Archive for the 'architecture' Category

reblogged: On Building the Unreal, a Memory

2007.08.10 (Friday, August 10)

My grandparents, the tired, the poor and the hungry of an Old, imploding Europe, immigrated to America between the 1880’s and the early 1920’s. Arriving on its shores with little more than the clothes on their backs and the energy of getting to work to re-build their lives, crafts and tradesmen, they literally started constructed the inner cities, then the suburbs, of their adopted country’s eastern seaboard.

What? & How? to build to build & organize the young cities and unbuilt territories of America, was based on their mental images, those of the land they left behind. An instinctive memory of the thousands of years of culture and architecture constructed by their ancestors’, a ghost-image that somehow they felt capable of reproducing, that would permit them to thrive in their new home. [continue>Metaverse Territories]

reblogged: When Actual Materiality Surpasses Even Real Virtuality

2007.08.06 (Monday, August 6)

HypoSurface is a disruptive material technology. It’s been plenty blogged in the last week, so I won’t bother repeating what’s already been said, especially concerning How? and Why? this works. Anyway, what draws my attention, in reference to this blog, is when I see a real technology approaching, even surpassing, what can be done when creating space using immaterials.

[continue reading@ Metaverse Territories]

NMC Arts[Photo taken from the excellent inworld Second Life art installation, NMConnect on the NMC campus]

Read the rest of this entry »

Rezzing Procedural Space

2006.07.27 (Thursday, July 27)

Smart Geometry is a work-group promoting research in advanced 3D CAD applications. Of particular interest is GenerativeComponents from Bentley Systems, which describes a “parametric and associative” system for the development of design projects. Wow. A GenerativeComponents application describes a 3-D dataset (a fancy name for a bunch of objects) by not only its geometry, but also by the “abstract relationships,” the many decisions, large and small, that make-up this particular design. Representing the logical structure of a build, and not just its explicit geometry, is an attempt to describe and explain the builder’s intentions –the how, what and why of its spatial composition.

But what does this have to do with SL?

In Second Life (SL), spatial complexity emerges from the deliberate accumulation and modification of geometric primitives based on an idea or ideas about space. Although there are countless ways to proceed so as to realize a specific building, it is always the result of specific decisions unfolding over a linear or non-linear period of time; this can be thought of as a kind-of recipe. For example, a build (ABC) has three objects (a, b & c) that followed the recipe (a-> b-> c) for its fabrication, the order in which the objects were composed. Using the same three objects (a, b & c), but this time following the recipe (c-> b-> a), we now have constructed a build (CBA). While the two builds might have common attributes (quantities, size, scale, colors, distances etc…), the overall quality of space differs.


GenerativeComponents, taking this into account, integrates the designer’s intentions to the composition of the scene until it becomes both the build AND the tool, the concept and its fabrication. In fact, makes the idea and the object reversible.

Users of 3-D modellers or CAD software work graphically, applying intuition and experience to establish a specific workflow. It is this workflow –the commands, decisions and modifications of objects, that is captured and encoded by a GenerativeComponents program. A recipe is created from this mix of geometry with the decisions that transform it. The proceedure is captured, analyzed and made reusable as the logic, memory, process, context and content of the project.

The idea of an object is reinvented, geometry is fused with the seeds of its generation.
Experimentation, through the development of evolving design scenarios, can proceed without having to manually re-build a detail design model for each alternative.
And finally, since the interface of GenerativeComponents applications is a mixture of graphic manipulation and a dataflow scripting interface, there is a natural convergence of the two generative models. Builds employing SL as a media rely on LSL, the Linden Scripting Language, to complete the deployment of complex space, thus a platform permitting their coming together is a welcome advancement of the buliding/programming environment.

Metaverse Architecture : Intentions

2006.07.18 (Tuesday, July 18)

The blog Metaverse Architecture is where I try to show different builds throughout Second Life (SL) that serve as examples for me to generate, structure and clarify my own thoughts on : a) what it means to have an architectural idea in the metaverse; and, b) how architectural space can be fabricated from (im)materials.

I think that SL is the perfect platform to achieve this. The world’s content is user generated and people take what they do here pretty seriously. Even though most content is built by non –architects, artists, graphist, new-media artists, sculptors, animators etc… there is a substantial and engaged community of people educated and experienced at building; the synergy and interaction between trained-artists-builders and user-builders is fascinating (and merits further study in and of itself). Also, there is a sufficient density and variety of SL built environments to stay busy with this project.

