Thoughts on SL architecture

I’m diving into SL architecture again. I think that SL architecture really needs a shake-up. Badly. For a few reasons:

It’s a virtual world, which means nothing is real, so why are we holding so tightly to the realistic constructs of physics, weather and time? Why do all houses and stores have to have the basic all enclosing walls, doors and roofs. Are we warding off mud flinging hurricanes? No. Is it going to get cold enough at “night” for dew to settle all over my nicely folded pretend clothes? No. Does gravity exist? No. Unless its turned on, and come on, really, who turns it on? Nobody. So why do houses have to have support beams or even be touching the ground? Why can’t a house just fly 4 meters off the ground, over your Olympic sized swimming pool? Why cant beds and chairs hover? Gravity is a myth in virtual worlds that is held onto for no reason at all, other than the fact that human minds resist change.

The sheer size and scale of things is ridiculous. If you can’t stand at one end of your bedroom and see the other side without jacking up your viewer distance to 2983475 meters, there is something wrong. Nobody needs a kitchen that is 15 meters square. Nobody. Doors are not 5 meters high. That’s just stupid. Fireplaces that you can fit a small village into? COME ON! 10 meter ceilings? You need a smack. Look at the size of the average avatar you are building to house and build something that is not so massive that they’d need to take a break on the way from the dinner table to the bathroom. In no way is 30×30 meters a SMALL house.

Privacy is an issue in real life, both form a personal and a legal standpoint. Very few people want their neighbour’s children watching them wipe their butts, enjoy bedroom athletics or wash their dangley bits. Lesser privacy Infractions include watching soemone change, seeing someone barf, or just general creepy staring. In Second Life people still strive for the same security with tintable one-way windows and lockable doors. Thing is, anyone who has been in Second Life for more than 2 days knows how to cam through things, and anyone with a half decent viewer can De render prims and cam spy their way into anything. I do it all the time. Also, what are you doing that’s so private? Your boobs you hide in your shower have been seen by the skin/shape maker. Your hilariously generous dong you hide in your tinted dressing room has been fondled my many a pervert and shaped lovingly by its designer. The sex anims on your overpriced pixel porn bed are overused and can be tested out anywhere, so everyone knows exactly what you look like: poorly meshed together because the anims dont fit your av size and frankly your body mesh was never designed to bend like that. The only real reason I could see for privacy is for CREATORS who dont want people seeing their creations and stealing the ideas before they are released, and most of them have the good sense to have scripted privacy things that boot avatars out of the area or send them home.

And what is becoming one of my biggest pet peeves as a builder: Actual usability.
Behold a quote. I am a literary genius:

Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful” – William Morris

Lets step back for a second and look at what Humans versus avatars are able to and actually need to do.

Eating : Humans YES. Avatars NO.
Sleeping : Humans YES. Avatars NO.
Personal hygiene : Humans YES. Avatars NO.
Evacuation of bodily waste : Humans YES. Avatars NO.

So if avatars dont eat or sleep or shower or poop,why the hell do I need to build kitchen or a bedroom or a bathroom?
Aside from the kitchen, eliminating these rooms eliminates all preconceived privacy issues. Yes a bathroom or a bedroom or a kitchen can be beautiful, but usually, they are a poorly laid out, unattractive, waste of space and/or prims. and more often than not, these spaces are never used aside from taking a photo or 2 or if you have some weird poop fetish. I’m accepting of most fetishes, but I stop at toilet related erotica.

So, going back to the quote, if its not useful, and its not beautiful, why build it, but it, or own it? As I see it, residential Second Life boils down to a few essential things. Having a work area that is somewhat shielded from view so that you can build hair/shoes/skins/houses/cars/WHATEVER in peace and seclusion. Having a somewhat private area where you can do your thing without all the world peeping at your pooter. Having a public space so that you can TP your friends in and show them your newest hair/shoes/whatever, sit and drink pretend coffee, or watch streaming youtube videos of cats. And last but not least, a patio overlooking your pool/backyard/horse farm/outdoor area. I label these areas: work room/studio, bedroom, living room, patio and yard. Last night I scrapped the conventional housing norms and designed a second life home based around these 5 areas and it was so so much nice than other things I’ve build that try to conform to first life necessities. I challenge all builders to try this out.

I’m not judging other people’s work, at least not other serious good designers. I’m just saying what my views are on Second Life architecture. And really I’ve been here over 5 years. I started building about 2 months after I joined so I think I’m allowed to have an opinion on these things. I’m not saying I’m the SL architecture police, I’m just saying what I see, and how I feel. I am not going to cite other SL architects that I admire, because for the last few years, I’ve avoided seeking out SL architects because I dont want to subconsciously copy other people.

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