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Acknowledgement Content Introduction
I.1 INTRODUCTION I.2 DESCRIPTION OF A NEW WORLD I.3 ORIGINS I.3.1 Invention I.3.2 Conception I.4 SIGNIFICANCE I.5 VIRTUAL REALITY I.6 MEANING I.6.1 Internet Cyberspace I.6.2 Misunderstandings of Internet Cyberspace I.6.3 Benediktine Cyberspace I.6.4 Threads I.6.5 Conclusion I.7 CYBERSPACE CITY I.8 CONCLUSION
A A 1
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II Internet Cyberspace
II.1 INTRODUCTION II.2 HISTORY OF THE INTERNET II.2.1 The Mother of All Networks II.2.2 The Web II.2.3 Facts and Numbers II.2.4 Bandwidth II.2.5 Network Protocol II.3 HYPERTEXT II.3.1 Navigating through Cyberspace II.3.2 Consequences
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II.4 VIRTUAL COMMUNITIES II.4.1 Cybercity II.4.2 Places in Cyber-‘Space’ II.4.3 MUD II.4.4 Origin II.4.5 Habitat II.5 CYBERSPACE URBANISED? II.5.1 Virtual Cities II.5.2 Digitale Stad Amsterdam II.6 CONSEQUENCES II.7 CONCLUSION
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III.1 INTRODUCTION III.2 VIRTUAL ARCHITECTURE III.2.1 Introduction III.2.2 Urban Design III.2.3 Cyberspace Architects III.2.4 Critical Approach III.2.5 The Representation of Space III.3 DIGITISED ARCHITECTURE III.3.1 Data Field Architecture III.3.2 Applied Software III.3.3 Time-Space Relationship III.3.4 Virtual House III.4 LIQUID ARCHITECTURE III.4.1 Introduction III.4.2 Virtual Poetics III.4.3 Transmitting Architecture III.4.4 Conclusion III.5 EVOLUTIONARY ARCHITECTURE III.5.1 Nature III.5.2 History III.5.3 Generative Systems III.5.4 The Tools III.5.5 The Evolutionary Model III.5.6 Conclusion III.6 CONCLUSION
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IV Information Architecture
IV.1 INTRODUCTION IV.2 THE INFORMATION REVOLUTION IV.2.1 Cyberspace as an Information Tool IV.2.2 The Value of Online Information IV.2.3 Search Engines IV.3 3D INFORMATION VISUALISATION IV.3.1 Information Quantity IV.3.2 Visualisation Techniques IV.3.3 Overview IV.3.4 Spatial Arrangement of Data IV.3.5 Examples IV.4 VR/SEARCH IV.4.1 CGI IV.4.2 PERL IV.4.3 VRML IV.5 MAPPING INFORMATION IN CYBERSPACE IV.5.1 Dimensionality IV.5.2 Continuity IV.5.3 Limits IV.5.4 Density IV.5.5 The Remaining Principles IV.5.6 Conclusion IV.6 CONCLUSION
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What is cyberspace? What is, in fact, the meaning of this space? And if cyberspace can really be understood as space, what is the resultant role of architecture in this still largely unknown realm? Is all reality then necessarily becoming virtual reality? Who are the architects of cyberspace, and which designing principles should they follow? And if there are really architects involved, why are the contemporary examples of virtual reality environments nowadays then still characterised as banal? Moreover, what does it actually mean to design cyberspace? Which urban metaphors are implemented in the virtual realm, so that in some way familiar notions become apparent in this abstract and technological world? Is cyberspace a novel departure or an extension – perhaps the final extension – of the trajectory of abstraction and dematerialization that has characterised so much modern art, architecture and human experience? Or shortly, to put it in the summarising words of Ole Bouman: “Can architecture go digit-all?”1 The impressive influence that both information and digitalisation, two phenomena that undeniably are revolutionising society and culture at every level as well, had and still have on the notion of architecture itself is more than fascinating. Certainly, this inspiration already conquered much of the development of western knowledge and has apparently drawn many multidisciplinary authors further away from their traditional fields of research. Consequently, in this very attempt to answer the questions mentioned above as correct as possible, it is in fact their work that will be used intensively. First, the significance of the term cyberspace itself is thoroughly analysed. The context of its literary origin is hereby explained, as well as some of the many social consequences it has caused and the various important meanings it has gathered in history. In the second chapter, the concrete visualisation of virtual environments is compared to the promising chances architectural form could possess in a pure digital realm. Furthermore, the commonly recognised characteristics of the city, which are used intensively in these socially inspired applications, are pursued and analysed in greater depth. This investigation is based on some two-dimensional community worlds now existent in the so-called Internet cyberspace, although it should be noted that naturally, this field is developing in an unbelievable rapid pace and consequently threedimensional and immersive environments will certainly emerge soon. In the third chapter, some of the possibilities the process of digitalisation brought along in the field of the architectural generation of form are clarified by describing specific personal investigations of visionary architects and researchers. They are in fact convinced of the originating power contemporary computers now are able to produce and base their entire architectural discourse on the dynamic perception of abstract information, which is mapped unto the construction and surfaces of their digitally generated forms. Finally, in the last chapter, the more specific field of information visualisation is illustrated with several specific examples of virtual spaces that are uploaded with various architectural concepts. Furthermore, a VRML-application called VR/search that also has been programmed as part of this work is explained by some of the cyberspace design-principles proposed by the author Michael Benedikt.
BOUMAN, OLE, RealSpace in QuickTimes: Architecture and Digitization, Rosbeek, Nuth, 1996, p.23
“The realm of pure information, filling like a lake, siphoning the jangle of messages transfiguring the physical world, decontaminating the natural and urban landscape, redeeming them, saving them from the chain-dragging bulldozers of the paper industry, from the diesel smoke of courier and post office trucks, from jet fuels fumes and clogged airports, from billboards, thrashy and pretentious architecture, hour-long freeway commutes, ticket lines, and choked subways… from all the inefficiencies, pollutions (chemical and informational), and corruptions attendant to the process of moving information attached to things – from paper to brains – across, over, and under the vast and bumpy surface of the earth rather than letting it fly free in the soft hail of electrons that is cyberspace.”
(BENEDIKT, MICHAEL - Cyberspace: First Steps - p.3)
« We are witnesses to an extraordinary era that will no doubt be remembered in history as an appropriately revolutionary development to accompany a new millennium. I hope, by the time you finish this book, that that last sentence will be regarded as mild understatement rather than wild, wide-eyed hyperbole. »
(WHITTLE, DAVID - Cyberspace: The Human Dimension - p.4)
The Content In this chapter, the phenomenon of cyberspace will be thoroughly investigated. First, its roots will be explained by the description of the movement called cyberpunk and its most important figure William Gibson. As this word received many meanings out of several human fields of research through the years of its existence, the actual significance it had (and has) and two main theoretical streams of thoughts about the content of the term will be withheld. At last, the context of its origin is clarified by an analysis of the urban environments literally described in Gibson’s books. How it all begun… “Cyberspace, a consensual hallucination, experienced daily by billions of legitimate operators, in every nation, by children being taught mathematical concepts… A graphic representation of data abstracted from the banks of every computer in the human system. Unthinkable complexity. Lines of light ranged in the nonspace of the mind, clusters and constellations of data. Like city lights receding...” 2
I.2 Description of a New World
Welcome to a new world, seen through the eyes of its inventor: William Gibson. Apparently describing the opening sequence of a film like Blade Runner3, this literal description resulted in a lot more than any other paragraph in the famous science fiction novel entitled Neuromancer, a book of which the significance is sometimes compared to futuristic legends as 1984, or Brave New World. What first only seems to represent a dizzying trip in some space vessel above a metropolitan city in the dark and uncertain future will hopefully get another interpretation throughout this chapter.
Figure I-1 Two stills taken out of the film Blade Runner (1982)
A silent and slowly changing panorama by night, containing uncountable light patterns of unknown source, only disturbed and enlightened by sudden and loud pulses of huge vertical flames coming from…nowhere. Chaotic endless clusters of moving, meaningless objects shifting in an impressive view, almost showing the vast amount of yet undiscovered human knowledge. This dramatic visualisation taken out of the beginning of Blade Runner can be considered as a simplistic personal expression of the visionary thoughts about cyberspace. Michael Heim described in his essay how the fictional characters of Neuromancer experience the ‘Matrix’ –- cyberspace - as a place of rapture, erotic intensity and powerful desire, a phenomenon where objects attain a
GIBSON, WILLIAM, Neuromancer, HarperCollinsPublishers, London, 1995, p.67 RIDLEY, SCOTT, Blade Runner, USA, 1982
Gibsonian cyberspace can be seen as a rather spectacular representation of a global information economy.1 Invention Although the science fiction writer William Gibson is credited with introducing this word in one of his first science fiction stories and later in his book Neuromancer (1984). Count Zero (1986). In this view. ordinary experience seems dull and unreal by comparison.H. The Erotic Ontology of Cyberspace. Gibson lives and works in Vancouver.3 Origins I. William Gibson. London. able to stimulate all the organic senses of any human spectator by a consensual hallucination. Cyberspace. not only academic. the Nebula as well as the Philip K. everyone.3. ‘Consensual’ is then the result of some well-known. ranging from pure geometric colour-coded copyrighted shapes or architectural representations signifying corporate ownership to photo-realistic illusions. came thus originally out of the dark visions of a. New York. then rather unknown. He is recognised as the leading writer of a new kind of science fiction called ‘cyberpunk’. In short.4 4 4 . Although born in the United States. Some other writers followed this movement. see Chapter II: Internet Cyberspace. author of Shockwave Rider (1975) with inventing the concept. Mona Lisa Overdrive (1988). of which Rudy Rucker. p. communities. MIT Press. Warfare. In an ironic twist of fate. as each of them is holding more power and wealth than world governments..supervivid hyper-reality4. B.). 6 WHITTLE. In Gibson’s novels. international and essentially computer-based. This inventor. In Toffler’s visionary work several pages are devoted to a section entitled “The Cyborgs Among Us”. we first investigate the origins and importance of the word after which we can step deeper into the very meaning it obtained in more than ten years of research and development in many. His first book Neuromancer won all three major and most prestigious American science fiction prizes: the Hugo. as well as normal criminal acts are executed through pure electronic communication. Gibson in turn tries to clarify his first and rather abstract description to the reader in his later books. I. The Difference Engine (with Bruce Sterling) and Virtual Light. Cyberspace : The Human Dimension. often using HEIM. 1991. Burning Chrome. although a little adapted. in which he describes the possibilities of human-machine integration and even of human brains functioning independent of their bodies. is the author of Neuromancer (1984). This latter concept also returned. This immersive environment is hereby articulated as a metropolis of bright data constructs. commonly shared protocols and agents5 for encoding and exchanging information. MICHAEL (Ed. has access to technology. Moreover. Brunner in turn refers the original origin to the futurist Alvin Toffler in his book Future Shock (1970). in many of Gibson’s novels. W. while huge multinational corporations battle each other illegally. 1996. now often used to describe an infinite electronic world filled with promise and interaction. even punks and street gangs. DAVID. This ‘abstract representation’ seems to have the capability to take any form. Cyberspace : First Steps. With this early and imaginable definition in mind. extrapolating contemporary technology into a future of urban decay and its consequences on the lives of underclass characters. which is also the year Neuromancer was first published. Canada since 1972. cyberspace can then be considered as a ‘hallucination’ when simulation software is able to create a three-dimensional environment out of the information itself. in BENEDIKT. Dick award. science fiction genius. Bruce Sterling. and John Stirley are only a few. George Orwell’s vision of an invasive cyberspace presence called ‘Big Brother’ in the book 1984 takes place in the same year as the title. Freeman Co.62 5 For further explanation about communication protocols and electronic agents. Gibson himself does credit John Brunner6. MICHAEL. p.
Cyberspace could thus be understood as a place capable of controlling information. artificial control. succeeded to stop this proposal legally in order to keep the term in the ‘Public Domain’. Cyberpunks are people who explore the digital landscapes of electronic space and the term is often used to describe the outlaws and hackers on the computer frontier7. cybernaut. should be pronounced “kī-bûr-spās”. It should be noted that not all forms of science fiction that deal with cyberspace are considered forms of cyberpunk. Cyberpunk: Outlaws and Hackers on the Computer Frontier.. Ref. Curiously enough. although he has become an authority in the highly technological issues of the virtual realm. SALA Communications. cyberpunk may also be applied to other forms and media. so smart and human-like that some even received a real human citizenship. the Matrix. cybersex. … 10 Other non-electronic ‘spaces’ are able to emerge when. Sometimes it is interpreted as a critique of capitalism or as the disembodied style or ‘hacker chic’ that is best fit to represent social interaction in cyberspace. the electronic realm. But what does it mean literally? ‘Cyber’ connotes automation. The actual term is technically unimportant. cybergames.: HAFNER KATIE & MARKOFF JOHN. comics. But when the same critics still could not invent a better expression to replace the old one. of course.programs like artificial intelligent viruses. a man whose importance will be clarified later. cyberbody. As the word obviously seemed very attractive for commercial use.3. JOHN P. LUC & BARLOW. Autodesk Inc. cyberworld. music. Electropolis. tried seriously to protect it for one of its VR-projects8. 7 5 . as other phrases are often used synonymously: Cyberia. it was concluded that this already commonly accepted word had become a necessary permanent fixture in many western languages. Virtual Reality.9 In the context of artificially generated imaginable environments. not many of his readers know that Gibson actually wrote Neuromancer on a simple 1927 Hermes typewriter. and voice of the new cybernetic world order and virtual reality. p. 1990. 1992 8 SALA. Cyburbia. prophet. Being more than a literary genre. helped by Michael Benedikt. etc. and thus. Although regularly criticised in its early existence as representing a temporary hype phenomenon or typified as ‘only for nerds’. critics argue. Virtual Reality: De Metafysische Kermisattractie. The expression cybernetics in turn is derived from the Greek “kubernetes”. virtual space. people read books. it can be noticed that Cyberspace™ (trademark!) was almost a historical fact. and fashion. cybertalk. cyberdeck. But obviously. among which not only the English. for instance. Such a rush to lay claim to intellectual property rights was a clear sign that the forces of commerce were firmly charging at the economical richness of the expression. ‘space’.50 9 ‘Cyber-‘ has actually become the prefix of the 1990s: cyberspace.10 The word that results is as futuristic as the concept. means a multidimensional place. Netropolis. including film. cyberart. virtual worlds. cyberpunk. the word ‘cyberspace’ continued to increase rapidly in popular usage and meaning. computer networking. I. the information sphere.2 Conception Cyberspace. meaning the study of control mechanisms. and computerisation. they lost the battle. the digital domain. Amsterdam. indicating control through interactivity. William Gibson. people who are involved in illegal computer activities such as breaking into networks. dataspace. Purists also complained that ‘cyberspace’. most often used in relation with electronic spaces created by computer-based media. Popular as well as specialised press hailed Gibson the unchallenged guru. the Internet… Nevertheless. as a way that enables people to control certain devices through computers that give them a feeling of some kind of feedback. listen to radio. pronounced as “cī-bûr-spās” actually is derived from the expression ‘cybernetics’.
Connected through a neurological implant. it passed the phase of trendy phenomenon rather easily and is now considered as a powerful. 1991. Old Rituals for New Space : Rites de Passage and William Gibson’s Cultural Model of Cyberspace. he tries to show the possible consequences of the future information age. In the view of anthropologist David Tomas. and academic researchers from various disciplines. several reasons will be mentioned why the term cyberspace received so much attention and importance until today. if not revolutionary. Jammer’s deck jacked up so high above the neon hotcores.11 DAVID. Gibson’s anthropological description is significant in three different ways. impact on the future compositions of human identities and cultures. p. Gibson has devoted considerable attention to the chilling socio-economic implications of this space and its post-industrial context. Count Zero) I. mountain-high. collective mnemonic technology that promises to have an important.” she said. Tomas is convinced that Gibson delivers us the most sophisticated and detailed ‘anthropological’ vision of cyberspace to date: its social and economic facets and the outlines of its advanced post-industrial form. TOMAS. Big stuff. with the dark nature of Gibson’s view in Neuromancer in mind. MICHAEL (Ed. In this view.” (William Gibson. fast forward. in BENEDIKT.32 David Tomas is an artist and anthropologist teaching in the Departement of Visual Arts at the University of Ottawa in Ontario. The word broke out of the domain of the synergetic techno-visionary world of ‘cyberpunk literature’ and engaged even the creative imaginations of a narrow spectrum of government. In fact. a topography of data he didn’t know. He has published numerous articles on ritual and photography. London. the ‘console cowboys’ or ‘jockeys’ in Gibson’s books. “She slid the trodes on over the orange silk headscarf and smoothed the contacts against her forehead. they ride their cardinal brainwaves retrieved from an electronic controlling cyberdeck.4 Significance In this paragraph. when they ‘jack’ into the infinite ‘Matrix’ (a term that actually originates from the Latin for the mother). and this instead of dry speculation. Now and ever was. acquire such value within only a few years time? It is strange to notice that. MIT Press. The physical world becomes hereby replaced by a symbolic media-generated landscape. and that is what they are.). sharp and corporate in the non-place that was cyberspace. Cyberspace : First Steps. Although cyberspace is popularised by Gibson’s books. including one on the technicity in William Gibson’s novels. “Let’s go. How did a word that science fiction writer Gibson had thrown into his work almost casually and with unconscious irony. 11 6 . corporate. this term transformed in the everyday use into a dynamic and positive representation of concepts and applications that the visionary writer himself could not have foreseen or predict. experiencing the digital sensations of every requested command or program-run by some kind of perceptible representation. Describing and extrapolating the lives of the lower social level of society.Etymologically ‘cyber’ means “steersman”.
Other merits might be more related to the ‘right time. London. Cyberspace: First Steps. but also in technical publications. ALLUCQUERE. 3. criminals. in some sense ‘cyberspace’ includes them all and much of the work being done under their rubrics. but actually because he tried to describe a new social fascinating community. computer-generated. Neuromancer reached the hackers and also the technologically literate and socially disaffected who were searching for social forms that could transform the fragmented anomie that characterised life in Silicon Valley and all other electronic ghettos. can act as a testing ground for ‘post-ritual’ theories and practices. More than this. as conceptualised by a post-industrial anthropology. It allows us to interpret an advanced information technology that has the potential to overthrow the sensorial architecture of the human body by reformatting its organic borders in powerful. anarchists. Advanced digital technologies.95 13 BENEDIKT.12 This book provided them the imaginable public sphere and refigured community that was able to establish the grounding of a new kind of social interaction. 1991. politicians. p. the next fragment can be most clarifying. hardware design. It acts like a ‘spatial operator’ connecting pasts and futures by way of the present.1. draws many studies and companies into the track of its own realisation. Cyberspace: Some Proposals. MICHAEL. in Cyberspace: First Steps. They do agree that the disturbing and dark vision of fictional cyberspace might have contributed to the initial views of cyberpunks. and of course businessmen and capitalists. ‘hyper-graphics’ and many other catchy words introduced by the computer technology industry? Answer: Cyberspace relates to all of them. ‘data visualisation’. p. MIT Press.122 12 7 . For social researcher Allucquére Stone. in which the fascinating way technology was described grasped the attention of more than one person personally involved in the field of computer research. MIT Press. STONE. it had (and has still) a great influence on the way virtual reality and cyberspace researchers were (and are) structuring their research agenda. Will the Real Body Please Stand Up? Boundary Stories about Virtual Cultures. ‘networks’. In this way. 1991. more critical people still dare to doubt the real value of Gibson’s visionary contribution. the publication in 1984 resulted into a massive inter-textual presence not only in other literary productions of the 1980s. and scientific and technological discourses. London. Question: How does cyberspace relate to ‘virtual reality (VR)’. conference topics. So obviously some authors argue that the success of Gibson’s powerful vision of cyberspace was actually not for the merits of signalising some kind of technological development. R.13 So cyberspace as a project and as a concept has collected these separate projects into one and focused them on a common target. ‘graphic user interfaces (GUIs)’. In this context.). ‘multimedia’. Nevertheless. Although the visionary description provided by Gibson can be characterised as dark and dangerous. Science fiction is considered as an important tool that allows us to make sense of a rapidly emerging post-industrial culture. such as those who generate cyberspace. right place’-phenomenon of the book. digital spaces. MICHAEL (Ed. But they also dare to argue that the fictional cyberspace no more depicts the real cyberspace than did Dante’s Inferno paint a picture of the real world in which he lived. The dream and fascinating dynamic force the concept incorporates. 2. in BENEDIKT.
along with any numbers of others. And this might be the very difference with another.5 Virtual Reality Gibson’s definition can also be considered as a fictional translation of Ivan Sutherland’s original concept of the ‘Ultimate Display’. with interchangeable meanings.XL. namely ‘Virtual Reality’. Sutherland14 published an academic paper at the MIT Draper Lab in Cambridge in 1968 entitled ‘A head-mounted three dimensional display’. A head-mounted threedimensional display. He refused talking to the press about himself or about his work. so that the environment was visible through the TV displays. founder of the first commercial VR-based company called VPL Research. All this makes him an excellent candidate for the role of inventor and hero of virtual reality. alter and invent. a stereoscopic image is formed before the user’s eyes.M. made possible by telephone banks. in Newsline. and tactility-enhanced total video environment constructed of elaborate. This results in the first important characteristic of virtual reality: total immersion. KWINTER. smell. Wherever the user looks. BENJAMIN. and easily confused. Maybe inventing virtual reality in human history. This system used television screens and half-silvered mirrors. These early applications of VR seemed particularly well suited for tank and submarine trainers. cyberspace and VR. Gibson extended this idea of ‘looking into a mathematical wonderland’ to embrace all the human senses being experienced to the entire universe of information existing in all electronic resources in the human system. In these early days of computing. which he is able to explore. Founder of Evans & Sutherland. and computer simulation. Proceedings of the International Federation of Information Processing Congress. Sutherland dreamed about a room within which the computer can control the existence of matter. computer graphics. computer graphics. Although many writers and researchers in the domain of virtual applications still use both words. phenomenon. May 1991. Virtual Reality A sound. p. and concluding that. his eyes are sensing what he otherwise would see if this world would be real and existing around One of the most influential figures in the history of computing. Oxford. This image is continuously updated and adjusted by a computer to respond to head movements.16 First experimentally explored by Ivan Sutherland (1968).15 Later work at NASA and by the American Department of Defence led to some prototypes for space exploration and military applications. p.1278 14 8 . but a new space altogether. The user thus finds himself totally surrounded by a stable and three-dimensional world.L. by means of an electronic analog or deputy self through which all interactions are mediated. computers still being more like machines. p. specifying one of the key technologies still being developed for virtual reality experiments. Rotterdam. More than 15 years later. a developer of military aircraft and vehicle simulators. such a display could literally be the Wonderland in which Alice walked. and television. Virtual Worlds : a Journey in Hype and Hyperreality. in an attempt to encompass all of the ‘virtual’ projects then being investigated. VR is not a simulated environment. the technology of virtual reality stands nowadays at the edge of practicality. huge and expensive. S. 010 Publishers. 15 WOOLLEY. a special form of display that presented information to all the senses in a form of total immersion. as the ‘real’ experience had people looking into low resolution and small binoculars anyway. 1965.507) 16 SANFORD. 1992. the following paragraph can be a possible interpretation for virtual reality exclusively. interactive architectures that one may not only inhabit but actually move through.I. 1995. By mounting a pair of small video monitors with the appropriate optics directly to the head. flexible.41 (à he refers to : SUTHERLAND. Blackwell Publishers. with appropriate programming. in KOOLHAAS REM. IVAN. This term was coined in 1989 by Jaron Lanier. One inhabits virtual reality in real time.
