The ARCH


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.

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Design Festival Hamburg Visits Architecture Island
October 14, 2007, 3:52 am
Filed under: architecture island, design festival hamburg | Tags: , , , , , ,

In the virtual world of Second Life currently a considerable amount of design for buildings and interior design is emerging. Yet there are limits to the capacity for detail. Is this parallel world useful for the development, presentation and sale of design in the real world? Can the medium be used to work collectively on blueprints? Could all planners together tour these with the help of virtual 3D modeling? We see our office in Second Life as an experiment to pursue this idea. Stay at home or in the office and visit us from there in Second Life. Results will be presented in real life at a closing event.”

From the Design Festival Hamburg website. Screenshots by Theory Shaw, who tried to make contact with the group, but they were unresponsive. Were they protesting, or just promoting? Their signs appeared to be neutral, nothing more than festival logos, and they weren’t chanting anything negative, so I think we can safely conclude that Architecture Island is still a safe haven for closet virtual-architecture meterati who still believe this is the future of architecture. 😉

Limits to the capacity for detail? Perhaps they haven’t seen Scope Cleaver’s work yet.



Rationalist Virtual Architecture, Giuseppe Terragni Inspires

Transcript of Gioacchino Laryukov’s presentation is below.  Transcript of the entire discussion can be found HERE.

“Giuseppe Terragni (1904-43) was an Italian architect who worked in the ’30’s during a period when others such as Sartoris, Cattaneo, Figini, Lingeri, Pollini were active; an era known as rationalism.  His best known works can be found in the city of Como, where he lived and worked during his brief life. You can find a listing of rationalist buildings in Como here: http://www.ordinearchitetticomo.it/itinerari.asp   The main works are: Edificio ad appartamenti Novocomum (1927-29), Casa del Fascio di Como (1928-32), Monumento ai caduti (on a Sant’Elia drawing, 1931-33), Asilo infantile Sant’Elia (1935-37)” all of this in Como; and Casa ad appartamenti Rustici (1933-35) and Lavezzari (1934-35) in Milan.

Looking at his buildings, you can identify some aesthetic analogies with the house I have built here.  I have choosen to use some of same style characteristics (like the white walls) and materials (like the glass blocks) to emphasize the reference to 1930’s architecture and in particular, the Modern Movement.  My reference to Terragni’s architecture is not so much about the appearance, but rather, the manner in which the building is constructed and the way you move through it. The appearance is the result of the process.  I will try to explain further:

Buildings in SL start with the prim…  its finished volume. A prim could be in and of itself a house.  Only you must create the internal space by emptying it.  What I mean is that a room  is not a space limited by four walls, a floor and a roof, but rather it is the internal space of a volume, therefore of a prim.  We can also say that the walls, roof and so on, are not single elements, but are parts of that volume.  You can better understand what I intended by looking at the ground floor of my house.  There is a cube or rectangular box that is an emptied prim and is therefore a room. The rest is only virtual and open space defined by the grate.  I want to highlight that the single elements cannot really enclose the space on their own, they don’t create a room, instead the interior of the volume can do it, likewise when two sides are opened.

The construction of the architecture is a work on volumes, and the space between those volumes.  Working with some architects on the lineage of Terragni, you will often hear the term “equilibrio fra pieni e vuoti,† which is to say “balance between fullness and empty†.  If you look at this house you can see three main volumes:  two big cubes (10x10x10mt) to the sides, and a central cuboid that is a 10x7x5mt which is transparent at the side opposite of the stairs.  Looking at the side where the stairs are located, you can see the building as a unique volume, a cube that measures 30x10mt that has been hollowed and cut to obtain the space needed.  The central volume has beed reduced to create a place for the stairs, but also this is the first step towards the development of the project.  I built this house working on these three volumes, not on the single walls themsleves but based on the relationship between these three elements.  I have rezzed the main prims and moved them near each other.  The shape, size and character of the main prims then become the foundation for the modification of another prim…. and so on, until a situation develops which I consider to be balanced.  In this way, the side of the central cube, which is only 7mt, is used to create the place for the stairs, and this has determined the second level and the upper windows of the main cube.  In this manner, the cube has become the structure for the internal development of the main cube.   This is more evident in the other 10x10x10mt cube, which was hollowed and cut to the level of the roof of the cuboid.  Also, it was divided in two different spaces by the measurements of the cuboid and this is visible in the external walls by the glass blocks.

