With the world working remotely and relying on zoom, slack, and other video and screen sharing applications, the world of architectural design and education that largely exist within the virtual realm already have not taken advantage of the full range of virtual tools for making and meeting.
Games have come a long way in the past five years and many sandbox games (that allow for user generated content) now offer multiplayer and collaboration modes. The studio last fall was hosted entirely within one of a number of virtual worlds within the Core platform, and as such the requirements of the projects were based on the virtual environment of Core not our physical world.
At the same time, we used the virtual world to better study and convene with our physical world. Our worldbuilding process included narrative development (experienced as storylines in our gameplay), environmental design, and architectural construction. We drew on stories from indigenous peoples like the Hopi, the Inuit, and the Aboriginal to define the organization of positive form and negative space, through terrain modification, celestial manipulation, and scalar shifting.
Our goal? Creating modern day mythologies, experiences through architectural form, in virtual realms.
Using the content library available to us in Core, we performed a series of additive and subtractive operations to develop our architectural product. Beyond simply kit-bashing together elements, students pushed the functional limits of the Core platform, scaling, stretching, and retexturing library objects so that they worked within the constraints of the studio.
Finally, students began to gamify the experience within their world according to the creation story / design narrative they developed throughout the studio.
The project was received well by a distinguished panel at the final review including Max Underwood (ASU), James P Gee, Michael Benedikt (UT), Marc Neveu (ASU), Gerard Smulevich (Woodbury), M. Casey Rehm (SCI-Arc), Dixon Dubrow (Manticore Games), Ryan Scavnicky, Ilaria Mazzoleni, Maja Manojlovic (UCLA), Jason Heath, Ryan Manning, and others.
The primary critique of the studio was the lack of a clear direction in many of the projects to pursue either a serious architectural intervention or a truly virtual or synthetic world. Many projects allowed for such game mechanics as unlimited jumps while still holding onto the architectural norm of using stairs and ramps for vertical circulation. The scale the worlds were conceived at prohibited any real investigation into detail yet the speed with which the characters moved made the relative scale impossible to understand.
Michael will be offering a follow up to this studio in the spring at SCI-Arc through which he and Nels hope to tackle these and other critiques. Primary among the changes to the studio brief is the decision that all students will first work out their designs before going into Core. Additionally, when in Core the students will be contributing to a single experience forcing them to relate to the context of the studio and supporting collaboration between peers.