him. science fiction and creative people are imagining devices as the ‘Holodeck’ in television series as Star Trek. that then would add an extra human sense to the experience. the user should be concentrating on vital information of multiple sources. 1991. in Cyberspace: First Steps. http://www. This equipment tracks the motion and position variations.unsw. He knew the number of yellow food packets in the canisters in the bunker (four hundred and seven). which are transmitted to the computer or to other users to represent the shape and activity of the user’s body.122 (in McMILLAN KATE. spoken of in Gibson’s novels. then that world is believable. He knew the number of brass teeth in the left half of the open zipper of the salt crushed leather jacket… (two hundred and two)” (William Gibson – Neuromancer) In addition.edu. Either is it calculated in real time by the computer. § Intensive: in virtual reality. § Illustrative: virtual reality should offer information in a clear. Sherman and Judkins describe the critical characteristics of virtual reality as “VR’s five i’s”. The first characteristic. or it can be pre-processed and stored. descriptive and illuminating way. interactivity. 17 referred to: SHERMAN AND JUDKINS.htm. digital form. Virtual Reality. Architecture and the Broader Community. three main areas are requiring the most research: sensory perception interfaces. This ‘virtual’ world can be generated in one of the following three ways. Glimpses of Heaven. This research then results in a spectrum that can be split into four broad categories.18 “And here things could be counted. can be tested by Myron Krueger’s so-called ‘duck test’: if someone ducks away from a ‘virtual stone’ aimed at his or her head. hardware development and 3D graphic displays.arch. MICHAEL. Accomplishing the second most important characteristic of virtual reality. Before technology will develop that far.au/subjects/arch/specres2/mcmillan/futworld. MIT Press. § Interactive: in virtual reality. This physical extension makes it possible to introduce interactive actions to the otherwise static virtual world. the user might wear stereo headphones. May 1994) 18 BENEDIKT. Virtual Reality’s Five i’s17 § Immersive: virtual reality should deeply involve or absorb the user.11 9 . even while knowing the stone is not real. p. or it exists physically elsewhere and is ‘video-graphed’ and transmitted in stereo. He knew the number of grains of sand in the construct of the beach (a number coded in a mathematical system that existed nowhere outside the mind that was Neuromancer). are the special gloves the user might be wearing. London. texture and even temperature. to which the user will respond. or even a whole body suit. the Next Generation or even direct neural connections to the human nerve system. necessary techniques should be implemented that offer both the user and the computer the capability to act reciprocally via the computer interface. Introduction. the technique is also named ‘tele-presence’ rather than virtual reality. which would deliver an acoustic sensorium added to the previous visual one. p. immersion. Ultimately. Research is done to provide an additional form of force-feedback to the glove or the suit so that the user will actually feel the presence of virtual ‘solid’ objects by their weight. each one. In the last two cases. § Intuitive: virtual reality should be easily perceived and virtual tools should be used in a ‘human’ understandable way.
STEPHANIE (Ed. It acts like a technological tool that provides a more intimate ‘interface’ between humans and computer imagery.19 Further investigation and clarifying explanations of cyberspace can be found in the next paragraph. put it: “…that place you are in when you are talking on the telephone”.”20 What first was only meant as a description of today’s post-modern culture. W. once lyricist for the Grateful Dead and an important hyped cyberspace pioneer after he co-founded the Electronic Frontier Foundation. not all of the produced texts seemed to have a unanimous or uniform view on this subject. gloves. 1996. Blackwell Publishers. has already proved to have changed rapidly and drastically. it is only logic that some people confuse it with the mental state and visual images of cyberspace.VR’s four Categories of Interface § desktop systems: navigating through 3D on a monitor § partial immersion: navigating through 3D on a monitor with enhancements such as gloves and 3D goggles § full-immersion systems: head gear. It is about simulating the full ensemble of sense data that make up ‘real’ experience.21 Random searches throughout opinions of people result in examples showing the vast pool of possible interpretations in which the essential meaning should be found.195 20 19 10 . in STRATE LANCE. in his book The Metaphysics of Virtual Reality: WHITTLE. Hampton Press. and bodysuits § environmental systems: externally generated 3D. data. but the two concepts are as dissimilar as the spoken word is to the radio. human relationships. What does it mean to you? Gibson once said: “Cyberspace has a nice buzz to it. virtual reality will be found in cyberspace. some place you can’t see but you know is there”. Freeman Co. Communication and Cyberspace: Social Interaction in an Electronic Environment. BBC2.122.) 21 SUE BARNES. Unfortunately. 1992. Certainly. B. New York.. it’s something that an advertising man might of thought up. virtual reality is most often used to simulate some kind of believable actuality through the manipulation of sensory feedback using electronic and digital technologies. Late Show. Creating Paradoxes for the Ecology of Self. Or again. However. Not only Gibson tried in his succeeding books to manipulate the content of cyberspace in his fiction though. Cyberspace : The Human Dimension. For example. 1996. phrasing Howard Rheingold in his book Virtual Communities: “Cyberspace…is the name some people use for the conceptual space where word. Oxford. also many researchers attempted in many of their publications to deliver the most suitable interpretation. Gibson’s own interpretation came from watching children playing video arcade games. but with little or no body paraphernalia In short. cyberspace itself extends beyond virtual reality to encompass a much broader range of human communications and interactions. 26 September 1990. wealth. the most architectural three-dimensional cyberspace world is then imagined by Michael Heim. Although the worlds created by virtual reality overlap with cyberspace. No. New Jersey. I. he does refer to: Interview with the author. p. p. (à in fact.12 WOOLLEY. and power are manifested by people using computer-mediated communications”.6 Meaning Cyberspace. JACOBSON RONALD & GIBSON B. Virtual Worlds: a Journey in Hype and Hyperreality. He actually observed that these kids and also many computer users seemed “to develop a belief that there’s some kind of actual space behind the screen. As the explanation of John Perry Barlow for instance. making a clear distinction between the two separate phenomena throughout all the streams of thoughts of the many authors will prove to be a rather difficult task. DAVID. With this description of virtual reality. p.). I knew that it was slick and essentially hollow and that I’d have to fill it up with meaning. and when I got it. BENJAMIN.H.
already blurred in the last description. observing and examining pictures. many answers are possible. such as reading. a Holodeck or a neurological organic chip is considered irrelevant. In the next paragraphs two different definitions will therefore be investigated. It has been said that cyberspace is where you are having a phone conversation or where your money exists. it defines the nature of the experience in cyberspace and may be considered as the border of cyberspace or the window (cf. Cyberspace : The Human Dimension.7 11 . It is where electronic mail travels. Characteristics of Cyberspace22 § It is a virtual space. 1996. cyberspace can be considered as a digital complement of our atomic world. largely independent of time and space. such as digital computing power and/or software that is joined with other access devices on a network of physical connections. and thus by definition not a physical location. and cyberspace may reflect different laws of existence. W.. It would seem that this is a word that either defies definition. New York. Whether this physical assistant is a computer screen. Whatever tool people want to use. In this way. while it also tries to bring together Gibson’s notion of visualisation of abstract data and the more common conceptions of virtual reality.“The juncture of digital information and human perception. The sense of immediacy that apparently results from the interactions in cyberspace is in fact artificial at best.” Obviously. and it resembles ‘Toontown’ in the movie Roger Rabbit. a telephone. there is no distinction between cyberspace and communications in the real world. It can be easily compared to a trance-like state we human beings enter when we are absorbed in visual or verbal communication. § It can be entered only by means of some sort of physical access device with an artificial processing mechanism. the ‘matrix’ of civilisation where banks exchange money (credit) and information seekers navigate layers of data stored and represented in virtual space. has to change its transparency more drastically if a final and clear distinction has to be searched. B. Without an access device. or listening carefully to music or speech. delayed in time or separated in distance. Buildings in cyberspace may have more dimensions than physical buildings do. p. watching video or art. Freeman Co. Sutherland’s ‘Ultimate Display’) into cyberspace.6. 22 WHITTLE. this last definition is implying that we have already entered the cyberspace age.1 Internet Cyberspace What is cyberspace? To this rather easy question. like a state of mind. or is one of those intuitive words that can be understood without a definition. This abstract border. I. and usually also happen in a shifted and different time. some key characteristics of this phenomenon can be found.H. § It enables interaction and communication between individuals and groups of individuals and their creative output. since these human communications almost always lack similarity of place. a place simultaneously real and artificial. Each point of view represents one of the main interpretations that can be found in most of the publications about cyberspace. DAVID. writing. of which all have to be included in any possible interpretation that will be formulated later. However. Cyberspace is understood as incomplete without any interaction. a terminal. This interaction is different from what normally would be expected in the sense that it may often be somewhat indirect.
submitting an order for merchandise or a game-subscription via a special commercial number. given the state of technology today and its ever-present limits. has the disadvantage however of confusing some people with some other phenomena they already know or have heard of. 1996.Most often can we distinguish the computer screen as the physical access device. entitled “Internet Cyberspace”. many people find themselves surprised by the fact that they have lived in cyberspace more in their life than they imagined without fully knowing about it. even if they have never touched a computer. DAVID. are coupled to create an alternative reality or. and even video to the cyberspace experience. by analysing the most common misunderstandings of what cyberspace might be. Further specific explanation of the most important applications will be given in the next chapter.H. but actually is not. B. of whom William Mitchell is only one. Ultimately. The explosive growth of the World Wide Web (WWW)23. both human and hardware. which uses a collection of examples and applications to make a definition more clear and understandable. acting as a window into the new electronic world of today. however. actually argue that the graphic surface of the automated teller machine is a more important public representation of a bank than the façade of any of its remnant buildings. each can be distinguished by the nuances of its purpose and origin. Looking at the research done by the computer companies. Freeman Co.8 25 Some authors. more like ‘being there’ and thus more like ‘virtual reality’. Online Phenomena24 § telephone conversations § electronic mail (e-mail) § telephone mail and answering machines § newsgroups and forums § mailing lists § chat rooms § Telnet destinations § web sites § electronic libraries. The following list is a quick overview of some manifestations happening in what we define as Internet cyberspace. and although they have some things in common. There are numerous manifestations of cyberspace. a virtual space. it can certainly be expected that the future connections will become more and more realistic. which are still most easily transmitted and represented artificially. is rapidly adding pictures. where physical connections. technological development might be ending somewhere close to the futuristic fantasies that today exist only in the imaginations of visionaries. is for instance watching a movie ‘on demand’. including visual telephones Reading this list. Most of the connections of today however are based upon the spoken and written word. 24 23 12 . in other words. W.. p. sound. see next chapter WHITTLE. Cyberspace : The Human Dimension. obtained by ordering from a pay-per-view cable box.25 The former method of clarification. New York. David Whittle tried to avoid this. such as FTP sites § electronic conferencing § conference calls § MUD (Multi-User Domains) § virtual reality § Interactive TV of all forms. Other cyberspace experiences which many people are familiar with. or taking money out of a Automated Teller Machine (ATM).
certainly when people try to present new ideas by building on the foundation of familiar concepts to represent the very unfamiliar. as the following part tries to prove. § is a part of a finite number of broad high-traffic connections between only the most important cities. for a known purpose. but in fact the notion of bandwidth is. New York. For David Whittle. put in on. the ‘Information (Super)Highway’ or ‘Infobahn’. avenues. funded. Only then will also become evident that the corresponding illusion of traffic jams and speed limits is an elementary misunderstanding. à cyberspace: a network of highways. However. handing him the trodes and kicking off down the corridor. Information Superhighway Metaphors and analogies are perhaps the most powerful way to convince people.’ Aerol said.2 Misunderstandings of Internet Cyberspace “’Try it.6. 26 WHITTLE. it is entirely inappropriate to represent the entire set of online phenomena because it raises a variety of impressions that do not apply well to the concept of cyberspace. Another example. namely virtual reality. the precise technique of transmitting data through communication networks like the Internet will be explained later. Aerol took the band. He closed his eyes. B. Case hit the power stud. and roads covering the whole world. à cyberspace: the ‘journey’ is represented by seconds of delay and is actually pointless. A clear distinction can be made between on the one hand the whole group of electronic-human communication manifestations. ‘What did you see. DAVID. Aerol shuddered.I. and on the other hand only one of its many members.’ Case said. well maintained paths.H. à cyberspace: every size of connection and every size of node is present and available. and quickly fails when used to conceptualise cyberspace itself. § is often used to travel from a known beginning to a known end.10 13 .. owned and controlled by the (American) federal government. sadly. Cyberspace : The Human Dimension. As the last point of the list is only a general comparison. as speed is hardly a problem on the digital network. 1996. cyberspace. streets. Freeman Co. man?’ ‘Babylon. Information Superhighway26 § is used to travel along wide. is a good description of the backbone of a global network. an information superhighway can be perfectly applied to describe the physical infrastructure that constitutes the standards and bandwidth of the networks and connections upon which cyberspace is being built. but is obviously an abused metaphor for cyberspace. But this technique is also the first originator of much confusion. p. Case jacked him back out. while the destination is everything and often unknown before arriving. 2. and Case adjusted the trodes.” (William Gibson – Neuromancer) 1. Virtual Reality The first that comes in mind is the improper comparison with ‘virtual reality’ that already has been described and clarified earlier. W. funded by government and private enterprise and owned and controlled by no one.
which is actually a software design consultancy 29 BENEDIKT. However. 4. but has been found in an essay of YOUNG. There may be several ways to This term is in fact not used by Michael Benedikt himself. Benediktine cyberspace should thus be seen as a global. art. the human user.”29 This definition is somewhat different. London. In this reality. necessarily. In agreement with the principles of Internet cyberspace. rather. http://www. While with the view of cyberspace. of pure information. VR actually only tries to describe the digital simulation of a general environment and the total immersion plus the possibility of interaction of the inhabitant. business and culture. We can already agree that we are indebted to Gibson for the word and to numerous science fiction writers for the conceptual foundation of cyberspace.3 Benediktine Cyberspace27 The description of Internet cyberspace can be classified as very specific.dur.6. An interesting and more academic definition and discourse in this matter is given by Michael Benedikt’s28 article Cyberspace: Some Proposals. and computer-generated. independent of how it is accessed and navigated. p. multi-dimensional. It may be regrettable. or with the fears of the unbelievable power of electronic crimes. representations of physical objects but are. PETER. to which every computer is a window.ac. or ‘virtual’ reality. starting from Hollywood to the ordinary sci-fi comics. This information derives in part from the operations of the natural. Feeling of Fear Another problem arises when people start to believe the misleading pictures and visions represented by the largest part of the entertainment industry. computer-sustained. which is much closer towards Gibson’s first concept as well. MICHAEL. where he tries to answer the important question: What is cyberspace? “Cyberspace is a globally networked.. the future relation between architecture and cyberspace. 1996. from that of virtual reality. of Austin. the perspective is broadening up to encompass the larger spectrum of visual and information based representations. Cyberspace: Some Proposals. physical world. Texas. artificial. but obviously a more visionary definition is needed in order to be able to grasp the kind of representation researchers as well as some of the science fiction writers are referring to. I.uk/~dcs3py/pages/work/documents/lit—survey/IV-Survey/ 28 Michael Benedikt is Professor in the School of Architecture at the University of Texas at Austin. It is already a fact that the former vast. for instance. No. but for the most part it derives from the immense traffic of information that constitute human enterprise in science. character and action. seen or heard objects are neither physical nor.122 27 14 . (which is also published in Computer Science Technical Report. So. precise and easy to understand. although not very clearly. computer-accessed. MIT Press. in Cyberspace: First Steps. Three Dimensional Information Visualisation. it can be argued that also this metaphorical pioneer imagery will become lost forever. coherent virtual world.3. 1991. there is little value in accepting any of those views as a simple fact. and a critical attitude is needed when the consumer market is continuously massaged with promises of a ‘sci-fi becomes reality’ technology. 12/96). made up of data. He has taught at the Graduate School of Design at Harvard and he is also President and CEO of Mental Technology Inc. Electronic Frontier Even the mental image of an ‘electronic frontier’ will not be appropriate forever. in form. unexplored online land is victim to crude commercialisation and consequently is changing into an easy victim of banality. this view seems not very powerful comparing to the visionary thoughts some people are formulating about. However. Many of the ‘pioneers’ already feel as if the frontier is given away to the hordes of ‘newbies’.
Marcos Novak foresees that a certain well-defined application will emerge out of the characteristics of a shared. New Jersey. a list of primitives and the valid relations among them. unrealised and unreal. To be capable of a threedimensionally representation of all kinds of abstract information. p. MIT Press.32 Nevertheless. This device receives a minimal. NOVAK. and a mode of being. visualisation is the task of a cyberspace desk. coded and compressed. 32 STRATE. Furthermore. many searchable variables can be shown to the user in very different ways. RONALD & GIBSON. Therefore. LANCE. a user-configurable interface standard. MICHAEL (Ed. 1996.31 Benedikt as well as Novak seek to bridge the gap between science fiction and reality. is the fact that rendering cyberspace is different from synthesising it. digital.enter cyberspace. action. nor a software graphics program. from mouse-controlled animation of video monitor images. the global concept of cyberspace itself is neither a hardware system. making possible all kinds of activities happen as they may. size. While generally is agreed that any physical access device is permitted. which includes a description language for virtual reality. it is possible that dimensions. What is remarkable. act or manipulate the environment. some critical voices diminish the importance of their view in their own personal research.233 31 the term ‘cyberspace synthesis’ refers to the reconciliation of different kinds of information into a coherent image. etc. it is definitely interesting to comment the hypothetical view of Benedikt. Position. For Novak30. and his proposed elementary principles to load space with threedimensional objects of information. The overriding principle in every case is that of minimal restriction.). For transmitting this data. texture. These dimensions themselves can be loaded with informational values. who is not accidentally an architect of profession. in BENEDIKT. axes as well as coordinates existing in this digital world. cyberspace should even act like a city. 1991. Therefore. In other words. and virtual world. can all be dependent on that information and are even able to change according to time or the user’s commands. although it depends on them technically. p. Many ways should be possible to navigate around. and is able to generate a visualisation of that space for the user to navigate within. The cyberspace decks are primarily responsible for virtual reality synthesis. Hampton Press. Liquid Architectures in Cyberspace. London. gravitational environment. through a completely developed virtual reality technology. Cyberspace: First Steps. colour. MARCOS. while ‘cyberspace rendition’ refers to the production of high-quality graphic presentation of that image. or more precisely. a cyberspace synthesiser. STEPHANIE. The quality of the rendition is then only dependent from the technology and parameters used by the user. In this way. and operations upon these. which are appropriate for optimal orientation and navigation in the accessed data. Surveying the Electronic Landscape: An Introduction. B. nor a simulation or sensorium production system. It is a place. description of the cyberspace.2 30 15 . while the actual rendering is being processed by current graphic supercomputer workstations. arguing that this concept remains hypothetical. a cyberspace protocol is used. some translation has to be done from certain known variables to visual distinguishable characteristics. and situate their cyberspace in the future. in Communication and Cyberspace: Social Interaction in an Electronic Environment. are not necessarily equivalent with the physical ones of our natural. concluded out of Benedikt’s definition of cyberspace. JACOBSON.
their true energy coursing in ‘architectures’ unseen except in cyberspace. in one word.Rules and principles that should be followed designing this sort of cyberspace will be investigated in chapter ‘IV. Benedikt tries to list the most important of these efforts as follows. for both non-economic and economic reasons. ‘those things are the RCA Building. identity. shit. Information Architecture’. § § § § § § § development and access to three-dimensionalised data effecting real-time animation implementing ISDN and enhancing other electronic information networks providing scientific visualisations of dynamic systems developing multimedia software devising virtual reality interface systems linking to digital interactive television Michael Benedikt is aware that it is probably best not to use grandiose terms like these. as husks. and new levels of truly interpersonal communication can be developed.’ Case said. The ordinary physical reality of these institutions and businesses are seen as surface phenomena. This ‘architecture’ is considered to be counterpart of and different from the form. location. Then will be analysed as well how cyberspace can represent useable information in a meaningful way. like a dream thousands of years old: the dream of transcending the physical world. Benedikt’s definition tells us that information-intensive institutions and businesses all have a form. it can be argued that the efforts the computer industry is taking nowadays are only actions of a temporary expensive but patient ‘under construction’ stage. Neuromancer) Furthermore. sharp as razors. identity. and functions are no longer dependent of physical appearance. Nevertheless. a parallel universe. And then. In this new existence of the individual. each one a blue neon replica of the Manhattan skyscraper. an endless neon cityscape. or which names are chosen for computer companies and products. roles.33 “’Christ. how enthusiastically people are greeting every little step the computer industry takes closer to this vision. it can be argued that the whole industry creativity to convince its customers is drawn by dreams such as cyberspace.” (William Gibson. egos. You know the old RCA Building?’ The program dived past the gleaming spires of a dozen identical towers of data. and working reality of the physical world. and which rules from the physical world should be implemented in this virtual realm. which in fact easily can be criticised. awestruck. complexity that cut the eye. jewel bright. and working reality. 33 16 . Benedikt is well aware that this completely mature kind of cyberspace does not yet exist outside of science fiction and the imagination of a few thousand people. or circumstances. as the virus twisted and banked above the horizonless fields of the Tessier-Ashpool cores. an ‘architecture’. This applies as well to individuals. After all. virtue is replaced and new associations are possible. this cyberspace should be designed like an another-life world. In cyberspace. It can be noticed though. ‘Hey. It can be examined how hype is created.’ the construct said.
are not yet determined. and it is certainly not so that these four are the only explanations that can be found. between wish and reality. advanced technological cultures. created cyberspace by their very activity. the earth. 34 17 . even myths. the sky. Variations develop on the common themes of life and death. science fiction. 1. characters. It can be said with great certainty that these mythological themes are still vital in our western. Comment It is a complex discussion when cyberspace is considered as the result of the hard work and the sole invention of the imagination of many young. With language and pictorial representation. delivered to them by their education as well by the entertainment industry. It can also be noted though. so have these programmers and hackers. mostly working day and night in the world’s best computer laboratories. Michael Benedikt himself distinguishes some threads that all try to prove the logical development of the phenomenon through stages of human evolution. The segment of our population most able to be influenced by this collective unconsciousness is the group of young people. Each story is able to intertwine with another. that adolescents. laws and lessons. become magnified and twisted in their struggle towards adulthood. whose boundaries between fiction and fact. In this cultural-anthropological view. But it is certain that these impressionistic points of view. Arguments can differ from the mythical version Benedikt is giving. for instance. It is no surprise then. Many blame the primarily fixed gender relation in most electronic games. Beliefs about the environment. that even when statistics show the majority of the virtual communities (more than 90%) consists of males. books or paintings. somehow less themselves than what they actually reach for. began to play an important role in sharing these values through time and succeeding generations. and perhaps before language. The Myth The first and oldest narrative begins in language. and in particular adolescent males. resulting in many different ‘whys’ and ‘wherefores’… Less coherent systems of narratives. that they actually populate most of the online communities and newsgroups. like cyberspace was announced in a science fiction novel. and far beyond were shared in the mind and the behaviour of a group. when the social approved lives and hyped conventions of the hightechnological industries’ (male) workforce would be objectively investigated.I. In this way. cyberspace can be seen as an extension and a most tempting stage for those ‘gateway’-media that are by definition. how we shape our lives. almost solely support the comic book. the online part of the opposite sex is quickly rising. Indeed. like theatre. are intriguing in the way they try to seek the right place for the more utopian cyberspace in some important historical developments. these ideas began to elaborate at a rapid pace. with a ‘commonness-of-mind’ among members of a tribe or a social group.6. They inform us about the way we understand each other and test ourselves. the meanings of things. ambitious males.4 Threads In search of the fundaments of this Benediktine cyberspace. Pure and ideal archetypes. the dangers. seen through the eyes of Michael Benedikt. scenes. and video-game industries. myths both reflect the ‘human condition’ and create it.34 Different authors give many reasons for the fact of female absence in online manifestations. which are filled and in fact alive with dynamically adapted myth representations. These young males are so convinced that their personal ‘mission’ consists of mastering the newest technologies.
