Virtual Embodiment, and the Quest to Discover What is Real
October 31, 2007, 9:48 pm
Filed under: reflexive architecture

Dusan Writer posted another very thoughtful entry on his blog (link) about Reflexive Architecture. One of the most defining characteristics of the new virtual frontier is the increasingly blurry boundaries between fields of profession, and I’m excited to see the concept of virtual responsiveness reach far beyond the field of architecture.

In fact, only a fraction of the follow-up posts that spun off of the original reflexive architecture entry had anything to do with architecture whatsoever. They were librarians, artists, writers, researchers, educators, and more. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that nothing in the ‘Gallery of Reflexive Architecture’ is actually architecture?

Nevertheless, it seems the idea of ‘reflex’ in a virtual environment is what stirs the most discussion. After all, to what are these interactive ‘sculptures’ reacting? Is it you? Is it your avatar? Is your avatar You? Is your avatar just a puppet? Could reflexivity help bridge the gap between ‘you’ and your avatar, enhancing the sensation of virtual embodiment?

Introducing the Wikitecture Tree (machinima)
October 31, 2007, 5:59 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized, wikitecture

A new technology, a new intereface, and a new methodology for collaborative design in Second Life.

Theory Shaw (Ryan Schultz) and Keystone Bouchard (Jon Brouchoud).  Technology developed in collaboration with i3Dnow.  Music by DJ BLUE, via ccMixter.

Phew… Finally, the Official Kick-Off Meeting for Wikitecture 3.0!

Can mass collaboration and collective intelligence improve the quality of architecture and urban planning?


We are happy to announce that, Studio Wikitecture will continue to try to tease out this question, via it’s 3rd Wikitecture experiment kicking off officially on Nov. 7th. To accommodate those in different time zones, there will be two different times: Wednesday, Nov. 7th @ 9:00am and 6:30pm PST/SLT.

The project on which this experiment will center around will be the competition recently announced by the Open Architecture Network. Competition sites range from a medical facility in rural Nepal, a media lab and library in the slums of Nairobi, or a fair trade chocolate factory in Ecuadorian Amazon.
Since the OAN is an “open-source community dedicated to improving living conditions through innovative and sustainable design”, we thought it would be a perfect opportunity to submit an entry for this competition that is, in turn, designed and composed in the same collaborative and open-source fashion.

We would be happy for you to join the next experiment and help us design this collaborative competition entry. You don’t need any experience in architecture, engineering or construction to participate. We actually believe the more diverse the pool of contributors, the better. You will need, if you don’t already, a Second Life account. Registering is easy.

Once you have downloaded the Second Life application, registered an account and log in, press the ’search’ key on the bottom of your screen. Look for the group ‘Studio Wikitecture’ and click ‘join.’ Enrollment is open to all.

After you have joined, click the following link for a ‘teleport’ to the Wikitecture 3.0 Parcel (link), which was generously donated by Once there, ‘touch’ the base of the ‘wiki-tree’ interface, which looks like the following:…


to get the password for the website. (not operational, until nov. 7th)

For the login: use your full ‘Second Life’ name.

If you have an problems, don’t hesitate to IM either Keystone Bouchard or Theory Shaw in-world and we’ll come by and help you.

A Brief Overview of the evolving technology behind Wikitecture 1.0, 2.0, and 3.0

We are not only excited about the project, but the new website and in-world interface (not operational, until nov. 7th) that will allow everyone to better communicate and collaborate with each other over the duration of the project’s two month time frame. Allow with the following description, this video, provides a nice overview of the technology behind Wikitecture 3.0 as well.

Over the last year, we have been using the virtual world of Second Life as a platform for conducting ‘Wikitecture’ experiments to work out the procedures and protocols necessary to harness a group’s collective intelligence in designing architecture. We have already conducted 2 experiments within Second Life to explore this idea of ‘open source architecture’. The videos of their final form can be found here: 1.0 & 2.0. The following gives a brief overview of the evolving functionality behind Wikitecture 1.0, 2.0, & 3.0.


Wikitecture 1.0 was not really a true Wiki in the sense that contributors could not modify or delete the contributions of others. What resulted, although interesting in its own right, was an amalgamation of ‘stuff’ with not no overall coherency or unity – a result we expected.


