Saturday, September 03, 2005

Welcome to Virtual Suburbia

Hi There. After all this time, I finally find something to write about. You see, without the time and resources to jet around the world reviewing actual architecture, I can now teleport through the user-created world of Second Life. So why do this? For those of you who are unacquainted with Second Life, I thought you might want to see some of the interesting things people are doing. For those of you in Second Life, I thought I might start the discussion of what exactly constitutes architecture appropriate for a virtual world.

Its amazing how much banality permeates Second Life, two cars in the garage, clapboard and frilly curtains everywhere. It would be far to easy to go on an extended jag about this, and many, including mainstream design magazines such as Dwell, already have, suggesting in the August 2005 issue that "avatars seem to resort to cliched design tropes."

Instead, I choose to focus on what I consider to be good examples of space and form, and reflect perhaps on what it means to shelter ourselves in a place where there is no need for shelter.


At 9/17/2005 6:20 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Excellent initiative. Since I came to Second Life I have been pondering this tension between building a replica of RL stuff (playing dolls-houses) and achieving a design style/aesthetic that reflects the differences in this new world. Some obvious examples are adaptation for flying/teleporting, camera angle considerations, the use of phantom materials, the pointlessness of kitchens and bathrooms (except as settings for adult activity). It is VERY interesting to note the design differences between 'residential' buildings - mostly dolls houses, and buildings that really need to work: games stadiums, malls and so on.
I look forward to more blogging from you.

At 9/21/2005 7:06 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I also applaud your new blog and look forward to reading it. The odds of that actually happening, though, would be substantially increased if you had an RSS feed. There are just too many interesting sites on the web for me to try to visit all of them every few days. RSS makes it possible for the new content to come to me, automatically. I hope you can and will join the RSS community.

At 9/21/2005 8:59 PM, Blogger Chip Poutine said...

Hi Pavel,

I totally agree, I'm addicted to RSS feeds. Ours is:

I'm trying to keep the add-ons to a minimum, but I'll set up at feedburner if there is enough interest.

At 11/11/2005 7:34 AM, Blogger Prokofy Neva said...

I'm going to speak in defense of the Victorian dollhouse/clapboard house/picket fence dream, merely because it represents freedom. And I'd invite you not to turn away from this field, thinking it's merely filled with cliches, but be open to discovering actually some very good renditions not only of the cliche, but interesting departures. There are a lot of really good house creators in SL now. What's especially important is that they create liveability -- good camera angles, comfort, spaciousness, light. I'd like you to go in and out of some of these newer large houses and think about what it means to both accommodate the typical SL avatar dream but also do a good job architecturally. I'd also not miss some of the amazing custom jobs that have been done merely because they have cliche kitchens in them or something -- people just like to surround themselves with the familiar.

I think this is a very important and well-done blog. Architecture is so under-appreciated in SL. The question is, given your tilt against what you view as cliches, why call it Virtual *Suburbia*? Why not call it "Fine Architecture" or something to convey that you're mainly interested in the architecturey stuff that solves aesthetic and mathematical and site-relationship problems, rather than the problems of how to live and be in a virtual world? Or are you taking on that task too?

At 11/11/2005 11:45 AM, Blogger Chip Poutine said...

The name arises in one sense as an effort to provoke discussion around some of the criticisms levied against SL architecture, but moreover it is reflective of a personal difficulty to think of architecture purely in terms of space and form without attempting to consider how it impacts upon broader experiential questions of dwelling.


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