The ARCH


Customer-Created Design: Virtual reality and realtime design enables seniors to design their own community spaces

There’s a fantastic snippet in this video, about 2 minutes and 58 seconds in, that does a great job of capturing the spirit of this project.  This is a group of senior citizens looking at the virtual world of Second Life projected on a wall in front of them, and you can hear the almost visceral reaction the group has to watching their suggested design changes to a new senior living community take shape before their eyes.

Read the rest of this post and view the machinima at our new site, HERE.

A single window was turned into a glass wall, which suddenly lets in more light, and opened up more views to the outside.  The impact of this design change was immediately evident to everyone in this session, which was held simultaneously in a conference room in Madison, Wisconsin as well as a platform in the sky above Architecture Island in Second Life.

My long-time friend and colleague, Derrick Van Mell, of Van Mell Associates, had recently introduced me to Rita Giovannoni, CEO of Independent Living, and we sat down at a coffee shop for a quick demo of Second Life. Derrick had been following my interest in virtual worlds since the very beginning, and knew Rita was interested in a fresh perspective on the design process for her next project.  Having led construction of 3 previous senior living facilities, and entering the early design planning for a 4th facility, she was eager to find a unique approach to design.

Read the rest of this post and view the machinima at our new site, HERE.

I opened Second Life on my laptop, and walked my avatar into an empty virtual room. So far, so good, but Rita looks hesitant. Inside, my avatar reaches up and slowly starts lowering the ceiling down until it’s hovering just above his head. “That’s way too enclosed and claustrophobic! We don’t want that.” Rita immediately reacts.  I then slowly raised the ceiling up higher. “That’s too high – it looks too institutional.” I lowered it half-way down, until it was “just right.” We went through other parts of the building, and similarly modified the design in realtime, until it was all “just right.” Rita immediately recognized that this was not only a truly unique way to visualize design ideas, but also an opportunity to actively engage others in the design process itself.  We started brainstorming ways Independent Living might be able to invite prospective residents to participate in designing their new facility.

We decided to work with focus groups of prospective residents who were considering a move into a facility like the one Independent Living would soon be building. We invited Jim Gersich, Partner-in-Charge at Dimension IV Madison Design Group, which has a lot of experience with designing senior living facilities, and he offered to host the session in his studio’s conference room.  We projected Second Life onto a wall, and invited the group to imagine how they would like the new facility to feel and function. I had been concerned that the virtual modeling might cause some motion sickness, or may even be just too silly to take seriously as a design medium, but there was no hesitation with this group, they got it immediately.

Read the rest of this post and view the machinima at our new site, HERE.

The movable ceiling trick was all it took to get their attention.  It never ceases to amaze me how strong of a reaction people have to watching my avatar slowly being enclosed by a lower and lower ceiling.  They can literally feel the difference it’s making to the way the space feels.  Therein lies the whole idea behind this endeavor – to use virtual reality to immerse people in a simulated environment, where they can immediately see and feel the impact of design ideas in 3D as the discussion unfolds, in realtime.  What’s more is that they can actually suggest design ideas, and watch their ideas take shape before their eyes.

All of the residents did a great job providing invaluable feedback on the design of the new facility, and I think they each left with a sense of ownership in the project, having contributed to this early ideation phase.  As we prepared for this session, it was tempting to assume we knew certain things about how the design would layout, and to start preparing design solutions ahead of the focus groups.  But as we quickly learned, many of those assumptions turned out to be wrong, and this group had a lot of great ideas we would never have thought of.

Not every project is right for bringing end-users into the design conversation this way, but there are always numerous project stakeholders with a vested interest in being sure the building feels and functions exactly as they need it to.  Working within a virtual environment not only helps everyone visualize the design more holistically, but it opens up the opportunity to take steps toward getting it “just right,” and ensuring the project more closely reflects the goals of the organization.

I think one of the participants concluded the session well when she said,  “I just so appreciate that you’re willing to listen, and to get that input. Because, you could just slap up a building, and say ‘it’s for rent, take it or leave it, that’s the way it is’ – and people would do that. They do it all the time.”

If you’re interested in using virtual reality in your next design project, send us a note at info (at) archvirtual.com.

