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.

Advertisements


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



Architectural Simulation, Virtual Architecture and Design Collaboration – it’s all on our new website. Check it out!

City planning 3D walkthrough model

Check out our new site here!  http://www.archvirtual.com

It’s been a while since our last post, but we’ve been hard at work on some new projects we hope to publish soon!  In the meantime, check out our newly renovated website: http://www.archvirtual.com   We’ve made some exciting progress in technologies and methods for bringing architectural and city models into virtual environments, along with interactive features to augment and enhance those models.  We will be posting more about these projects and services soon, so stay tuned!

Here are some pieces from the new website front page:

Architectural Simulation: Import buildings and entire cities into online 3D environments that can be accessed from a browser or embedded directly into your own website.  We use cutting edge game development technology that enables you, your clients, project stakeholders or community members to explore, interact and collaborate within immersive 3D environments that are easily accessible.

Virtual Architecture:  Use virtual environments for long-distance collaboration, education, training, simulation and more.  We create virtual spaces that help organizations achieve greater effectiveness and efficiency for a variety of use cases.  Contact us to learn more about how your organization can make use of virtual environments.

Design Collaboration: Nobody knows how your new building should function and perform better than you.  Being able to witness and participate in the design evolution through interactive workshops, puts you, the end-users of your building, and other project stakeholders in the driver’s seat of the design process.  Instead of waiting weeks to see the results of design changes, see them take shape immediately.  Contact Arch Virtual today to learn more about how we use virtual environments to offer a whole new approach to building design.

Check out our new site here!  http://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



Barack Obama’s ‘Kansas to Cairo’ vision being realized in Second Life

Cross-posted from the ARCH Network main site!

During President Obama’s historic speech at Cairo University in Egypt last June, he describe a vision to, “invest in online learning for teachers and children around the world; and create a new online network, so a young person in Kansas can communicate instantly with a young person in Cairo.”

If you’ve spent any time in a virtual world at all, you know that the ‘online network’ Obama described doesn’t need to be created, it already exists.  Students don’t merely use it to ‘communicate,’ as they would in a phone call or web conference, they are able to discover new cultures, make new friends, learn, and collaborate on a very deep level inside of an immersive environment where geography is completely irrelevant.

Visionaries like Dr. Amr Attia from Cairo’s Ain Shams University and California-based architect David Denton, have volunteered countless hours to organize this project, with modest support pledged from the United States Department of State to realize Obama’s ‘Kansas to Cairo’ vision – a project they first discussed at a panel hosted by the State Department last June (read more about this architectural panel held in Second Life on america.govor watch video coverage here).

Using Second Life, architecture students in Egypt and the U.S. are working together side by side, collaborating on design concepts inside the realtime, 3D, virtual world – even though they are physically located on opposite sides of the planet.  In the screenshot below, I am interviewing some of the students from Cairo, who proudly opened a variety of 3D models they had been working on, one after another, right before my eyes.  As we walked together through their design ideas, I realized that this moment was Saturday for me, Sunday for them, and we were 6,200 miles apart – yet sharing the same space, at the same time.  I felt sure that I was witnessing a phenomenon with world changing potential, and the students certainly agree.

One of the Egyptian architecture students, Mohammed Ahmed Alfiky, had this to say about it:

“This Second Life project is helping me make direct contact with other students of a different culture, a different architectural school and different way of thinking.  It will inspire me to make more effective designs, and critique my work from a different point of view.”

The U.S. Department of State has offered funding to bring several of the Egyptian students to the U.S. – a prospect that obviously has the students very excited.

During several visits to their space in Second Life, I have had the good fortune of talking with some incredibly bright and enthusiastic students from both Egypt and the U.S.   It is difficult to describe just how excited they are about this project – so I’ll borrow quotes directly from them so they can say it in their own words:

“Imagine all of this put together …. collaboration and group work on an international scale, dealing with a whole different culture , language and view of life.  Over and above getting to master the use of the virtual world as a tool to make your fantasies become a reality… I think this is what the Kansas to Cairo project offers us new ideas, new tools, and a better percetion of life and of future work in architecure and urban planning.” – Hebatullah Aly Ghali

“After working with 3DS Max for 5yrs , I found Second Life to be an easy new tool for architecture visualization, where I can represent myself, my work, my culture and my country.  In education, it helps anybody learn –  anytime, anywhere.  In general, Second Life is drawing a new future for exchanging, learning, collaborating, working and connecting people of all ages.”   – Sayed Abdul Mohsen

“I think Second Life is a great public participation tool as it is easy that anyone can use it .” -Amr Mohamed Abdelaal

“I think that Second Life is a platform for collaboration that breaks down cultural barriers and designing in it is a constructive path to narrow the division between eastern and western societies.” – Salma Muhammad.

