The SLENZ Update – No 63, April 2, 2009

A lesson in architecture

‘Bar-raising’ Frenzy on Auckland U sim

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Described by  Jon Brouchoud (SL: Keystone Bouchard), noted blogger on architecture, a freelance virtual architect and founder of Crescendo Design, as set to become a bar-raising effort for demonstrating the benefits of using virtual worlds in architectural education, Auckland University senior tutor, Judy Cockeram’s (SL: JudyArx Scribe) Putahi prototype “Frenzy”  March 30 was definitely something to talk about.

That was despite being a little confusing, sometimes uncomfortable and at times difficult to  find one’s way around.

But  architects, students and others who attended – about 100 in all – described the event  as “extraordinary,”  “inspiring” and “fascinating”.judyarxfrenzy_0091

And the nine Auckland University third-year architecture students who had burned the midnight oil preparing the “Frenzy”, exhibited simultaneously in real life on a large screen, also were “rapt”, according to Cockeram, a senior lecturer in architecture and pictured as JudyArx Scribe at right.

The students had spoken in-world with real life architects, academics and “expert”  Second Life builders/designers, receiving  both advice and feedback.

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Cockeram   had invited her students  from the University of Auckland to explore architectural and urban strategies within the “existing and vibrant” Non-Profit Commons archipelago in Second Life, through building in their living sketchbook , allowing the effectiveness of their “urban intervention”‘ to become immediately evident.

The students, none older in-world than 40-days, let it all hang out  – the good, the bad and ugly -  asking the general SL public  to play with and talk about their ideas.

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Cockeram said, in her invitation to Brouchoud, who attended, “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 proposals 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 because 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 (noted SL architectural writer and academic) and the students of the Living Sketchbook will meet up for an in-world (and i dont know what to call it) debate/crit/party/presentation/ but a sharing of architectural ideas and ideals a couple of days later. 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.”

As she requested  visitors did “come and run, jump and fly through the thoughts of the first group of nine students to venture into the Metaverse from the University of Auckland’s Architecture and Planning School.

“Because they are the first this event will be on the big screen with nine others computers in front of the whole school over the three hours – we would love to have the metaverse wave back to the physical world.”

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After the event Cockeram described it as “absolutely fascinating for a first time. As a teaching event it was extraordinary. The level of student enrichment was far higher than expected and well outside the normal criteria.”

She noted that both academic and architectural students from around the world had visited and discussed the “projects” with the students involved.

Among the lessons learned, Cockeram said, however, was the need to determine how better to interface and present Second Life or virtual worlds  to people in  real life (even with the big screen most watched the students at the keyboards, rather than SL on the screen) to allow more real life interactivity and participation even if one is not in world.

The frenzy is now in the process of being dismantled.

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The SLENZ Update – No 49, March 3, 2009

As real as it gets -

architecturally speaking

Almost since the  inception of  MUVEs such as  Second Life, architects have seen the potential of being able to create exact, real life, fullscale, 3D, building models within virtual reality for such things as architect/designer/client walk throughs, design visualisation and tweaking. No one has been quite able to pull it off properly until now without  onerous in-world ‘building” work rather than the straight importation of an architectural model.

The announcement that it has been done effectively using Realxtend,  a  development of the OpenSim platform, was made by freelance  virtual architect and founder of Crescendo Design, a studio specialising in creating innovative, cost effective architecture and strategies for virtual reality platforms such as Second Life and OpenSIM,  Jon Brouchoud (SL: Keystone Bouchard) in  his blog, The Arch  (http://archsl.wordpress.com/2009/03/02/the-future-is-here-full-scale-architectural-model-from-revit-imported-into-a-virtual-world/ ) .

Brouchard (pictured) described the  importation of a full-scale architectural model from Revit using Visibuild (http://visibuild3d.com/index.html )  into the virtual world – the combined 3-part effect of being able to import contextual structures shared by others and import professionally built CAD or BIM-derived models and model bits and pieces using the familiar in-world building tools -  as a “pretty astonishing new opportunity.”brouchardjon

“Of course there are still kinks to be ironed out, and some parts of the work-flow that would benefit from further optimization, but that’s where Visibuild’s value becomes most apparent,” he said. “They have the capability of streamlining that process for you, and serving as a one-stop service and hosting environment for architects, urban planners, realtors, city governments and anyone else with a vested interest interest in architecture and the built environment.”

“Since most modern architectural software automatically generates 3D models anyway, the gap between your model and a virtual environment is no longer treacherous or time consuming – but relatively simple (or cost effective if you’d rather have someone else import it for you). If you already model in SketchUp, for example – you’re only a few clicks away from enjoying the benefits of experiencing the model virtually and inviting others to experience it with you in realtime. “
The house was furnished with   “model” tables, chairs, sofa, stove,  Jenn-Air appliances, Kohler fixtures and more imported from Google 3D Workshop.

