Architectural Jazz, by Keystone Bouchard

(This is Keystone Bouchard’s essay submission to the Ctrl-Shift-07 competition on Lebenswelt Island – screenshots also by Keystone.  Slideshow HERE.)

The cannon blast launching this competition triggered an architectural jam session!

The ‘real-time evolution’ called for by the competition brief started with a few entrants immediately rezzing elements that responded to the existing context, leading to more complex responses over time.

In the first few weeks of discovery and evolution, the dialogue between competitors seemed to be the most pervasive. I decided to document this phenomenon by charting avatar movement, architectural responses, and the informal discussions that were happening at the site. With this data, I wrote a piano score loosely based on these observations. Considering the brief’s call for ‘overlap between the real and virtual worlds’, I recorded video of the subtle key movement on my real life piano and optimized it to play in Second Life.

After inserting this video as part of my composition, I observed the response, feedback and reaction to the installation. It became clear there was an opportunity to create an even more direct, real-time relationship between avatar movement and the musical composition. Instead of relying exclusively on abstracted avatar movement, I collaborated with a scripter who wrote a code enabling a sound to be played and the key to change color and size upon detecting avatar presence. I then recorded three chords that were in harmony with the original score, and when combined with the script, enabled avatars to actively participate in the creation of the music and the architectural composition, establishing a more immersive mind-avatar connection.

While my entry shifted shape over the course of the competition, starting off as a hyper-responsive and eclectic composition, it has evolved into a considerably refined piece, consistently relying on a steady stream of direct and indirect communication and collaborations with other contributors. Throughout the island’s evolution, it became clear that a new language of virtual architecture seems to necessitate a collaborative, cross-disciplinary approach, where no single contributor can be isolated as exclusively responsible for the final composition.

It has been my stated desire from the first day of this competition to enable this emergence and dialogue to continue by maintaining Lebenswelt Island as a testing grounds and incubator for an ongoing, dynamic, and collaborative effort to derive a new language of virtual architecture in tune with the stated objectives of this competition. Given the time and a proper catalyst, truly profound concepts can emerge from this collaborative process, and I would like to see this dialogue continue indefinitely.


A New Architecture Island!

The new island, formerly known as ‘Lebenswelt’ was the prize I have had the honor of being awarded in the Cntrl-Shift-07 competition for their Bienial Pacific Students of Architecture Congress held in New Zealand.

My goal for the new island is to encourage the emergence of a new language of virtual architecture by maintaining Lebenswelt Island as a testing grounds and incubator for an ongoing, dynamic, and collaborative effort in tune with the stated objectives of the competition.

Everyone who entered the competition and wishes to continue their experiments with new ideas for virtual architecture will be given the opportunity to keep the parcels and the designs they created. A large central parcel will also be assigned as the Studio Wikitecture headquarters, dedicated to experimentation and ongoing development of the Wikitecture process.

There were some truly outstanding entries that pushed the limits of what is possible with virtual architecture. I plan to post the essays and screenshots of the short-listed entries during the next few days.

Thanks again to the competition organizers, especially Sebastion Antwerp, for making this possible!

What if Wikitecture Works?

This has been a truly amazing phenomenon to witness (screenshots here HERE, Theory’s Wikitecture protocol HERE).

Through the revisions, additions and edits of at least 11 different contributors and several phases of schematic evolution, it seems to have found a kind of singular life and identity of its own. It is clearly unlike what any one of the contributors would have designed on their own. It is sophisticated in its response to site cues, and nearly all of the main program elements have already been successfully achieved. The design has a clear sense of hierarchy and order – and all in the first 10 days of development.

Its an infant project with fantastic and far reaching potential for the architectural profession. In imagining these possibilities, I can’t help but to wonder… what if Wikitecture works?

Raising Real Money to Build Real Houses and a Case for Virtual Collaboration

Machinima showing Cameron Sinclair and John Gage discussing virtual collaboration and Open Architecture Network in Second Life.

Sponsored by Sun Professional Services, coordinated by Clear Ink, machinima by Kiwini Oe.

Design Like you Give a Damn! Cameron Sinclair in Second Life

Cameron Sinclair, 2006 TED Prize winner, Executive Director of Architecture for Humanity, co-editor of the book ‘Design Like You Give A Damn‘ and contributing writer for will be joined by Sun Microsystems founder John Gage in a live audio discussion in Second Life.

