The ARCH


Now Available! Architectural Beginners Kit 2 for Architecture and Design Projects Build in Unity3D

Check out Architectural Beginners Kit 2!  If you’re not a programmer, this is a must-have toolkit for architecture and design visualization projects built with Unity3D.

Here’s a video showing the kit in action: http://vimeo.com/17939173

Here’s a demo build: http://archvirtual.com/ABK2.html

Here’s where you can purchase the kit for $45:  http://bit.ly/fx4TPQ

Here’s what the kit includes:

Click to Look: instead of having to lock and unlock the mouse to click buttons, this kit now includes a ‘click to look’ setup, where the scene doesn’t move unless you want it to.

Scene Switch: Load several models, and let visitors switch between them.  For example, you might load several iterations or options for a design project you’re working on.  Visitors will now be able to simply click a button to switch between them.

Waypoints: Set up various waypoints in your scene, and enable visitors to access those locations just by clicking a button.  For example, you might have waypoints set up for the Lobby, Offices, Cafeteria, etc. so visitors can quickly access those areas without wandering through the model trying to find it.

View Switching: The default mouselook view is great, but sometimes those traditional Plan, Section or Elevation views are helpful to understand the design.  With this feature, you can set up those views, and enable visitors to your project to switch between them.

Quality Toggle: You never know what kind of computer your visitors are using.  With Quality Settings toggle, they can adjust it to suit their own computer’s performance.  If they’re on a netbook, they can toggle it way down to ‘Fastest’ – which won’t look as great, but it won’t lag as much.  If they’re on a super fast machine, they can enjoy the highest possible quality settings.

Detailed Tutorial Documentation: As with the previous kit, the tutorial documentation is just as valuable as the prefab elements themselves.  You can drag and drop the prefabs into your scene, or you can dig deeper, learn how they work, and customize them to suit your project’s specific requirements.

We hope you enjoy the new Kit!  We’re already brainstorming the next kit, and welcome any suggestions for specific features you would like to see included.  Send us a note at info (at) archvirtual.com if you have any questions.

unity3d prefab tutorial documentation kit

Architectural Beginner’s Kit 1 is available here: http://archvirtual.com/?p=2950

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Winy Maas and Philip Rosedale Discuss Architecture in Virtual Worlds at “John Edwards Lecture”

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The Architecture Foundation’s “John Edwards Lecture” is designed to bring a global leading architect into conversation with a contemporary from another discipline.  Last year, it featured Thom Mayne, Morphosis Architects, and Frédéric Flamand, Director, Le Ballet National de Marseille.   This year, the sold out event featured Philip Rosedale (creator of Second Life) in conversation with Winy Maas, co-founder and Director of the highly acclaimed Dutch practice MVRDV.

I wasn’t able to attend or view the event online, but from what I’ve been told, Winy wasn’t able to attend due to heavy snow, but showed up just a few minutes before the lecture was over.  Video from the event will be available “in the new year,” and I will certainly link to it when it happens.   I can hardly wait.

Based on the blips and bits I can find in a wide variety of architectural publications and sites about the event, it sounds like it reached beyond architectural visualization, and into more futuristic concepts of inhabiting virtual environments, and how they might soon begin to replace physical-world counterparts.  I was especially interested to hear Philip returning to a sound-byte I’ve heard him reference in the past, where he suggests that big cities like New York City could soon become like a museums, where everyone is working in virtual counterparts instead.

Here are a few of the blips and bits i could find.  If anyone has any additional links, screenshots or video coverage of this event, please post it in comments!

Wallpaper (if some of their images look familiar, its because they stole several of them from my site without permission, linkage or credit – but its all good… whatever it takes to spread the word about architecture in virtual worlds! =)

“Maas arrived about ten minutes before the lecture’s closure, but despite this his insight on architecture and the role of the architect in Second and real life was compelling, pointing out that one does not even have to go on Second Life in order to see the issues and influence created by such advances of technology and digital representations in architecture of the real world. ‘These days the buildings may not look as great as the best render,’ he said, as the session drew to a close. Will people still appreciate the real life version if the digital world becomes increasingly powerful and ever more high res? It remains to be seen.

