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

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www.archvirtual.com

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/

 



Construction of Hurricane Katrina relief project ‘The Porchdog,’ prototyped in Second Life, now complete

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This site has moved to www.archvirtual.com

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Here are several before and after images of the ‘Porchdog’ residence, prototyped in Second Life by the Architecture in Virtual Worlds community.  We built a virtual replica of this original design by Marlon Blackwell Architects, which was published to Open Architecture Network under Creative Commons licensing for an event with Architecture for Humanity founder Cameron Sinclair’s appearance in Second Life.

Second Life prototype and real world construction

During the presentation, Cameron Sinclair described the project:

“The idea is, can we work collaboratively online, in places like Second Life, to respond to issues like Hurricane Katrina.”

He also described some background behind the project:

“…we starting in 1999 basically using email and a web page – and as we’ve progressed and as technology has progress, we’ve embraced new technologies.”

Hurrican Katrina relief - construction

As the fidelity of virtual worlds continues to improve, online virtual environments like Second Life are now capable of producing much higher quality prototypes than ever before.  With realtime shadows, and the ability to import existing 3D architectural models just around the corner, we can expect that quality to improve dramatically in the months and years ahead.

posted on Open Architecture Network

Below is a machinima clip I made of the virtual replication process:

Here’s a machinima by Kiwini Oe, showing a discussion between Cameron Sinclair of Architecture for Humanity and John Gage of Sun Microsystems:

For more information about this project, visit the project’s page on the Open Architecture Network here: http://openarchitecturenetwork.org/projects/232?ob_bw=0

NAME: The Biloxi Model Home Program
PROJECT LEAD: Architecture for Humanity
LOCATION: Biloxi, Mississippi, United States
START DATE: December 02, 2005
CURRENT PHASE: In construction
COST: $138000 USD (Estimated)
SIZE: 1500 sq. ft
BUILDING TYPE: Residential – Single Family

Read the whole story, and more about architecture in virtual worlds at The ARCH Network http://www.archvirtual.com



Real life construction completed on innovative homes prototyped in Second Life

Read the whole story, and more about architecture in virtual worlds at The ARCH Network http://www.archvirtual.com

The Alley Flat Initiative - prototype real life design in Second Life virtual world

If you have any interest or curiosity whatsoever about using Second Life or any other online, 3D, collaborative virtual environment for architectural prototyping or education, this is a must read success story.

Construction has completed on designs first prototyped in Second Life by students at the University of Austin School of Architecture.  The prototypes were the result of a collaboration between Professor Sergio Palleroni’s students and the students of Dr. Leslie Jarmon’s “Communicating Across the Disciplines” graduate course.   Sadly, Dr. Jarmon, who was responsible for orchestrating the virtual presence for the entire University of Texas system, passed away last year.

Second Life prototype of real world design

Professor Palleroni first described his vision for using Second Life in architectural education during a talk with Autodesk VP Phil Bernstein in an event held in Second Life in late 2007. He had this to say to his students,

“I want ideas (from my students) on how we’re going to use this new Second Life to actually expand our exchange in our community.  Becuase, I thought, ‘my God, what a tool – I was so ignorant.’   I was thinking, if I can get people connected,  there might be opportunities for these clients that we’re serving, to actually participate in forums here, where I could get some world class people here, and in Second Life we would all be inhabiting the same realm, I think its fantastic.”

Construction completed on homes prototyped in virtual reality

2 years later, the project became a virtual reality in Second Life, with several Alley Flats homes prototyped.  Upon launching the project, and using it to engage community members, students were equally enthusiastic,

“There’s something extremely ‘right’ about having Alley Flats in Second Life, since Alley Flats is about building community through great design, and the clever use of technology, and that’s what Second Life is all about.  I think we’ve achieved something special, and I really hope that it will live long beyond today, and be useful for many communities all around the world.”

“This will bring people together from from different disciplines, and one of the greatest lessons I’ve learned from this project was how relevant Second Life is in both commercial and non-profit markets, and I think its going to be the next huge thing in the industry.”

A Phd student in molecular biology added this,

“Working with this class was a wonderful experience, very different from working in a lab.  It was enjoyable to work across disciplines, and working on this project has provided many opportunities to engage and adapt my communication skills, and because of this, I have gained new perspectives on diversity and teamwork.”

During the launch, Sergio added some insightful remarks,

“I never thought that I would be building in a virtual world, and though I was skeptical, I’m now beginning to become a believer.  I think that at the heart of this, and what unites the real and the virtual world, is the idea that we all share aspirations and ideals that we cannot make possible within any other construct, and so the fact that we are able to, here in Second Life, see how  a city can begin go change, and we can actually show people.. and its fantastic, because we can begin to let people understand what the future might look like.  So I would almost propose that Second Life is not some unreal realm, but in some ways is the future, or a projection of where we’re heading, and a way to dream about the future.”

Dr. Jarmon said,

“Since we started working on this project, so many people have said ‘can we get one, can you build this for us?

Someone asked the students what it was like working in a virtual world.  Here’s what they had to say about it:

“We didn’t know what the possibilities of Second Life were, but now we’re standing here, its just amazing – its not something anyone in the group could have imagined, so I think working in a virtual world like this shows us that the possibilities are endless.”

“I thought Second Life, at first, was going to be difficult, but I learned to use it as an adjunct to our ‘normal’ communication.  You can’t just show up in a virtual world and expect to get work done.  You need to have an agenda and things to do, just like in the real world.”

“I’m a much better salsa dancer in Second Life than I am in the real world – which counts for something. (laughter)”

Sergio added to the student’s comments by saying,

“I can imagine in Second Life we’re going to be able to push this all much more, and actually model, what kind of city can we get form this.  I actually see this as a tremendous opportunity, and the kind of space that we all share – so I think we’re going to start using (Second Life) right away.”

Dr. Jarmon concluded with a wish for an ongoing collaboration,

“You know, you teach a class, and your grad students want to keep working after the semester is over – c’mon, that just doesn’t happen very often, so we hope this will continue, Sergio, because this is just a marvelous team.”

Read the whole story, and more about architecture in virtual worlds at The ARCH Network http://www.archvirtual.com



Wikitecture Progress Video, and a Call for Sponsors

Hello everyone! As you may already know, the third Wikitecture experiment using our new 3D-Wiki technology will be wrapping up in the next few weeks, and we are already looking forward to the next experiment. If you are not already familiar, HERE is a demo of how the in-world interface works, and HERE is a link to the website.

Based on what we have learned from this experiment, we have developed a list of interface simplifications, features and most importantly, the ability to install the 3D Wiki on multiple sites throughout Second Life. In order to implement this phase of development, we are looking for sponsors who would be willing to provide much needed funding to carry this project forward.

In exchange for your sponsorship, you will be given liberal use of the newly developed 3D Wiki, and your logo will be prominently displayed at all in-world installations of the wiki, and on the Studio Wikitecture blog as well. We consider the current experiment to be a very valuable proof-of-concept, and will be giving lots of live demonstrations and presentations – further increasing the visibility of your sponsorship.

If you are interested, please contact us in-world (Keystone Bouchard or Theory Shaw), or via email at theoryshaw (at) yahoo (dot)com. We sincerely appreciate your support!