For anyone who's consulted Wikipedia, the largest web/text-based version of wiki technology, the pitch for Wikitecture is easy to understand: a wiki, only instead of words, everyone can edit 3D objects together in Second Life, then tracking changes, reverting to previous versions, or combining several iterations together. I wrote about Keystone Bouchard and Theory Shaw's innovative technology last November, and was lucky enough to meet Keystone at Metaverse U. He was there to present his project, and though I missed that, attendees were buzzing about it afterward.
It's not hard to see why. While it's risky to predict that a technology can change the world, Wikitecture has a decent chance to do just that. I asked Keystone to describe the process featured in this video, and the civic-minded design content his group has chosen, as a proof-of-concept for Wikitecture. "The project is a health clinic and telecommunications facility for one of the poorest regions in western Nepal," he e-mails me. "Nyaya Health, is a community-based healthcare organization providing maternal and child health services to poor patients in the districts of Achham and Doti, Nepal. The most popular design iteration we're currently working with is essentially a mash-up all the best ideas contributed since the project kick-off in November. We had over 40 members submit more than 45 different design iterations which evolved from simple 2D plan diagrams to fully immersive 3D walk-through models.
"A central utility we came back to time and again was the need for the facility to be built with local labor, and local materials," he adds. They implemented that, then used a 'gabion wall' construction technique, and that would preserve the site's view to a nearby hospital." More suggestions followed: "One member suggested the use of demonstration gardens as an educational element, and another suggested we introduce a native vine to grow over the gabion walls and canopy lattice. These are only a few, of the many elements the group has collectively voted to carry forward into the final design. Access to the forum can be found here."
While Keystone and Mr. Shaw assumed their group would primarily work together In Second Life, "it was actually the external web interface, forum, and wiki that were our most popular and widely used communication tool. We were also pleasantly surprised by the number of contributors who didn't visit Second Life at all, but shared their specific expertise using these external sites. Some members weren't designers at all, but had specific knowledge of the culture of Nepal, or knew of construction methods that might work well in the region."
During his Metaverse U project, he adds, "A lot of people had great ideas about how the technology could be used in other groups and disciplines-- suggesting that the same ideas are not only limited to architecture. " They're actively looking for sponsors to help them expand their "wikitecture trees" across the world. "I think we're all excited to see how this 3D Wiki technology could evolve to help people collaborate on a wider range of 3D project types."
Follow those developments and more at the Studio Wikitecture blog.
Here's a slide from the final submission. See more at Studio Wikitecture's Flickr page.