The Architecture Foundation: “The John Edwards Lecture: Winy Maas, MVRDV, in dialogue with Second Life creator Philip Rosedale”

Phaidon: “You can imagine New York City being like a museum”: the 2010 John Edwards lecture

London Architecture Diary:  Inhabiting the Future:Philip Rosedale and Winy Maas in conversation.

“Inspired by their positions at the forefront of their respective fields they will take a wide-ranging perspective on built and virtual realities, investigating how the two worlds can learn from, inform and influence each other. A dialogue exploring architecture, urbanism, technology, progress, social systems and visions of the future”

ArchitectureCentre.net (carried the press release)

Architecture Today

Tate Modern:

“in conversation with a hand-picked contemporary from outside the architectural discipline. A chaired dialogue exploring architecture’s role in the wider world and how it can influence and learn from other disciplines,”

Kultureflash:

“Last year, for the first ever John Edwards Lecture at the Tate Modern, Pritzker Prize laureate andMorphosis principal Thom Mayne discussed his collaborations with Frederic Flamand, director of Ballet National De Marseille. It turned into a rather funny discussion, as Flamand wanted to talk about narrative processes in architecture, which Mayne denounced as completely uninteresting.

This year, Winy Maas will discuss consilience in architecture with Philip Rosedale, creator of virtual world Second Life. The connective tissue between the two lectures is the act of opening up one’s discipline to an inspiring intruder from outside, in order to see how the act of designing buildings can be influenced by, and influential on other fields.”

Architecture Lab: The John Edwards Lecture: MVRDV principal Winy Maas and Second Life creator Philip Rosedale

 



Despite Cease & Desist Order, Frank Lloyd Wright’s Spirit of Innovation Lives On

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The Frank Lloyd Wright Virtual Museum, which was recently granted a licensing agreement with the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation (and later attained official 501(c)3 non-profit status from the IRS) was served a cease & desist order by lawyers representing the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation.

This is a story that hits home for me, quite literally.  I live in Wisconsin, with Taliesen East just a few miles away, and I consider Frank Lloyd Wright to be one of the greatest architects that has ever lived.  I’m also a firm believer in the architectural potential for virtual worlds like Second Life, and the very pursuit of architectural innovation in these environments has completely changed my life and my career path in immeasurable ways.   When I first created my account over 4 years ago, I did so with the intention of using the virtual world in my own professional practice, but quickly realized that Second Life was so much more than a visualization tool, it was a place. Despite its quirks and clunkiness, it was (and still is) the single largest collective expression of human creativity the world has ever seen.

For me, Second Life represented a glimpse into the future of the 3D web (by any name..).  Whether or not Second Life would become the standard for the 3D web, (I doubt that it will) it doesn’t really matter.  I’m not invested in Second Life, I’m invested in the premise and potential of the 3D web – a paradigm that’s only growing stronger each day, and I’m more convinced now than ever before that the 3D web will soon turn all things architecture inside out and upside down.  Second Life is a place to dream about how that might happen, and to start prototyping and experimenting with it.  Even though most architects won’t adopt virtual worlds for several more years, there is near unanimous consensus throughout the industry that realtime virtual models are the future of online architectural visualization.

This is precisely why I was impressed and inspired, and even a little surprised, that the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation was so forward thinking and innovative in its support for the Virtual Museum through its licensing agreement.  Even if a virtual tour of a Frank Lloyd Wright design is only able to capture a tiny fraction of what its like to experience the real thing, and not every detail can be faithfully reproduced – at least its something.  Even if the graphic quality is still lacking because the technology is still young,  its still so much more immersive, experiential and social than looking at a picture or floor plan in a book.  Plus, it was a step in the right direction.  As the fidelity of virtual worlds matures over time, Frank Lloyd Wright’s legacy would be right there with it, and I thought that was great.  When Frank Lloyd Wright was alive, he lived ahead of his time – incorporating futuristic and innovative new technologies at every turn.  He was always focused on the future, almost to a fault.  Yet, for all outward appearances, the Foundation seems focused on the past with this move – perhaps out of short-term necessity, more interested in the profitability of branded merchandise.