Where other architectural educators await a safety net of case studies before they begin exploring virtual worlds in architectural education, here we can see pioneers at work in this space – demonstrating that there really is nothing to wait for.

As we witness a project that has achieved President Obama’s vision verbatim, it seems clear to me that this project deserves every bit of the same support and attention given to the multitude of other million-dollar programs described in similar speeches – yet the support has been relatively minimal thus far, amounting to travel stipends for a few students.  When I interviewed architect David Denton about the project, he expressed similar concerns.

“I’m enormously appreciative of the support that has been pledged, but I feel very strongly that this is a program that is of tremendous benefit, and that more resources should be made available to create an expanded ongoing program that would include many universities, in both the United States and in other countries around the world.”

I agree, and I can’t imagine why a project with so much potential wouldn’t be able to secure greater support.  David adds,

“I’m hoping to drum up support to get that funding increased.  Surely the Obama administration can find a way to be more supportive financially with the project that was announced in a major international speech in Cairo by the President.”

With no other visible projects on the table to carry Obama’s promise forward, I’m hopeful that they will be able to find the support they need to successfully complete this project, and send a message that this wasn’t an empty promise.  Even though this project has only just begun, it is easy to tell that it is already changing the lives and opening doors for many of the students involved with the project.  Virtual worlds offer a tremendous opportunity for cross-cultural, international collaboration between schools of architecture, and this program is definitely worth far greater support than it has achieved so far.

Obama concluded his famous Cairo speech with this thought that I think is particularly relevant here.

“I want to particularly say, to young people of every faith and every country: YOU of all people have the ability to re-imagine the world; to remake this world”.

Visit their virtual studio in Second Life sometime, and see a group of passionate students doing just that.

Cross-posted from the ARCH Network main site!



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.



Invite to the Living Sketchbook: Architecture Students Working on an Urban Intervention for Non Profit Commons

patuhi

Don’t miss this!  It is TONIGHT, Monday March 30th between 5pm and 8pm SLT.  This project is sure to become a bar-raising effort for demonstrating the benefits of using virtual worlds in architectural education.  I’m aware of at least 14 architecture schools from around the world that have actively engaged in virtual worlds, some top secret, some semi-public (usually only made public quietly, and only after the students are gone).  So, what I find especially refreshing about the approach this group is taking is that not only are they designing out in the open, but they are actively seeking participation from the general public to participate and engage in their work.

Further still, I think it is brilliant to invite students to explore architectural and urban strategies with the existing and vibrant Non-Profit Commons archipelago in Second Life, leaving the effectiveness of their ‘urban intervention’ to be immediately evident as the end-users of these buildings will begin actively using these spaces when the project is finished.  Here’s the notice, from Professor Judy Cockeram:

If on Monday March 30th between 5pm and 8pm SLT you are in-world it would be great to have you come and see what we are up to – the students from the University of Auckland in New Zealand are building in their living sketchbook. They will be in a building prototype frenzy and looking to have people play and talk about their ideas.

As an Architect in SL you have a unique perspective on the role of the crit in our education. In SL a traditional crit makes very little sense so we are trailing a different way of engaging in the process of exchanging and debating the ideas and fit of propals and projects. The students are working on a project for the Non Profit Commons, a group who host a large number of RL Charities – the issues are most like those of a small town needing an urban intervention. But importantly becasue this is SL the students are still in a building phase so they can hear and take on ideas to improve their project before they have to walk their peers though. We hope the students of Tab Scott and the students of the Living Sketchbook will meetup for an inworld (and i dont know what to call it) debate/crit/party/presentation/  but a sharing of architectual ideas and ideals a couple of days latter. we need your help to invent a format that stands the test of the Architect’s and Academic’s stare. As someone who has helped set those standards  we want you to come and talk and push ideas and continue the climb to a an even more extraordinary world and second life

Please come and run jump and fly through the thoughts of the first group of 9 students to venture into the Metaverse from the Architecture and Planning School. Because they are the first this event will be on the big screen with nine others computers infront of the whole school  over the three hours- we would love to have the metaverse wave back to the physical world.

http://slurl.com/secondlife/Putahi/101/234/21