picturesque design road

I initially started this lengthy blog post with a bit of a speel about how after almost 3 months since my last updated, I felt I hadn’t done too much with my design work. I talked about how hard it was to juggle full tie work and a side business, especially one that is so time intensive.

Well, now that it’s all written out, I achieved so much. It;s hard not to be disappointed that these projects aren’t done, but I guess it’s time to be realistic and accept that these things take their good time. Design is a labour of love, but also a labour of time. Generally speaking, the more time you put in, the better the end results, and design is no different! Design inspires me and gives me the good-feeling-rush that makes me go from a state of ‘this life is complicated’ to ‘this life has endless possibilities and was made by ever-loving faeries!…or something equivalent, anyway. In some ways, design allows me to escape into realsm not possible in my current life, but in some ways I guess that is part of the point of design – to bring people to places they would either rather be at, or didn’t even realise they wanted to be at.

Take for example, the concept car at a car show. The car is likely never to be made, yet a group of people or organisation has put in millions of dollars and man-hours to get it conceptualised, designed and delivered. You might feel pretty darn good about yourself before seeing this particular car, but the moment you lay your eyes on it and see it all around, it might be the only thing on your mind for the rest of the day. Design opens up our minds to facets of life we didn’t even know existed, and that, is truly special.

Design keeps me going, and every little but that is made into reality is almost a motivational booster. Each step is a step towards reality –  a reality that at some point never existed.

Anyway, enough jibber,jabbering, on to the work!

SUNBURY INTERNATIONAL CIRCUIT

My current personal flagship project is now well into its second year according to my documentation, with the project starting on the 25th of May, 2013. Since then I have learned a whole lot on specific things like race circuit design, circuit layout and what really needs to be considered when designing a racing circuit. Away from that though, I have learned a whole lot on things like project management, digital design integration, and learning of the joys and perils in scaling designs from the paper to the real world. It never looks or feels the same!!

For those who cannot quite recall, or those new here, the Sunbury International Circuit project is a large scale design project to design a new, permanent circuit to service Melbourne, Australia. The project came about as I wanted to undertake a large project, but also because I noticed a potential problem in the current situation of hosting the Australian Formula 1 Grand Prix at Albert Park, which for all intents and purposes is a street circuit. This means that it requires to be built up and dismantled every year, leading to traffic issues, restricted access to services by locals, noise issues and large recurring costs. Keep in mind though, I love the Albert Park circuit! However, with all things design, you design for problems, and the Albert Park circuit is not without its problems.

The new circuit was always designed to be a permanent circuit, but my goals for the project were always that the circuit could not remove too much from what made Albert Park great from an accessibility point of view. After much location scouting, I decided on a location between Calder Park Raceway and Sunbury. This was due to the location not currently or in the future being used for residential purposes, was within 45 minutes drive from the large majority of the population of Melbourne, was already accessible by public transport, and did not present any noise issues for future or current residential areas.

Once decided, I undertook a design process to develop a circuit that felt less like a stadium, and more of a free flowing into the wilderness of sorts. My gripe with the most recent of Formula 1 grade circuits is that they feel sort of stadium-esque in their design, very industrial and manufactured. Formula 1 racing has its roots in circuits which started in towns, went off into the countryside for many minutes, only to return back. It was raw, but with safety standards escalating to supreme levels, and the costs also escalating for large circuits, circuit size has shrunk quite a bit and characteristics of the circuit have been nullified to an extent.

CIRCUIT DESIGN – UPDATE

Last time, the circuit layout from the track shape itself I felt was nearing completion. The elevation profile was coming along nicely, the layout seemed to fit well in the boundaries of the location I had selected and I could start on getting on with the layout design, building design and promotional work.


Circuit 31-05-2014 Turns

The SIC layout from previous update with corner numbers (T1 – T20 (T20 not shown))

Circuit 23-02 superimposed Google Earth

The SIC layout overlayed in Google Maps showing the surrounding area (railway, freeway, land use etc.)

Since May, however, I presented the design to the community, and the response was that the section of circuit from corners T12 – T15 didn’t really add much to the circuit. They were not very interesting, too slow and fiddly. After my own review, I agreed – the corners were too slow and not what I wanted at all from the section! A redesign had to be done!

After much fiddling about with the design, and simulated drive testing using rFactor, I came up with the below design revision:

Layout 09-06-14

Revised circuit design from mid June.

What was originally a slow succession of left-right-left corners had now become a quick double apex corner and medium speed opening left hander, with a bit of a ‘straight’ to a slow left hand corner. All was well until I placed the superimposed the new layout into GoogleEarth to check for clearances

Circuit 09-06-14 uperimposed Google Earth

Reduced clearance between revised circuit and yellow road at bottom. 

As it turned out, the clearance between the circuit and the road at the bottom of the above image, Holden Road, was not sufficient to include any safe run-off areas for that corner. Keeping it in this position would have forced a modification of Holden Road to diverge from the circuit, a cost that can be avoided.

