CG Workshop had the pleasure of interviewing one of the featured architects. Allow us to introduce Dimitar Gongalov, designer of landscaping for “Harmony Hotel Suites 3″, which we featured here.
The Landscaping Project:
CGW: Can you talk us through the stages of the featured commission?
The landscaping project I made for the Harmony Suits Hotel was a part of a hotel project done by the architecture studio (VBstuio) I have worked at in 2012. That means in this situation that we have just the borders of the current property and a blank space between them.
I don’t have direct communication with the client this was the job of our studio owner and manager architect Boycho Boychev, and he give me the direction of the client’s requirements. The client just asked for a garden that "looks like a Jungle" – that was all he said and he sent me few pictures that he picked from internet. Those were the images of gardens with a lot of close-grown bushes, some small waterfalls, stone stairways, Japanese gardens, one with a wooden bridge and a small pond, and one with a Hobbit-like house in it.
So with that in mind arch. Boychev and I decided to start with 3 accents in the project (tree circles like the one in the sketch). In time they became the Hobbit playground, the Indiana Jones Grotto an the Amphitheatre with the chess game!
And most important in this project is that the clients that will rent apartments in the Hotel are Russian. That implies that the shapes have to lean towards classic motives.
At the beginning we gave our client the deadline for the project to be done in 2-3 weeks max (actually it took a month and a week).
So I guess that sums up the first stage.
We had a tradition back in the studio to show every design we make in 3D directly (after the plans are approved of course, in some projects we use pencil sketches) and I did follow it now.
So I guess the next stage will be designing the base outlines for the project.
My bad is that, although I am an artist graduated form high school of fine arts with an Oil Painting and Pencil Drawing profile, I don’t like to sketch by hand very much or I do it very rarely. It’s because when I have the idea in my head I directly start to model in 3D (like I do interior design also).
When I have the image in my head I know exactly what to do and it is inspired form a lot of design watching from books and Internet. For every project I do at least 10 times more research about the project theme than a client had shown me. And browse those images for hours until they’re stuck in my mind and ideas start striking me in the head :). I cannot do nothing if I don’t have a clear image in my mind. I always had this perfect idea how the project will look, but had never achieved in my works except for the very last few projects (I guess I don’t have the skills to do it).
So the first step was to give the lines from the sketch some materialism. That means that I started to draw in AutoCAD and separate what would be pavement and what would be grass areas.
But here AutoCAD again showed its weakness when it started to bug when I was hatching the areas with difficult forms surrounded by spines! In this moment I was trying to explain to my self visually in 2D what would be paving and grass, but AutoCAD started to slow me significantly with this hatching thing, so I changed the tactic and started to draw in 3ds Max directly and the hatching there was done with applying editable poly modifier above the spines.
And when the 2D plan was cleared for me, I started to model from the pond, the Hobbit playground and the Pergolas, started to separate the levels in height.
And after 3 weeks of working on the project we decided to show it to the client as Work In Process. We used that kind of view that for that stage the composition will look close to the final and ready effect, but there was nothing around that was finished:
Dimitar: And one from the top to show the main composition:
Dimitar: For this stage that was enough for the client and he liked it and did not change anything. The rest is modeling, modeling and modeling for 2-3 weeks, and then rendering and rendering for another few days.
CGW: What does your workstation look like? (what equipment do you use? Computers, drawing boards, tablets?)
Dimitar: My workstations back in 2012 was built of two monitors 22″ nothing special, Quad 6600 CPU 8 GB of RAM GeForce 860 1 HDD 1 TB. This was in the office. At home I had 1 monitor 23″ Core I7 950 3.05 Ghz. overclocked to 4 GHZ with Armageddon Coolers, 2 HDD 500 GB at strip RAID saving 50/50 on each hard drive so the time of saving of a 600 MB scene was 5 sec, NVIDIA Quadro 600 1GB with 3ds Max performance driver. In one moment I started to work at home because office computers had poor speed and couldn’t support the heavy modeling scenes.
I don’t use tablets and drawing boards, when I drew my first idea I used printed an A3 scaled drawing with the Hotel’s ground floor plan and entrances for the hotel blocks. I drew on a tracing paper above the print with a pencil:
CGW: Can you share some insight on how you work on a big commission like this one?