In the 2nd experiment, we asked contributing members to enable full-permissions on every object they added. This new protocol enabled designers to add/modify/delete each other’s designs. In addition, we set up a Flickr Account that allowed contributors to upload descriptive snapshots of their designs and leave feedback as well. With Wikitecture 2.0, we also introduced an archiving system, where members, through community consensus, were able to roll-back the ‘live’ design to previously saved iterations. Although this system was still rudimentary, the resultant design was far more unified and coherent than Wikitecture 1.0.


For our 3rd experiment, however, we have continued to try and improve upon this underlying technology. In teaming up with i3D inc., experts in creating virtual applications that cross the 2D/3D divide, we have developed both an in-world interface (’wiki-tree’) and external website that continually communicate with each other. From the in-world perspective, contributors are able to archive their particular design into an abstract ‘leaf’ within a 3-dimensional ‘tree canopy’. As this canopy grows, the branching network of ‘leaves’ communicates to other designers, how related all the different designs are to each other.

leaf canopy

image of the ‘leaf canopy’. Although not always the case, the general rule will typically apply: one ‘archive leaf’ = one design iteration = one contributor.

In addition, to fully communicate their vision and rationale behind their designs, this interface will allow contributors to take snapshots of their designs and, combined with descriptive commentary, upload them to the external website.

Since there will be multiple designs iterations within the ‘tree canopy’ and only a limited amount of land, the ‘wiki-tree’ interface, by touching the leaves, will allow members to ‘rez’ out the designs, one by one, onto the viewing parcel. Once rezzed out, viewers are then able to immerse themselves, 3-dimensional, in the design. In addition, to augment the experience of actually occupying the space, the three screens in the viewing kiosk near the ‘wiki-tree’ will allow users to cycle through the snapshots and comments associated with the active design on the viewing parcel as well. This viewing kiosk will become especially helpful for those who want to communicate their designs informally with a smaller group of individuals.

The ‘wiki-tree’ allows the community, in turn, to vote and comment on their fellow contributor’s designs.

Other than cycling and rezzing out the individual designs from the ‘archiving leaves’, The website component will allow users all the same functionality as the in-world interface. In other words, through the website, members can vote and add comments, as well as upload images they would like to associate with their saved designs.

What if this collaboratively designed entry actually wins this OAN competition? How will the reward money actually be divvied up amongst the contributors? If you worked on the last Wikitecture experiment, we will be using the same system whereby we ask all the contributors to assess what percentage they feel they have contributed to the design as well as what percentage they feel others have contributed. The general idea being, that when everyone’s assessment of each other is averaged out, however subjective it may be, a pretty fair judgment is made to how much (compensation, ownership, IP rights, etc) should be dolled out to each contributor. If, in the event, Studio Wikitecture’s entry wins the competition, we will distribute the winnings in this manner.

Although this system of assessment is not perfect, we feel it’s a start. This is one component of the experiment we feel will need to be massaged here and there as we go forward and would love your input to help improve it. Throughout the next two months of designing and assessing, if you have an idea on how to improve either this contribution assessment procedure, or any other functionality for that matter, please let us know. We have set up a forum for such discussion: Feedback & F.A.Q.

Although, this collaborative platform is light years beyond what was used for the 2nd experiment, please be aware that it’s still somewhere between alpha and the prepubescence beta stage of development—we will most likely encounter our fair share of bugs.

Although running at a base level right now, certain features will not be available until Nov. 7th.

Gehry Technologies Recruiting in Second Life
October 22, 2007, 1:43 am
Filed under: arcspace, gehry technologies

During the relatively brief time I’ve spent in Second Life (its only been 18 months!), I have met some incredibly high caliber architects, designers and engineers from around the world, and I think Gehry Technologies is right on target looking for recruits in Second Life with the help of arcspace. It wouldn’t surprise at all if they found exactly the right person for the job:

“Gehry Technologies, a cross disciplinary team of architects, engineers, builders and computer scientists with offices in Los Angeles, New York, Hong Kong and Paris, is recruiting qualified candidates. Gehry Technologies is an international building industry consulting, technology development and research firm. The firm pursues innovation in Building Information Modeling and emerging models of practice through applications of digital technologies.
Posted at arcspace SL or:”

