Ars Electronica 2007
Festival-Website 2007
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Festival 1979-2007


The Projects
Social Architecture for Second Life

'Dietmar Offenhuber Dietmar Offenhuber / 'Drew Harry Drew Harry

Architecture has several functions in Second Life: representational, social and dynamic. In this project, we explore the social functions of virtual architecture.We propose a specific design that allows people to create pods to serve as a representation of people in a community and facilitates the interactions of its members. These pods can be combined into an extensible cellular building structure inspired by examples from the 1960s’ Metabolistic Architecture or Archigram’s Plug-In City. Each pod has a defined volume and is arranged into a reconfigureable grid, with plug-in connections on four sides. Members can choose from four templates to start with, but these can be changed completely within the given volume.

We also propose a set of “social utilities”—necessary to make such an architectural structure effective. Each pod comes with a basic infrastructure that provides:

  • Navigation—social and spatial, using a special dynamic map and elevator.
  • Space for Self-Expression—pods are fully modifiable and recognizable from far away.
  • Social Sensing and Display—sensors built into the structure that provide data for displaying popularity of places, update frequencies, etc.

These social utilities transform the pod into a 3D analogy of a profile page: a customizable place for communication, broadcasting, either private or public, as well as being a virtual place that people can visit together.

Drew Harry and Dietmar Offenhuber are members of the Sociable Media Group / MIT Media Lab