So, quite liking the circuit layout revision, I simply moved the circuit north a bit to make room for the run off area. However, I had forgotten about one of the major area limiting factors for the site, the Melbourne Outer Ring Road (ORR).

ORR Issue

Revised circuit location with ORR plans superimposed (ORR plans to scale from Melways publication)

So, in all that, the new location didn’t work. I wasn’t to propose a location that had been earmarked by the Government already for a future project! The only solution was a complete orientation change. After much fiddling (again), I came up with a nice orientation for the new design:

Revised orientation

New and current circuit layout and orientation.

This is clear example of issues compounding issues, and is very important to keep in mind in whatever you are doing. I had a fully workable design, and one minor change in the layout has caused not 1, but 2 knock on issues needing recification. When performing minor changes to a design, your day, your spreadhseet, or whatever you are doing, it’s always important to consider the potential for knock-on effects, and whether you can spare yourself days or months of rework time which may or not be totally avoidable.

CIRCUIT DESIGN – CURRENT DESIGN

So, after much work done in June, and July, I finally came to a revised circuit design with a revised circuit orientation that does not encroach in any infrastructure (present or future) that allows sufficient run off areas and access all around the circuit.

 

Updated ‘flying lap’ video of SIC with barriers, new elevation profile, working pit lane

Th video above shows the latest update to the circuit. Pretty awesome, right! The circuit now has barriers where they should be (so run off areas are accurate size wise), a working pit lane (sans pit building), a new elevation profile due to relocating the circuit (with some kinks).

Layout 19-08-14

Circuit layout as of August 2014.

PreLim Layout 20-08-14

Preliminary circuit layout and surrounding layout as of August 2014.

Because of the potential location of the train station on the existing railway, and the location of the pit building and the consideration for access by team personnel, the layout and orientation were quite suitable for the access requirements for fans and official personnel. Pedestrian overpasses are integrated into the design to allow for access to the inner part of the circuit (where some grandstands and viewing areas are located), and are located such that people coming from all directions can access the inner area of the circuit. The overpasses also make it easier for pedestrians to travel from one side of the circuit to the other, avoiding the requirement to travel around the circuit. This also allows for the team paddock to be closed off to pedestrians.

Access to the circuit is preliminarily provided by new exit lanes from the Calder Freeway that lead into Holden Road. As part of this project, it is envisaged that Holden Road would be upgraded from the current gravel road it is now, to at least a 4 lane (2 lanes each way) sealed road. This entry/exit design allows for quicker entry/exit times for visitors as the main exitway merges with an existing freeway. The access design also allows for easy travel from Holden Road to the ORR, although the details of this interchange are yet to be finalised.

CIRCUIT DESIGN – OTHER DESIGN ITEMS

Away from the circuit itself, there are a number of items within the grand layout that I have earmarked for designing especially for this project: The pit building, the main grandstand, and the train station.

The plan for the circuit is to have a dedicated train station, which may or may not be used in normal operation. The train station design I wanted to be unique, but I also have in mind that the station will need to cater for many fans, and many different types of fans (less mobile, unfamiliar with the English language). Therefore I feel to some extent the train station design is relevant and a good ting to do. Also, as a major factor in chosing the location chosen, the train station will be a major route for fans to visit the circuit, so I wanted the station to have an impressive design for those visiting for the first time.

Currently I have done up some sketches to explore what is possible and what is not. I am also designing the train station, like the circuit, against a  set of regulations from the Victorian Rail Industry Operators Group Standards that stipulate the minimum sizes of spaces, platforms, access etc.

Hand Sketches 1    Hand Sketches 2

My original idea was to have something really, REALLY impressive. The way in which Spencer St Station in Melbourne was converted from what was basically a train yard into this, as well as how some international train stations are (I’m looking at you, Europe) really inspired me. But I thought, this station only services the circuit, not hundreds of trains going to hundreds of different places! So I decided to tone it down a little. Impressive, yes, grandiose? Nah.

Inestigation model CAD imager

CAD image of model used to investigate train station sizing regulations

Above you can see a model I am working on in SolidWorks to investigate the requirements for a train station in Victoria, Australia. This model demonstrates a basic station layout, with stairs on one platform and an escalator on the other. The long items in the middle are representative of typicasl Melbourne network suburban trains, while the small thing on the far platform next to the escalators is a model of a person!

All in all, the station will be developed into a realistic station design that cwill be presented along with the circuit as part of the whole design package.

THE WAY FORWARD

The circuit layout with regards to the digital version (as seen in the video) is in what I would describe as final approach. The fundamentals of the design have been tested and OK (by myself, of all people), and so the plan for the digital circuit is to basically strip the model down to the bare minimum and tweak all the fundamental parts (elevation and layout, basically), and build up from there. The circuit surface itself will be first, then I will add proper run off areas, proper barriers, and then add in buildings once they are done.

Other than that, I am going to give the circuit an identity! That’s right, it’s logo time! This will be something I get to very soon – in the next month or two.

