Thursday, October 27, 2005

Waterfront Residence, Ravenglass

While we are on the subject of waterfront builds, I thought it might be interesting to contrast Cottonteil Muromachi's build in Carnforth with Almarea Lumiere's residence in Ravenglass (Ravenglass 97,137), which takes a vastly opposed, but equally well-expressed approach to waterfront living.

Rather than being precariously perched on a tentative structure, the 'L' shaped build is nestled at the bottom of an alcove and decidedly 'grounded' on a set of massive stone piers that have been carefully articulated to express a narrative idea of being quarried out in large blocks and transported to the site. Arising from this foundation is a clear structural frame with wood and glass infill panels, completing a legible hierarchy of massive and light elements that imparts a sense of balance and repose suggestive of a certain lifestyle that is a juxtaposition from the dynamism and instability of Cottonteil's build. This idea is reinforced by the understated entrance to the build, a simple hole in the wall of the tall space at the knuckle of the 'L'.

The care that the builder has taken to create a substantial example of the manner in which architecture is capable of inflecting upon a lifestyle is to some degree irrespective of a broader debate about the purpose of residential builds in general. The furnishings in the build are sparse to the point of questioning how much time the resident might actually be spending there. That said, this build is perhaps the only one that I have seen in my brief travels so far (be it residential, commercial, or otherwise) that is truly enriched by virtue of the fact that it is sited on a body of water, as one enjoys not only the views of it afforded by the interior but also the experience of spelunking around on the outside between the piers and under the floor plate.

In fact, the spaces around this build are as important as those in Cottonteil's build, however rather than acting as an well-defined analogue or 'frame' to the interior, it is the unscripted, unprogrammed potentialities of these spaces that enhance the nature of dwelling in those areas which are intentionally constructed and rationally planned, whatever it may be.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Waterfront Studio, Carnforth

Compelled to act on a tip from Torley Torgeson, the sim of Carnforth contains a thingy of Cottonteil Muromachi's that I do indeed like :)

This waterfront studio (Carnforth 243,206), like many coastal builds, is perched high above a sloping interface between water and landfall. However, unlike the passive 'good life' implied by many of these builds, Muromachi's studio appears to be more motivational in nature - inhabiting the build one cannot help but be engaged in a kind of creative provocation brought about by the tension between cleverly expressed and differentiated architectural elements. This tension begins from the ground up with a pair of brittle structural frames holding up flat slabs that are themselves wrested apart by solid infill walls so as to seemingly force the interior space into existence, with the end result of framing a void between these two enclosed volumes replete with inserted circulation elements that join the two and provide exterior deck space .

This studio was bumped up in the queue of builds to review because it seems to tie in nicely to SL forum posts (and this one in particular) reacting to the discussion of Architecture (available via streaming video) at this year's State of Play Conference. This build appears to be a good example of the way in which the 'reality' of a site condition can not only be addressed but used as a jumping off point from which to bend the rules implied by that condition for a kind of perceptual impact that might not otherwise be possible in RL architecture, without needing to resort to yet another re-interpretation of Gibsonian deck-punching abstractions first envisioned over 20 years ago.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Lo Lo Accessories

The sim of Miramare is described in the SL History Wiki as having a "futuristic theme to it". In this case perhaps it is the lack of heavy, historicist stylings prevalent in the adjacent city sims that is by default being interpreted as 'futuristic.' Unfortunately this term has the potential to come off as somewhat dismissive, suggesting yet another set of formal trappings ala Spacely Space Sprockets.

Lo Lo Accessories in Miramare Plaza (Miramare 27,39 with an identical clone in Janus 144,229) at first glance seems to be one of the definitive builds contributing to this forward-looking moniker, but upon closer inspection moves beyond mere formalism to create a spatial experience that easily shatters any stereotype implied by the term.

This iconic build reinterprets the 'pod on a stick' with the wrapping and stretching of a single modulated surface (accentuated by virtue of being elevated on four legs) to envelope a breezy space within that one feels compelled to enter and explore. In addition to the openness and articulation of the volume, the relatively small, easily digestible size of the build is also an inducement to browse upon the wares. That said, the display of the merchandise itself as a collection of flat planes does not feel as integrated into the concept as it could otherwise be. This circumstance is mitigated somewhat by use of a black color on the interior surface, however in addition to making the merchandise stand out this also makes the wall surface ambiguous and much more difficult to ascertain when compared to the panelized exterior.

There might also be some debate with regard to the siting of this build. It is interesting to note that the wider of the two ends is actually less accessible than the narrow end, and it is this narrow end that was chosen to address the public walkway in the Plaza. The result of this seemingly inverted logic however, is an effective entry condition that (unlike some of the high-heeled footwear featured within) is easy to slip into.