The ARCH


Introducing the ArchTech Engine: Transforming buildings, cities and geography into realtime 3D environments

[Intro video]  I am very excited to announce the launch of our new ArchTech Engine, a technology that transforms buildings, cities and geography into realtime 3D environments that are easily accessible, and can be embedded on your website, or deployed to a tablet.

Read the full post HERE

These interactive models can be geo-referenced to real-world coordinates, dynamically linked to databases, and layered with interactive content.

Transform your architectural drawings and 3D models of almost any format (including CAD and BIM) into information-rich applications that are perfect for architectural visualization, and city planning, as well as learning environments, military simulations, historical recreations, training environments and more. Students can interact within a more memorable learning environment, and achieve much greater retention over reading a textbook. All within a web browser or tablet.

Your application can be customized to suit your project’s specific needs. Make it multiplayer with voice and video communication or a single player experience and add non-player characters or an entire crowd of people to bring it to life.

To learn more about Arch Tech Engine, or to get started on your own project, visit www.archtechengine.com Arch Tech Engine is built on the Unity3D, and was developed in partnership between Arch Virtual and Tipodean Technologies.

Read the full post HERE

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Virtual Worlds and the Built Environment – White Paper published by Daden Limited

Check out this article HERE.

Daden Limited‘s new white paper, ‘Virtual Worlds and the Built Environment’ (download here) provides an insightful overview of several Second Life case studies relating to architecture, engineering and construction industry projects, along with descriptions of  what make virtual worlds a useful tool for AEC industry projects.
“Whilst the hype (and marketing interest) around virtualworlds has faded, the technology is increasingly being used in areas such as training & education,collaboration and data visualisation. This paper explores the on-going use, and future opportunity, of virtual worlds to help model the built environment, and as a result to use the virtual world to build a better physical world.”
A few points of interest include their overview of differences between SL and traditional AEC tools:
There are a number of key differences here in comparison to more traditional Architecture, Engineering and Construction (AEC) visualisation tools.
Principally that:
  • The user is embodied in the world as an avatar, rather than having just a “camera” view
  • The avatar/user can go where they like, and interact with the build
  • The environment is multi-user, so users  can interact with other users
  • The environment is rendered in real-time, so although visual quality may not be as high, the environment can be far more dynamic and flexible, and renders instantly rather than needing an over-night render-farm.

I also appreciate their list of advantages of using virtual worlds in AEC fields:

The advantages of virtual worlds such as Second Life include:

• The ability to make changes instantly, in-world

• The ability to support multiple users in the same space – typically 50-100 (but of course you can always clone spaces)

• The ability to make things interactive – even linking computers to real computer applications, and signs to real signage systems

• The ability to not only integrate building environmental and performance data, but also to visualise it in new and effective ways

• The ability for users to peel-back layers of a building to see structural and service components

• The ability for users to annotate the space, feeding back comments which can be automatically collated

• The ability to track users through the building, and their interactions with its systems

• The ability to let users choose between configurations and vote on them

• The ability to support “live use” of the building, eg for entertainment or training

• The ability to clone the building to create multiple copies to explore what-ifs

• The ability to use the same platform to support virtual meetings, conferences, training, collaboration etc

• Dynamic rendering which enables the instant changes and multi-user deployment

Extranet Evolution has a great write-up (link) about this paper as well.   Consequently, Paul Wilkinson’s twitter feed is also a must-follow resource for anyone interested in construction collaboration technologies (and more!) – follow him @EEPaul

This site has moved to

www.archvirtual.com

Check out this article HERE.



Virtual Architecture 101: Design Fundamentals, Processes and Strategies for Virtual Worlds

Virtual Architecture 101 (SLurl) is a free, interactive, self guided, educational installation in Second Life, designed to provide visitors with a sampling of architectural fundamentals, design processes, strategies and best practices for creating effective virtual world projects.  The installation also includes case studies and offers specific tips, tricks and techniques covering a wide range of virtual world development topics.  It is not intended to be an all-inclusive resource, but to simply provide a sample overview of design basics and strategies.   If you want brush up on some fundamentals, or if you are planning to develop a project in a virtual world, this installation is designed to serve as a starting point and a place to gather ideas and inspiration for making your project a success.

Read the full post on our main site here: http://archvirtual.com/?p=3201

As a design consultant working in virtual worlds for several years, there are quite a few core design habits, techniques and strategies that I keep coming back to.  Since Second Life and OpenSim are primarily user-generated worlds, and not every project has a budget for custom development services, I thought it might be useful to share some of what I’ve learned in a virtual installation in hopes that it might be useful to anyone starting their own projects or building content in a virtual world.  In the weeks ahead, I hope to add several new stations and replace a large portion of the text with more experience-based 3D props, but in the meantime I will post the text portion of the installation as a downloadable pdf to accompany the exhibit in the weeks ahead.
The installation can be accessed by visiting Architecture Island in Second Life here: http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Architecture%20Island/97/132/1173
If you have any questions, suggestions, or need assistance developing your own  please send them to info@archvirtual.com



Construction of aLoft’s flagship hotels, first prototyped in Second Life, now complete

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

prototype now built in the real world

The headline-grabbing aLoft Hotel project, first prototyped in Second Life before construction started, can now be visited in the real world (and has been open for quite some time now).  Starwood Hotels was the first to take their hotel’s architectural concept into the virtual world via Electric Sheep, and even used the virtual prototype to invite feedback they eventually used to modify the design construction started in real life.