The central message here is that the building develops based on the relationship between simple prims in a succession of steps, in which a prim dictates how you will modify the next and that one will impact the next…. and so on… Going back to Terragni:  it is clear – especially in the Novocomum and in the Casa del Fascio – that his projects are, above all, a play on volumes.  The Novocomum is a simple cube and the edges have been first hollowed and then that space has been occupied by cylinders.  These cylinders become the foundation for the continous taper of the first floor and for the development of the balconies. The single elements like walls, balconies, roof are the volume’s children.  More complex is the construction of the Casa del Fascio which is a perfect half cube (33x33x26mt). it has been partially hollowed and in this way you have other volumes, new relationships and new spaces which become the seeds for others to be developed in a succession of filling up, emptying, and cutting in spaces which are then born and take form.

The exterior appearance is the mirror; the result of the work on the volumes.  This is rightfully called rationalism because all the parts of the building have a precise connection with the other parts, and all the parts of the building are elements of the procedure from which the building emanates.  that’s alll what I would like to say..



Gallery of Reflexive Architecture

Visit the new site: The ARCH Network, to stay informed of the latest in virtual worlds and architecture!

To expand on the idea of ‘Reflexive Architecture‘ in virtual environments, I’ve been experimenting with several installations that explore it’s potential. This video is a composite of several machinima pieces each describing a different installation in the gallery, such as Rippling Prims, Prim Decay, Sudden Space, Restless Spheres, Carvable Prims, Visible Traces, Moving Tiles, Interactive Glass, and The Cacoon. Some include sound as an integral part of the experience, which is best experienced first-hand (SLurl … subject to change).

In physical reality, architecture is a static and relatively motionless artifact. The occupant plays a passive role, observing but rarely impacting its composition. Winston Churchill’s statement, ‘We shape our buildings and afterwards, our buildings shape us,’ illustrates this point well.

In a virtual environment, the architecture is capable of transcending the limitations of static buildings, and become as fluid and dynamic as the communities of people they hope to serve.

The concept of Reflexive Architecture is only one of many branches of opportunity for a new language of virtual architecture to emerge, free from the habit of pure physical replication.

Many of these installations are the result of conversations, brainstorming sessions with Theory Shaw, Far Link’s post on ‘Swarm Architecture,’ Dancoyote Antonelli’s work, posts by Kliger on Metaverse Territories, and intense scripting collaboration with Fumon Kubo. Thanks!!!

These installations will be on display in the new Gallery of Reflexive Architecture on the new Architecture sim (SLurl …subject to change), and will be exhibited on Info Island by the artslib group in the Library Gallery, opening later this month (more details on this will be posted soon).



Transcript: ExtraMedium
August 9, 2007, 11:11 pm
Filed under: architectural resources, architecture group, architecture island

Find the transcript of today’s meeting HERE.

Much better turnout, excellent conversation.  As usual, we were meandering, but always inspiring and interesting.  We started with scale, and ended with scale – and arrived at some interesting conclusions.

The most interesting result was that most of us agreed on the need for 1.) A standard standard and universal scale that translates real life architecture into SL better than the current meter.  2.)  A new ‘Architecture SL UI’ client-side user interface with more architect-friendly camera locations, Field of View toggle, etc.

We agreed that perhaps we should co-create a proposal – using a public Wiki, to define what it is that we would like to see out of a new architect-friendly user interface.   We could then use this proposal to try to win funding or research grants.

Does anyone have experience setting up a public Wiki that would be willing to organize this for us?  Any other thoughts or ideas we should explore here?



ExtraMedium: Scale and Relativity in Virtual Environments
August 7, 2007, 11:09 pm
Filed under: architecture, architecture island, virtual architecture

Join us on Architecture Island (slurl) this Thursday at 2PM SL-time (PDT) this week, as we address the troublesome concepts of scale, perception and relativity we all face in Second Life.

What does scale really mean in SL anyway? Is the meter arbitrary? Is it all relative? Is it all about perception?

Then, on the 16th, Gioacchino Laryukov will be describing his architectural work inspired by Giuseppi Terragni. On the 23rd, we will be discussing ‘Digital Density,’ tackling some of the urban design challenges facing the architectural fabric of Second Life.  Ideas for future topics?  Let us know!



Weekly Architecture Meeting Thursday at 2:00 PM SL-time (PDT)
August 6, 2007, 3:38 pm
Filed under: architecture group, architecture island

This week, we’ll be trying out a meeting at 2:00 PM SL-time (PDT) on Architecture Island (last week’s 6:00pm time wasn’t very popular). I’m in the process of verifying a guest presentation, and will provide more details as soon as I know more.

Hope to see you there!