The Fortbuilding Initiative

RotoLab originally conceived of Affinity Space as an enchanted space where people of all ages could come together and learn through play. The name Affinity Space is a direct application of the work of Dr. James P Gee on the topic.


Our conception of Affinity Space was first and foremost a place. A network of physical locations in support of STEAM learning through community building, access to equipment and technology, mentorship, and informal learning through immersive entertainment experiences.


While we stalled in our pursuit of the place we succeeded in developing an amazing ecosystem that combined contemporary theories from Pedagogy (Phenomenon Based Learning), Neuroscience (Attention & Altered States), Technology & Platform design (The Stack), wellness and community design (Affinity Design Standards).



Concept Rendering for Affinity Space Diamond Bar

And then came COVID-19, the lockdown, the uncertainty, and for many of us our projects were stalled, our jobs were placed at risk and the already crazy idea of building Affinity Space became nearly impossible. Meanwhile we have seen an amazing growth in open source communities online, cross sector innovation and collaboration, and a general sense that people are seeking some creative output for their anxiety around the global situation.


At the same time as we have seen key weaknesses in our society exposed, and as with individuals, as we experience the ego death of a nation, we see new opportunity for personal growth and development. To that end we have revisited the Affinity Space concept. Instead of a network of physical locations, instead we see it first as an online community available to all, at home or wherever they may be.

  • A grassroots organization in support of resilient futures through the sharing of information, cross sector collaboration, and online mentorship.

  • An online space where the challenges of life can be presented in the hope that the challenge of one person is the expertise of another.

  • A solution engine that supports informal learning while in pursuit of actionable proposals to challenges ranging from the mundane to the epic backed by a knowledge web of domain expertise.

  • A community focused on wellbeing, abundance, and resiliency.

  • A worldwide escape room that enters the homes of each member to respond to the challenges they are facing there.


Affinity Space Online was born out of the pandemic but is not focused on it. Instead we use this time as a lens to identify what is wrong with our society, what has shifted in our nature, and who has been forgotten or allowed to slip through the cracks in an attempt to make the post COVID-19 world better than before the virus pushed pause on all our lives.


It is in that spirit that we would like to present The Fortbuilding Initiative, the first challenge to be presented by Affinity Space Online, as an exercise for us to prototype the functionality of the new platform, and as a resource to develop tutorials and orientation exercises for new members.

As the school year begins, families with children everywhere are facing additional challenges with homeschooling or overseeing school mandated online education, lack of extra-curricular activities, and time with friends.


Parents are often faced with working from home, entertaining their kids, and managing their education. This challenge is even more difficult for parents of children with special needs.


The reduced scale at which all life activities take place when confined to indoors leaves both adults and children with the need to establish new spaces in their lives in which to play and work. New requirements for privacy and barriers between lights, sounds, and activities are placed upon living arrangements unfit for the task.


Learning how to integrate life, play, and work through creating new spaces that allow for a shared experience between all members of the family with STEM/STEAM friendly activities is the basis for The Fortbuilding Initiative. We foresee this as:

  • An Online Community and Open Commons Sharing DIY Blueprints for:

  • Forts (Tents, Teepees, Cabins, Huts, Crows Nests, and Bridges)

  • Props (Planetarium Projectors, Talk Tubes, Pin Hole Theaters, and Dioramas)

  • Enchantment (Sensorization, Lighting, Sonification, and Haptics)

  • STEM/STEAM Activities Around:

  • Geometry

  • Astronomy

  • Physics

  • Music & Arts

  • Writing

  • Resources for Materials (Recycled, Repurposed, Reused)

  • Furniture & Linens

  • Cardboard

  • Starched Fabric

  • Plastic Bottles

  • Wax Paper

We are seeking volunteer participants to contribute to The Fortbuilding Initiative.


Boxes are a great Fortbuilding Resource

Individuals with interest or experience in the following areas are encouraged to join Affinity Space and contact us directly at manager@rotoark.com

  • Writing & Storytelling (Using storytelling and imagination to do more with forts, ie. The Magic Treehouse)

  • Learning & Pedagogy (The process of fortbuilding and play as a learning exercise)

  • Spatial Awareness & Intelligence (The psychological impacts of forts and enchanted spaces)

  • Technological Interventions (Sensorization and enchantments to forts and DIY spaces)

  • Fort & Prop Designs (Designs, drawings, and instructional documentation)

  • Multisensory Experience Design (Music, Pattern, Texture, etc)

  • Spatial Programming (The use of fort spaces, the sequence of activity, and the integration into the home)

  • Theories of Work and Play (How can play be work, vis versa, and how can the two integrate)

  • Web Design & Development (Online Communities and Interactive Experiences)


We look forward to fortbuilding with you!

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Los Angeles Office

323 226-1112

600 Moulton Avenue #405

Los Angeles, California

90031 USA

Bay Area Office

628 280-2994

795 Goodwin Ave

Penngrove, California

94951 USA

contact@rotoark.com

© 2020 Roto Architects, Inc.

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