With the upcoming digital television. While pure virtual reality will find its unique uses. which can be explained as the art of creating durable physical worlds. materials. and the internal development of social structures to meet population and resource pressure. As society grew and the need to keep records and to educate became apparent.”35 3. later on tablets. experiences and ideas. In this era. When people will intensively experience multimedia computing or fully developed virtual reality. bone. wood. fast personal computers. like events. p. and social and scientific life would never be the same. will employ all modes. property. with the choosing of advantageous sites for settlements. Architecture begun with the creative response to climatic stress. ideational. Television and cellular phones turned humans into nomads who are always in touch. the movement towards the dematerialization of media and reification of meanings became clearly visible. and implicit sharing of worlds embodied in the traditional mechanisms of text and representation remains to be seen. ceremony and so on. London. it seems likely that cyberspace. communication through language-bound descriptions of information is due to decrease in favour of a possibility to transmit information as events in a both immersive and interactive manner. writing advanced into more efficient small and conventional symbols. MICHAEL. All this had to be carried out with constraints of time. when even objects were loaded with meaningful stories of its maker. 35 BENEDIKT. fast and without delay. and finally also space and time were conquered. Online communities are increasing in number as well as in users. Introduction. the human body. the first historical movement of physical doing to a developed symbolic doing will loop back. and high-bandwidth cable. the so-called postindustrial societies stand ready for a deeper voyage into the individuals needs. “In future computer-mediated environments whether or not this kind of literal. task specialisation. consistent. as it was a period filled with social activity. The medium was again further being dematerialised. Centuries later. its use and its ownership. History of Architecture The next narrative will try to explain the principal theme driving architecture’s selfdematerialization. The introduction of the telephone changed physical information into an electrically transportable fact. signs which later developed to be intentional and ‘produced’: markings on sand. the invention of the printing press changed the ‘records’ into easily duplicable and transportable goods. MIT Press. and democratic ‘virtual world’. papyrus and so on. able to withstand generations of men. To underestimate the traffic of information then would be wrong. experiential sharing of worlds will supersede the symbolic. Cyberspace is then seen as a public. available everywhere and at any time. In this time already. Parallel development of wireless broadcasting started to saturate world’s invisible airwaves with a huge amount of encoded information. which even was able to be ‘stored’ electromagnetically. convention and design and construction expertise then available. The History of Communication Media Close-by related to the thread of the myth is the history of media technology: the history of the technical means by which absent or abstract entities.13 18 . such as: the mechanics of privacy.2. become symbolically represented. legitimisation. and children. women. 1991. stone. in Cyberspace: First Steps. We could start with the undeliberate spoors and tracks human beings left in the surrounding vegetation. This phenomenon might contradict the general view of architecture. in full flower.
The theoretical laboratory in architecture is still the Studio. Piranesi’s series of etchings entitled Carceri. detail. and the value of pure research has always been undisputed. And thus only as a religious vision of… cyberspace. MIT Press. peace and harmony accomplished by ruling ‘good and wise’. Introduction. as this the very essence of ‘a vision’. MICHAEL (Ed. the Heavenly City is considered as twice as ‘imaginary’. economy. reaching beyond nature’s grip in the ‘here and now’. enormous weight. Michael Benedikt as well as Marcos Novak37. Still nowadays. MICHAEL. Meanwhile. complexity. awe. The ability to imagine architecture obviously outstrips the ability to build it. Piranesi drew an imagined world of complex. these descriptions. cultural archetype. create paradise gardens. standing for enlightened human interaction. Ledoux emphasised une architecture parlante. but once again because even it became actual. Kandinsky. while the original biblical Eden may be imaginary. or Prisons. and the availability of all things pleasurable and cultured. In many other disciplines this marks the difference between applied and pure research.Reality is death… “If only we could. we build gravity-defying cathedrals. This should not be seen as a weakness. in East and West. in Cyberspace: First Steps. Benedikt listed parts of it as follows: weightlessness. 1991. These projects. MARCOS. in the very conventional sense. Against the increasing constriction of architectural practice. In art. while it is also returning architecture to a public realm.244 37 36 19 . only ‘in the imagination’. evocative architecture. uniqueness. expense.14 NOVAK. or the lack of structure. Cyberspace: First Steps. we would wander the earth and never leave home. continue in many science fiction novels and films. The paintings of Max Enst or Bosch create mysterious new worlds. because it is not real. universality. p. p. 1991. have common features. form. lightness. but is only accessible for architects. like poetry. utter cleanliness. we would enjoy triumphs without risks. London. They argue that visionary architecture. “36 Pursuing these dreams. In almost all cultures in history. Furthermore. in counterpart to the earthly garden of Eden. BENEDIKT. Klee or Mondrian. Returning to the history of architecture. But this can also be recognised in the history of architecture. consort daily with angels. MIT Press. London. Liquid Architectures in Cyberspace. use visionary architectural examples to prove and clarify their professional point of view in this matter. these should be considered physical realisations of a symbolic. buildings and projects have begun in serious pursuit of realising the dream of the Heavenly City. in BENEDIKT. huge sport-stadia for games or magnificent libraries. it can be noted that all the images of the Heavenly City. enter heaven now and not die. structure. floats the image of the Heavenly City. And the production of visionary architecture even continues to the present. Cyberspace architecture can then be seen as a vast virtual laboratory for the invention of new architectural visions. it could come into existence only as a virtual reality.). palaces upon palaces. early modern artists like Malevich. transcendence of nature and of crude beginnings. marks the beginning of an architectural discourse of purposefully unbuildable visions. numerological complexity. Thus. Boullée tried to search for a way to express the sublime potential of architecture. architecture as poetry. which carry more meaning than good proportions or structural engineering alone. seeks an extreme: beauty. originated in the time of medieval monks. again. prefigure cyberspace in turning away from representing known nature. the new Jerusalem of the book of Revelation. If the history of architecture is filled with visionary projects of this kind. and information. are often well beyond what can be built. eat of the Tree and not be punished. so that the world cannot share the inventions produced there. Once. radiance.
rationality. Sometimes buildings themselves have begun to be considered as inhabitable arguments. and enlightened planning. the message. architecture shifted in a peculiar way more to the field of illustrated conceptual art. But. Le Corbusier designed his own Heavenly City or La Ville Radieuse. carried by any architectural representation is investigated. propositions. reversals and iterations. To some. shaping information of meaning in their anatomy.In another line of reasoning. not that important on the architectural discourse and history as a whole. today’s avant-garde informs tomorrow’s practice. The invention of high-tensile steels. But it seems that this architectural ‘message system’ has taken a life of its own. It seems thus that both of these architectural minded researchers are trying to create a well-defined specific field of virtual design practice. In the movement called ‘Deconstructivism’. which has clearly an equal importance. Then. in… cyberspace. or narratives in an architectural discourse. Referring to Aaron Betsky’s Violated Perfection (1990). real architecture. this limit is already reached. which both authors use to clarify the role of future architecture in the field of the virtual. steel-reinforced concrete and highstrength glass together with the economic pressure steered the architect to celebrate a new vocabulary of lightness. but actually stands next to the physical architecture. it is obvious that even nowadays. an exercise in soaring geometry. but as an object of information to be ‘read’ as a collection of junctions. and whether the public really cares for it to be open. becoming a pure demonstration of an intellectual process. metaphorical meanings. History of Mathematics This thread can be conceived as a line of arguments and insights that revolve around three different thoughts. it is remarkable in what extent Benedikt and Novak believe in the force of the avantgarde. and so on. Furthermore. on the contrary. the Radiant City. logically. And yes. captivated architectural theory between the 1920s and the 1960s. it can also be noted that some examples are known of creative movements whose influences were. although the search for the Heavenly City remains. as a rule. after all. § § § the propositions of geometry and space the spatialisation of arithmetical or algebraic operations reconsideration of the nature of space in the light of the second point 20 . 4. In some movements. buildings carrying symbolic content. there is a limit to how far these notions of dematerialization and abstraction can reach and still produce interesting and useful. Benedikt is almost sure that: “…we should remember that. some architects are. very engaged in producing the qualities of matter and sensuality rather than the dynamic flows of contemporary feelings and technologies. Let alone the whole discussion that can be started of what can be considered as avant-garde and what not. the solution is apparent: this inducement can usefully flourish further and even far beyond. Also the concept of dematerialization of architecture and the concept of the Heavenly City is not equally obvious or provable in the wide range of opinions and creative associations architecture provokes.” It is the practice and force that the avant-garde had (and still has) in the architectural discourse. for instance. The whole forceful notion that architecture is about the experiential modulation of space and time. the building is considered not (only) as an object of beauty or inhabitation. Moreover. indeed. Comment Questions can be raised of which other scientific laboratories are accessible for the public. In 1924.
Developed through time since. the city has an important role in Gibson’s utopian view as well. who tries to explain 38 SKEATES. the Cartesian coordinate system. What if information is that element of 3D-space and time.6-21 21 . the results had many uses in building and road construction. with the discovery of non-Euclidean geometry. it can still be useful to illustrate the fictional images that Gibson himself uses in most of his books more thoroughly. the science and art of geometry has developed sporadically.7 Cyberspace City38 As will be noticed in the next chapter as well.8. December 1997. Moreover. the metaphor of the city is very powerful to use in the hybrid structure of the electronic realm. From the late nineteenth century on. All the different manifestations do need a strong and clear set of underlying definitions that avoid to intertwine. although it is certainly not the same. Descartes’ invention. began in ancient Greece. This strong concept should not only be considered as the proof that space itself is non-physical. I. RICHARD. one can only guess at the implications…”. As the concept of cyberspace is deeply interrelated with the overall environments plus powerful atmosphere of his imaginable world. This form of cyberspace is still an elusive and future thing that actually hardly can be described sufficiently in this early stage. resulted in an ‘algebraised’ geometry as well as a ‘geometrised’ algebra. space and symbol. On the other side. This space resembles and is borrowed from the same piece of paper or computer-screen on which we see them. But this linkage between geometry and algebra. seem to exist in some kind of identical geography. with the concept of consistent geometries of higher dimensionality than three. Or we can investigate the more common art of diagrams and charts.6. the physical and the abstract and many other variables into simple interval or continuous scales. an efficient term grouping a collection of online phenomena that already exist but are still developing. These pictures of the natural.Reasoning with shape. in fact deductive geometry. This has been recognised also by Richard Skeates. suddenly all statements of visual geometrical insight could be studied more generally and accurately in the symbolic/algebraic language of analytical mathematics. geographies. tomorrow practical. in CITY.5 Conclusion On one hand. I. form and argument. and it got manufactured and transferred to thousands of locations? What would the implications be when almost all existing traditional two-dimensional representations would get some kind of competing application that is able to represent itself one or two dimensions higher? What is the role of architecture if this space has to be designed? Who knows. In this way. actually works in two ways. from simple bar charts through complex matrices and ‘spreadsheets’ to represent multi-dimensional. All of them. which mixes histories. cyberspace can be seen as a fact of today. phenomenal world represent the first border of a continent filled with sign language and will act ultimately as the engine to produce cyberspace. but: like one said: “…today intellectual. ‘virtual reality‘ is then only one of the possible applications although with a large importance since it has to represent the wide range of experiences existing in the three-dimensional realm. visionary thoughts try to scale deeper and discover that something formless and undefined is rapidly developing. computer-generated visualisations of invisible physical processes. The Infinite City. Nr. but also that space is able to contain all different kinds of information in one. pp. mechanical engineering and even in the field of astrology. To clarify the very notion and conception of cyberspace more clearly. We can think of beautiful forms that emerge from simple recursive equations into the rendered and surprisingly symmetric complex chaos called ‘fractals’.
it delivers the possibility to a consciousness that can roam free of its biological chains. in search of the urban non-places of post-modernity. The Infinite City. But he also saw a certain sense in the notion that burgeoning technologies require outlaw zones. the substitution and retreat of public space for private space. Gibson in turn describes a totally man-made. but Case tended toward the idea that the Yakuza might be preserving the place as a kind of historical park. represented as the virtual space of cyberspace.15 22 . using the highly imaginable representations in the work of William Gibson. in CITY. Remarkably. Nr. without history and without particular geography. finding no signs of the former identity. as it can be noticed that this dark and negative view of the city leads directly back to the beginning of this chapter and the strong and staggering view visualised in the film Blade Runner. economical as well as political – from the public to the private needs. In its most accomplished form. This is obviously a realm that is far greater and richer than the physical one.8. without polluted air. it revives the old notions of community in the creation of democratic global networks. it may not be forgotten that the claims are formulated in the context of the myth and. becomes an attractive option. At the same time. constructed world. a reminder of humble origins. the metaphor. However. he considers the future city to be lost.”39 But cyberspace is the ultimate anti-city: the city without streets. in one word: cyberspace. It is no surprise then that cyberspace itself is defined as ‘non-space’ and imaged as a cityscape. In short. the more attractive the ‘new world’. for the three concepts are ultimately linked. the myth of cyberspace seems to offer a solution to a number of urban problems. urbanisation manifests itself by the overwhelming experiences of communications and data technologies. It promises an alternative to an almost inhabitable ‘real’ world. However. RICHARD.the ‘future alternatives of the physical city’. although it can certainly not be considered as a ‘thing’ that is the outcome of an ‘urbanisation’-process in time. the temporal. On the contrary. The essence of cyberspace is sole privacy: a removal of life – social. spatial and cultural identification becomes increasingly difficult in the context of a globally homogenised culture that is defined by consumption and which is deprived of any external reference. p. “The more the old ordered world of modernity is represented as having changed into a turbulent and dangerous post-modern place.” (William Gibson. that Night City wasn’t there for its inhabitants. form or structure. but as a deliberately unsupervised playground for technology itself. without crowds. even far more human-friendly than nature can offer. December 1997. As habitable and pleasant spaces become rare and individual needs increasingly emerge. moreover. Primarily. In these continuous non-places where no one is at ‘home’ at any moment. the search for new territories to urbanise is forced to shift to the digital realm. Neuromancer) 39 SKEATES. “There were countless theories explaining why Chiba City tolerated the Ninsei enclave.
place and identity are still apparent. It is not surprising then. JACOBSON RONALD & GIBSON B. Technology refers to any organisation of tool use. Conclusively. cyberspace could be described as any space that is a field for human effects through environmental interaction. The sights and sounds and. Unreal Estates.… and are often situated within forgotten en unusable spaces throughout the city. How far this strong influence will reach. restricted to that type of human effect field that is computermediated and has an electronic tele-effect of symbolic exchange.On the other hand. and as a place where signs of history. This is the result. in STRATE LANCE. 41 PHELAN. in future. of course.”42 In Gibson books. two important streams of thoughts have been recognised. Hampton Press. However. Nevertheless. it can be noticed that almost all the definitions of cyberspace were purely literal and fictional. p. cyberspace represents a shared space of common goals. they offer notions of refuge and escape from a world of institutional oppression and brutality.42 42 BENEDIKT MICHAEL. November/December 1993. the Ninsei enclave. the architecture if the real world dominate consciousness. in: ANY. that most researchers do not want to wait the fully developed implementation to give their visionary opinion and most promising view of this phenomenon. STEPHANIE (Ed. and will do so in the foreseeable future. Here are thus two opposite views of the city: as a place where destructive forces erase the marks of the past. So it has to be noted that many cyberspaces. JOHN M. have names such as the Projects. Nr. the Bridge. I. Globally. out of more than a dozen different definitions. exactly will have to be further awaited. they can be considered as the new frontier of cyberspace. Communication and Cyberspace: Social Interaction in an Electronic Environment. these are the ultimate symbols of the accidental and chaotic re-ordering of modernity. CyberWalden: The Inner Face of Interface. from the first firestones in caves to CAD-microchips in Silicon Valley. And also like technology. still are in the phase of full development.. of the unknown future of the concept itself.). Electrotecture: Architecture and the Electronic Future.40 These spontaneous. Some have already generated some interesting examples of architecturally influenced information handling. it is almost always presumed to mean ‘high’ technology of recent vintage. 1996. New Jersey. while available images or immersive experiences might be more suitable for describing this sort of phenomenon. But.56 40 23 . but possibly the next fragment is able to ease some minds for now: “But only a fraction of most people’s lives is spent engaging in electronically mediated communication. for the human world requires both collaboration and competition. and not only the two mentioned above. cyberspace will probably have a specific and certain range of applications. where spaces have become places and both the social and the physical were able to combine. unplanned and organic-grown manifestations of community are able to reconstitute themselves outside the surveyed and controlled urban landscape. As alternative and experimental spaces.8 Conclusion Unfortunately. therefore. p. examples that will be investigated in the next chapters. idealistic and optimistic micro-spaces of opposition do try to emerge. The phenomenon of Cyberspace is not unlike technology in that respect41.3.
and certainly for architecture. No.” (Allucquére Rosanne Stone .” (Mark C. in Any. computer-savvy men (and increasingly.3. p. women) batting the keys with abandon. Taylor . No. and playfulness faster than I can theorise it). are the architects of virtual community.14) 24 . multiplicity. or rather their bodies (since their selves are off in the net.3. I remind myself that these are the people who are writing the descriptors right here in front of me – writing the computer code that makes the phantamastic structures of prosthetic sociality.“Evening in the ACTLab finds bunches of young. in Any.38) II Internet Cyberspace “The implications of digital technology for a broad range of contemporary experiences. simultaneously everywhere and nowhere. Nov/Dec. living out fragmentation.Electrotecture. Nov/Dec. As I watch them. needs certainly to be considered.Sex. Death and Architecture. not the big system designers. These people. Then they will inhabit the structures they write. p.
the concept of mass production was introduced. in fact be ‘designed’. Furthermore. that developments can be planned. Mass media and many industries got bigger and smaller at the same time: large international conglomerations are reaching larger audiences. another reason can be found in the remarkable shift in contemporary western society. However. some of the underlying technological techniques which are characteristic to the concept of Internet cyberspace should first be described. the ongoing miniaturisation of electronics. the ‘architecture’ that is being implemented in various examples of online social environments is investigated. and which in fact will be described further in this chapter. since these cognitive notions have proved to be an effective way to clarify the chaotic structure that is now undeniably present in the digital realm. not the only reason for the huge success this communication technology is experiencing today. some of the urban metaphors being used on the Internet are described.II. and the experiences that give shape to the daily routines. It is in this view.243 25 . architecture and urbanism used in this chapter are re-imagined in the context of many observations such as: the digital communications revolution. Rather it is asked to imagine and create digitally mediated environments for the kinds of lives that all want to lead in the sort of communities that all want to have. and the growing domination of software over materialised form. the forms of cultural activity. specific groups. 1995. NICHOLAS. But it can certainly be one of the important economical and motive-driven reasons why the actual implementation of. in the post-information age. But. the online communities described in this chapter is developing so fast. manufacturing with uniform and repetitious methods in any one given space and time. Arguments are given that the task of the future does not consist out of digital plumbing of communications links and associated electronic applications. Why? Why should this new kind of architectural and urban design be investigated? Because the emerging digital networking structures affect the access to economic opportunities and public services. Being Digital. The only way to satisfy the individual needs of a large number of users is by the concept of the network. while at the same time niche. for instance. This is. In the industrial age. of course. global economical laws. Meantime. The transition from an industrial age to a post-industrial or information age has been discussed for so much and for so long. the inaction of power. the age of the computers. as information and its use got extremely personalised. the character and content of public discourse. The same economies of scale were used in the information age. narrow specialised services catered small. that some might not have noticed that humankind is actually passing into a post-information1 age. but with less regard for time and space. moving and following the strong. It is necessary to understand what is under way. London.1 Introduction In this chapter. Hodder & Stoughton. at any time. that some social as well as architectural important online digital manifestations will be investigated. the audience often only consists out of one. so that organised and intervening alternatives can be explored. before many of the intrinsic aspects possessed by the online manifestations can be understood. The manufacturing could happen anywhere. 1 This line of arguments is taken from NEGROPONTE. Therefore. In the Real World… The question can be asked of why the social communication applications existing on the Internet are nowadays so commonly accepted and so increasingly successful. Next to the specific characteristics that these environments possess. nor the production of electronically deliverable content. the commodification of bits. pp.
