We’re building a new Arts Center at my institution. The groundbreaking ceremony was held last March, and the new building is scheduled to open to the public in September 2007.
As a result, I’ve been working on a special microsite about this new building and its construction for the past few months. The goals of this web section are to provide updated information about the project but also to invite potential donors to make their contribution online.
When they presented their concept, the architects had prepared a few computer-generated pictures showing the inside of the building. This made a great addition to the microsite by showing potential donors and users how the building will look when it’s done.
As the regulars of this blog know, I’ve just started to write and explore a bit the possibilities of SecondLife, a popular virtual online world/game.
Wouldn’t it be cool to create the new building in SecondLife and offer potential donors to visit it before it actually gets built (or funded)? I know that computer-generated virtual visits are already done, but they are most of the time scripted. People just can’t choose which room they see first — or if they can, they have to be among the happy few on the project team.
In SecondLife, the platform allows any avatar to wander through buildings and places. I’m pretty sure it wouldn’t cost an arm and a leg to have your next big project constructed in SL (and, again, the PR factor would make it a good investment).
Obviously, the architect would need to give his permission. In the future, architects might be the ones who will offer you the possibility.
As explained in “Little House on the Sandbox,” a post written by Chip Poutine on Virtual Suburbia — a blog about “the architecture of SecondLife, reviewed on the fly,” a residential designer, Crescendo Design, has just done it for one of his client projects:
“The House on Swan Pond exists as an analogue to a RL structure for a good reason – it is a real house being designed for a real family. The author, Keystone Bouchard, makes a living as a residential designer specializing in energy efficient ‘green’ houses and within a week of rezzing in SL had attained sufficient skill with the building tools to mock up the structure in order to collaborate with his clients – to better visualize the design, establish a dialogue about the design, and capture the imagination in a way that is not possible utilizing typical drawings, still renderings, or other burgeoning (not to mention outrageously expensive and/or cumbersome) realtime tools. The family can literally occupy the house, get a feel for the spaces, and suggest changes based on their first-person evaluation. A Second Life dream representing a Real Life artifact, instead of the other way around.”