Dimitar: To work on a big commission like this, first you have to have proper education to know what your job is and that you are qualified enough to do it. Second you have to have the client trust that you can provide such services and that you understand in that case the needs of your client’s needs ((in this case, the Hotel owner). Third you have to have a creative, experienced team and skills to make it. I have my colleague Ivailo Rachkov to support me with some modeling and start to test RealFlow software to see if we can use its particles to simulate the waterfalls properly, but unfortunately we just got to the stage where we used the exported mesh of the falling water (and have to do some photoshopping, blurring and cropping to make the waterfall).
CGW: How do you organize your workspace and your time?
Dimitar: We organize our time by gathering all studio members on a meeting every Monday at 10.00 a.m.
And separate the work for the week (we were close to 20 people back in 2012, all architects and drafters, just me and my colleague Ivaillo Rachkov did the 3D).
After the jobs are assigned we separate the work among both of us!
My workstation is almost clear form all but a mouse and keyboard, sometimes beside me sits a big pile of architecture books.
CGW: How long did the completion of the featured commission take you?
Dimitar: Over a month.
CGW: How about the contact with a client? What did it look like? How much influence did your client have on the final effect? What were their expectations regarding the project?
Dimitar: Contact with the client was done by the manager of the studio. He just wanted to have a ot of grass alleys and as little paving as possible. And he liked everything, no changes!
The client saw just the stage images above and the final ones and that was all.
CGW: Did you start with the details and worked towards the big picture, or the other way round?
Dimitar: I started with the basic big shapes like the hand drawing and then proceeded with clearing the shapes in CAD:
Dimitar: And after then ideas just started to flow and I started detailing every element because I already had in mind what I wanted to do and just upgraded it while modeling and previewing.
CGW: What do you think is one of the most important things in working in design?
Dimitar: For me the most important thing to work in design is inspiration and putting all your heart and strengths in your work, so when the next time you do design, you can be a step above yourself. And if I cannot imagine the forms and colors that come in my mind in a conversation with colleagues or clients I am unable to do very much when I sit down to design.
CGW: Design studio or independent?
Dimitar: The project was done in VB studio. And since October 2013 I work with my friend arch Viktor Cholakov in Cholakov – Gongalov Architects – our own studio for architecture, interior design and 3D visualizations.
CGW: How does one start working in this field?
Dimitar: I don’t know how one starts to work – maybe I am not a typical example, but I can share how I started working in this field.
I wanted to be an artist (an oil painter), but my parents advised me to go into Landscape architecture, because in 1997 we had a small plant nursery and it was my parents’ business at that time.
When I got accepted into the University of Forestry in the specialization Landscape Architecture in 1998 where I met Nolay Nikolv (Nikki Candelero). We were following faculty numbers, mine was 30467 and his 30468 – ha ha Funny!!!
He had a big influence over me.
He started to use 2D graphics in his projects, like Corel Draw then 3ds Max in early 2000.
Then this was the spark that lead me to start using 2D and 3D graphic software. Than he became a 2D graphic designer, so I said, "I want to be 2D graphic designer."
Then he became an interior designer in 2004, so in 2006 I too decided to try my hand at interior design.
And that leads me to here – a Landscape Architect, who worked most of his life as a graphic designer, interior designer and 3D Vis and Architecture (I have 2 house projects made mainly by my design, of course in collaboration with eng. Karapanov’s plans – the first one that is built, and second with eng. Karapanov’s plans and arch Vicktor Cholakov) .
CGW: Do you have any words of encouragement for uprising designers and 3D artists?
Dimitar: My words of encouragement for uprising designers and 3D artists to put their hearts into every project, into every detail as much as they can, even though some times their work can be stopped by nonsense corrections from clients, but that should not discourage them.
If they have the flame to give 110% in every task this is the only way to make the designer overcome him- or herself and the routine will come bit by bit
If I have to quote Pablo Picasso "Good artists copy, great artists steal" coming from that my quote will be – Every artist has to stand on the shoulders of the previous one, and try to build up the form and the content and not stop trying!
Dimitar: I made the facade design with some support of my colleague arch. Cholakov.
Luxury Apartment design: