DESIGN EXPLORERS: RMIT SCHOOL OF DESIGN BUILD A 3D NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC PORTAL

National Geographic as a global brand is committed to protecting and illuminating our world through exploration, innovation and storytelling. All of these apirations are embodied in the iconic yellow portal, which is an internationally recognised symbol, synonymous with over a century of trust and impact.

In approaching the School of Design team at RMIT University, Melbourne the goal was to bring the yellow portal to life as a 3D structure, not only as a symbol of exploration, but of innovation, demonstrating the power of science and research and how it can contribute to a more progressive and sustainable future, while embedding meaning and storytelling in the process.   

RMIT School of Design team, led by Associate Professor of Master of Design Innovation and Technology, Ross McLeod, worked to develop ideas on how digital fabrication techniques can employ sustainable materials in the design and construction of three-dimensional structures. Their efforts yielded incredible results. DESIGN CONCEPT 

Faced with a unique brief, the RMIT student team embarked on a design exploration – researchingnatural and man-made portals throughout time,focusing on how data can be used to capturethe relationship between humans and nature in key Australian cities including: Melbourne, Sydney and Canberra. The questions posed were: How does each city express this idea in a different way? What is the human imprint on the natural environment? What is nature’s effect on people within those cities? And what patterns and geometry can be found in each region. The team captured the essence of each city – using geographical data, vegetation data and population data as well as a relevant structural element of each city. The data was translated with algorithmic software that created a unique pattern to be implemented in the creation of each of the yellow portals three-dimensional structures.

MATERIAL 
Utilising a corn-based PLA to match National Geographic’s iconic yellow, this material is also the first bio-based material to be used on an industrial scale.PLA’s origins from renewable resources, its high strength and heat resistance and its ability to be recycled and composted make it an ideal product for this application. FABRICATION
All 3D portals were created locally in the RMIT Workshops and Studios using large scale 3D printers. The 3D printers acquired for this project have been donated to the RMIT School of Design and available to all students and innovators that are part of the Master of Design Innovation and Technology program.

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“A little bit of everything wonderful, that’s all you need;
[to] make your heart race, make you happy…”

Valerie Taylor, OAM – Conservationist, Diver & Photographer.