Business Week (among others) covered the project, and had this to say about it,

For Starwood, opening aloft inSecond Life is a way to test-market the hotel’s design and rapidly prototype the evolving concept. For instance, staffers will observe how people move through the space, what areas and types of furniture they gravitate towards, and what they ignore…. The project is also an effort to tap consumers for ideas. “

Second Life prototype of real world architecture

“This is the first time the company has created a complete mock hotel—digital or physical—to serve as “a laboratory,” says Starwood Vice-President Brian McGuinness, adding that they’re already building a second physical prototype for an extended-stay hotel under the Westin label in the same White Plains warehouse.

“This is unusual for the industry. Hotel prototypes usually don’t amount to more than a single-room model that might be shown at a trade show. But the company says that both prototypes made financial sense.”

As you can see, it can be difficult to determine which shots were taken of the real world building, and which were from Second Life.  Just imagine the possibilities for architectural prototyping that will become possible with mesh imports in Second Life, or importing models into gaming platforms like Unity.

This time-lapse machinima shows the creation of the project in Second Life:

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



$900 million facility prototyped in Second Life now under construction

Cross posted from The ARCH Network main site!

These are the latest construction progress photos I could find of new Palomar West Medical Campus in San Diego, which is currently under construction – scheduled to open in 2011.  When the virtual architectural simulation was completed in early 2008, it attracted the attention of The Wall Street Journal, New York Times, and Forbes, as the largest and most comprehensive architectural prototypes of a construction-bound project ever built in Second Life (aLoft and Dedato’s build were big too, but Palomar is much bigger- weighing in at 775,000 square feet).  The virtual prototype was used by Cisco to showcase the facility’s communications features through immersive simulations in Second Life, and was built by Millions of Us.

If you know of any more recent construction photos, please let me know!



The Architecture of Virtual Education

Here is a video of the presentation I gave last weekend at the VWBPE convention , posted by tree.tv, in both a streaming format and high-def download, available here:

http://www.treet.tv/shows/bpe/bpe2009_varchitecture_27mar09/ Other presentations captured by Tree.tv can be seen here: http://treet.tv/shows/bpe2009

Here is a brief outline of what I covered:

  • Comparisons of virtual and real architecture
    • Main ideas
      • Virtual architecture is less rigid, and far more flexible than physical architecture
      • Second Life is a ‘user-generated’ environment, and places that are built exclusively by professional content creators that do not engage the end-users in the creation process are often the most dull and lifeless places in all of SL – no matter how perfectly built or well designed they might be.
      • Virtual campus spaces should engage as many individuals – faculty, students, community members – as possible – not just one person who goes off to build everything… that’s just as bad or worse than hiring a content developer to build everything for you.
      • Architecture should be driven by the end-use, in an ongoing and constantly evolving design process that doesn’t have an arbitrary ‘end’.  Virtual architecture doesn’t have to shape us…we can and should keep shaping it.
      • People building virtual education spaces are building the foundation for their school’s future virtual endeavors, and have an opportunity to re-think what education means in a virtual environment – not just importing the way we do things in real life.
  • Best practices in developing virtual architecture – framework for approaching projects, borrowing and re-mixing some elements from the AIA’s Handbook for Professional Practice
    • Predesign
      • Gathering resources, use-cases, program development, construction schedule, context analysis, project budget, architectural style, replica vs. virtual, precedent studies
    • Schematic Design
      • Blocking diagrams, wayfinding, feedback, etc.
    • Construction
      • groups, permissions, building teams, etc.
  • Case Study: ‘Re-Inventing the Virtual Classroom’ with the University of Alabama
    • Wikitecture overview
      • Process
      • methodology
    • Description of the process
    • Brief and analysis of the end result
    • Concluding thoughts
      • Can students, faculty and community members design their own physical-world spaces in the future?  Can physical architecture be as dynamic and participatory as virtual architecture?

Many thanks for Gianna Borgnine for moderating, and to everyone who helped organize this conference.  Also, thanks to La Fundación Global Democracia y Desarrollo (FUNGLODE) for sponsoring this presentation.



arcspace Builders Academy

For those of you who need basic SL skills the arcspace Builders Academy, run by Mater Rhodes, will be starting classes in SL Building Systems this month.
Mater will be using voice and text.
To sign up:
Contact Mater Rhodes in SL