1 The Mother of All Networks “There is little doubt that the Internet. such as file transfer protocol (ftp) and remote login technologies (TELNET). and redundant. It would take until the 1980s when all the networks were converted to a single standard network protocol that ARPANET finally became the backbone of what is now called the Internet. Cyberspace: The Human Dimension. p.II..5 WOOLLEY.2 History of the Internet “As electrically contracted. Que Corp. WILLIAM J.“3 It all started in 1969 quite harmlessly with the completion of several projects of the American Advanced Research Projects Agency. rare and very expensive) remote computers.110 5 TOLHURST W. this electronic network can be considered as essentially ‘indestructible’. regardless of their distance. by radio and microwave. PIKE M. Place. To accomplish this task. also when considerable parts of it would be damaged. The ARPANET was originally designed to allow ARPA researchers to share data. it uses electronic messages. DAVID B. However. Indianapolis. is perhaps the most fascinating and explosive technological and social development of the twentieth century.2. the globe is no more than a village.10 4 MITCHELL. p.H. One of the other main development efforts was to design the whole system in such way that the exchange of information would not be endangered if physical sections of the network were lost. Freeman Co. 1995. 1996. City of Bits: Space.2 It is the technology of communication that enables information of any type to be carried from one place to another. This resulted in the still existing network protocol that will be explained further on.. During the 1970s. geographically dispersed.. Oxford. p.” It took more then 20 years after Marshall McLuhan spoke these words in 1964.. II. BLANTON K. The technology that makes this possible is the network.33 2 26 . So by 1975. optical fibre. New York. Special Edition. p. So in fact. Implementing this technology would mean that communications would always be fully operational. Virtual Worlds: a Journey in Hype and Hyperreality.. for all its faults. The American government decided to fund an experimental electronic network that should allow information to be exchanged between (at that time huge. Blackwell Publishers. even by nuclear attack. this particular characteristic had the immediate interest and priority from the military services. but was increasingly used to exchange messages. 1994. 1992. an event that actually should be considered as the first ‘virtual’ community. carried by wire. ARPA in short. Next to the typical communication standard tools we still know today.125 3 WHITTLE.. and the Infobahn. the control was being transferred to the American Department of Defence that wanted to use the characteristics of these non-hierarchical networks to serve their military computer communications. Using the Internet.4 Consequently.. soon enough the military (MILNET) and the civilian (ARPANET) networks had to be split as traffic was growing beyond the existing capability of telephone lines. W. ARPA wanted to encourage the educational community to take advantage of their network and some university research groups began to use its applications. before the image of the seductive ‘global village’ became fashionable again. because its electronic underpinnings are so modular. MIT Press. Massachusetts. BENJAMIN. an inter-computer electronic mail system (e-mail) was being implemented.
To be understandable for the user. when it is interpreted by the Web browser. and programmed a text-based Web browser in January 1992 as well. each online document can be electronically retrieved by its assigned unique online address called Uniform Resource Locator (URL). regardless of their true location. To make this possible. was a graphic Web browser that used the same sort of ‘point-and-click‘ manipulations that had been available in personal computers for some time. This program. combinations of words are used instead of numbers. 6 Andreessen would later leave the institute and co-found Netscape Communications Corp. WWW Uniform Resource Locator HyperTex HTTP t Transfer Protocol URL HTM L = URL + HTTP + HTML The unique Internet address. Standard tags are HyperText embedded in the text for effects and links. The remarkable power of this concept lies in the fact that these hyperlinks are able to direct the user to other host computers. animations. ‘send data’. These researchers created the HTTP protocol. A hypertext document is usually written in a certain standardised and simple HyperText Markup Language (HTML). The development of the World Wide Web began in 1989 by Tim Berners-Lee and his colleagues at the European Particle Physics Laboratory called CERN. movies. ETH-Zürich 27 .. In this way.object. Short messages are sent instead of using a dedicated connection the whole time. powerful formula.<A HREF=”http://www. which is a standard communications protocol needed for transmission between computers. making the reach of the Internet effectively transparent. and three-dimensional worlds.be/”> click me!! Language </A> However. ‘http://www. in Geneva. This system uses the concept of ‘Hypertext’ or ‘Hypermedia Links’ to easily retrieve and access documents in the increasing vast amount of information present in the digital memories of the many ‘servers’ or ‘hosts’ connected to the Internet. Switzerland.machine. the whole concept of the Internet can be written in one. HTML defines the standard look and feel of information published on the Web. the huge success of the Internet only came after the release of Mosaic in September 1993.edu/subdir/file. links can lead to other documents. 3D and the Web.g.7. E. 7 KURMANN. Hyperlinks are electronic connections that allow a user to select a word or picture from a two-dimensional web page in order to access additional information that is related to that originally requested – ‘clicked’ . ‘get in touch’. CAAD Programmierkurs ‘97/’98. In conclusion. whose Netscape Navigator became rapidly the dominant Web browser soon after its release in December 1994. Markup E.ac. also known as ‘the Web’ or ‘the Net’.II. images.… Text based description of data documents.2.html’ The standard communication protocol. developed by Marc Andreessen6 and others at the National Centre of Supercomputer Applications (NCSA) at the University of Illinois. DAVID. has become the leading information retrieval service (also called ‘byte and packet mover’) for the Internet. E.2 The Web The World Wide Web (WWW). sounds.g.kuleuven.g.
Each pixel a million megabytes. Thirty-five percent of the hosts are in the rest of the world. next to the low general response of around 15%.182 8 28 .000 10. HTML + Mosaic + WWW 50% is commercial use Sounds + Dynamic HTML + VRML + … Tele-presence + Web TV + Shopping + 1 billion … The prediction of the year 2000 was published in 1995 by Nicholas Negroponte. Another method consists of counting the reachable (or ‘ping’able) computers on the Internet in a fixed period.000 2.000 Users ARPANET Comment 4 million 15 million 25 million 50 million 300 million US-wide connections Universities + Email + File Transfer. neglecting the actual people online. 9 NEGROPONTE. Nevertheless most online services on Hosts or servers are computers that store and transmit documents to other computers.3 Facts and Numbers “ Program a map to display frequency of data exchange.000 30. which in turn are generally called clients. who points out that: “The Internet is not North American any more. computer-literate places such as university areas or near computer research parks. these numbers should still be read carefully. that numbers can vary between different sources. the rate of traffic threatening to overload your simulation. NICHOLAS. First. Up your scale.000. Until now. and that is the fast-growing part. every thousand megabytes a single pixel on a very large screen.”9 Facts of today actually show that chances are still considerable that he foresaw his remarkable number correctly. surveys can be sent to as much online-system administrators as possible. even putting the number of American users twice has high as the number world-wide. At a hundred million megabytes per second. Being Digital. Your map is about to go nova. acting as the gateway for more than 8 million subscribers. Cool it down.000. 1995. Then they start to pulse. The true density of Internet accesses is different as well and for instance higher in affluent.000 4. Nevertheless. It is no surprise then. London. The general methods certain services and companies use to calculate the growth of the Internet are definitely open for easy critic. a task that easily can be processed by programmed software browser robots. For instance.2.000. p. Doubts are then raised whether how reliable difficult questions as “How many network people does your organisation count?” are answered. director of MIT Media Lab. Severs perform these actions whenever they have been asked by transmittable commands that are standardised by the principles described in the network protocol.II. one host could incidentally be the online server of American Online (AOL). but only servers are counted as well. two different approaches can be recognised. Hodder & Stoughton.000. as no true way is existent to be sure of the exact value of users on this ‘network of networks’ and as it should be noted that most surveys are commercialmarket inspired. Manhattan and Atlanta burn solid white. Not only protected sites are then skipped. outlines of hundred-year-old industrial parks ringing the old core of Atlanta…” (William Gibson – Neuromancer) Yea r 1971 1974 1977 1991 1994 1995 1996 1998 2000 Hosts8 23 62 111 700. you begin to make out certain blocks in midtown Manhattan.
MIT Press.400 baud is generally used by modem owners of today. 13 NEGROPONTE. when bandwidth is the capacity to move information down a given channel. however. Wired. STEPHEN & AURIGI ALESSANDRO.12 Research results indicate that contemporary fibre and laser technology should be able to deliver 1. Since the actual cost of high-bandwidth cable connection grows with the distance.2 to 6. and average incomes were well above average (55. in CITY. pp. London.4 Bandwidth “As bandwidth burgeons and computing muscle continues to grow.13 “If the value of real estate in traditional urban form is determined by location. and baud actually mean the same thing. Hodder & Stoughton. Being Digital. most people compare it to the diameter of a pipe or to the number of lanes on a highway. no network connection at all.7. City of Bits: Space. Place. The latter is named after Emile Baudot. location. Who’s what on the Web. Nr.. but exclusion from it becomes a new form of marginalisation. But bandwidth actually is not well understood. zero bandwidth. in short. 1995. while today 1. Tapping into a broadband data link is like being on ‘Main Street’. p. bandwidth.2. 1995. May 1997.”11 The number of bits that can be transmitted per second through a given channel (like copper wire.16 14 MITCHELL. Place. a ‘fancy’ 38.5 million users in October 1984. bandwidth. looked “remarkably white. The conclusion was very explicit and is already confirmed by many other Internet researchers. especially now that fibre optics makes almost infinite bandwidth possible.33-35) 11 MITCHELL.10 II. Urbanising Cyberspace? The Nature and Potential of the Virtual Cities Movement. Accessibility is redefined.. Meanwhile. J. which can be expressed by the technical term bps or baud. bps. middle class and well educated”. 1995. What stays constant. August. radio spectrum.”14 For William Mitchell. 17 10 29 . certain information-intensive GRAHAM.000 billion bits per second. we will feel present in them.000$). MIT Press. then the value of a network connection is determined by bandwidth. City of Bits: Space. well-educated and often in exactly the sorts of high paying jobs that keep a steady flow of spendable cash sloshing into their bank accounts”. is the speed of the transmitted electronic messages. This cyberspace. which is now considered the new economy of land use and transportation. or optical fibre) is the bandwidth of that channel. p. NICHOLAS. WILLIAM J. We can expect them to evolve into the elements of cyberspace construction – constituents of a new architecture without tectonics and a new urbanism freed from the constraints of physical space. So. they ignore the technological ability to put more or fewer bits per second down the very same pipe.22 (àthey refer to BROWNING. Massachusetts. and the Infobahn. location. over 2/3 had at least a university degree. The ‘tyranny of distance’ is replaced by that of bandwidth. The Internet public tended overwhelmingly to be “exactly the sort of people that companies want to talk to: 30-ish. the ‘Morse’ of telex. only a third of the users were women. making intense interactions and fast connections. By doing so. p. The digital network creates new opportunities. and the Infobahn. Massachusetts. cyberspace places will present themselves in increasingly multi-sensory and engaging ways… We will not just look at them. beginning with 3. p.’ A survey in 1995 investigated the population of the Internet.. WILLIAM J. makes a person an outcast from cyberspace.the Internet itself use the following simple and still rather truthful rule: ‘The Internet is doubling every year.0 million bps is still well suited for most existing and powerful multimedia. 114 12 Bits per second.
and anarchistic.3 Hypertext Asked about the original use of the word cyberspace. and all the data from the chunks are reassembled into the original data.”16 The media are continuously developing in an unbelievable rapid race. William Gibson once answered he actually meant to suggest: “The point at which media (flow) together and surround us. passing many different ‘routing’-computers at the network’s nodes. II. Sometimes.areas are developing around high-capacity data sources. Rather than send a large block of data over a dedicated line directly to the destination computer. Blackwell Publishers. which all try to concentrate powerful communications equipment. II. p. Each chunk is then sent along a common transmission line in a ‘packet’ that also contains source and destination information. Network protocol is a formal set of rules that computers connected to the network use to ‘talk’ to one another. p. physical paths are replaced by logical links. Late Show. In the investigation of some cyberspace environments.. bottom-up. the first term ‘cyber’ in the word ‘cyberspace’ would seem to imply a controlled space. BLANTON K. are recognised as one of the new growing poles of many economical important industries. It will keep seeking its destination until the destination computer is reached.. originals are ‘allowed’ to get lost or destroyed.. ‘Internet cyberspace’ or ‘pre-cyberspace’ is the name often given to the now existing large group of online phenomena.15 This protocol has the advantage that any number of computers can share the same communication network. Alternatively. symbols – not TOLHURST W. Special Edition. In the case of the Internet. Using the Internet. Que Corp. At arrival. the circulation system may be more freeform: when wandering through a sort of three-dimensional labyrinth. looking at the contemporary graphic interfaces. which opens another ‘window’ with a ‘view‘ into that place. which will be investigated later.1 Navigating through Cyberspace In cyberspace. With cyberspace as I describe it you can literally wrap yourself in media and not have to see what’s really going on around you.. the packet information is stripped. II. since copies of digital data are absolutely exact replicas of the originals. this essential denial of any hierarchic structure will definitely result in important design characteristics and constraints. and yet the contemporary electronic landscape is commonly characterised as decentralised. It is obviously a less ‘physical’ spatiality than other cyberspaces.2. (à he refers to : Interview with the author. The standard Internet protocol of today is called TCP/IP or ‘Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol’. Universities and so-called tele-ports or tele-cottages.5 Network Protocol One major application that resulted from the electronic network development was a new and revolutionary type of communication protocol. this system breaks the data into small chunks. Virtual Worlds : a Journey in Hype and Hyperreality.3. It’s the ultimate extension of the exclusion of daily life.31 16 WOOLLEY BENJAMIN.) 17 This refers back to the visionary Benediktine cyberspace and other immersive applications. Indianapolis. while this system can contain different connection types and different transmission capacities. PIKE M.122. but the one that is growing most rapidly is definitely the cyberspace of the Internet. at least pretend to be17. 15 30 . and is able to re-route itself around damaged parts. Each packet finds its own separate way through the network. 1994. 1992. BBC2. computers use the technology of packet switching. Oxford. the requested places are nested to form a strict hierarchy: you go down a level by clicking a folder icon. 26 September 1990. Furthermore. Moreover.
necessarily doors or gateways – may provide clickable entry points to any number of other places. “Click, click through cyberspace; this is the new architectural promenade.”18 Despite the fact that the system in essence is uncontrolled, still some forms of structure within the Internet can be recognised. The electronic information space consists of an incredible amount of free-text or structured databases, hypertext documents, and knowledge bases. Exploring and retrieving useful and meaningful information in this resulting chaotic field can thus be considered as quite a task, incomparable by its very nature. To fully understand the concept of hypertext, though which most of the navigating on the Internet cyberspace is still being done, seven concepts are proposed that are commonly used when hypermedia documents of all kind are made. In this way, they can be considered as important design principles as well for presenting and structuring online information. They try to cover a broad range of navigation tools and techniques from appropriate structuring of information to the application of artificial intelligence techniques.19
Description 1. Linking Global linking structure of a document Mechanisms for full-text search Mechanism for sequentially visiting selected locations within the hyper-documents Hierarchical table of contents Connection between not-yet-linked but semantically related nodes
2. Searching 3. Sequentialisation
Full-text search Path
4. Hierarchy 5. Similarity
Table of contents Index
Graphical visualisation of contents of Overview map hyper-document Mechanisms to execute complex tasks on behalf of the user Shopping agent
1. The linking structure is the most known and remarkable feature of a hypertext document. Links allow direct access to a designated location within the very information space through markers that are embedded within the documents. Two types can be distinguished: normal static links and program generated dynamic links, which are automatically created upon a certain action.
MITCHELL, WILLIAM J., City of Bits: Space, Place, and the Infobahn, MIT Press, Massachusetts, 1995, p. 24 19 The table is based on GLOOR, PETER, Elements of Hypermedia Design: Techniques for Navigation and Visualisation in Cyberspace, Birckhäuser, Berlin
2. Searching capabilities imply locating information in a specific range of stored possibilities. Generally, only full-text searches are processed, but systems exist that provide additional databases. Most known examples of this principle are so-called search-engines such as ‘Yahoo!’ or ‘Lycos’.20 3. N-dimensional hypertext documents can be reduced to one sequential path for a guided tour or a developing story when the user is not allowed to skip information or persist a personal approach throughout the structure. 4. Most well understood by humans are documents that possess a hierarchical structure. Almost all books are organised this way. On some sites on the Internet, this structure is made visible to the users so that they can use it as their principal navigation aid. 5. Similarity links connect nodes that have similar contents but might not yet be linked. An index is a very simple example of this concept as the same entries might prove some sort of equality. More complex tools are based upon the assumption that a system has knowledge not only about the document structure, but also about the – semantic - contents of the information contained in the document. It is not surprising that the systems of this category have not developed beyond the state of early prototypes. 6. Mapping is a simple and strong technology to visually structure webs of information. Similar to real maps, these graphic maps show overall context so the users know where they are and where they can go from there. Mapping is orthogonal to the previous concepts, which means that maps can be used to visualise them. 7. Guides and agents are not only popular for navigation, but also for many other electronic areas. The system incorporates some form of artificial intelligence so that it can help the human user in any of the other six concepts to retrieve information. Agents can be implemented in several forms ranging from simple, hardwired guides to rule-based systems that are able to react in a flexible way to different needs of different users.
A hypertext is not a closed work but an open fabric of heterogeneous traces and associations that are in process of constant revision and supplementation.21 The structure of a hypertext is thus certainly not fixed, but shifting and always mobile, even dependent in time. Branching options multiply, menus reproduce, windows open other windows, and screens display other screens leaving and following heterogeneous traces and associations. Instead of an organic whole, a hypertext is like collage and texture whose meaning is unstable and whose boundaries are constantly changing. There is no clearly defined pre-established path through the layers of a hypertext. And although the network is shared, the course each individual follows is different. Thus, no hypertext is the product of a single author who is its creative origin or architect. All authorship becomes joint authorship, and all production becomes co-production.22 In conclusion, hypertextual space displays and evokes an alternative architecture.23 The Internet cyberspace is a complicated and evolving structure. To overcome these essential drawbacks with eventually could hold further development, some voices
See next chapters for more nformation about search-engines TAYLOR, MARK C., De-signing the Simcit, in: ANY, Electrotecture: Architecture and the Electronic Future, Nr.3, November/December 1993, p.16 22 The problem of perfect duplication and authorship cannot be neglected, and much research is now being developed for the protection of digital data available on the Internet. 23 TAYLOR C. MARK & SAARINEN ESA, Imagologies: Media Philosophy, Routledge, London, 1994, p.’Telewriting 6’
foresee some kind of overall structure that is able to translate machine space into cognitively understandable physical space in the near future.
The city awaiting us will be ‘unrooted’ to any spot on the surface of the earth. Nr. it should be noted as well that science fiction is a genre that has long participated in the representation of the city. reading. partying. and legal act. tourist. sharing the holiday season with family. farming. but by logical linkages. offering charitable service. Electrotecture: Architecture and the Electronic Future. churchgoing. purchasing. intruder. The Electronic Agora. Electrotecture: Architecture and the Electronic Future. SCOTT. This concept can be recognised on the Web as well. It will rather be shaped by connectivity and bandwidth constraints than by accessibility and land values. These visionary authors are actually able to converge William Gibson’s original imaginable structures. Cyberspace : The Human Dimension.”25 “The network is the urban site before us. gardening. passageways. Classical categories will turn inside out and change the discourse in which architects have engaged from classical times until now.33 27 If architecture is considered as materially constructed form.II. and streets.as an owner. or invader – are making a symbolic.4. but then ‘the game’ gets a new set of rules. and they will be connected not by doors. skyscrapers.Imagologies) For Mitchell. shopping at malls. writing. November/December 1993. going to a dentist or doctor. at the IN ANY Event. November/December 1993. colourful grids.”26 “Is the net a city without walls or do walls merely take new forms?” (Mark C. However. Structures of access and exclusion are reconstructed in entirely nonarchitectural27 terms. and places can be entered and exited not by physical travel. and so on.3. BUKATMAN.3. B. WILLIAM. physical.316 26 MITCHELL. visitor. publishing. an invitation to design and construct Cybercity. finding information.4 Virtual Communities II. suitable for communicating.1 Cybercity It should not be forgotten that the conceptualisation of cyberspace was purely fictional.” William Mitchell points out. Taylor/Esa Saarinen . engaging in team sports. learning.H. Nr.24 Some authors in fact predict that in this city many of the human activities will be replaced or augmented by the existing and upcoming electronic technologies.48 25 WHITTLE. Although not all foresee necessarily the future to change very drastically. Consequently. W. define a place. “I would hardly expect cyberspace to replace or even revolutionise the very human aspects of such ‘meatspace’ (the human dimension outside cyberspace) activities as dating. researching. DAVID. sharing. p. p. People entering this place . socialising. Freeman Co.. social. trespasser. published in: ANY. spatial cities are not only the materialised results of processes that cause maximum accessibility and promote face-to-face interaction. considering navigation through the ‘hyper’-context of cyberspace as ‘going across a city’. “Its places will be constructed virtually by software instead of physically from stones and timbers. dining out. 24 34 . 1996. but by simply establishing and breaking logical linkages. in: ANY. capital of the 21st century. taking a vacation. some people do not see cyberspace only as a new social world or as a way to design multiple possibilities of immersive data representations. and so on. Their subdivisions as districts and neighbourhoods are legal parts that control and organise access and in doing so. and geometric forms into a form of future urban environment. Cyberspace is instead. guest. New York. p.
