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Wednesday, July 07, 2010


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Anya Ristow

Ask a RL architect who isn't "co-creator of the award-winning Wikitecture design platform made for SL" and they'll probably give you a simpler answer: the in-world building tools are primitive compared to inexpensive commercial software like AutoCAD. When SL can import models built using professional tools it will at least be useful as a display medium, but until then it will only appeal to architects who would be in SL for other reasons, anyway, and even they won't have a business case for SL.

Ryan Schultz

I believe SL would be widely used by architects if only they introduced some type of asset import, such as meshes for example. When a new technology comes along, like real-time streaming virtual world, like SL, it's crucial for this new technology to accomdate the standard workflows, software, and file types that architects already use on a daily basis.

I'm an architect that has been pretty active in the 'RL architect' community in SL for about 5 years now. I can't tell you how many eager architects came in, asking for some type of import functionality, never to return once they realized they had to build everything with prims, and could, in no way, export their hard work into other platforms for further development.

Plain and simple, the assets 'cannot' be locked down. If SL prioritized this from the very beginning, architects, and I'm sure a lot of other professions, would be using SL in droves.


architects have used cad and realtime3d to visualize projects for a decade before linden labs...

anyhow. the future and past will happen without SL/LL.

as stated professional want tools that fit their work flow financially, and want presentation mediums that werent "closed" every wednesday..less we forget.;)

theres no "future" decades...only real mediums and tool offerings..or not.

btw- Hometta was nice - but needs a web interface.;)

Arcadia Codesmith

I think Ryan's point is valid; you have to have a solid import/export engine in standard formats so you can design with tools like AutoCAD and render in SL. I'm looking forward to seeing what the mesh system provides in this regard.

If the physics and scripting get robust enough to support cheap but realistic engineering modeling, THAT would open up interesting avenues.

Jon Brouchoud

You're right, Anya, not being able to import models is huge turn-off for just about every architect I've talked to about Second Life.

On the other hand, the building tools in SL are at least as sophisticated as the cardboard study models and napkin sketches you'll find in every architecture studio around the world.

Prims also happen to be incredibly effective for realtime, in-world design collaboration in a way that meshes never will. The balance of both prim and mesh, I think, could be pretty powerful.


It's an interesting idea, although I have an easier time seeing it being more widely used as a place to get inspired and try things out than a detailed design program for many of the reasons stated here already.

I'm also curious whether copying would be an issue here, since it doesn't seem to be mentioned. Time and time again we hear about content theft and, while there are measures that can be taken to limit or prevent this, I wonder if having new work on display, while possibly good for collaboration, could also be seen as a fairly significant liability.


At the same time, (and I wish I had the Surls handy) some organizations like Britain's Health Trust are building 'hospitals of the future' in SL, if only to then give people (in the form of their avatars) the opportunity to "walk" through a "real size" mock-up of a building and interact with the architecture.

Ann Otoole

Let me know when we can attach prims together with fasteners and try to make builds out of physical prims. Then we might see some architectural simulations in SL that have some serious uses. Of course 15,000 prims isn't going to allow for much of that use case.

Lalo Telling

Here's another voice from a two-decade-plus AutoCad user (not as an architect, but as the kind of engineer that takes pretty shells and makes them habitable). The build tools available in SL/OS are frustratingly limited compared to the flexibility of even 2D drafting software, let alone 3D modeling a.k.a. "BIM" (see above, but I laugh at Anya's calling AutoCAD "inexpensive").

The frustration doesn't keep me from trying my hand at making "pretty shells" I can actually feel proud of, and Jon is correct about building with prims as a collaborative sketchpad. But until there's a way to port in and out, the two skill sets are completely, mutually exclusive.

Arcadia Codesmith

I do see at least one avenue for which an Second Life build might provide utility that other tools lack:

What's it like to live in a given space for an extended period of time? From the subjective viewpoint of a resident, which elements function best and which prove to be a daily annoyance? How will real people choose to furnish and decorate it? If it's a public building, how well does the traffic flow? What spaces draw people in, what spaces push them away?

As a persistant online environment with an established user base, Second Life might be better equipped to explore some of these questions than high-end 3D rendering packages.

Joe Rigby

Check out the architectural possibilities of AVAYA's web.alive at http://bit.ly/cCPlhF, the Dome is made in AUTOCAD and where models with 500K polygons have been imported.

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