Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Your Dream Cubicle

Second Life resident Nathan Babcock has created some stunning residential prefabs and furniture. One look at his Flickr photostream and you'll quickly get a sense of his talent.

Nathan's work is interesting not merely for its clean modern lines but also for the questions that it raises, as embodied in the 'OFX Series Cubicle.'

Flickr user Frans Martins picks up on this with the following comment:

Love the design. Very architectural minimalistic. But, cubicles!! I would love small sandboxes and pleasant social enviroments. I am also learning and making buildings and furniture. SOmetimes we are so condition from the rl space, we miss the virtual posibilities and the SL rules.

Instead of buildings... you can have floating space, maybe circular with plants around... bridged @ a distance with the other work areas or social meeting points... all to reduce lag, offer better prim performance and reduced chat noise. Now the design of the space could be defaulted to some prefab design, but should be customizable.

As one would aspire to simulate a real office, these pieces are exquisite, but like Frans it leads me to wonder (while Linden Lab thanks me for my continued patience as today's outage has extended beyond its anticipated timeframe) how the residents of Second Life actually work. While there are some who do remain within the confines of their club or store, my guess is not chained to a desk.

It might be a good question to ask the folks at Wired Magazine, who at the time of my last visit had followed a fairly traditional office model but themed the whole place to look like a giant circuit board. It makes a statement about who they are as an organization, even when nobody's around.

Just as an empty house communicates the personality and preferences of the absent avatar, perhaps a virtual cubicle might also symbolically communicate one's rigor and professionalism to visitors of his or her virtual workplace. The difference, perhaps, might be that most of us look forward to returning to our houses or at least the idea of having a place to come home to (if you're not completely of the householding / roleplaying persuasion) while a comparative few would pine for their dream cubicle, no matter how nice it is.

Unless you happen to be the boss, and the thought of watching your employees supplicate puts a smile on your face. Actually, I'm sure there are plenty of people with plenty of good reasons to purchase the OFX Series Cubicle, which is but one small part of a significant portfolio of cool stuff.

Keep up the good work Nathan, as soon as they let us all log back in.

Friday, January 12, 2007

House and Foundations

Since our popular Little House on the Sandbox post from last August, residential designer Keystone Bouchard has gone on to great things. Namely, he loaded up the truck and moved to Beverley the Bay Area to join metaverse developer Clear Ink, where he has completed such projects as Autodesk Island and most recently the United States House of Representatives in Second Life at which events were held during the swearing in of new House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

On his blog 'The Arch', Keystone shares his insights into the design and construction of this landmark, including the discussion of whether to faithfully recreate the existing space or to adapt it as he does successfully to both the pragmatic function of Second Life's avatar and camera controls as well as the symbolic notion of 'opening up' the building in a gesture to increased transparency and accessibility as facilitated by the democratic process.

In an earlier post Keystone also provides a summary of the event he and I hosted last month for both new and seasoned builders. Dubbed 'SL Foundations,' the objective of the event was to share tips, techniques and resources through discussion and demonstrations, placing emphasis on the practical aspects of 'how to build' over the theoretical aspects of 'why to build'. Two of the goals coming out of this event were to: 1) have more events like it and 2) launch a wiki to capture and centralize all of the good stuff coming out of the session.

While the second event has not yet been planned, the wiki has been launched, and I invite you to head over, check it out and feel free to contribute. Does the world need another wiki? Some would say not, but, unlike most wikis is at the very least easy on the eyes, and quite fun to use.

Thursday, January 11, 2007


....Because J-Wu already named his post archinect'ed, ok? Seriously, though, when a link comes in from Archinect it means a lot, being one of my favorite sites for news, projects, and a great discussion forum, free of construction industry cruft and precipitous product pimpage (unlike these guys, who also happened to post about SL this week with a well-deserved introduction to the work of Tab Scott).

In Architecture's Second Life the reader is presented with an in depth analysis of the topic, including a brilliant interview with Tor Lindstrand, a.k.a. Kapital Metropolitan, with whom I've also had the pleasure of meeting last year when covering the final crits for LOL Architect's 2006 studio with a review of Vava Vavoom's 'Little Sweden' project.

Of course the article introduces the well worn debate of design conservatism in a virtual world where anything is possible (ignoring things like prim budgets, flicker, and z-fighting presumably), however Tor steers clear of any assertions that his work or theories represent any sort of polemic against the status quo rather suggesting that we take a much broader perspective, beyond even the distinction that is often made between the real and virtual, where spatial experience is of primary importance.

Some of his students may be thinking otherwise, however. Raplaa Lazarno's '3D Graffiti' project daringly explores the line between architecture and griefer build as he rumbles with castles, log cabins, and the infamous low prim beach house.

Thanks for stopping by, Archinect readers. Feel free to peruse the archives and join the conversation as we continue to explore the architecture of Second Life.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Now with More Press

Perhaps one of these days we'll get around to posting another actual architectural review, but in the meantime here's another press clipping ;)

This time, it is courtesy of the National Post, a Canadian national newspaper, who did a little feature (free sign-up required to read the entire thing, regrettably) on entrepreneurship in Second Life, mentioning the Prion Design Group and our ongoing efforts for the Capozzi Winery, including a brief interview with Josh Hermsmeyer, the owner of the RL winery and the Capozzi Winery Island in SL.

A good foundational article with a lot of stuff that will be familiar to those who track SL's development on a regular basis, however it chose to focus on my speculation vis a vis the value that architects could add to the virtual real estate market, when during our conversation this was included in the context of a larger discussion that included custom design services and product sales.