Crucial factor is almost always the simultaneous access to the same information. Starfleet Academy. but to ‘present’ yourself and to interact with others. a three-dimensional virtual room. back in 1979. Shared places can be represented in several ways ranging from simple text-based interfaces to immersive. Other are private. library. or MUDs. Sharing a virtual space is of course not necessarily equal to sharing physical space. Gay and Lesbian. as Multi-User Dimensions. other by groups or even whole communities. And sometimes. and offer uncontrolled access. entering cyberspace is an involving experience. the ‘mailboxes’ and the ‘bulletin boards’ can be considered as the representation of a certain space. none try harder to generate a sense of space than the concept of the MUD. It can be argued that these pieces of software create environments of interaction. In opposite to more traditional meeting places. software can represent a onedimensional place in a screen-displayed text. Basic examples of this point of view can be surprisingly simple and well known: a text window provided by a word processor.3 MUD Throughout time. Most shared places on the Internet are still in the phase of chat boxes. Just like architectural and urban places. the point is not just to ‘be there’. Some electronic applications are meant to be occupied by one person.utopia. Pet Chat. players create and constantly redefine the fundamental reality in which they interact.4. all these manifestations have characteristic appearances. and one of them is the MUD or Multi-User Dungeon.28 Next to the original meaning. also demonstrated 28 Maia Engeli refers to: http://www. architecture has been the creative response to the internal developments of social structures to meet population and resource pressure. or even by activating standard computer-animated ‘body doubles’. like real houses.com/talent/lpb/muddex/ (outdated link) 35 . In short. generally announcing themselves by descriptive or allusive names. Thirtysomething. This is usually done by typing text or coded symbols. just like streets and squares. and enter and leave these ‘rooms’ whenever they are pleased to. a two-dimensional place to put things on a ‘desktop’ surface’. Many places on the Internet are public. the drawing surface or space within a CAAD system. multi-sensory virtual reality. In this space. Currently.4. MUDs are computer-based role-playing games in which the players are confronted with a certain well-defined multi-user space. virtual realms that humans can enter. generally a password. but then Object Oriented (MOO). derived from the role-play ‘Dragons and Dungeons’. and need a key. Many different experiences are possible in the electronic realm. MUDs are now also often referred to using more general terms. which is contrary to the entirely pre-programmed environments known from normal computer games. and the interactions within are controlled by certain rules. simultaneous accessed CAD files or virtual chat and conference rooms. People search their personal interests between the Teen Chat. and so on. In this way. most MUDs are text-based and thus rely solely on a written interface to describe and interact in the world. In this context it might be interesting to compare the social and technological structure of today’s virtual communities with the possibilities of an architectural language relevant to cyberspace. Even the ‘desktops’ and ‘file folders’ used by most contemporary operating systems.2 Places in Cyber-‘Space’ Places in cyberspace are actually always software constructions. Roy Trubshaw programmed the first MUD. as in cinemas. Whether sitting at a keyboard or mounting a headset and bodysuit. regardless of physical place where this action is being done. Multi-User Simulated Environments (MUSE). Think of shared electronic calendars.II. even a N-dimensional place in an abstract data structure. II. museum. you even have to pay to get in. Of all the cyberspaces currently available online. to prove your identity.
). MAIA. be intended for professionals in a certain field and act like a place where social interaction and informational work go hand in hand. with a regular base of players in the tens of thousands. Sometimes.4 Origin Physically. STEPHANIE (Ed. There are currently more then 300 MUDs existent in the world (numbers are of 1993).30 The user’s walk normally begins from a certain central space. and wander off to explore. and to ‘whisper’. Even text-based MUDs with their ‘primitive’ interface. JACOBSON RONALD & GIBSON B. one has to understand the crucial role that the medium in which the environment is created actually plays: the technical possibilities of the computer and the immersive cyberspace it establishes.42 31 BEAUBIEN. Hampton Press. New Jersey. 1996. more recently. MICHAEL. in STRATE LANCE. players that have gradually grown into ‘builders’ are able to perform some degree of computer programming by themselves within the game. p. MUDs can thus be based upon existent buildings.). To fully understand the concept of MUDs. Vieweg. which can be heard by everyone in the room. Architektur mit dem Computer. the so-called “newbies”.181 29 36 . This can be considered as an essential difference from that of a high-context BEAUBIEN. JACOBSON RONALD & GIBSON B. promote collaborative work between children. MUDs exist as lines of codes on computer hard drives. STEPHANIE (Ed. Communication and Cyberspace: Social Interaction in an Electronic Environment. 1996. P. p. § The concept of role-playing promotes free and creative expression. which creates a dynamic. § MUDs are computer mediated. Playing at Community: Multi-User Dungeons and Social Interaction in Cyberspace. select a name for their character. p. The appeal of MUDs as a form of entertainment and a forum of interaction can be traced to three characteristics. Many architectural components are present. although the connection with Internet has caused an important diversification. users have to ask present fantasy characters. or. MUD: Text als Baumaterial. the functioning as well as the design during the play itself. 1996. MICHAEL. the more power will be drawn to his character. When a player enters a room or performs any action. Hampton Press. so that the screen might read: “Matilda enters the room and winks happily to Flupper”. so that two players can converse only with each other more privately. animals. Most early MUDs are designed upon fantasy themes.29 II. Wiesbaden. this event is announced to all the others players present. They can be accessed via modem over the Internet or through private online services. cyberspace can be more defined by interactions than by the actual technology that is implemented. By these technological means. provide a description. can login. Communication and Cyberspace: Social Interaction in an Electronic Environment. in SCHMITT.by graphic-based MUDs as the one called ‘Habitat’. for certain objects or important information. as normal MUD environments are lived from inside out. These actions are possible by typing a command like “Go southwards”. New Jersey. Examples are known from that of virtual research centres for the international astronomy community to imaginary adventure games set in post-nuclear holocaust. Most games allow players to ‘talk’. or “Wave at Mouse and tell him hello”. and immersive space in which to play. often disguised as ‘software robots’. This makes it possible to change the game. in STRATE LANCE. Players can move around by typing commands like “go east” or “climb stairs”.180 30 ENGELI. The more experience a player gets. The Appeal of MUDs31 § The game involves multiple players who interact directly. a written description is given that mentions the existing prominent features and the obvious exits. Newcomers. have proven to be very addictive for some people. Whenever they enter a room. out of which the further and slow representation of the different rooms starts. Playing at Community: Multi-User Dungeons and Social Interaction in Cyberspace. GERHARD.4. responsive. P.
as players start to confuse the boundary between the game and reality. Regular players put a lot of time into building their game characters.”32 Figure II-1 A typical walk through a MUD-environment. MICHAEL (Ed. RANDALL.). these manifestations show the importance of programming as the privileged language of cyberspace. Cyberspace: First Steps. in which rules can only be changed after a consensual agreement. which is sometimes not armed against some of the sudden negative events that occur.gaming environment. It is obvious that knowing the programming language actually means possessing power as well. (http://www. and thus put a lot of themselves into the characters as well. MIT Press. Examples are known in which characters robbed money. while not all of the possible programmable applications of a play are foreseeable.html) MORNINGSTAR. Moreover. London. the larger the personal stake they have in maintaining the character. 1991. which is able to construct reality rather then reflecting it. in BENEDIKT. This is the difference between creation and utilisation. CHIP & FARMER.liu.se/nanny/misc/enterpage. and often only after the approval of some kind of organisational body. evolutionary approach to world building rather than a centralised. These events resulted logically in some sort of democratic decision making in the cyberspace community. “Cyberspace architects will benefit from the study of the principles of sociology and economics as much as from the principles of computer science.298 32 37 . Meanwhile they do not want to violate the unwritten rules of the virtual world. textually ‘raped’ other individuals (who were hundreds of kilometres away) or steeled parts of virtual bodies of other non-aware users. This characteristic of possible change implemented by the users themselves results in many and very different kinds of unpredictable events and virtual conflicts. And it is the tension between these two levels that is the root of many social problems in the MUDs. The Lessons of Lucasfilm’s Habitat. which they compare to the real. physical ones. Deep personal and emotional involvement in the game makes therefore the situation more confusing.lysator. even if the world they exist in is made up by text. So it is only understandable that the more skilled they become. All this facts result in a rather inexperienced collective world. We advocate an agoric. p. R. socialistic one. after which collectively rejecting this kind of characters and actions was possible if necessary.
London. Cyberspace: First Steps. It first struggled with questions of how to represent space and social interactions. are based upon the interactions among the users rather than the many technological facts that were used. The project was so ambitious that it had to contain and support a population of thousands of users in a single shared cyberspace. users will be called ‘players’. The Lessons of Lucasfilm’s Habitat. Many of the learned ‘lessons’ that the developers wanted to share.Comment As the appearance of space is only represented by text. all able to program new and yet unexplored areas to the world.000 different rooms or areas. Many Wizards can be apparent in a MUD. many-user. driven by a commercial fact: the Commodore 64 was the leader of the recreational computing market on that moment. 1991. and the developers had no clue in the beginning what the structure of the result would become. where the continuous presence of 40 to 80 characters is considered as normal. In this online simulated world users could interact and communicate in real-time with other users. Like the following paragraphs will clearly indicate. but it undoubtedly included influences of cyberpunk and early forms of object-oriented programming as well.4. which would make many social. This animated figure is called an ‘Avatar’.lysator. 33 38 . So. the computer display shows a graphical and animated representation of the environment. the Habitat concept was mainly inspired by role-playing games.html) 34 MORNINGSTAR. Lucasfilm’s Habitat project (1986) was one of the first attempts to create a very largescale. it proved to be sufficient enough to create an almost fully involved experience. but also remarkable fact is that Habitat could be played with a Commodore 6435 computer. electronically translated activities possible. commercial. Normal MUDs can contain over 20. CHIP & FARMER. p. head-mounted displays and special-purpose rendering engines – the core of Habitat’s vision is actually the idea that cyberspace is necessarily a many-participant environment. RANDALL. Instead of concentrating on the upcoming interface technologies – such as DataGloves.).33 II.5 Habitat34 It is important to know that the following ‘Habitat’ example was actually a commercial application. and consequently customers had to pay to use its services. After obtaining certain objectives. The highest level in any normal MUD is generally called ‘the Wizard’. R. When logged on. The view shows next to the various objects also the user himself. MIT Press. in BENEDIKT. It has to be noted that although this environment was clearly low context and relatively open. 273 35 This was. as the concept of Habitat is meant as a ‘many-player online virtual environment’ and its purpose was to be an entertainment medium. MICHAEL (Ed.se/nanny/misc/enterpage. This should explain the fact that the basic code was kept beyond the reach of non-authorised people resulting in the fact that additional programming on the part of the players was entirely impossible. Good design is replaced by good coding skills in LPC – a C-like computer language .and the avoidance of the use of standard available templates. the users’ characters receive gradually higher levels of power and control. experience points and essential objects. of course. it is obvious that design is replaced by programming. and they are Online interview with a Wizard called ‘Reece’ inside a Swedish NannyMUD (http://www. What is Habitat? A very restricting. graphical virtual environment. Some of the experiences the designers had during the development and implementation of the Habitat system are considered to be useful for the so-called “cyberspace architects” of the future.liu.
shtml). The idea of a many-user environment is central to cyberspace. These regions can be accessed by means of doors.37 Meanwhile the company has transformed into WorldsAway. The developers actually were first not ‘really happy’ with only two genders. Electrotecture: Architecture and the Electronic Future. while talking to another avatar is accomplished by typing on the keyboard. complexity. (http://www. No.worldsaway.jp/habitat2) is obviously entirely presented in the Japanese language. p. for anthropologists this world obviously is a real treasure for numerous social experiments.shtml) The Lessons Some of the lessons the first Habitat developers have learned are interesting in the light of future designing and programming of virtual environments.000 participants. this community had approximately a million and a half people in it.44 38 As the Habitat II (http://gmsnet. and depth in any virtual world. In 1993.38 Figure II-2 Overall map and screenshot from Habitat’s daughter Dreamscape (note the inspiration of the Chapel of Notre Dame at Ronchamp of Le Corbusier. no automation can be built that approaches the complexity of a human being. 37 These numbers come from IN ANY event. taking into account the next principle. this system was successfully in operation for over three years. which primarily works with the graphical and computable higher capabilities of the Fujitsu FM Towns personal computer. let alone a whole society. The typed text appears over the avatar’s head in a cartoon styled wordballoon.generally humanoid in appearance. The Habitat-programmers deeply believe people seek richness. in the building that stands in the middle and lower part of the map). It has already developed to a technically more advanced version. In 1991. On the other side. resulting in the implementation of various kinds of cyberspaces. In short. which claims to be specialised in designing all kinds of graphic virtual worlds. sustaining a population of over 15.worldsaway.3. in: Any. called ‘Fujitsu Habitat’. words of STONE. changing ones own gender in this world is no problem at all. the Dreamscape example is taken for the graphic figure in this paragraph (http://www. the goal was changed to use the computational medium itself to augment the communications channels between people. ALLUCQUERE. the programmers’ rather conservative client was not interested in this.com/home. The whole Habitat world is geographically made up by 20. But apart from the problem how to represent these other non-binary genders.or.com/home. 1. while avatars are also able to carry all kinds of different objects that some the regions contain. 36 39 . It is obvious that with application of the science and technology of today.36 Avatars can move around and have the ability to manipulate objects. November/December 1993.000 different discrete locations called ‘regions’. Instead of trying to artificially create this kind of environment.
2. Communications bandwidth is a scarce resource. Although being in full development at this moment, this is still a most difficult technological constraint. The underlying logic is that of economical law of supply and demand. The communication technology advances simultaneously with the computational technology, resulting in an absolutely non-winnable race, meanwhile continuously feeding the ‘hot research’ of sophisticated data compression techniques. At the time of the Habitat implementation, the design had to deliver a satisfactory experience to the player over a 300-baud serial telephone connection. To overcome this data transmission problem, computer scientists normally organise the system in terms of primitive elements that can be easily manipulated within the context of a simple formal model. Typically, they adopt a very small variety of different simple and compact primitives, which are then used and combined in many numbers to represent an intended complex object. For a graphics-oriented cyberspace environment, the temptation of the overwhelming display technology to use images, polygons or other graphic primitives for representation and interaction is considerable. This data-intensive technique is however surely an open invitation to a huge programming disaster. Consequently, in case of the Habitat environment a relatively abstract and high-level description was chosen. This concept could be represented compactly as it only dealt with the communication of human behaviours. This fundamental choice leads to the third principle. 3. An object-oriented data representation is essential. Object-oriented models of, for instance, polygons would surely be possible. But to avoid any fundamental problem, the basic objects from which the system is built should actually correspond more or less to the objects in the user’s conceptual model of the virtual world, that is, people, places, and artefacts. This approach should enable the communications between machines to take place at the behavioural level (what people and things are doing), rather than at the presentation level (how the scene is changing). Consequently, description of a place should be in terms of what there is instead of how it looks like, while interactions should be translated in functional models instead of physical ones. The interpretation of this high-level and conceptual representation is then necessarily being calculated locally at the user’s computer. All this results in the fourth principle. 4. The implementation platform is relatively unimportant. Defining a cyberspace in terms of the configuration and behaviour of the objects enabled the project to span the vast range of computational and display capabilities among the participants in a system. For instance, a tree might be represented to one player as “There is a tree here”, which is very resembling with most text adventure games and conventional MUDs. At another user who possesses a powerful processor, the tree could be generated by rendering a three-dimensional fractal model in high resolution, including an animated view of the branches waving softly in the wind. And, of course, these two players might be looking at the same tree in the same place and actually even be talking to each other. This design approach has two consequences. First, it means that effective cyberspaces can be built today. Secondly, with all these previous principles in mind, systems can be made for today’s technology and be easily adapted when tomorrow’s technology further develops.
5. Data communication standards are vital. Rather than concentrating on the mechanisms of data transportation protocols, this principle puts the attention more on the aspect of the data itself that is being transported. More precisely, this protocol should be able to communicate behaviour rather than representation between different objects and from one system to another. In a future more dynamic and developed model, this problem will become more important as well, as it is considered impractical to distribute a new release of the system every time one wants to add a new class of object. Next to the technological field of the Habitat implementation, the developers encountered many problems concerning the creation and management of the world, which after all consists mainly out of a group of digitally interacting human beings. More precisely, the design of Habitat’s world itself, as it tries to effectively represent ‘space’, seems interesting to investigate from an architectural point of view. The authors now try to clarify their choices of design under the following, maybe controversial assertion. 6. Detailed central planning is impossible; don’t even try. The original specification for Habitat asked to create a world capable of supporting a population of 20.000 avatars, with a possible expansion to 50.000. For all these characters, it was needed to organise 20.000 ‘houses’, situated into towns and cities with associated traffic arteries and shopping and recreational areas. Wilderness areas were placed so that everyone would not be jammed together into the same place. Most of all, all these people had to do some kind of activities. And they needed interesting places to visit and things to do at these places as well. But it is obvious that, since it was not possible that all the avatars were present all in one place at the same time, that number of interesting places had to be sufficient. It is also clear that each one of those places like houses, towns, roads, shops, forests, theatres, arenas, and many others all had to be designed separately as a distinct entity. To solve this problem, the programmers made a set of tools to aid the generation of areas that naturally possess a high degree of regularity and structure, such as apartment buildings and road networks. But places like forests whose value lie more in their uniqueness, or at least in their differentiation from the places around them, needed a different approach. These areas actually needed to be crafted by hand, which is inevitably an incredibly labour-intensive and time-consuming process. Furthermore, Lucasfilm’s Habitat developers (although experienced in creating original, graphical entertainment) emphasise that “even very imaginative people are limited in the range of variation that they can produce, especially if they are working in a virgin environment uninfluenced by the works and reactions of other designs.”39 Comment Following Allucquére Stone’s description, the Fujitsu version wanted to provide “a little bit of some part of culture, from all over the word”. The overall design varies from a standardised European village to a typical resort park. When looked more in detail, the world also exists of magical forests, Easter Island statues, pyramids, ruins, shrines, and cactuses, completed with dinosaurs and penguins. There is also night and day in the Habitat world.40 It is remarkable that these architectural spaces are rather a nostalgic creation. No sign has been noticed that the designers even have thought of other aspects of architecture that are possible in the virtual environment.
MORNINGSTAR, CHIP & FARMER, R. RANDALL, The Lessons of Lucasfilm’s Habitat, in BENEDIKT, MICHAEL (Ed.), Cyberspace: First Steps, MIT Press, London, 1991, p. 287 40 STONE, ALLUCQUERE, at the IN ANY Event, published in: Any, Electrotecture: Architecture and the Electronic Future, Nr.3, November/December 1993, p.44
These design shortcomings would be more visible and noticeable if not all the participants had different goals, interests, motivations, and types of behaviour. Normal computer adventure games, although interactive and often containing a multi-player mode, are actually experienced individually. They have the characteristic to be repeated innumerable times at different moments over a population consisting out of thousands of players, while actions are restricted to the goals the programmers have provided. This is an important distinction with the concept of cyberspace worlds as Habitat, which are conceived as open-ended and get a great deal of their appeal out of the interaction of simultaneous manifestations of other numerous colleague-players. The Habitat programmers foresaw the possibilities of various experiences, ranging from events with established rules and goals (like a treasure hunt) to activities driven by the players’ personal motivations (starting a business, running the newspaper) to completely freeform, purely existential activities (going out and conversing with friends). As the programmers themselves had to provide some degree of planning and set-up to make all this possible, they were still much thinking like ordinary game designers. However, many unexpected experiences revealed the programmers that they never could predict the outcome of their ‘controlling’ actions, which were almost always initially based on certain predicting assumptions. One of the examples demonstrated a certain labour-intensive treasure hunt of which only one person had a wonderful experience (the person who won the price in an incredible short time) and a dozen of others left bewildered (which were the persons who did not even got the chance to get into the game). In short, however hard they tried, the designers obviously were not skilled in the inexact science of ‘social engineering’. Due to the many hours of programming time and work efforts becoming useless, they were almost forced to instead let the players themselves drive the direction of the design. The designers finally became facilitators in design and implementation, as they now built parts that almost always were used and appreciated. Instead of having the illusion of controlling the whole system, they now still had the chance of considerably influencing the implementations that matched the people’s desires and needs. Finally, the Habitat developers mentioned two other cautions in designing virtual communities. 1. You can’t trust anyone. This actually implies that no leakage is allowed between the two so-called levels of ‘virtuality’: the ‘infrastructure level’, the level of the physics, the invisible laws and the implementation, and the ‘experiential level’, which is what the users see and interact with. As experience proved, people were prepared to perform a huge and incredible (programming) effort to be able to ‘cheat’ with some of the features provided by the Habitat system, however no direct personal benefit resulted out of it for these ‘hackers’. 2. Work within the system. It has to be noted that the temptation to break the two levels of virtuality subjected the system operators as well. Therefore, wherever possible, actions should only be done within the framework of the experiential level. This principle should be applied to both the technical and sociological aspects of the system. It means that system administrators should not abuse their power and control in the world (threaten a player to kick him of the system), but instead should solve possible conflicts with the rules already existent in the world itself (arrange a satisfactory deal in public presence). In future, the developers promise to eliminate the central planning concept. Obviously, the processing and communications would become too complex when the world’s
From TV. and choked subways… from all the inefficiencies. In parallel with these trends. People like Michael Benedikt hope that this ‘realm of pure information’ is “transfiguring the physical world. Or. Secondly. p. health and education networks. II. nonthreatening and space transcending ‘Virtual communities’ and the culture of ‘real virtuality’ seem to become the solutions for the repressive character of contemporary urban life. But then. complementing and threatening real collective face-to-face exchanges. It has to be noted that these technical media too.” The new cyber-based communities. possibilities are investigated to let the user configure the world by him or herself. city centres have become packaged. in Cyberspace: First Steps. all are offering alternative channels for social expression. Urbanising Cyberspace? The Nature and Potential of the Virtual Cities Movement. as they are being pushed to support specialised media over constantly widening distances. ALESSANDRO. at the very least.3. for the community’. 41 43 . trashy and pretentious architecture. saving them… from clogged airports. service access. the erosion of urban social cohesion and spatial splintering of the contemporary metropolis. A possible solution is considered in the form of a fully distributed system. are increasingly diversified and fragmented. ‘themed’. of which has to be noted that the most write from an American point of view. 1991. MICHAEL. Consequently. from billboards. the This title is based upon GRAHAM. Meanwhile. which subtly exclude socially undesirable groups. Safe. and media flows. have emerged rapidly. decontaminating the natural and urban landscape. Nr. MIT Press. It is only logic that in such context. being hardest hit by the individualistic ways of social organising in cities. discourse-driven ‘public’ arenas. while public-key cryptographic techniques protect the operating system. Also increasingly apparent in the European context. radio and the telephone to new computer networks like the Internet. a growing group of optimists are urging that cyberspace will act as the ‘new public realm’. multiplying layers of technological media are diffusing to under-grid and interlace cities and urban systems. it is a fact that current urban trends threaten the concept of the original urban public realm. pollution…”42 It can thus be argued that much of the current hype surrounding the Internet rests on the utopian assumption that such networks will inevitably emerge to be dominated by a democratic culture of public space. hour-long freeway commutes. ticket lines. as part of a shift to tele-mediated work. face-to-face contact will be substituted for computer-mediated communications. debates are encouraged to investigate the potential of digital computer networks for supporting new types of public social and cultural exchange. STEPHEN & AURIGI. London. But this desire in turn does require an abstract representation of regions and objects to let the user do the design and creation. in the words of Graham and Aurigi: “One of the explanations for the virtual community phenomenon is the hunger for community that grows in the breasts of people around the world as more and more informal public spaces disappear from our real lives. the access is based on the ability to pay rather than some universal notion of the rights of citizens. This promise should be especially important for the most marginalised groups. Main reasons have proved to be the privatisation of urban public spaces. relying on cars and communications infrastructures to integrate their lives.5 Cyberspace Urbanised?41 To many authors. In fact. do offer the possibility of new interactive. redeeming them. the rising fear of crime and the ‘other’ in the post modern city. Enclosed malls. organised ‘by the community.number of users would grow too drastically. while middle classes cocoon themselves in houses and gated communities. Introduction.7. May 1997 42 BENEDIKT. and exist mainly of facilities for consumption and leisure. in CITY. see also the introduction-phrasing of the first chapter.