Fortunately, we don’t need a licensing agreement to carry on the *spirit* of Frank Lloyd Wright’s work in virtual worlds.  Nobody holds a copyright on that, and I think that futuristic spirit of innovation is already alive and well all throughout the virtual frontier.   In fact, Mr. Wright may have been somewhat disappointed in our attempt to bring heritage from the past into this new frontier, in much the same way Americans were building Victorians in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s.  One of the very first orders of business in Mr. Wright’s career was to systematically dismantle that blind adherence to the past, and to find a new language of architecture for a new country, rooted in its inherent characteristics – not in an arbitrary past.  He looked to the innate qualities of the environment within which he was working (quite literally, the prairie’s of the midwest) and came up with an altogether unique and distinctive vision for a new architectural language.

I wish the Virtual Museum could stay open for its historical and educational importance, and I think its a short-sighted mistake for the Foundation to demand its closure, but I would argue that its far more important for us to find ways to build upon Mr. Wright’s legacy through his spirit of forward-thinking innovation, and discovering new languages of architecture that are specifically suited to the unique characteristics of the virtual frontier.  If Frank Lloyd Wright could experience virtual reality today, do you think he would start replicating buildings from the past?  I highly doubt it.  I think he would look to the future, and proceed to systematically blow our minds with conceptual breakthroughs and futuristic ideas that even the most visionary among us would struggle to comprehend – just as he did when he was alive.

Here’s how the rest of the metaverse reacted to news of the closure:

Shame on You, Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation: http://www.johncartermcknight.com/blog/?p=1031

Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation Lawyers C&D Virtual Museum: http://www.secondtense.com/2010/12/frank-lloyd-wright-foundation-lawyers-c.html

Frank Lloyd Wright Museum to Close Sunday: http://primperfectblog.wordpress.com/2010/12/03/frank-lloyd-wright-virtual-museum-to-close-sunday/

Frank Lloyd Wright foundation Lawyers Reverse Position Cease and Desist on Previously Approved Second Life Content: http://dwellonit.taterunino.net/2010/12/02/frank-lloyd-wright-foundation-lawyers-reverse-position-cease-and-desist-on-previously-approved-second-life-content/

Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation Forces Closure of Virtual Museum on December 10: http://www.betterverse.org/2010/12/frank-lloyd-wright-foundation-forces-closure-of-virtual-museum-on-december-10.html

Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation Withdraws License to Virtual Frank Lloyd Wright Museum in Second Life – Then Sends Cease and Desist:  http://nwn.blogs.com/nwn/2010/12/frank-lloyd-wright-cease-and-desist-second-life.html

Frank Lloyd Wright Museum to Close: http://music-island.blogspot.com/2010/12/frank-lloyd-wright-museum-to-close.html

A Sad Day for Virtual Frank Lloyd Wright Fans: http://brideswell.com/content/sci-tech/a-sad-day-for-virtual-frank-lloyd-wright-fans/

 



New Build and Upcoming Events in Unity3D / jibe

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Tomorrow (Dec. 2nd), I’ll be joining Kyle Gomboy from ReactionGrid and Anders Gronstedt from Gronstedt Group for their ‘Train for Success‘ meeting.  We will be meeting at the new space I recently finished for the Gronstedt Group – built with Unity3D, and published to ReactionGrid’s ‘jibe’ platform for multi-user access.  You can access the build HERE.

“This meeting will be held in our brand new virtual world developed by 3-D developer and architect extraordinaire Jon Brouchoud in Reaction Grid’s industry-leading, web-based, Jibe platform. Developed with red-hot game engine, Unity3D, this 3-D virtual world can be accessed in any standard browser (no big software download needed, just a small plug-in) and in a few months it will be available on the iPad, iPhone, Android and other mobile devices. Join us for a demonstration of the platform, which can be hosted securely by the client behind the firewall and offers a realistic and beautiful visual experience. Note that this meeting is not held in Second Life, just click on this link to access (it will prompt you to download the Unity plug in):http://jibemicro.reactiongrid.com/Gronstedtgroup/Gronstedt.html

Then on Friday, (Dec. 3rd), I’ll be giving a presentation titled, “Design Methods and Strategies for Creating Effective Virtual Spaces.”  Please check back Friday morning for the exact time.