Sagrada Familia, by Antoni Gaudi: Virtual Video & Photo Exhibition on arcspace Island
October 22, 2007, 1:33 am
Filed under: antoni gaudi, architectural resources, arcspace, sagrada familia


via the arcspace group in Second Life:

“As part of an ongoing involvement with the Sagrada Família Church in Barcelona researchers in SIAL (Spatial Information Architecture Laboratory) lead by Professor Mark Burry are currently working on investigation into Antoni Gaudí’s final design models. By adapting a computer-aided design technique, known as parametric design, to create designs that are consistent with all of the available historical information on the church, new insights are gained into Gaudí’s own generative system.
Spread the word:)”

Click HERE for direct teleport.

Reinventing Virtual Surface
October 21, 2007, 12:18 am
Filed under: far link, reflexive architecture

Another fantastic exploration in reflexive architecture, this time from Far Link.  His first machinima (well done!) is posted below, and his descriptive post can be found HERE.

Re: Reflexive Architecture
October 20, 2007, 10:32 pm
Filed under: reflexive architecture

Check out this most impressive application of ‘Ripple Effect’ reflexive architecture, scripted by Adeon Writer. The difference between my original concept and this improvement is that each new avatar is represented by a different color. What a great idea!  Adeon has generously shared this script, with a disclaimer that it may need some tweaking depending on how you want to use it.  You can find the script HERE.

compared to:

Nice work!

Dont’ Agitate the Dots! Metrics + Architecture in Second Life
October 19, 2007, 7:45 pm
Filed under: architecture, clear night sky, metrics, second life, slogbase, virtual world

Thoughts on metrics, architecture and issues of presence in virtual worlds on my other blog @ Clear Night Sky:

Dusan Writer follows up with additional thoughts HERE, and HERE.

“Second Life Will Revolutionize Engineering Design” Design News to Cover Second Life
October 18, 2007, 5:42 pm
Filed under: engineering, second life

Design News is breaking new ground as the first engineering publication to recognize the utility of SL for engineering design. We may be responsible for kicking off the CAD revolution our article foretells. It is only very rarely in a career that one is so fortunate to discover an opportunity so revolutionary as SL for engineering design and then be the first to articulate it to our engineering peers.”

This should be great!  Read the intro article HERE,  via Second Life Insider.

Collaborative City Planning, Urban Design and Architecture in Second Life – Machinima

Here are two demonstrations of collaboration in Second Life. The first shows how city planners, urban designers or members of the community might use virtual worlds to describe, discuss and even co-create design concepts. The second shows how multiple contributors can work together simultaneously on an architectural design concept.

Of course, it is evident that something is missing in this collaborative process. It is not yet ‘wiki’, insofar as people cannot return to previous iterations, or evaluate the effectiveness of other contributions. Conflicts of opinion cannot be easily resolved, and input from the other contributors must be synchronous. What this means is if all of the contributors are not on site at all times, the design can take on a completely different direction based on extensive work by a single designer without group consensus. Furthermore, there is no easy way to resort to a previous iteration should such a conflict of opinion occur. Commenting on the success or failure of another designer’s contribution is left to synchronous chat, with no easy way to discern the opinion of the entire group at any time.

If we really want collaboration in virtual worlds to be more wiki-like, we will need tools. We hope the ‘Wikitecture Tree’ will help us take steps toward realizing an ‘Open Source Architecture’ and will be launching it soon to help the Studio Wikitecture group take on the Open Architecture Challenge.

Here’s a brief clip showing one part of the Wikitecture Tree, namely the ‘leaves’. The leaf color is based on its popularity, where orange leaves are least popular, green leaves are more popular, and a ‘trunk’ being the current community favorite – based on an integrated vote tallying system. When a new iteration is submitted to the tree, it automatically creates a new leaf. Contributors will be able to cycle through, vote and comment on each design as they rez on an adjacent platform. A better explanation is on the SW blog HERE.

Join the Studio Wikitecture group in SL to partipate in the next experiment!  Everyone is welcome.