as having access does not imply that the use has any meaning. three different positions of groups can be recognised within the emerging urban social architecture of cyberspace.7.net 43 44 .city.43 1. These virtual cities are. with the aim of building up a typology of digital cities in the EU.Net network44. STEPHEN & AURIGI. Non-grounded web cities: These sites use the interface of (most often a map of) a ‘city’ as a familiar metaphor to group together wide ranges of GRAHAM. passive consumption system.000 (2. ranging from comprehensive web spaces.24 44 Located at http://www. even the actual relevance of Internet access for these social groups is questioned by Graham and Aurigi: “Just giving someone time at a terminal with Internet capabilities or. film. shows that two main types of web cities are emerging. or that it necessarily brings any power and advantage to the users. But these differences are also more than complex. These onlinephenomena are meant to operate as electronic analogies for the real. a modem. unifying cyberspace. Heavy users may simply undertake routine and underpaid tele-work. publishing. May 1997. which has clearly no relation to their intensive use of technology. Thus. by extension. many different attempts to use the potential of the Internet for supporting local democracy and discourse development. new types of electronic municipal service delivery. cable. with different degrees of power and control of the users. limited to control the ‘press now to purchase’buttons. telecom. Moreover. urban marketing and ‘regeneration’. local inter-firm networking and social and community development within cities. Information users: The elite. 2.1 Virtual Cities Meanwhile largely ignoring these urban social inequalities in Internet-access and the different social architectures of emerging networks. computer software. Over 5. material. 1. financially excluded from electronic networks. 3. a telephone line. and electricity supply – should be easily accessible for the majority of urban populations. In this view. as it can be easily proved that access to electronic networks is currently a domain of the well-off and privileged. experiencing the consequences of a narrow. Nr. Costly infrastructure needs – skills. to single promotional web pages. Internet. used to operating the global economy. Much development is thus needed. advertising. in CITY. Urbanising Cyberspace? The Nature and Potential of the Virtual Cities Movement. The information used: In fact the less affluent and mobile wage earners. city authorities across the world have recently constructed hundreds of experimental ‘virtual cities’. and newspaper industries must be seen in the context of this commercial consumption-driven market. the trans-national corporate class.000 in 1997) virtual cities are collected together on the City. at a kiosk in a public space – will not benefit anyone who feels confronted with a seemingly insurmountable problem. ALESSANDRO. p. finance. which try to integrate all online activities in a city. urban areas that generally host them.Internet would need to shift from its public of elite. in contradiction with the idea of a single. or who has no idea to begin” II. The off-line: Disadvantaged groups living in poverty and structural unemployment. professional groups to become a near-universal medium.5. Early research at the Centre for Urban Technology. relying on intense mobility and accessing computer networks to ‘command space’. Global alliances between TV. in fact. it seems likely that different topologies of networks use will emerge. a service subscription.
in opposition to the ‘public’ electronic spaces. Furthermore. and even parody.nettuno. much is still expected from these virtual initiatives. where little space is left for information for residents.Internet services located across the world in a comprehensive and straightforward manner. Most grounded web cities are constructed as nothing more than urban databases. the population should broaden to include also the socially marginalised.html) metaphor. Many hope that their dynamic potential will overcome the geographical. leisure opportunities. cultural events. the concept of virtual cities is still very young as it obviously needs time for serious development. accommodation and restaurants for tourists. Two sorts are further recognised: the more promotional oriented sites. since many private virtual cities are little more than consumer spaces that use city metaphors to distinguish themselves from the chaotic mass of ‘placeless’ Internet sites. private and community sectors. about political processes and decisions in town management. Nevertheless. one-way applications should be avoided. social and cultural fragmentation of the contemporary cities and help to bind the urban fragments back together. idealisation. of the perfect post-modern city. as well as transport information. But then surely. social. and cultural discourses about the city itself. Grounded web cities: These are developed by urban agencies to help the development of specific cities by coherently relating all the electronic possibilities in context of the subjected city. and keep using their sites as post-modern urban promotion. local firms. In spite of some bad examples. But. Although these services are thus ‘public’ for sure. containing different exciting ‘zones’ and ‘climates’. which support political. offering a collection of advertisements of private. they can hardly be considered as a ‘public space’. It is clear that the best hope for virtual cities will come with local strategies driven by partnerships between public. 2. Accessibility to these cities seems certainly to be wide because Internet-global. despite the dangers associated with virtual cities.it/bologna/MappaWelcome. showing information about residents. combined with the shift towards true mass diffusion for Internet 45 . Meanwhile city authorities still avoid to recognise the potential of the digital. ‘Urban design’ is often limited to pure simulation. Figure II-3 The Iperbole initiative in Bologna: a three-dimensional interface based on a urban (http://www. clearly tempted by the rich population of local Internet users. but the sites are mainly configured for passive use. it could be argued that these initiatives are at least beginning to create an articulation between placebased and electronically mediated realms.
In so far this spatial metaphor of a city meanwhile stands as an example for many other digital cities. debates and discourses on DDS genuinely represent the citizens of Amsterdam as opposed to the wider Internet population. this link probably only will deteriorate in future. and sport. it developed rapidly into a complex web-based site with a rather appealing graphic interface.dds. online debate on its theme. it is also noticed that many other themes are more visited than the ones on the level of democracy within the Digital City itself. public or voluntary sector. white.html 46 . And as DDS is gradually introducing more commercially driven content. discourse-driven spaces. Next to the fact that DDS can be used by anyone with a connection to the Internet. (http://www. health and medicine. Additionally. with the pressure of the increasing marketing funds in mind.nl . which are also present at the Internet as a whole. male. another interesting example of a virtual city is the Iperbole initiative in Bologna. an area for archived. which claims to be socially inclusive and discourse driven.it/bologna/MappaWelcome. Each ‘square’ is in turn surrounded by residential ‘homes’. 45 Located at http://www. Each square also has a ‘virtual cafe’. despite the existence of public terminals and some use by marginalised groups. transport. And two objections to this claim of DDS can be founded. used by the city’s own residents to provide their personal information. such inequalities seem unlikely to reduce. which can be originated out of the private. politics.nl/) The question arises as to whether DDS really can be considered as a public space for the city of Amsterdam.2 Digitale Stad Amsterdam One of the most ambitious virtual cities examples in Europe at this time. From the first rather closed text-based interface. covering issues as diverse as books. this private initiative has always been subsidised by the municipality of Amsterdam. well-educated groups. These boxlike links are. ‘urban cyberspace planning’ should construct meaningful urban ‘enclosures’ within the fragmenting effects of globalisation. gay issues. at http://www. reviving collective notions of urban identity and democratic. it is a fact that the young. is definitely ‘The Digital City’ of Amsterdam45. Figure II-4 The Virtual City and a ‘Square’ of De Digitale Stad Amsterdam. First. still dominate the system.dds.5. new technology. This interface consists out of 33 thematic squares. the nature of the electronic network makes it questionable how much of the population. Second. II.nettuno. planning. local government services. a genuine environment was developed called ‘The Metro’. Since the creation of ‘De Digitale Stad’ (DDS) in January 1994. in turn. Also here. In the future. the place where the global virtual community exists. Each ‘square’ represents home pages of up to eight relevant information providers. free of charge.access. It seems thus evident that the entire organisation of DDS is represented as a global ‘town’.
the individual’s self is reduced to discrete bits of binary code: humanity digested by cyberspace. as the obvious remark of the dawn of a new ‘American civilisation’. SARDAR. JEROME R. Furthermore. a relief from boredom and an illusion of God-like omniscience as an added extra. which were in turn necessary to bring these new territories under the power of the West. to see. Cyberspace. giving way to the so-called ‘progress’. One of his many arguments raises the question about the information electronically available nowadays.”46 For this author. It is a conscious reflection of the deepest desires. Parts of this argument can be visually recognised in the representation of virtual worlds like Habitat. then. The temptation always lied in the desire to acquire new wealth that in turn provided impetus for the development of new technologies.). London. ‘globalisation’. it can sometimes be noticed the fact that most writings about the existing and future of the electronic realm use a simple form of naive and enthusiastic persuasion. experiential yearning and spiritual dreams of Western man. It is this very thought that inspired Ziauddin Sardar in a flaming critical essay about the digital dreams and applications in general. 1996. When these were finally colonised. cyberspace communities are only the protection from the race and gender mix of reality. Like most new technologies. cyberspace can be considered as a new territory that Western civilisation has to conquer. This however. Meanwhile. this community itself can hardly be recognised as one. A cyberspace community has no context and self-selecting. and this in a time span that is no longer than a single frame of a MTV video: five seconds. Cyberfutures: Culture and Politics on the Information Superhighway. and ‘modernisation’. In such a culture. a geographical location. exactly what a real community is not. virgin land is waiting passively to be dominated by the latest territory controlled by the West. as communities are shaped by a sense of belonging to a place. in SARDAR. In human history. most actions are based on the phenomenon of boredom. ZIAUDDIN.(Ed. aspirations. they were handed over to business interests at last. “Netsurfing provides just that: the exhilaration of a joyride. the problem of the power and authority of the programmer or administrator can be questioned. which not always could be proved with objective arguments. Thus.27 46 47 .6 Consequences These examples have proved that cyberspace designers of all kinds actually do possess a great deal of power in creating the digital constraints and variables of cyberspace.faq: Cyberspace as the Darker Side of the West. by shared values. will certainly be a subject when the role of the architect as programmer will be investigated. alt. cyberspace did not appear from no-where as a mystical spark of inspiration from the mind of one individual. the spectacle of visual and audio inputs. by common struggles. In this view. People can be banned while in reality the essence is to help them because they are always there. And certainly not by joining a group of people with common interests.II. ZIAUDDIN & RAVETZ. Furthermore. one needs something different to do. p. by tradition and history of a location. In this view. On the other side.civilisations. have a new excitement and spectacle every other moment. it might be more than useful to formulate also some critical voice to the phenomenon of Internet cyberspace. is the ‘American dream’. As a product of a culture where individual and common goals have lost all their significance and meanings. this inevitable obsession followed a rather basic and linear pattern. from the contamination of pluralism. Pluto Press.
as no design or theory had any authority to shape these social manifestations in any way. The capital of the 21st century will be a virtual city. the ATM machines. All this could be controlled in a normal house. The important difference is actually the architectural translation. Nr. 47 MITCHELL.3. p. some of the obvious metaphors will disappear. Banks. Major economical shifts in the global telecommunication business prove the great (market) importance of this technology. airports. published in: Any. while in many countries they have now moved to the busy places where people really want them: big supermarkets. the conditions that have been very familiar to humankind will fundamentally change. New York. Even so. than on Time Square. WILLIAM. shifted gradually. It is a solvent by eliminating or radically reducing the need for contiguity of architecture. Electrotecture: Architecture and the Electronic Future. First these were still well attached to the bank building. economic. This proposition can also be recognised as a consequence of the solvent power of digital information. for example. As cyberspace will be explored thoroughly in the future. as facades and surfaces will become infinitely complex. As the bandwidth increases. They have some kind of powerful attraction and addiction. many urban metaphors are used to describe the navigation of the network. Contemporary banks are much more a network of automated teller machines and some nodes in the almost infinite international money transfer. Being somewhere physically will only deliver a few more ‘bits’ and modalities instead of electronic communication. at any time.and will be investigated by many social researchers for a long time. leaving only a residue of recombinable fragments. Meanwhile. glimpses are being recognised of how the web can be very different. Nevertheless.II. three propositions can be argued in relation to the importance of the network in relation to architecture. right now. This has to result in important implications. …at home. It dissolves the social glue that holds buildings and cities together. the growing digital urban and public spaces of the future will probably be the virtual communities spoken of earlier. acting as a power centre of enormous importance. While still developing at a rapid race.47 49 . A condition is reached in which essentially any information is available in any quantity.47 Digital information is Ambient.7 Conclusion The digital environment is definitely changing social. Human interaction will definitely change. Banking is a good example of recombination as well as the new signs of the institutions. digital information spurts out of the wall sockets everywhere in the developed countries. other will emerge. November/December 1993. The task of future architecture is difficult to foresee. Looking at the phenomenon today. were formerly recognised as powerful institutions with an important representational role in society. which are . as the digital information environment does truly become ambient. at the IN ANY Event. with spaces and relationships between them that were carefully mapped. Digital information is solvent. The buildings had a powerful floor plan. it should be noted that more social activities could be processed in a simple computer box somewhere completely invisible and unknown. However. The concept of architecture is still not a hot topic in this huge and rapid process. and political systems. but having no architectural representation at all.
and even the fourth. the force and success of this open movement cannot be neglected. Why should architecture not be able to displace. reduced to the lightweight. still show a remarkable banal and peaceful style of architecture that resembles. the Cybercity where people want to interact? The banalities of the architectures and the imitations of visible architectures that are showing up in graphical virtual environments maybe suggest that spatiality is not the best analogy to be working with. It has to be noted though. It can then be asked whether this conservative spatiality that is seen. that bandwidth limitations and technological development still are fundamentally based on two-dimensional communication and interaction. and will be for a considerable time. These subjects in particular will be further investigated in the next two chapters. Most of these worlds are socially driven. suggest that the impact may not be as earth-shattering as some would have think. dimension will be included in the electronic realm of the future. Why is the space that ones inhabits so banal? Is it because it is the sole possible representation of the very metaphor. It is also expected that the role of architecture will thus become more important when the third. the banal. They argue that the role of architecture is one of dematerialization. Although some critical voices emphasise that the urban. these worlds. some authors did not wait until these remarkable manifestations are implemented and have already formulated some thoughts and theories of the future digital architecture. many foresee the theoretical evaporation of architecture in the face of the electronic power.Looking at the situation of today. it can easily be argued that architecture certainly has no great role in the design or conception of contemporary virtual environments. and are based on human characteristics of interaction instead of significant representation of the surrounding environment and its relations as such. Furthermore. public realm is radically overhyped. fine coloured expensive children books. even when graphically designed. 50 . In this way. reorient or even resist this line of thinking? Meanwhile. at the most.
does architecture finally become immaterial?” (Mark Taylor . In contrary. Nov/Dec 1993. some other authors are meanwhile investigating possible structures that actually do not have anything to do with pre-existing architectonics. It should be noted that these both phenomena were explained in the former chapters.9) 51 . The very conditions of spatiotemporal experience are radically transformed. Furthermore. In this chapter. it can be argued that the overall frame of these theoretical points of view also represents a certain architectural theory. p. Difficulties arise as some parts of the electronic realm that should be theorised are in fact already working and thus constraining the investigated elements for thorough evaluation. whether this is thought of in traditional terms or not. III Cyberspace Architecture “When speed reaches a certain point.Electrotecture. in Any. One of the themes within this structure is primarily concerned with the phenomenon of the Internet. However. which in fact are already in place and are being used intensively. these architectural researchers try to inject the notion of architecture with innovative ideas and concepts. time and space collapse and distance seems to disappear. while another explains the electronic social spaces based upon communication protocols.The overall structure of virtual architecture can be placed in a certain theoretical frame. some of these rather revolutionary concepts will be described.3. and are largely influenced by biological and physical reactions that are translated in a digital format. At this point. No.
Computer-Aided Architectural Design tools allowed architects greater control. III. Design realised through drawing and drafting has become the standard method since the period of the Renaissance. Without the two-dimensional interfaces such as the mouse. Architecture will become much more complex. level floors. controlling. In opposition to the notion of virtual ‘walkthroughs’. As these programs have begun to offer designers a fast and accurate medium for three-dimensional modelling. Conceptual sketches could now finally be shifted into the virtual space. Many different approaches can be distinguished. Today. Artificial Intuition. like the programmes for industrial design and mechanical engineering. architectural practice has been directly influenced by the technological advancements of design media.50) Throughout history. like window posts. fast. keyboard. virtual reality technologies could be the next evolutionary step in the evolution of design. will most probably soon be realised on a world-wide scale.1 Introduction “At present architectural software is still based on a primitive form of building. they have at the same time also started to reorganise and redefine the nature of architectural design itself. or within a very specific and accurate context. When fully implemented. collaboratively. 1990. in short the classical composing parts. static traditional elements. as far as form and calculation concerned. VR offers architects a new. 52 . Architects discovering these possibilities. p.12. which are made into a building by means of the archaic technique of putting one element on top of the other. Architecture cannot be separated from the concept of creating meaning out of form.” (Kas Oosterhuis. Then the introduction of the computer technically advanced the design process more than drastically.2 Virtual Architecture As stated earlier. The programmers still use rigid. the design of three-dimensional environments for inhabitation in cyberspace and conceptualised by virtual reality. and the next paragraphs should thus be considered as an incomplete view out of the vast horizon of relationships between architecture and the digital realm. vertical walls. virtual architecture. architects now have the opportunity to design in a more intuitive manner in the virtual realm itself. in which any point of view. these virtual worlds may even come to replace much of what we know as the architectural types of today. It is this remarkable starting point that will determinate the next architectures that now will be described. will no doubt start using the available space. and accurate tool for three-dimensional modelling. columns. in Wiederhall: The Open Volume. more efficiency and a huge amount of accessible information all at the same time.III. and monitor. is technically possible. so complex even that apparent chaos can only be controlled by means of the computer. more and better modelling facilities. The entire industry of drafting industry in fact defined intensively the practice in the architectural office until the late twentieth century. The software available on other fields offers considerably. No.
.html 3 MITCHELL. Vers une Architecture Virtuelle.1 However. and the Infobahn.. images and programs are no longer preliminary models that are the prelude to ‘real’ building but constitute the living space for global villagers. some authors argue the fact that this concept is in fact essentially non-architectural. Notably. it may not be forgotten that it is the consumer and entertainment-based industry in which most western people live. that will be the platform upon which the infrastructure of the virtual will be built.2. cultural life will unfold.III. Taylor/Esa Saarinen. As the concept of the virtual environment is considered as a universal and infinite space and not one of place. “And the new urban design task is not one of configuring buildings.160 2 1 53 . firstly will have to adapt to. the architect must find ways to design the electronic environment. streets. City of Bits: Space. Place. surveillance will be enacted. maybe even more. 1994. DACE.” (Mark C. p. Electrotecture surpasses the techniques of computer-aided design by actually taking responsibility for fashioning cyberspace. for example.”3 See paragraph ”Cyberspace Architects”. an electronic.edu/people/dace/portfoli/arch560. This leads to the conclusion that architecture. in which also an increasing importance and growth of this phenomenon has been predicted. but one of writing computer code and deploying software objects to create virtual places and electronics between them.hitl. called virtual urban design. Massachusetts. and will thrive on the exchange of information. In the netropolis. still these authors foresee the virtual realm and its virtual communities as the ultimate forces that will pulse development of buildings and social spaces. There is no clear line separating the electrotect from either the imagologist or the computer programmer. WILLIAM J. some authors concentrate themselves not on the generation of form and objects. architecture becomes electrotecture. understood as the expression of society in physical form. and public spaces to meet the needs and aspirations of the civitas. and power will be exerted. A. The virtual communities will have similar needs and as the communities that exist in the physical world. In this field of virtual architecture. economic transactions will be carried out. Within these places. it is noted that the virtual realm consists of completely different conditions and characteristics. The typical seduction that these manifestations of social electronic communities possess has already been investigated in chapter II. that ultimately predict an entirely new realm of design that should develop as a sister profession to architecture. MIT Press.Imagologies) Although many notions of virtual architecture will be taken from lessons of traditional design professions.washington. it can be stated that the notion of human habitat becomes reinvented. III.2 Urban Design As the network connections are becoming as important to people as their bodily locations.2 It are these predicted ‘high expectations’ of a complete ‘new’ architecture. CAMPBELL. http://www. but on the organisation of the electronic applications available in an increasing amount on the electronic networks of tomorrow.2. 1995..1 Introduction “In the netropolis. virtual society. If we increasingly dwell in cyberspace. social contacts will be made.. that of virtual architecture.