Read the rest of this post and view the machinima at our new site, HERE.



The Future is Here: Full-Scale Architectural Model from Revit Imported into a Virtual World

For more information, visit the ARCH Network.

It happened exactly 1 year, to the day I first contacted Jani Pirkola former project manager of the Realxtend team. I heard rumors late in 2007 that they had goals to accelerate the development of the ‘opensim‘ platform, and one of their priorities was 3D model imports. The conversation continued until a few weeks ago, when I received an e-mail from Jules Vos, founder of Visibuild, a company he founded aimed at leveraging and improving the capabilities of Realxtend, specifically targeting his efforts at architecture and the built environment.

He asked for an exported file from one of my Revit models, and the next day he sent me a log-in and password to the Visibuild sim where the model was hosted.  Needless to say, after all these years of waiting, I was skeptical, yet hopeful. I logged in, and there I was – standing on the front porch of our client’s soon-to-be new home we had designed!  It was exactly as I had left it during my last Save As!  This was a dream come true, that had been 10 years in the making.  I was absolutely blown away.  My Revit model was virtual!  Here it is shortly after import:

Before long I had the model populated with tables, chairs, sofa, stove, a Jenn-Air appliances, Kohler fixtures and more – all imported from Google’s 3D Warehouse, most of which are exact or near-perfect matches to the ones specified.  Google’s 3d warehouse is very extensive, and carries one of the largest collection of free 3d models available.  Thanks to Peter Quirk for the Sketchup import tutorial!



I left parts of the design out of the imported mesh that we were still designing, and was able to enjoy the best of both worlds by building those pieces with primitive objects using the in-world building tools.  This way, I could make immediate use of the model as a collaboration tool with our clients by testing, for example, ceiling options in the living room, and trying out an alternate arrangement of the porch and entry area.  There is no limitation to the size of primitive objects here (the limit is 10 meters in Second Life), so it becomes much easier to model without always having to bandage the model to work around size limitations.

The client’s first reaction after seeing a teaser was “I want more!” so I think we can safely say the value of a virtual model was immediately evident.

Even a quick proof-of-concept study of imported buildings that surrounded a project site in Manhattan was fruitful.  When almost any model format can be imported, it feels like the whole world has opened up – and the possibilities are truly without limit.

The combined 3-part effect of being able to import contextual structures shared by others and import professionally built CAD or BIM-derived models and model bits and pieces using the familiar in-world building tools is a pretty astonishing new opportunity.  Of course there are still kinks to be ironed out, and some parts of the work-flow that would benefit from further optimization, but that’s where Visibuild’s value becomes most apparent.  They have the capability of streamlining that process for you, and serving as a one-stop service and hosting environment  for architects, urban planners, realtors, city governments and anyone else with a vested interest interest in architecture and the built environment.

 

Another key feature of this environment is the dynamic shade and shadows.  You need a decent graphics card to experience it, but its nice to know that the feature is available when you’re ready for it.  One common complaint for architects exploring the use of Second Life in professional practice was the plasticness of the builds, and the inability to convey the way light and shadow will effect the architecture.  The code for dynamic shadows has been available for some time now, but has yet to be implemented in any of the newest viewer releases. This is surely a key fundamental to an architect’s concern in design development, and experiencing a building without light and shade doesn’t as accurately reflect the experience you will get in real life.

Since most modern architectural software automatically generates 3D models anyway, the gap between your model and a virtual environment is no longer treacherous or time consuming – but relatively simple (or cost effective if you’d rather have someone else import it for you).  If you already model in SketchUp, for example – you’re only a few clicks away from enjoying the benefits of experiencing the model virtually and inviting others to experience it with you in realtime.  The bottom line is, most architects utilize 3D models at some point in the design development process anyway.  With Visibuild, you’re just one ‘save as’ away from leveraging the value of that model, and enjoying all of the many benefits a virtual environment affords.