I know from experience that the time, effort and perseverance necessary to build something meaningful is enormous. My intention is not to be critical of the builds, but rather to use them to critically to construct and inspire my proper ideas through their example.

The first project I use is the Hipcast conference and exposition center located on the Shalida sim [direct SL link, or SLurl]. My main goal for this first post is to learn how to show something from Second Life, to someone else in real life (RL). And as I recently found out, this is no small feat. So anyway, I’ll proceed slowly and methodically, and probably come back and do some up-dates until I’m happy with it …

Building in a Metaverse: Manifest, pt.2

2006.07.17 (Monday, July 17)

A theoretical, critical and practical foundation for building in SL :

2/ External references (as opposed to the inWorld references as explained in pt.1) will be culled from relevant examples of the spaces, atmospheres and materials developed for the built environment by other cultures who are (or were) in the throes of understanding their proper orientation in space, time and substance, in relation to their capacity to meaningfully qualify, quantify and represent this information. Paramount is the relationship between technological adequation, spatial invention and material expression.

Building in a Metaverse: Manifest, pt.1

2006.07.17 (Monday, July 17)

A theoretical, critical and practical foundation for building in SL :

1/ In-world architecture will evolve from a referential system based on the local and global physical qualities of the world… its forces.

  • The local qualities can be understood as the build’s context –the geological, topological, textural and proximate characteristics that directly influence the planning and building process, and;
  • the global qualities, the environmental, consensual and infrastructural elements, are defined by the world’s ubiquitous computational engines. These qualities determine the world’s ontological structure, and are equally shared by all builds.

This world, in the case of Second Life (SL), is produced by simultaneous calculations of multiple but simple physical algorithms that determine its physical, atmospheric and qualitative-material states. These states, in order to be operational, must be represented, and will necessitate the development of tools that are both sensitive to these forces and capable of producing analytical models of them.

Building in SL, the Polemic

2006.07.14 (Friday, July 14)

There are relatively few builds in SL that “succeed” (in my mind anyway) that aren’t plausible in RL. [Comment by Eloise Pasteur]

…to which I respond –>

I believe the exact opposite: For a build to “succeed” in SL, it is necessarily impossible for it to be plausible in RL.

By asserting a radically opposing view, I was, among other things, using this stance to frame a polemic that calls into question what I perceive to be widely accepted approach to the conception and creation of SL’s built environment through direct real life (RL) reference.

Creating complex spaces in SL by simply establishing a reference between a SL object and a RL semantic code, obfuscates the unique physical, social and (im)material qualities of a 3-dimensional immersive metaverse.
An example of building by semantic reference is using a texture that mimics a brick or stone wall set between wood cross-beams to imply a house from Normandy (or a castle, a chic boutique, a baseball park, a shopping mall, whatever…) By pasting the image of a Norman constructive system to a specific form, size, shape, and proportion, we project a cognitive image of a functional intention… my home, for example. While this may, in fact, say something about the builder’s idea concerning the meaning of a home, it pre-supposes that home in SL is in fact, analogous to home in RL, and that my understanding of the sign, home, is the same as the builder’s. If not, its usage will not be consistent, the message not passed. What I’m advocating is that the meaning of the build, its usage and contextual significance, is induced from formal, atmospheric and socially driven experience with the space, rather than from a semantically referential one.

While reference to RL architecture might work for some people, it begs the question for others : Architecture has always first and foremost offered shelter and security to its human inhabitants by partitioning the exterior, aggressive world by the creation of a safe, interior one, is and always has been, a medium for decoding the world around us. Through its basic, primeval role of defining the world between that which is secure or dangerous, human scale or vast, under control or savage, architecture has been a materialization of the passage from one state to the other, a device from which we could measure the world around us and a filter from which we could safely observe that which lies outside of its material capacity to enclose. Most importantly, this was accomplished using space as its substance. Architecture has always expressed as much about the life of its inhabitants, their ways of life –the interior of the edifice, as it has about their relationship to the world outside those walls –the exterior.

Using semantic references to RL to build in SL does not, by its very essence, allow us to express anything about SL, thus help decode it. What needs to be expressed using the materials at hand, the materials that we invent from being in-world, are its unique physiques, its ability to create community and communication, the forces and the physics of the SL computation engines.

