[-empyre-] architecture, place and 'urbanised' space


I have been giving some thought to architecture, place(making) and 'urbanised' space or design - my caveat is that it's only thought, not research. my current studies are in urban design and planning - when i try to introduce discussions about second life into my tutorials, there is a dismissive 'it's not real - it doesn't matter' reaction. that's a very interesting reaction because it denies any awareness or potential of mixed or augmented realities ... that these multiple worlds do inform each other. I've had a few skipping thoughts and here are some fragments.

"What will it feel like to live in a city, where houses court each other in springtime?"
(I don't know who said this but it's beautiful)

Urbanism & Design

It's apparent, when I look at Second Life (my next caveat is that I have never visited SL, just looked at documentation on youtube and heard stories), that the space is being urbanised in similar ways to first life eg elite developments on waterfronts, the same patterns of roadways and grids reappear, perhaps even the emergence of cbds (or concentrations of business/residential activity) and there is an apparent conflict of property use in some instances.

why do 'structures' or 'constructions' in SL have steps when everyone can fly? do the steps provide choice or are they are a design element or something else? perhaps some of john rajchman's ideas are useful to revisit - folding, lightness, ground, abstraction and future cities.


Flusser wrote a marvellous essay about walls and he writes about 'living between walls' as part of the human condition - "walls are the borders of a stage on which the tragedy of the human striving for beauty is enacted".

Vera Buhlmann says "Virtual houses are houses that are becoming, transforming, and through that: individualising ...
Virtual houses, if they will ever come to be, will be some sort of house-beings."

Some architects have expressed concern about the quality of housing design in SL. Here's some thoughts about this from the Second Life School of Architecture:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v2MOzpc6L-Y&mode=related&search= (part 1)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ts7fXh5cPo4 (part 2)

In first life, about 85% of housing is not designed by architects.

Another short video about architects in Second Life (showing houses that seem to be designed for first life)

"For all the grand dreams of what life could be in Second Life (SL), this metaverse, as it's called, is decidedly more geared towards the exploration of post-silicon body modifications than the possibilities of spatial experience free of gravity, budget, and all those persnickety details. When it comes down to it, from an architectural perspective, Second Life just sort of replicates suburbia. In a universe built from free and easily manipulated virtual building units, there is a surprising lack of interesting work going on. Evidence, perhaps, that spatial banality is not just a symptom of something larger, but an affliction in and of itself ... With the combination of jump-cut transportation and avatars which are overwhelmingly more interesting than the architecture, Second Life presents the ultimate indictment of public space: why shape places when it's all about the people, anyway?"
From: http://www.archinect.com/features/article.php?id=47037_0_23_0_M


As with first life, moving through spaces (in various speeds) should produce a particular awareness of space/s. For some time now, a trend in Western cities has been about speeding up some parts eg transport/commuting/roads while slowing down others ie pedestrianisation. I've never seen a vehicle in any Second Life documentation so I presume they don't exist.

I am thinking that when it comes to an idea of the city or an urbanised environment, virtual as it is, Second Life is producing an awareness and experience of the Teleport City.


It reminds me of The Hypnerotomachia Poliphili by Francesco Colonna, produced in the 15th century. The title translates as The Strife of Love in a Dream. For those who don't know, it is one of the first printed books (by Aldus) to experiment with design and include images.

The story takes place in a dream state and, while ostensibly a romance, is also regarded as a treatise on architecture with several descriptions of various kinds of structures including a temple, a pyramid, a triumphal arch, a hippodrome, a propylaeum, a palaestra, two colossi, a gigantic building in the form of an elephant with an obelisk on its back, a bathhouse, a palace, a two circular-plan temples, some ruins, and an amphitheater ...

The buildings are described in excruciating detail and scholars have tried to reconstruct some of them but they have proven to be impossible. Perhaps these impossible architectures can now be constructed in Second Life.

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