Friday, June 5, 2009

Architecture + Second Life = Social Change

Profesora & me on our bikes

Location: Architecture

Profesora Farigoule's students had an assignment "to design a house for a typical Cape Town SA township family," and I had the opportunity to tour the project site shortly before she took the project down.

All designs had to include "sustainable heating and cooling low-energy features." The projects "will result in a 'think book,' but next term we will hopefully produce drawings for real families" for the Uthango group, whose fund-raising bicycle I've been riding in SL for some time.

Floor plans in SL

Professora noted that she "had to work hard to crack the "egg" of their cultural ethnocentrism" and get students to build not what they liked, but what the task required. Once they began building, however, "the SL build helped students see instantly their errors in judgment in that way."

One of her students, Jango, an architectural/civil engineering student at Delaware Tech, took very well to SL. He later went on to join us for a Roundtable talk about students' impressions of SL. As he noted that compared to designing with CAD, "can get soo much more out of it" with SL. He enjoyed walking his avatar through his creation. Like many students who find a passion for something, Jango "was taught the basic builds by my teacher" and then went on to hone his skills for more complex creations.
Jangos house

The yellow beams shown above indicate the angle of sunlight, a key element for passive and active solar designs. While SL may not be optimal for design, because "it has issues in terms of accurate texture mapping vs real life appearance," it is "optimal" for collaboration between groups of architects.

Now maybe I can hire a team of Professora's students to tweak the unmatched seams on my next Frank Lloyd Wrong build.

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