Using a semantic system of historical or RL reference also forces a misreading of the very idea of those references. In the example of the Norman house, the building techniques that were being expressed by the organization of brick and wood cross beams, the unique social and economic situations that inspired the creative or utilitarian forces of a Norman house, its society, culture and the individuals that fabricated it, are perverted. We end up just building more suburbs, with their MacMansions. In short, the idea of context, that which precedes an edifice, is non-existent in this semantic, post-post-modern formula.

While it certainly is possible to use reference systems to convey certain layers of information in SL, I want to exploit a more powerful paradigm of expression in 3-D environments –Space, and, more specifically, the forces, materials and forms that express the location, proportion and usages of complex objects.
Read the rest of this entry »

Structure, symbolism & composition

2006.07.12 (Wednesday, July 12)

we (in general terms) seem happier if there’s something we can believe keeps it up. [Comment thanks to Eloise Pasteur]

We need to believe that the roof won’t fall in on our heads (both realistically and symbolically) in order to have a stress free, spatial experience. Humans have become psycho-spatially cabled this way through their collective, evolved experiences with material, physics, cities and structures over the past 10.000 years. But this is more complicated than simply putting a column under a slab to create the illusion or symbol that signals “this roof won’t fall in.” Our psycho-spatial receptors have come to accept something as stable (safe, secure) based on compositional relationships that are dependent on weight, equilibrium and relative position, more so than unsubstantiated symbolism. Thus, spatial expression in SL, from this perspective, is constructed from the precise proportion, static equilibrium (or lack of it), weight and orientation of objects, more so than symbolic or historical reference.
Melnikov, Parking Garage, Paris
By basing complex spatial environments on RL constructive techniques, linking them through whimsical inference, spaces whose usages, physics and material properties could not be any more antonymic to builds in SL , is inconsistent and counter-productive.

Metaverse Lessons

2006.07.12 (Wednesday, July 12)

In SL things change, move, rotate all the time. Even most shops that have been there for a while tend to evolve and change over time… my dream home is probably not yours. [comment thanks to Eloise Pasteur from the SLED list]

The built environment, whether in real life (RL) or in Second Life (SL), has a context. Cities, suburbs, geography, nature, even atmosphere are the substance of this context. For an architectural project, in this case, one whose intention is primarily pedagogic, the student comes to understand this context through analysis, so as to intelligently decide whether to :

1/ directly respond to this context by incorporating it into the process of creating new space… ie. form and space “emerge” from the textures, forces and the built surroundings of the build. They can be thought of as a continuation or an act of putting the site in “tension” through the newly built spaces. The great Frank Lloyd Wright could be thought of as working kind of like this (to use an obvious reference) ; or,

2/ conceive the spaces independently of this context, and then haphazardly, algorithmically, voluntarily or slyly “juxtapose” the two. In this case, the engagement of the project is to be found in the articulation between usages, the form and the context. A good, contemporary RL example of this can be found in the work of Zaha Hadid (amongst many others).

Of course, an architectural project is never simply defined by choosing (a) or (b), but rather is a complex melange of the 2 approaches. Read the rest of this entry »

Metaverse Architecture

2006.07.11 (Tuesday, July 11)

Studio, in a school of architecture, is a course where students develop architectural projects according to specific conditions : a location, a usage, and a MacGuffin. The MacGuffin, in this case, is the theoretical framework that orients the exercise by identifying, expressing and teaching the desired critical lessons concerning the how’s and the why’s of “making architecture.” The studio that I lead concentrates on the invention of intelligent spaces that are respective of an expressive media (both digital and material), a local and global context and the materials and constructive techniques (technologies) that the project’s forms engage. And the MacGuffin, which is the device with which these other aspects are taught. Beginning in the fall semester 2006, I plan to bring +/- 25 students from my studio into Second Life (SL) to participate in making architecture simultaneously in the real, material world and in a virtual one.


The main ideas behind this studio, and the reasons for it taking place in real life (RL) and SL are to :

  1. explore the thesis that SL (as well as other metaverse type 3-D environments) has the potential to develop singular, expressive spatial media;
  2. optimize and focus intended goals of the studio course by radicalizing its pedagogic content;
  3. innovate upon the formal, material and perceptive information conveyed by space (in both SL and RL) through precise exercises that concern the invention of architectural space.

A rough sketch of the planning organizes the semester into 3 parts… Read the rest of this entry »