After that it’s just a matter of designing buildings, finishing the circuit, and developing the promotional material. EXCITING!

SPEEDSCENES

SpeedScenes, the project where I developed the children’s racing play mat in the shape of the Silverstone Race Circuit, has come a long way but is in a bit of a lull at the moment. The mat has been completed design wise, the owner is on the cusp of making production orders, and the license for the mat is nigh on signed. The mat is planned to be on sale in November-December this year, but I’ll be sure to let everyone know once it is!

In the time since last update, I was approached by the owner to develop some packaging items, namely a hang tag and label for the plastic the the mat is rolled in when packaged. I don’t really have the ability to show you straight up what I have done, except the owner has put an image of one of the labels I made up on the SpeedScenes website! Go through to the SpeedScenes website here and have a look!

If sales for this mat are good, then there is a good chance more circuits will be done, but we shall see. Hopefully they do because it’s great to see the project come alive!

FERRARI FORMULA 1 RETRO LIVERY

This project is fairly simple – design a retro Formula 1 livery for the Ferrari F1 team. For those who don’t know, a livery is basically the outer coloured skin of a car (basically the paint). Liveries are generally defined as being the total design of the outside, so as to differentiate it from the simple ‘paint job’, including how colour is used, any labels, how shapes are used, etc. A project I started off my own bat, this project started when I wanted to truly see how a modern Ferrari F1 Car would look if it looked a bit like the livery design of the late 80’s/early 90’s. The use of black wings and red body really struck a beauty chord with a lot of formula 1 fans. This project was started in the time since the last update and grew from what was essentially a design exercise into a project that I felt could really demonstrate the design process.

The design exercise was going to be in the Vexel style that I had employed in my racing car design from years gone by. Up until the decision to make the exercise into a fully-fledged design project, the state of the exercise looked like this:

State 22-08-14

 

Ferrari Retro F1 Livery – Original (left) and WIP (right)

I have since completed my research into Ferrari Formula 1 liveries through the years (yes, all Ferrari run cars have been red) and have started to develop my ‘render views’. The plan would be to hand-sketch the conceptual ideas, use line drawings to hand render more detailed views (front, side, top, rear), and then advance the best designs to the digital realm, where a final design will be chosen and done up like the above.

F14 T Top

Top View digital render in preperation for design of the Ferrari Retro F1 livery

3 TIER SINGLE SEATER PROJECT

Since I think this time last year I have been blabbering on about a single seat racing car concept design that I ahve wanted to do. The aim of the project was to develop a closed-cockpit single seater racing car whcih would be realistic, believable and raceable. I never really launched into the project as I never has the time to do so, always tending to other projects and the Sunbury International Circuit.

Well, things have changed a bit in a moment of inspiration and perhaps silliness. Instead of a single car, I am now going to design (yes, three) separate cars – one as an entry level racing car, the next as a more serious racer, and the top level a very serious closed cockpit racing car with innovative design details.

So what;s the difference? You’ve just tripled the work load! Well, yes and no. I decided to do this I needed to step the level of realistic detail down a couple of notches. I also am not going to be delving so deeply into the design process as much as I otherwise might. The plan would be to ‘design at will’, that is, sketch up ideas when you want and when you can and when the motivation and inspiration strikes, and collate all the ideas you have and make a final design submission. This allows me to really think freely as I can design on the train into work, when I’m waiting for something to load, on a flight, basically anywhere!

The idea behind the tiered system allows for viewers to see the design detail effort increase as the level of ‘seriousness’ amps up. The lowest tier car will be open cockpit, fairly basic and perhaps not totally surprising. The idea through is that there will be a vein of brand similarity between the cars, demonstrating to viewers that the cars do come from the same lineage, of sorts. This will not stop different tiers having unique parts to them; the lowest tier car is slated to have engine air intakes beside the drivers head (as opposed to above), while the top level tier will be closed cockpit and have more rear wheel shrouding and fender-ing.

I have done up some renders, but a lot of it is hiding in phones and bad sketches. Here is one I did for the lowest level tier car:

Sketch 02-08-14 mod

As I mentioned previously, this car has side air intakes, a roll hoop up top to stop drivers being stuck and/or injured in the event of a car rollover, but all in all is generally basic.

This is a sketch I did some months ago (unfinished, obviously) based on a 1990s Formula 1 car to explore the closed-cockpit look

 

CC Car Sketch

 

OTHER WORK

There is some other work going on in the background, including mocking up some business cards for a Hydroponics company on the east coats of Australia, as well as the logo design for an up coming air conditioning company here in Melbourne. I’m quite excited to see the end result of the air conditioning company as I think the design is really awesome!

And so, 3000 words later, thanks for reading. I would absolutely love to hear from, get feedback, or even talk about projects! Give me a buzz at adam@stylepixelstudios.com.au. I also have an online portfolio currently based in Behance. Check it out at https://www.behance.net/stylepixelstudios.

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