The ARCH


Realtime Cities by Arch Virtual: Welcome to Virtual Dubuque!

Introducing Virtual Dubuque, a premiere development of our new Realtime Cities initiative by Arch Virtual, built with ArchTech Engine.

Read the full post HERE.

This new community resource will provide free and easy to access windows into interactive, customizable 3D models of cities.  To learn more about how we can build a realtime model of your city or architectural project, send us a note here.  We’re currently seeking development partners to build new features, create custom content, and build out additional architecture and cities around the world, so please send us a note to learn more.

Over the past year,we have been partnering with local businesses and organizations in Dubuque, Iowa to develop features and sponsored content, including a project in the Historic Millwork District for a local real estate developer (coming soon!), as well as the Masonic Temple, where international members of Demolay will be working with industry pioneers in developing a world-class learning environment, using Virtual Cities as its core platform.

Read the full post HERE.

“We’re harnessing the same technology used to make the latest iPad apps and XBox 360 games, but we’re not making a game, we’re building dynamic and ever-changing models of cities that are designed to serve as true community resources that can be easily accessed directly from a website,” said Jon Brouchoud, Founder of Virtual Cities.

Using ArchTech Engine and the Unity3D platform, we’re now able to transforms buildings, geography and entire cities into realtime 3D environments that are easily accessible, and can be embedded on your website, or deployed to a tablet.  These interactive models can be geo-referenced to real-world coordinates, dynamically linked to databases, and layered with interactive content.

Virtual Cities by Arch Virtual - urban planning

As visitors explore virtual cities, links to websites and additional information about nearby buildings, parks, and businesses appear automatically.  For example, when you approach a restaurant, you can click through to read their menu.  If you’re near a historic building, you can learn more about its past.  Businesses and organizations can customize and enhance their space in the virtual model, layering it with more information or interactive features.

Read the full post HERE.

Proceeds from sponsorship and custom content are then re-invested in the ongoing development of the city model, enabling Realtime Cities to add more features, build new parts of the city, and refine models with more detail.

But a virtual replica is just the beginning.

Virtual Cities by Arch Virtual - Dubquque Iowa

“If you’ve ever experienced the Voices Gallery in the Millwork District of Dubuque Iowa, for example, you’ve seen how a building can be completely re-imagined into a destination that celebrates the unique architectural character of a place, yet transcends it to become something completely unique,” said Brouchoud.

“That’s really what Virtual Dubuque, and the Realtime Cities initiative is all about.  A replica of the city as it is now will certainly have interesting use cases, but I’m looking forward to seeing how cities can be re-imagined within an environment where anything is possible.”

Read the full post HERE.

Virtual Cities for architectural visualization and urban planning

Read the full post HERE.

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3D mesh imports now (finally!) possible in Second Life! No, seriously… I have screenshots to prove it.
August 29, 2011, 6:17 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

(Read the rest of this post on http://www.archvirtual.com !)

This long awaited ‘holy grail’ feature in Second Life has now finally arrived on the main grid!  The subject of numerous false starts, April fool’s jokes, and much controversy – it is now possible to import 3D models directly into Second Life.  The implications from an architectural urban design and city planning perspective are obvious.  Having to rebuild architectural models with a patchwork quilt of 10 meter prims was only feasible for the most dedicated and patient developers, and the frustration of abandoning 3D models that already existed as a matter of daily practice in architectural software in order to build the same model all over again with prims just wasn’t an easy sell to most would-be SL residents hoping to use the platform for architectural visualization and collaboration.

(see the rest of this post on http://www.archvirtual.com !)



Fragility of Spaces: French Architecture Students Present Second Life Work at VWBPE

This blog has moved!  Please read this post on our new blog location: http://archvirtual.com/?p=3295

From my studio in Madison, Wisconsin, USA, I’m listening to 3 architecture students in Paris, France presenting design concepts they developed during a week-long ‘intensive’ design studio at Paris-Malaquais using the virtual world Second Life, and I feel as though I’m participating in architecture’s best kept secret.  I’m joined by dozens of others logged in from every corner of the world as part of this <a href=”http://www.vwbpe.org/&#8221; target=”_blank”>VWBPE Conference</a> session by the newly founded European initiative ‘ARCHI21,’ and can think of no other medium, method or technology that could bridge our worlds as effectively.  As I listened carefully to their fascinating presentations, I was totally immersed and engaged, and if the quantity and thoughtfulness of the back-channel chat was any indication, the others in attendance were equally impressed.

This intensive was the first time most of these students had been exposed to Second Life for architectural design, and due to time constraints, they were given very little time to prepare for this presentation.  Not only that, but they are presenting their work in English, their second language, which is a significant part of what ARCHI21 is all about:

“A consortium of British, Danish, French and Slovenian universities has just begun its first action learning phase of ARCHI21, a two-year project as a part of the EU Education and Culture DG Lifelong Learning Programme.  Innovative approaches converge language learning, architecture and design, social media and 3D virtual worlds.   With a thematic focus on communication of  ‘respecting fragile places’ , this project explores the areas of  a) content &amp; language integrated learning in higher and vocational education sectors,  b) the inter-relationship between linguistic competence and design competence building in project-based learning and  c) the intercultural issues to be considered.”

I was in awe at the quality and theoretical sophistication of their work, and the deep thinking they had put into these projects in such a short space of time.   Having spent the past several years exploring virtual architecture, I was challenged and even a little intimidated by what these students were able to come up with in just one week.  My only criticism might be that I think they seem to have underestimated the utility of common ‘real world’ visual cues and practical function of virtual spaces – instead prioritizing pure philosophical and theoretical exploration.  I think it’s possible to achieve a balance between conceptual thinking with the more pragmatic concerns of potential end-users of these spaces – blending form and function into a seamless composition, rather than favoring one over the other.  However, they may have explored this more than I am aware, and since this was their first exposure to Second Life, with only had a single week’s development time, I can hardly fault them for not exploring every possible angle.

I am honored to be a part of this fascinating project as an associate partner as ARCH Virtual, and will be sharing much more of their work as it is made public.  Congratulations and thanks to these 3 students for sharing their work!

This blog has moved!  Please read this post on our new blog location: http://archvirtual.com/?p=3295



20 minute study model in Second Life (video)
February 28, 2011, 1:30 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

As the pendulum swings back into Second Life for some exciting new consulting projects, I’m reminded just how fun it is to build with prims and how much potential virtual environments hold for architectural practice and collaboration.  You can quite literally *feel* the space as it takes shape, understanding and perceiving it  in a way that no other medium affords.  It’s somehow subtle and elegant in the way the virtual design experience retains the serendipity and chance of crude cardboard study modeling yet enables just enough of the precision of a 3D modeling application – but not so rigid and exact as to zap the design flow of its creative energy.

Read the rest of the story on our main site at http://www.archvirtual.com

This site has moved to

www.archvirtual.com



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



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



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