The danger is then that these wellconnected. p. well-serviced enclaves would start to offer economic opportunities while “the poor could be left with the obsolete and decaying urban remnants and isolated rural settlements that the more privileged no longer need. This should result into an electronic world that “will overlay and eventually succeed the agricultural and industrial landscapes that humankind has inhabited for so long. Furthermore. Moreover. Massachusetts.but also the civic character. MIT Press.In Cyberspace Of course. electronically mediated environment in which networks are everywhere.. Architects should then design the upcoming virtual gathering places. the challenge of building the bit-sphere would thus largely consist of deploying the principles of social equity. he foresees the opportunity of a radical reorganisation of the cities into small-scale neighbourhoods that are nourished by strong electronic links to the wider world.171 54 . equitable. Furthermore. which is a world-wide. hereby progressively changing the ways public spaces will be used and also weakening many of the linkages that hold large urban agglomerations together. air-conditioning.” But Mitchell’s evolutionary way is long. New ways will thus be found to recombine transformed fragments of traditional buildings in the matrix of digital communications systems. While pre-industrial buildings were routinely equipped with the necessary comfort systems of today (heating. the distinction between smart electronics and dumb connection could no longer be made.…). City of Bits: Space. WILLIAM J. they now are getting electronic nervous systems connected to all possible networks and information appliances. In the Physical World Questions can then easily be raised of whether the existing cities will be able to resist the shift of social and economic activity to cyberspace. exchanges. in which these communities are able to work in a just. Ultimately. but at the same time have the unique quality of being different of the majority of other places. 1995. water supply. just as architects foresaw in the needs of many traditional social service institutions and functions. bit-sphere planners now have to structure the channels. it is noted that future applications of immersive tele-presence most probably will reduce the reliance on bodily presence and material exchange. He points out that great cities always had the intrinsic capability to adapt to most of the challenges of industrialisation and the rather radical inventions such as for instance the automobile. and the Infobahn. and satisfying way. and interfaces of educational and medical delivery systems for much more extended purposes. And Mitchell thinks he knows the right answer. In short. For William Mitchell. and entertainment places for its plugged-in population. most of the artefacts that function within will then have intelligence and telecommunications capabilities. 4 MITCHELL. the upcoming task is revolutionary and huge. as this hyper-extended dense and widespread habitat transcending national boundaries is unprecedented. for Mitchell the future task of the architects is clearly one of relying on both the bodily presence and the technique of tele-presence. resources. Place. In fact.”4 Hereby. But this is no reason for Mitchell to think that this necessarily will lead to the elimination of human desire for face-to-face contact. He points out that the task of the twenty-first century’s designers and planners will consist out of building the bit-sphere. turning the architectural works of the bit-sphere into ‘robots with foundations’. these designers should not exclusively consider the actual urban design the places and interconnections provided and their look and feel .
functional.16 7 CAMPBELL. In this way. if not more so. Cyberspace: First Steps. building codes.. Doubts can then be raised about how three-dimensional design will able to react when its space becomes infinite and unboundable. The Constraints Cyberspace is a blank.3. black void until an artificial context is introduced.18 TAYLOR. architecture must give up its devotion of the book and must dare to become hypertextual. It would thus seem as whether there are no constraints in the design of virtual environments. London. But in cyberspace.hitl.2. and in abstract design. p.” So.edu/people/dace/portfoli/arch560. MARK C. and beautiful as their physical counterparts. involving. A. objects and people exist in relation to all objects around them. water. gravity. 1991. They have no place in relationship to other objects.washington. 1994. while electricity concentrates and electronics disperse. No.III. except in the abstraction of the electronic program. For cyberspace will require constant planning and organisation. http://www. except in the computer's memory. scale. In physical space.“5 The Principles “To move on. understandable spaces in the virtual context. objects do not take up space. even placeless and indescribable. in particular those orderings and pleasures that have always belonged to architecture. in graphics. despite their three-dimensionality. and I believe that poetically and scientifically minded architects can and will step through it in significant numbers. Many other authors concerned with the architectural future in cyberspace foresee the emergence of quite a new profession as well. Taylor. in Any. Dave Campbell for instance. Vers une Architecture Virtuelle. Electrotecture: Architecture and the Electronic Future. The structures proliferating within it will require design and the people who design these structures will be called cyberspace architects. a new architecture has to arise. He states furthermore that postmodern architecture not really showed much of the so-called innovations and changes of the past 25 years and that it is.). unique. is convinced that formal characteristics such as rhythm.html 6 5 55 . November/December 1993. BENEDIKT. Schooled in computer science and programming (the equivalent of “construction”). schooled also along with their brethren “real-space” architects. despite the differences from architecture of the physical world. MIT Press. They argue that. and how the so-called cyberspace architects will design this nature of anti-architectural placelessness.3 Cyberspace Architects “The door to cyberspace is open. DACE.” is the opinion of Mark C. wind. way-finding principles.7 Other important lessons of which environment behaviour principles. it is fundamentally nothing. property lines. as Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown have proved in their book Learning from Las Vegas. and unity will be part of the virtual design as well. Before that. cyberspace architects will design electronic edifices that are fully as complex. balance. De-signing the Simcit.6 He points out that the potential importance of electronic technology for architectural practice and theory is not a novel insight... p..…) just do not exist in the nature of cyberspace. “in fact. MICHAEL (Ed. … And all the while such designers will be re-realising in a virtual world many vital aspects of the physical world. and territoriality are only a few should be used as basis for creating inhabitable. Most known architectural constraints (climate. an extension of the aesthetic principles and philosophical presuppositions of modernism. certain basic lessons of architectural design will inevitably be carried over to the virtual realm. the designs of virtual architecture will require the expertise of traditional three-dimensional designers.
but their form could also be dependent from all sorts of triggered variables. these large multinational providers have the economical. there are constraints in the virtual realm. all-seeing central network operators.”10 ‘Everything’ in cyberspace is managed by so-called invisible system operators (sysops). MARCOS. since they have free access to everything on the system. As the use of the Internet network technology NOVAK. Beyond the rapture of free access to unlimited information and the dream of controlling all human knowledge.. and observe all that is going on their system. London.or. liberating notion of information technologies draws our attention away from its more real potential: to enslave us in its totality. Walls could then become necessary for perceptual comfort and orientation. technical and political power to control the whole network system.at/~krcf/nlonline/nonMarcos. who ensure that the electronic networked system runs smoothly and efficiently. Cyberfutures: Culture and Politics on the Information Superhighway. delete or censor any communication. http://www. in fact still remain.“When bricks become pixels. Big Sysops cannot only monitor what is going on but also have the ability to intercept communications.t0..32 9 8 56 . ZIAUDDIN. construction costs become computational costs. accessibility becomes transmissibility.. this power will most certainly not decrease. pixels (which render the polygons with colour or texture). more generalising terms. alt.faq: Cyberspace as the Darker side of the West. III. as well as restrictions like bandwidth. Ziauddin Sardar describes this fact. the research will be continued in the more abstract theories of generating form by electronic-based tools. privacy and separation of function should be established by ignoring other inhabitants and functions in the computer’s calculation of the environment. they hold unrestricted power to deny entry.).civilisations.2. This easy introduction of some possible cyberspatial design principles will be broadened out in the next chapter. in SARDAR. Trans Terra Form.4 Critical Approach In the former chapter. p. but unlike the physical ones. 1994. JEROME R.edu/people/dace/portfoli/arch560. Meanwhile. the phenomenon of virtual communities has been investigated. lies the reciprocal threat of total organisation. in which the ideas of Michael Benedikt will be thoroughly investigated. needed for structural reasons of privacy and separation of function. they are even able to act like all-knowing. For Campbell. “The romantic. (Ed. Everything changes. As it was concluded that this field could not be considered the new ‘frontier’ filled with revolutionary architectural notions and new conceptual spatial thinking. http://www. And since many take-overs occur in the business of electronic communication.washington. DACE.html 10 SARDAR. cut. 1996. Both applications however can only be represented in the imaginary space with the sole effort of people with advanced skills in programming. A. disk space. the tectonics of architecture become informational. These designers of either architectural or community space do consequently possess a great deal of power. Vers une Architecture Virtuelle. read them and re-route them in different directions. and memory will become the budgets and materials of the cyberspace architects.”8 Indeed. Furthermore. ZIAUDDIN & RAVETZ.hitl. Several legal cases in the VS already have proved that elecronic applications such as private email actually cannot really be considered as all that private.html CAMPBELL. proximity is measured in numbers of required links and available bandwidth. in his article Cyberspace as the Darker Side of the West in the next.9 Problems of how to express enclosed space. but architecture remains. On bigger networks. Moreover. Limitations on polygons (the building block of virtual worlds). City planning becomes data structure design. Pluto Press.
Massachusetts. they sometimes create an atmosphere where any utterance of the computer is regarded as having divine significance. This power will consequently depend upon the individual knowledge of any form generating computer language. without any arguments or discretion in some cases. the influence of the electronic realm could be explained otherwise than the still rather futuristic view of educating the new profession of cyberspace architects.” (Heinrich Klotz. On the other hand. computer code –… typically accessible to only a few privileged high-priests. 1988. Not only are they giving up parts of their privacy.applied as a social communication tool will continuously and exponentially increase like commonly expected. as they induce a false sense of optimised design. WILLIAM J.is the medium in which intentions are enacted and designs are realised. if utilised unimaginatively.112 57 . Even William Mitchell foresees some problems with this potentially dangerous power. “In light of the existence of a new architecture that allows the representation of contents.5 The Representation of Space Maybe. and they are able to distort the design process to fit the limitations of the most easily available program as well. “So control of code is power.. Those who derided drawings created in this vein as impractical and unrealisable were missing the point that such drawings were better suited than realisable ones to the expression of far-reaching ideas. and implementing them rather drastically in the new field of design.2. Moreover. Place. For citizens of cyberspace. and the Infobahn. It has to be noted that. III. The History of Postmodern Architecture. p. p. and it is becoming a crucial focus of political contest. people have to undergo a personal examination. Now it was again an avenue for the manifestations of visions and dreams. hereby creating two different levels and kinds of designers. architecture was freed from its restriction to the practically realisable. To enter most electronic spaces. architects in their education as well as in their profession do already have the ability to ‘control’ the space to shape it to their own creativity. With the advent of a new ‘architecture of drawings’.”11 In the case of the digital generation of spatial form. 1995. MIT Press. the conceptual use of the computer cannot be implemented without any dangers. it is not surprising that many architects began to use drawings as a medium for the development of a representational sphere extending beyond building. this very issue should definitely not be neglected by its potential users. but they run the risk to get excluded and marginalised as well.398) 11 MITCHELL. computers have a tendency to dull critical faculties. and starts hereby at the observation of some architectural projects that are highly influenced by the interpretation of the contemporary information age. The next approach takes another point of view. City of Bits: Space.
these differences in density are discovered by several sensors. Furthermore. collectively capable to vary in time. combined with the various effects generated by Koolhaas’ notion of ‘Bigness’. Groups of people are continuously enduring shiny liquid-crystal screens. congestion of crowds and voids of groups consisting out of people in such designed spaces in fact appear as a kind of programmable result of certain technical manifestations. elevators. as it generates unpredictable patterns instead of representing a certain predefined semantic value.The Experience of Space “Space: a boundless. The overwhelming sensation of huge numbers non-aware moving persons becomes a spectacle on its own. surface-depth. 12 I refer hereby to the projects like the Yokohoma Terminal proposal of architect Königs 58 . an increasing number of examples of buildings as well as design proposals do emerge in which the emotional pressure of movement and congestion becomes augmented by fundamental architectural decisions. shop in the small streets of a typical urban city or run through the new Kevin Costner movie while waiting for their cruise-ship inside the sea-terminal of Yokohama. This architecture offers the means to reveal emerging structures of all kinds. verticality-horizontality. spatial experience of the characteristics possessed by the surrounding space. able to project any panorama the project’s function desires at any time. Or reverse. technology makes it all possible.“ (The New Encyclopaedia Britannica) By abstracting a space. traffic-regulators and ramps explicitly penetrate the overall space. A whole system of invisible algorithms tries to manipulate the very thing of which it was designed to perceive as well: the overall spatial experience. into the main ‘Big’ program out of which the actual perceived space is merged. the relation between the screened and the screen is finally complete. Therefore.…) then help defining the human. Space becomes then activated by its own construction or the presence of certain objects and persons. the consequences of the exaggerated scale of a project. In some proposals12. exteriority-interiority. For instance. which then successively trigger. providing dynamic connections between society’s newest technological frontier and the enclosed architectural expression. in addition. Numerous spatial fractions of typologies in one single designed room. it can easily be argued that the human notion of contemporary architectural space is nowadays more and more subject of a rapid developing technological process of fundamental change. it is then only logical that these dynamic electronically steered activities are converted into the final ‘event’. process and execute other events. All these events are. Elements like catwalks. In this view. As victims of the inventions of the new era-multimedia. as the distinction between spectator and actor vanishes between the settings of this architectural stage. one generally understands conceptualising a physical accommodation for a particular function. people were able to walk in a huge Japanese garden. Deliberately or not. three-dimensional extent in which objects and events occur and have relative position and direction. Fundamentally inserted perceptible metaphors (like public-private. watching everchanging facade-projections or walking through sweeping coloured light beams. they are undergoing rapidly changing images combined with those of the uncountable reflections on the surrounding transparent physical borders. These invisible walls are then transformed into the new infinite landscapes.
From the heavy stones of the Egyptians. of the building itself. many of these projects are able to change function-place relationships in a considerable short time as well. there is a general impulse is to shift from the material to the immaterial. With the application of virtual reality. drawings or pictures forced some competition commissions to complain that they were almost unable to judge the fundamental qualities of proposals inspired by this experimental approach. This sometimes even results into an extreme plan representation that has almost no fixed content besides the overall covering membrane.virtual reality. space and time are forced into one single ultimate embraced movement. Many of the project’s qualities will consequently rely on the applied information technology. to Roman vaults. Ultimately.. see paragraph entitled ‘the Blob’. Questions can then easily be raised as for how the architect can be fully aware of the spatial and perceptible implications of most design decisions. to. Forced to adapt the required program of dynamic organisation. right: the Water Pavilion of NOX-Architecture The Technology of Space Representation. able to cover all possible functions under.The Representation of Space Consequently. This technical packet of hardand software will finally determine how the space becomes animated and activated. Time as the fourth dimension becomes thus a very significant factor as well. This structural inability to rely on the presented plans. huge surface. the cyberspatial model could be the most appropriate form of expression. as the perception of the building’s environment can change at each megahertz-cycle decision of the computer’s processor. These architectural experiences 13 For more information. and on top of. In this way. one single. coming vertically out of the architectural plans. next to the objects physically realised. dynamic representations of the designed information processing mechanisms could be implemented. to holograms. as it is noted that these architectural representations are almost developing into minimalistic pointillistic schemes. In such projects. to iron construction. as much is planned to be dependent of its dynamic and unpredictable use itself. Even the fixed traditional notion of an ordinary plan is subject to change. the construction. It is hereby noticed that movement of objects and people plus the change of various functions in time are rendered into an almost bigger aesthetic value then the only fixed element. get important competitors in the form of so-called blobs13 and organic roofs. the characteristics of this architecture cannot be seized by any traditional static presentation technique. to structural glass. Figure III-1 Left: architectural work of Ben van Berkel and Caroline Bos. while the spatial simulation takes place in an immersive and convincing manner. to the curtain wall. Some authors have noticed that in the history of architecture. The architectural value of fixed objects hereby decreases while the traditional notion of matter starts to loose its importance. to Gothic arches. This architectural movement should obviously not be separated from that of the development of the actual building technology. the Cartesian order of erect walls. 59 .. the drawing and the scale model. And it is this last phenomenon that could be the very representational tool this experimental architecture is seeking for.
Virtual reality as a representation technique is able to represent and explore these ideas of time dependence. Most sophisticated CAAD-software programs have already reached the border of their efficiency and some architects’ personal creativity. even every computable nanosecond if necessary. and virtuality should be able to create places similar to the major historical architectural types we know today. Contemporary architects like Frank O.” 15 The electronic environment offers much more than the universal design principles which reflect old building technology or traditional representation methods. and images. De-signing the Simcit. and to date. Cartesian order. programs. imagination. could then be considered as redundant. architecture. “…the possibilities of the computer would not be used to design buildings. steel or glass. „Architecture is geared to the future. By most optimistic views. 1996) Some principles and approaches these three architects utilise in their work will be explained in the next paragraphs. but has had plenty of experience with eternity.“ (Ole Bouman. November/December 1993. the identity of space has transformed in a period of hundreds of years of changing technology and spatial awareness.could be shared by numerous interested people at any time. Even the contemporary virtual reality tools are still inadequate for truely renewing designing purposes. is turning its attention to the process of generation as architectural representation. And this is the very area that is yet largely unexplored. Greg Lynn or Peter Eisenmann14 (have to) use several non-architectural computer programs nowadays. In the future. 15 TAYLOR. in Any. Taylor. In this way.. first defined by the materialisation of design. but should use the power of the computer to produce something unforeseen. the concept of space. physical or not. Architects of the future should attempt to find ways of fashioning this new space in ways that take advantage of its extraordinarily rich potential. Gehry. Because now at last the power of imagination is virtually free. The Future of Architectural Space Inevitably. as the VR-technique in principle is a representation of a certain defined mental projection. p. creating VR oriented architectural software-applications is the technological part where spatial experienced persons such as architects are able to propose many innovations and ideas in future. Therefore. it would be only logical if the design would then be steered out of these explorations. It is dependent of the mind of its program writers and developers. No. to be able to generate their ideas into some kind of acceptable representation. Even the fundamental question whether the simulated space is meant to be built in the physical world or not. will change continuously. For Mark C. RealSpace in QuickTimes: Architecture and Digitization. changing form and the sensorial environment that is uploaded by space. and done inside the digital environment itself.17 14 60 . this has clearly been of an almost exclusively analytic. but space would be designed by developing programs. Electrotecture: Architecture and the Electronic Future. some architectural experiences in a certain space. checking the effects and events that were programmed by the (cyberspatial?) architect. Furthermore. computer-generated spaces should not be the sum of endless calculations. out of the designed concept of its architect.3. The materials of the future architect would than be transformed from concrete. MARK C. architectural suitable software is hard to find. But even nowadays. to become code.
but that the perception of its users contains the unfolding of a stored pathway into its forms and surfaces. In the same way the energy is captured into the rock. pp. One of the approaches to design is to build a history into form. of which the form can only be understood as a certain result of its history. as most of his projects are dealing intensively with the investigation of dynamic. Zone Books. This phenomenon based on Henri Bergson’s17 theory of readable and defined history embedded even in any form. No. HENRI. Lynn is trying to store motion in the form itself by generating it in a time-based environment.66) The Generation of Form In opposition to the scientific approach that merely investigates procedures and processes. he persuasively criticises most contemporary architecture as being static. No. Illustrating the fundaments of his theory. Nevertheless. In his view. instead of some sort of non-static mathematics.Y. January 1998.3 Digitised Architecture Greg Lynn teaches architecture at Columbia University in New York.2. can be characterised by the term energy.2. …growing buildings out of data fields?. & GUIHAND.65-69 17 Greg Lynn bases this notion on the book: BERGSON. Lynn does not use the term ‘static’ in opposite to ‘moving’. III. MARC. CHRISTOPHER. he refers to the metaphor of a rock. 16 DUISBERG. New York. This does not have to mean that Lynn’s buildings move. but tries in this way to explain the fact that this traditional architecture is based on reducing whole ideal numbers reaching a certain calculable equilibrium. (transform. Greg Lynn tries to explain the concept of form with logic based on timerelated growth or development.III. 1998. p. Matter and Memory. N. 1988 61 . in transForm.3. he can certainly be considered as an important voice in the architectural discussion about cyberspace. rather than reducing the form to some ideal state.1 Data Field Architecture In this discourse. and is the principle of the office called FORM in New Jersey and Los Angeles.16 Figure III-2 Studies for a single-family house residence on Long Island. the University of California in Los Angeles. since they embrace the classical models of pure and timeless form. His most known works until today still consists of competition design proposals such as the Cardiff Bay Opera House and the Yokohoma International Port Terminal. computer-generated models in the generation of architectural form.
he started to accept the concept of a defined perceptible model. a diagram that acts like a kind of deformed typology. Furthermore. these fundamental principles of perceptible forces did reach that far. place. No. For this project. In the research of his projects. Greg Lynn introduces a revolutionary new formal typology. blobs can be considered as alien and detached from any place while they possess simultaneously the capability of melding with their surrounding context. Most importantly.14. a primarily design procedure and a whole set of parameters are established that will generate the architectural form. one of his radical and new architectural elements will now be explained more thoroughly.”18 To prove the rather original point of view with which Greg Lynn approaches the architectural theory of form. These elements seem most promising. 18 LYNN.forces can be built into any designed building just by the way it is formed. Figure III-3 Two of Greg Lynn’s diagrams of blobs. which should drastically enrich the architectural discourse of tectonics. Lynn showed that a building could be designed out of a certain data field. that he even deliberately refused to investigate the experiential components of a project. pp. of all different sizes and shapes and irreducible typological essences. The Blob “Or should I say blobs. Many blobs. as the concept suggests fundamental alternative strategies of structural organisation and construction. as they try to fill the metaphorical gaps of traditional representation with their remarkable ‘sticky surfaces’. Blobs that threaten to overrun a terrorised and deterritorialised tectonics like a bad B-movie. GREGG. 59-61 62 . Its characteristics should provide complex architectural relations. which finally resulted in a computer generated single-family house on Long Island. Blobs cannot be reduced to a typological essence. called ‘the blob’. although the recognition of its form varied very strongly and dynamically by the way. For example. In a rather theoretical essay in ANY. Blobs. Later. and direction in which it was observed. the notion of typology was used to provide certain internal constrained limits to the model. 1996. or why Tectonics is Square and Topology is Groovy. in ANY . This was combined with external constraints of the surrounding environment mapped on a data field. as no two blobs are the identical. Initially. the form and organisation of any given blob is contextually intensive and therefore dependent on strict conditions for internal organisation.
1.19 Gelatinous organisms. viscous. First. Such a B-film blob is a gelatinous surface of which its interior and exterior are continuous. incomplete beings whose symbolisation has been ignored due to ‘specific dynamics’ characteristic of real fluids. many architects retreated the primarily Cartesian model of simple gravity and have begun to investigate the alternative possibilities of topological surface organisations. In search of a theoretical abstract model of essential diversification within the discipline of architecture. surface area. Secondly. they posses neither a global form nor a single identity. Although they have minor shaping forces such as surface tensions and viscosity. Nevertheless. the morphology. it is noticed that blobs can absorb objects as if they were liquefied. mobile composite entity capable of incorporating disparate external elements into itself. Three principles of this movement and spatiality are characteristic for all blobs. In this way. neither singular nor multiple. The blobs that appear in these typical B-movies can be understood as organisms that are topologically inverted.What exactly can be recognised as a ‘blob’? The image. or ‘blobs’. There is no fundamental difference between these elements and a spherical formation. Many construction and architectural minds argue that following the fact that humans always structured themselves as ‘standing upright’. blobs possess the ability to move through space as if space were aqueous. as the latter is merely the index of a low level of interactions and blobs possess a high degree of information in the form of differentiation between components in time. The most interesting example in this field is the concept of ‘isomorphic surfaces’. 19 63 . 3. have no internally regulated shape but depend on contextual constraints or containment for their form. These elements can only be organised in relation to other objects. as their centre. Lynn himself identifies three different approaches to clarify the former characteristics of the idea of ‘blobbiness’. and mass are determined by various other fields of influence. also referred to as ‘meta-balls’. And in conclusion. The physical definition of viscous composite entities. it can be noted that structural dynamics are far more complicated than the transmission of perpendicular loads to the earth’s surface. and distributed. thus determining its form by the environment as well as the movement itself. which is able to connect to other meta-ball objects to form a single surface. While these alien structures move through the city absorbing materials. and behaviour of the blob present a sticky. Contemporary construction techniques. each of them acts like a digestive system but then turned inside out. Meanwhile. 2. multiplied. an alternative system of complexity of form seems required. The images of science fiction horror films. These fluid entities are described as being ‘quasi-solid’. a typology of topological geometries for modelling complex aggregates has been scientifically developed. like fluids. The inner volume defines a fusion zone within. as the interaction of multiple loadings of all kinds should be considered as well. The outer inflection zone defines a region within which other meta-balls objects can influence and inflect the surface. the term blob seems to connote a kind of intelligence. by extension buildings should do also. that behaves as if it is networked. First it must be acknowledged that blob construction is still in its early stages of development The shock effect in such movies are often generated by displaying partially digested victims suspended within a gelatinous ‘ooze’.