They will discuss collaboration and participation in 3D environments, as well as the newly launched ‘Open Architecture Network‘ – which represents the fulfillment of Cameron’s 2006 TED wish. The event will feature a virtual version of the ‘Porchdog‘ and the Global Village Shelters – both of which are contributions to the Open Architecture Network.

The event will be held on Clear Ink‘s Allston sim HERE (SLurl) on Tuesday, April 24th at 10:00 am PST (SL-time). Installations and live audio stream will also be available at the University Project sim (SLurl), and the live audio can also be heard on Clear Ink Island (SLurl).

Sponsored by Sun Professional Services, coordinated by Clear Ink.

Post-Katrina Virtuality: The Porchdog

As a contribution to Architecture for Humanity’s Open Architecture Network, I built this virtual model on Architecture Island (SLurl).   Real-life construction of the Porchdog home is part of Architecture for Humanity‘s effort to provide housing relief and redevelopment in post-Katrina Biloxi, Mississippi.

Given the open and collaborative nature of this initiative, I think Second Life provides a perfect platform for visualizing, co-designing and brainstorming future contributions to the Network. Perhaps architects and designers from all around the world could gather virtually and collaborate on real-time relief solutions in the wake of an unforeseen disaster.

In reading some of the descriptive principles of Open Architecture Network, I think it’s clear that these goals can be readily fulfilled through virtual collaboration.

“The Open Architecture Network is an online, open source community dedicated to improving living conditions through innovative and sustainable design. Here designers of all persuasions can:

• Share their ideas, designs and plans
• View and review designs posted by others
• Collaborate with each other, people in other professions and community leaders to address specific design challenges
• Communicate easily amongst team members”

It’s about visualization, collaboration and community; all of which are existing features of Second Life. I would love to see SL become a catalyst for virtual collaboration toward this end, and hope we can find a way the Architecture Group can help facilitate it.

This machinima has already been posted to the Network, and can be seen at the bottom of THIS page. While I was at it, I posted our entry into the Cradle to Cradle design competition, seen HERE.

More soon!

Wikitecture 2.0: Designing the Architecture of Architectural Design Collaboration.

[Update: 9am morning session transcript posted HERE. Reminder: the next session will be held at 6pm SL-time 4/19/07.]

Can Architects (or designers in general) design a building collectively? The ‘RL Architects in SL’ group would like your help in trying to answer this question.

We will be conducting another more comprehensive ‘Wikitecture’ experiment over the next month to determine just how feasible a collaborative approach in design might be for the architectural profession. You do not have to have any experience in architecture to participate; the more diverse the better. The write-up: Wikitecture 2.0. I’ve also pasted it to a page on The Arch HERE.

There will be 2 kickoff meetings on April 19th. One at 9am & one at 6pm PST

Wikitecture Transcript

I’ve posted a transcript is posted on a Page on the left column. It was quite an interesting, and productive conversation! Every time we meet like this, I’m reminded that we really should be having more meetings! I’ll add a few thoughts on the meeting’s conclusions shortly.

Herding Cats? Wikitecture and the Future of Collaborative Design

Thursday, February 15: 6:30 pm SL-Time in the RL Architects gathering space HERE. (Map ‘The Homestead’ in SL)

First, a welcome to new members of the group! Newbie real life architects from around the world are showing up in Second Life on an almost daily basis now, and the architectural projects populating the island are serving as an ideal proving grounds to our new guests. Their chance encounters and advice from other architects they meet on the island is what keeps them coming back. Many thanks to the island’s contributors for making this ‘the’ place for architects in SL!

We recently invited the in-world group to participate in a Wikitecture experiment on the island. Several weeks after the notice was posted, the build has enjoyed contributions from at least 11 different architects. It has turned out to be a rather eclectic, meandering (and incredibly compelling) composition IMHO.

However, this is obviously not a ‘wiki’ in the traditional sense. In this case, we wanted the unique characteristics of each contributor to ‘read’ in the final composition, which resulted in a build that serves as a kind of living cross-section of the group’s genetic makeup.

Is true Wikitecture and collaborative asynchronous design possible in Second Life? If so, what kinds of tools, scripts and rules might be necessary? Some exciting ideas are already beginning to surface.

Please join us in a Wikitecture exploration discussion within this new ‘space’ this Thursday night. I will be introducing a new officer, and announcing some exciting new developments within the RL Architects community!