These are some of the qualities of this environment I find most powerful:

  • The capacity to import 3D Models from just about any industry standard 3D package
  • Its accessible – there is very little mystery around how this works, and it isn’t terribly complicated or expensive.
  • It is built on an open source platform, and with a little experimentation you can roll up your sleeves and tinker with it.  You still have the option of hiring others to get everything set up for you.  The choice is yours.
  • User-generated content.  I can’t modify the imported mesh in-world, but I can leave off parts of the build that aren’t finalized and use the simple in-world building tools to test ideas on the fly.
  • Multi-user.  I can create an account for each of my clients and project stakeholders (builders, subs, etc.)  We can all occupy the building at the same time, from our own computers, wherever we happen to be in the world.  I can also customize their accounts ahead of time – so their avatars look good, and they appear right at the front door.
  • Realtime.  Unlike an prescriptive illustration or animation, you get to choose how, when and where your avatar moves.  This is much closer to the way people actually experience architecture.
  • Collaborative.  Multiple users can work together on a single group of objects to explore ideas – this capability is at the heart of what Studio Wikitecture is exploring.
  • Shade and Shadows, and the ability to cycle through any day/night setting and customize the sky to whatever settings you like
  • The incorporation of avatars.  I think this provides an enhanced sense of immersion and a feeling of actually being in the space.

This is truly a defining moment in the story of virtual worlds and architecture!

I’ll be working with Jules and the Visibuild team in the months ahead to help out with some exciting new projects, so if you’re interested in being an early adopter and want to be a part of the private beta, you can find contact information on the Visibuild website here: http://visibuild3d.com


Opening of Real Life +Second Life Museum Exhibition at The Tech: Keynote by Philip Rosedale
May 29, 2008, 2:13 pm
Filed under: second life, the tech | Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Earlier this year, The Tech Museum of Innovation invited Second Life residents to collaborate around the design of exhibits for their real life museum in San Jose for an upcoming exhibition, ‘Art, Film & Music’.

They had already built a replica of their physical building, and set up an exhibition hall where participants from around the world were given space to develop virtual simulations of their ideas for exhibits, and initiate collaborative efforts with others.

The Tech’s virtual exhibit collaboration hall was a veritable creative incubator of ideas, with a tireless staff hosting a steady stream of workshops and events to help designers build the skills necessary to describe their ideas in Second Life.

Given the extraordinary potential for collaboration in Second Life, I didnt’ want to miss out, and developed a variation of the ‘Wikisonic’ concept to submit, since it seems to walk a fine line between Art and Music. I rezzed the concept inside the hall, and put out a Help Wanted sign for anyone who wanted to join the team (and solicited YOUR help here!). Annie Obscure (Annie Ogden in real-life) found my call for help and jumped in almost immediately with a flurry of brilliant ideas for executing the idea in real-life. Together we worked together to develop the concept into a proposal that ended up being chosen for construction at the real-life museum! I also need to thank John Street (Dirty McLean in Second Life), who found a way to realize the crazy collaborative music idea last year – when almost a dozen other scripters told me it couldn’t be done!

Ahead of the exhibit opening, I built a new Wikisonic installation (teleport link), and created a new machinima here:

So, I’m off to San Jose next week to attend the Art, Film & Music exhibition! The Tech is also hosting a Summit on Digital Democracy in Exhibit Design on June 4, 2008, the day of the opening. The event will take place at The Tech in San Jose, and will also be streamed live to The Tech Virtual Museum in Second Life. Keynote speakers will be Philip Rosedale, Linden Lab founder and Chairman, and Peter Friess, Ph.D., President of The Tech.

Summit Invitation

Agenda

1:00 – opening remarks from Peter Friess, President of The Tech Museum of Innovation

1:15 – Keynote by Philip Rosedale, Linden Labs Chairman and former CEO

1:45 – Q&A with Philip Rosedale 2:00 – visit exhibit and talk to people in second life

3:00 -breakout sessions on: -creative commons and open source (Rob Stephenson, moderator) -future of museum collaboration (Peter Friess, moderator) -community exhibit development (Nina Simon, moderator) -building real versions of virtual exhibits (Rich Turner, moderator) -marketing impact for museums of working with second life (Lisa Croel, moderator) -experience of volunteer curators (Second Life, facilitated by ?, moderator)

4:30-concluding remarks

All images in this post taken from The Tech Virtual website unless otherwise noted.