[I’m indebted to SLED Lister and Auckland University senior lecturer in the Faculty of Architecture and Planning Judy Cockeram (SL: JudyArx Scribe) for the headsup. Cockeram is scheduled to launch architecture studies on the university’s  second island sim,  Kapua, adjacent to  Long White Cloud ( http://slurl.com/secondlife/Long%20White%20Cloud/128/128/2 )  just north of the SLENZ project sim of Kowhai, which adjoins the original Nelson-Marlborough Institute of Technology island of Koru (http://slurl.com/secondlife/Koru/150/124/27)]

The SLENZ Update – No 40, January 20, 2009

Birth Centre takes shape

birth1_001The beginning …

The SLENZ project’s “ideal birthing unit” is taking shape quickly with the  basic walls constructed on the  floor plan and already trialed for ease of  avatar use (movement, camera views etc).

The trials were done by  Aaron Griffiths (SL: Isa Goodman), the Lead Developer for the SLENZ Project,  Deborah Davis (Aastra Apfelbaum) of the birthing unit design team and Sarah Stewart (Petal Stransky) (midwifery lead educator).

Griffiths, announcing progress on the build, said, “Consideration has been given to the fact that many of the users will be new to the SL environment. Therefore the overall plans have been scaled up to accommodate this in terms of  ‘room to move around’.

“Doorways have been made wider than they would be normally and the ceiling height extended for the same reason,” he said. “The central corridor, which contacts almost all the rooms has been given semi-transparent walls to allow users to view their surroundings and better orientate themselves, especially on occasions their camera crosses a wall boundary (the “my camera is here but where’s my  avatar” syndrome).

The build is taking place on Kowhai [the sim situated next to Koru(http://slurl.com/secondlife/Koru/156/122/27) ] which has been dedicated to the SLENZ project for both the midwifery and the foundation studies units

Believing the basic layout is now satisfactory the team has started  to “flesh out” the the detailed physical aspects of the build; cupboarding, mantels, furnishings, shelving etc., and the relationship of each object to the design in terms of its assistance of the  birthing process.

birthx_001Progress…

It’s not Google but …

What is claimed to be an unique virtual world search engine has  been developed by a team at the University of Teesside, UK. (http://www.tees.ac.uk/sections/news/pressreleases_story.cfm?story_id=2903&this_issue_title=January%202009&this_issue=188)

Although not yet live Meta-Mole.com (http://www.meta-mole.com/Default.aspx), the Meta-Mole, created by the Centre for Design in the Digital Economy (D-LAB) based within the University’s Institute of Digital Innovation, will ultimately be a dedicated searchable online resource for the 350 plus virtual worlds currently existing on the Internet.mole

‘We were analysing virtual world platforms and realised that there doesn’t appear to be a comprehensive service offering to list and compare key data for major 2D and 3D environments,” Philip McClenaghan, deputy director of D-LAB said. “This surprised us considering the current popularity of virtual worlds. We intend to fill the gap with the Meta-Mole.”

The Meta-Mole has been designed to help both new and experienced users looking for virtual world environments as well as platform developers who want to gauge competition through providing a searchable directory of available platforms, “easily definable according to the need of the user”, according to Dan Riley, a Metaverse Architect at D-LAB. All data contained within the Meta-Mole will be  provided by the platform developers themselves along with official images and videos. The Meta-Mole allows for the sharing and comparing of information and provides access to the latest core, technical and specialist features on current virtual worlds, as well as those in development.

The Meta-Mole will initially be released as a Beta version focusing on 3D virtual world platforms. Forterra, Blink 3D and Twinity are among those who have already uploaded their details.

Watch out for

Watch out for  Virtual World developments at the Uni of Auckland’s, Architecture and Planning School.  Judy Cockeram (JudyArx Scribe), a senior design tutor at the school,  is doing the ground work for a proposed  100-student  virtual world course in and about Architectural Media.

Recipe for success?

forterra-whitepaper

To prepare for the coming hard times in the real world  its worth reading a white paper authored by Chris Badger,VP Marketing, Forterra Systems Inc, entitled “Recipe for Success with Enterprise Virtual Worlds.” http://www.forterrainc.com/images/stories/pdf/recipe_for_success_10509.pdf

He notes that with the slashing of budgets for travel and gabfests, virtual world applications are significantly cheaper than video conferencing, telepresence, and travel, yet represent a more engaging and enjoyable learning medium than Web or audio conferencing and most Web-based learning content.

The study is based on a Masie Center Learning Consortium’s (a think-tank focused on enterprise learning and knowledge)  exploration of   learning use cases in a virtual world through the use of  a virtual world sandbox provided by Forterra and using  Forterra’s On-Line Interactive Virtual Environment(OLIVETM) software platform.

The balance of the white paper describes the use cases for Accenture and ACS Learning Services, the results of their efforts, the lessons learned, and the “recipe for success” going forward for new organisations considering how to convert their interest in virtual worlds to tangible field pilot programs that deliver business results.

Useful links

Links to transcripts of the weekly meeting of the SL Education Roundtable as well as transcripts of the annual EDUCAUSE Virtual Worlds sessions. All transcripts open in a new tab or window. http://homepage.mac.com/jessid/slroundtable/

Good free skins, shapes, hair, clothes etc for the newbies amongst us -

The Free Dove: http://slurl.com/secondlife/Gallii/113/54/33

The Changing Room for Women-Ladies at Noob Island: http://slurl.com/secondlife/NOOBISLAND/245/13/22

FREEBIES STORE of Free Union: http://slurl.com/secondlife/Thinktank/33/23/24

Free clothes etc – men and women in cubes: http://slurl.com/secondlife/Richmond/42/142/23

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