3D Wiki, Demo and Tour Tomorrow (2/8) at 10:30 AM SL-time

Join us tomorrow for a demo of the 3D Wiki (the Wiki-Tree), and a review of the designs submitted so far for the OAN Challenge we’re working on for Wikitecture 3.0. The competition deadline is February 29, so there is still time to provide your input!  You don’t have to be an architect!

Here’s the SLurl. See you there!



Can Virtual Collaboration Win the Open Architecture Challenge? Wikitecture 3.0 is ON it!

There’s still plenty of time to join the team! You don’t need any architectural experience, just a willingness to collaborate, learn and help people in the world who need it most.

You can find a transcript of our first Wikitecture 3.0 project discussion HERE.

During Tuesday’s 9am meeting (the time of which was determined by group vote), the community decided to enter a brief R&D phase, and will be spending the next week gathering information about each of the 3 challenges to determine which we will pursue. We are also trying to find potential collaborators in SL or in RL with expertise, or may have lived or currently live near any of these real-life regions to join the team. Perhaps there are nearby universities in these regions we could collaborate with? Are there any unique features of these challenges that lend themselves more or less to a Wikitecture or Second Life build? Scale? Materials? Site?
We’re seeking answers to these questions, and will paste our findings in the new Wikitecture Wiki HERE. If you have any ideas or thoughts on this project, feel free to post them on the wiki!

KK Jewell of arcspace has offered to allow the experiment to be built on the new arcspace island! This is a very generous offer, and we are very grateful! Thanks KK!

Stay tuned for info, date and time for our next gathering, and IM Keystone Bouchard or Theory Shaw in Second Life if you have any questions, or wish to join the team!



Welcome to Wikitecture 3.0! By the Community, for the Community

Read the full release here.

Would you like to participate in the AMD Open Architecture Challenge on a global team of qualified and talented architects, designers and engineers? Studio Wikitecture invites you to just that.

In keeping with the spirit of the Open Architecture Network’s goal of ‘improving the living standards through collaborative design,’ we will be employing the next generation Wikitecture process in order to more fully enable true 3D collaboration by community members from around the world. In much the same way Wikipedia enables multiple contributors to collaborate on content creation, the Wikitecture process gives community members an opportunity to share ideas, edit the contributions of others, and to vote on the success or failure of proposed modifications.

Through a series of ongoing experiments during the past several months, the Wikitecture process has been evolving based on community participation and feedback. With this input, Theory Shaw has developed the ‘Wikitecture Tree’ concept, and we’ve hired the clever folks at i3Dnow to build it for us, which will include both inworld and web-based functionality. We hope to roll out this new platform just in time to get started on a collaborative Wikitecture competition entry for the AMD Open Architecture challenge.

The Wikitecture process currently uses the free to use, free to access virtual reality platform of Second Life to enable multiple contributors to share ideas and collaborate on design concepts.

If you are interested in participating, you’ll need to do the following:

1.) Download and install the Second Life client at SecondLife.com

2.) Complete the orientation course to help familiarize yourself with navigation, etc.

3.) Click on the ‘Search’ button on the bottom of your screen. With the ‘All’ tab highlighted, search for either ‘Keystone Bouchard’ or ”Theory Shaw’ – the organizers of the Wikitecture project. Click on their name, and you’ll see an ‘Instant Message’ button in their profile. Send either of us a message, and we will get back to you shortly with more details on how you can join the community.

4.) By clicking on the ‘Map’ button and searching for Architecture Island, you will be able to teleport directly into the site location, and migth even run into other members of the in-world community who can help with any questions you may have.

Our official launch meeting will be September 25th – the event time will be determined by community consensus. Please send your vote to Keystone Bouchard in-world, or to jbrouchoud@gmail.com

We hope to see you there!

To join our project page on OAN, visit HERE.

To learn more about the evolution of the Wikitecture concept, visit Studio Wikitecture

To learn more about the architecture and design community in Second Life, visit The Arch blog

To see a video of Cameron Sinclair’s event in Second Life, featuring the Open Architecture Network’s Porchdog design, visit This YouTube site

To see the construction of the Porchdog in Second Life, visit: This YouTube site