The most known and documented example of today is certainly that of the winning design proposal of the Yokohoma Port Terminal of Alejandro Zaera Polo and Farshid Moussavi. the priority is always on the diagram. are hereby translated into shapes. this approach makes the design still unpredictable as the set of constraints and information can be arbitrarily chosen. argue that one must to have a clear initial idea and every subsequent decision must follow from that original 64 . Minimalist architects. The computer is thus not considered as an automatic designer. of whom Rem Koolhaas is only one. The overall plan and sections are kept very symmetric in the deployment of spaces and programs. Quite the opposite. continuous surfaces and vectors. an increasing number of projects do emerge in design competitions as well as in a built form.in the contemporary architectural culture. Lynn does not consider the philosophical side of his theories as a clarification of how a project should look like or what it should represent or symbolise. Here. Consequently. and thus blaming it to be a kind of hyper-functionalism. now known as Foreign Architecture Office (FAO). like disciplinarians. In this way. Some other authors. the Yokohoma proposal chose radically for a different approach. In this way. Nevertheless. and is thus not considered as a primary element. so that the end result is never anticipated. resulting in a monolithic typology that is nevertheless locally flexible in its transitions from slab to slab. Certain design pathways are followed to determine what the project will become rather than pre-determining the result and hereby constraining the process. This critical approach is concentrating on the fact that the building surfaces are modelled out of fixed numerical data derived from the surrounding context. Lynn’s design approach could be considered as an exploration of a system that consists out of a creative and artistic medium in which the intuition is still very important. How the diagram is manifested into built form becomes much more an aesthetic issue. flexible surfaces are treated as slabs. a precedent established by Koolhaas in some of his proposed designs of which the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris is only one. Various versions of such diagrams can interact. generating surfaces out of elements like traffic flows and sun-paths. is treated as an individual volume that can be packed with certain activities. point out that Lynn would solely be interested in a form of data-automation design. The roof structure on the other hand. as the flexible thickness adapts itself to the various locations of programs below. these metaphors of images and signs are largely denied as his interest does much more rely on what architecture actually does. Instead of aligning programmatic diversity with fluctuations and punctures in flexing slabs. function and spatial organisation. which contain an underlying structure and geometry just like a Cartesian geometry. and how it can act in terms of performance. A Critical Approach It is certain that although Gregg Lynn’s own sort of architecture produces an organic image. The architectural set of tools. But on the other side of arguments. This is the exact opposite of some conceptual thoughts such as in the movement of minimalism. the technique is certainly not more ‘natural’ than for instance conceptually building a cube. but is facilitator of calculating unforeseen connections. Figure III-4 The Yokohoma Port Terminal of Alejandro Zaera Polo and Farshid Mousavi.
ibm. another software packet is being intensively discussed in the architectural worlds following the opening of the new Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao. which is a polygon-based modeller able to generate objects by calculating triangulated surfaces. the final precise positioning of the members was undertaken by CATIA’s wire frame at the architect’s office. the Bilbao Guggenheim goes far beyond of what was formerly understood to be possible in architecture both aesthetically and technically”. A prefabricated and rather straightforward frame. received its geometrical complexity purely in the connections. Building Bilbao. CATIA uses a complete numerical control mechanism. but to rationalise and make buildable highly intuitive formal concepts. As a result. No. some architects rely their entire process of design decisions on the digital application of various computer programs. For instance. points the Architectural Review22. able to define surfaces by descriptive geometrical mathematical formulas.autodessys. as this choice primarily depends on the properties of the medium that has to be used. This software was developed by the French aerospace manufacturer Dassault Systems and released to the public some twelve years ago. which was designed by Frank O. Most architectural and rendering software is based on grids of various sorts of polygons.12. finally the advanced threedimensional CATIA21 software was chosen. the 20 21 More information about the Form-Z software can be found at: http://www.idea. which are modelled with the same software as well.com More information can be found at http://www. While the structural engineer calculated the overall dimensions. a construction zone was identified and used for the structural concept of the building. Gehry’s solely technically inspired decision would become most controversial. FORM-Z In the view of Greg Lynn. By contrast. This is the result of Gehry’s original approach of computers. Gehry and Associates. the Disney Concert Hall and the Prague office building. in The Architectural Review. By offsetting the surfaces. CATIA Meanwhile. p. of which all members were straight sections. Lynn uses the program Form-Z20.3. Three-dimensional manually made models were digitised by identifying the control surfaces or setting out common defined points. After testing many other CAAD-tools applied by projects such as the steel Barcelona Fish sculpture. ANNETTE.42-45 65 . of which the primary purpose is not to design.catia. Two of the most controversial and sophisticated software packets meanwhile possess a special place in the architectural contemporary discourse about the creation of form.2 Applied Software The use and importance of CAAD-software is undeniably increasing in the architectural design practices of today. the Hanover Bus Stop. so that certain formulas could be offered to the steel and stone contractors to build the structure in a still economical manner. “Almost incomprehensible in its scale and three-dimensional complexity.com/catmain. As many publications about this building already proved. This software is able to provide the precise location of any point on a surface. It can be considered as evenly important as the decision whether to build the scale model in clay or in cardboard. the choice of software is one of the most significant choices he makes within a project. Some critics even argue that this program presents Lynn’s projects in such way that the formal language resembles much of that of Peter Eisenman’s newest folding projects. III. As this technique proved to be so accurate. December 1997. in minimising formal effects every effort is made to state one simple reduced moment.html 22 LECUYER. But while it nowadays merely is used as a fast and accurate representation tool.
many names and theoretical insights were mentioned that already are explained in the former paragraphs. However.com/custsucc/sufran. The final object. but relatively new to building. They feel genuine. which are strictly and creatively translated into original architectural principles and formal consequences. architect and Professor at the Cooper Union in New York. and overlapping ovals with reversed axes and identical geometrical centre. and joyful. is best known for the remarkable architectural style of his projects. and its ultimate influence on the perception of space. In his discourse. as the erection itself caused some problems in pulling the structural steel into place. this software provides a very high degree of accuracy in replicating the surfaces as well as estimating various building costs.html 24 th EISENMAN. Moreover. New York city.21. see: The Success Story between Gehry and Dassaults Systèmes Software Program CATIA. enclosed. In short. For more information. Guest-lecture at ETHZ. Eisenman used the example of a certain art project of Richard Serra called Torqued Ellipses25 to clarify his arguments in an understandable manner. accessible. http://www. Only CATIA-software seemed capable to determine the lines of the bending patterns according to which the actual steel templates would be rolled. “I’m excited about them because I like the sense of movement. solid steel template. In a guest lecture at the Federal University in Zürich24. invented and made a kind of object which is made of a flat.ibm. international search to find a suitable rolling mill. No. Serra. PETER.” 23 III. Hereby. that it drew the immediate attention of the famous American architect. Peter Eisenman explained his opinion of one remarkable aspect of the future of architecture. which are often characterised as examples of the theories of formal ‘deconstruction’.catia. so that the coordinates could be revealed on site by electronically referring to the stored CATIA model. from September 1997 through June 1998 23 66 . at the Dia Centre for the Arts. helped by Frank Gehry’s engineer Rick Smith. Peculiarly enough. in ANY. Utilitas in der heutigen Architektur. while following his lines of arguments. Gehry believes that curved forms in buildings will become more feasible. in future the CAADsoftware should also be used for montage-rehearsal and improvement of the various sequential actions needed during construction.3. How the Critic See. he tried to interpret the phenomenon of time. (much of Eisenman’s line of arguments could later be traced back in his own article: The Time of Serra’s Space: Torquing Vision. This element became torqued in such way that two imagined. as this software encourages the creativity of the architect.3 Time-Space Relationship Peter Eisenman. possesses such strange and remarkable characteristics. Its conceptual foundation is the result of his many theoretical and philosophical thoughts. pp. and more architects may follow. This is common practise in the aerospace industry. then clients will begin demanding them. which was actually the result of a long. 5 November 1997. Hereby each structural element had to be bar-coded as well.need for field cutting and welding was virtually eliminated.56-62) 25 Project: Torqued Ellipses by Richard Serra. If I do a lot of buildings with curves. were gradually rotated in the elevation of the object itself. and people enjoy them. thick.
One cannot ‘see’ the top plane or even draw its plan. it is such an architecture that possesses the characteristic of realising a time of duration by the separation of understanding and experience. Architecture is usually experienced in chronological time. it is certain that he himself will apply this principle in his future projects. as the subjects walk in and around the space and understand its structure through a process and sequence of individual perceptions. It was only until Henri Bergson’s Matter and Memory that the possibility of difference between ‘the time of the object’ and ‘the time of experience of the subject’ was proposed. Bilbao). as the vertical axis of the human body and that of the architectural enclosure becomes separated. The torquing raises another issue. parts of the perceived lack of stability comes from the absence of conventional structure and the extremely thin size of the steel plates in comparison to their height. p. Rotterdam) and Frank O. generally concerned with relating the axis of the upright human figure to the symmetrical axis of a building. No. classical time. due to the effect of torquing the steel plates combined with its overall scale and height. Consequently. as he is already convinced that it is apparent in some of the projects of Rem Koolhaas (Kunsthal.21. The way in which apparently these static objects seem to have a certain duration in time is accomplished by just this difference between understanding and experiencing its space. In conlusion. the plan of the form cannot be seen.Figure III-5 Two views of Richard Serra’s sculptural art installation ‘Torqued Ellipses’. Furthermore. proposing a difference in kind. Meanwhile. one can never say to be inside that space. Time is condensed and spun fast. Although people can walk around these pieces. and the time of duration. concerning a difference in degree. This displacement however. still took place in a narrative.60) In his view. 67 . which draws the energy to a certain disjunction in time. nor can it be conceptualised by a subject walking in and around the object. that Eisenman foresees to emerge by the architects of the future. this sculptural installation is an early example of an architectural phenomenon that requires the individual to experience the space of the object in time. This is fundamentally different from that of Richard Serra’s work. Moreover. Serra’s objects are the opposite of many examples of classical architecture. Bergson suggested that there were two different kinds of time: chronological time. Gehry (Guggenheim. (ANY: How the Critic See.
the term ‘liquid architecture’ was coined by Marcos Novak.4 Virtual House The German design competition held in 1996.3.ucla. either unconstrained or constrained. Berlin. the form is a becoming expression of the virtual. cyberspace. as it was asked to design an inhabitable ‘virtual house’26. composer. No. He is the founder of RealityLab28. took the conceptual notion of using computers in the architectural practice much further. direction. his personal research is situated in the field of algorithmic compositions. at the Advanced Design Research Program (ADRP) at the School of Architecture at the University of Texas at Austin. becomes an active participant within the process. the program of the virtual house consisted of the spatial concept of an earlier designed house by Eisenman. In this regard. the virtual carries the idea of multiple potentials for new connections or unseen relations.html. Each vector hereby produces movements and interrelations that are considered as constraints which influence its location. No. November 1997.”27 III.edu/~marcos/marcos. This is in fact the first faculty devoted to the study virtual space as autonomous architectural space. Germany.III. p. 1996-1997 (Dialogue. thus respectively acting as constraint or effect. virtual and mutant intelligent environments. In his theoretical view of this project.9.60) First. Consequently.56-60 28 More information about this lab can be found at http://ww. Novak is an architect. of which some are mentioned throughout this chapter. within the space as a series of traces. Eisenman Architects. Figure III-6 The Virtual House. and the relationship of architecture to music. This particular project was then abstracted into nine cubes. Many famous architects participated.aud. 26 68 . These vectors were then visualised by showing the effect they have on lines within their (arbitrary) range of influence. and was developed in collaboration with the CAAD Department of ETH-Zürich. in Dialogue. November 1997. “The manifestation becomes effectuation. and repetition.4 Liquid Architecture In fact. artist. the Laboratory for Immersive Virtual Environments.9. Herzog and de Meuron’s entry consists out of an electronic space inspired by the notion of the MUD. it has an effect on something. but Eisenman’s proposal contained some architectural related notions that remarkably enough will return in a more sophisticated form in many other approaches in the field of the cyberspatial and electronic realm. pp. in which a potential field of relations and conditions of interconnectivity was expressed by means of vectors. and theorist investigating actual. Furthermore. each element of the system has the additional potential to be affecting as well as effecting. The Virtual House.ch 27 EISENMAN ARCHITECTS. The condition of each vector is in addition recorded. The resulting project can still be found at: http://virtualhouse.
as humans will now be placed within the information space itself. Hereby. Judgements of a building’s ‘performance’ become akin to the evaluation of dance and theatre. This representation reduced to primarily binary streams. cyberspace is architecture. the architect is called to design not the object. Its essence is not invested in a particular form. His liquid architecture requires much more than just variations of a theme. as well as a habitat of the imagination. And Novak expectations of this abstract definition are huge. smoothly evolving in both space and time. these manifestations of ‘landscapes’ and scattered ‘objects’ are considered as an architectural problem. Metamorphosis adds the change of form. Liquid Novak uses the term ‘liquid’ to mean animistic. throughout his arguments Novak proves to be convinced that conceptually. in BENEDIKT.com/~cyber23/virarch/novak.” Even the comparison to ‘a symphony in space’ seems not to be sufficient. objects and processes.1 Introduction In the view of Novak. Marcos Novak refers to cyberspace as a habitat for the imagination. http://www. London. Then. shifts towards the abstract structure of relationships. could thus permit the discovery of previously invisible relations in this data. connections and associations of appearances and accommodations. the image of the relationship of human to information will be inverted.” Furthermore.). Animation in turn means the capability to change the location through time.29 In an interview30. MICHAEL (Ed. The core of its arguments leads back to the possibility that by reducing selves. In this space. Furthermore.4. various different types of media are processed and combined through an electronic algorithmic translator. p. the traditional conception of these terms changes considerably. animated. as it calls for the invention of ‘something’ equivalent to a ‘grand tradition’ of architecture. he investigates the consequences that arise when cyberspace is considered to be an inevitable development in the interaction of humans with computers. Liquid Architectures in Cyberspace. the boundaries of ‘how’ information can be perceived are thoroughly investigated in an architectural manner. In short. metamorphic. NOVAK. which is normally understood in the context of the city and all its implied metaphors.250 30 Cyber23 (real author unknown). through time or space. Animism suggests that entities have a ‘spirit’ that tries to guide their own behaviour. It can ‘adjust’. Architecture. the nature of this virtual world is considered to be information. and form can be intensively maximised. information. Virtual Architecture: Liquid Architectures. as well as the crossing of many categorical boundaries. and the art of the world is consequently the investigation of the data. MIT Press. Therefore. This should then lead to: “a continuum of edifices. but the principles by which the object is generated and varied in time. he tries to clarify this concept further as follows: “It can take different forms. 1991.III. cyberspace has architecture and cyberspace contains architecture. MARCOS. as liquid architecture never can be repeated but instead continues to develop. This lead to the fact that for the first time in history. generating form towards as much human sensorial modalities as possible. Cyberspace Consequently. Interview with Marcos Novak. cyberspace is the ideal realm in which the benefits of digitally separating data.best. Cyberspace: First Steps. forms. simply by modifying the applied mapping techniques. But then also.htm 29 69 . new and unsuspected phenomena can be investigated.
architecture existed as a separate category. the generation of form is also applied to music and cinema. In this way. which can be called archiMusic. The structuring of a certain database can be influenced by themes in music so that forms can visually abstract their originating composition. known as the art of space. by settling and regulating in a certain Order. or lyrics are taken and transformed into the generators of form in a synthesised virtual world. All this should then lead into the notion that the landscape of data is an abstraction that makes the information much more comprehensible. compressed in one single representation.4. capable to allow and extract many unique trajectories through it. Music is then understood as a single object in time: it has a beginning and an end. 70 . a plan or a section can be sorted out. dance. the same could be done with dance. Structures and primitives of the communicated representation of many different media types could thus be ‘morphed’ and transformed into a single space and place. The two combined by the former principle results thus in a new art of space-time. As any media can be mapped in this way. out of which functions and variables can be created which subsequently produce simple more dimensional figures. Poetic systems such as music. but is understood as some sort of structuring that evolves the ways in which works of art can be made. Music and Cinema As extension to these theories of interchangeable media. Ultimately. because it is based on the discovery of interesting nodes in the matrix. Such a conception of architectural space has the advantage of being extremely compact. Time was also considered as a category. resulting into the phenomena of navigable music and habitable theatre. and it even can be graphed out. This leads to the idea that a whole musical composition can be seen as a landscape.III. poetics is not only seen as an application to words. Furthermore. The whole organisation is then based on a matrix of infinite possibilities and is promised to evoke any sort emotion that conventional music could. the generation of meaning can then be investigated in relation to those items by which the meaning was manifested. the existing and concepts of traditional artefacts can be questioned.The Ten Books of Architecture) Poetics Novak thinks it is possible that a poetic composition could be the structuring system for the generation of form. the Disposition and conjunction of the Lines and Angles. turning the cinema of the future into a landscape of opportunity. by digitally recording movement after which this data could be morphed into a definable construct. the meaning of it can be multiplied. Inhabitable cinema in turn implies the possibility of artificial and discontinuous environments. since a single mathematical expression can be expanded to become a fully formed chamber. as a sort of immersive symbolic database. First.” (Leon Battista Alberti . Another possible example is the media of cinema that possesses the same sort of linearity as music does. Furthermore.2 Virtual Poetics “…and we can in our Thought and Imagination contrive perfect Forms of Buildings entirely separate from Matter. and music was the art of time. Several characteristics of sounds can be mapped.
to implement a central computer system to manufacture one reality for many participants.com/a34-transmitting_arch. The concept that will emerge is quite the opposite: each user will receive an electronic and compressed description of the world and information about the state and actions of all other participants. Novak investigates deeper the consequences of his liquid architecture definition. that we already inhabit an invisible world of shapes. Ultimately it is even considered capable to breathe and transform. This notion brings Novak back to the already mentioned theory of Bergson. The concept of sampling implies furthermore the existence of a field to be sampled. time. the concept of time must mathematically be added to the list of active parameters of which architecture is a function. but not necessarily identical with. and a sampling resolution or sensitivity. Meanwhile however. changing the three features of the sampling-mechanism or the source of the data replaces the shaped and perceived world with complete new ones. Transmitting Architecture. It is then even so.3 Transmitting Architecture In an essay called Transmitting Architecture: The Transphysical City31. Transmission The astonishing capacity of the electronic net surrounding the planet to carry information is just being grasped. the one the others perceive. as even the cognitive mechanisms of the body’s nervous system have to translate raw input of numerous sources into some kind of recognisable and meaningful pattern. waves. It is thus unlikely and against the insights of distributed computing. a sample rate or frequency. the world is until today solely understood through the process of sampling. This leads to the direct conclusion that theory. solids. or attribute. now finally habitable and interactive spaces and places can be distributed by electronic means. MARCOS. the distinction of existence is not considered as binary. as it now is able to change its position. Each participant’s local machine will then synthesise a version of the shared reality that is similar to. and creatively visualised. as well as education are confronted with questions without any precedent within the discipline itself. creating in fact a continuous illusion. ‘Reality’ becomes thus segmented into intervals and then back reconstituted to fit a human understanding. As an essential characteristic.ctheory. in which objects out of place. Consequently. an architecture of latent information. http://www. This means that the design of mechanisms and algorithms of animation and interactivity for every act of architecture is required. its potential is still being restricted by the present limits of bandwidth. ready to be seen.html 71 . Looking at the world as a field is completely different from understanding it in terms of dialectic. Sampling For Novak. and holes. Capturing an object’s boundary is then simply the reconstructed contour of an arbitrarily chosen value out of the collection of all possible data points. but made by the concept of degree. attitude. and yet necessary to make a larger reality possible.III.4. Here. as ”Learning from software supersedes learning from Las Vegas. practice. or voids. captured. Obviously. or plot are able to colour a scene with their probable histories or futures. Each location is thus considered independent. to 31 NOVAK. the Bauhaus or Vitruvius…” Hereby he points out that the architect is not only obliged to take interest in the motion of the user through the environment. but he has to pay attention into the structure itself as well. The concept plan is furthermore considered as dead and inappropriate to capture the dynamic flows of the new trajectories. Time He considers hereby architecture as transmittable.
” (William Lethaby.G. but uses many concepts that are derived from nature.. this technique should lead to the application of architectural typologies that will influence the notion of how people will use future virtual spaces.4 Conclusion Marcos Novak’s liquid architecture is clearly a dematerialised architecture. Architecture: an Introduction to the History and Theory of the Art of Building. He proposes the model of nature as the generating force for architectural form. although he still strongly emphasises the notion of electronically building structures that are still meaningful and useful in the physical world.4.html 32 72 . as it possesses all information for its generation regardless of neither location nor resources. and external influence. http://www. and it is described in a compact coded notation. Finally. pp.accomplish this task the technique of simple compression is insufficient. He is also able to generate architectural form out of separate observed phenomena.net/ellipsis/evolutionary/evolutionary.gold. Some day we shall get a morphology of the art by some architectural Darwin.Bond Ltd. His evolutionary architecture is consequently not founded out of the characteristics of abstracted art. an architecture designed as much in time as in space. who will start from the simple cell and relate to it the most complex structures. III. He was also lecturer at the University of Cambridge and was awarded a personal chair at the University of Ulster in 1984. regardless of their computational and communicational resources. subject to principles of morphogenesis. JOHN. since it imposes the same limit of resolution for all participants. E.32 FRAZER. 1995. He investigates in his book An Evolutionary Architecture some fundamental computer-based form generating processes in architecture. described in the next paragraph. In almost the same line of reasoning can the theories of John Frazer be situated.5 Evolutionary Architecture “Modern builders need a classification of architectural factors irrespective of time and country. but its genetic code that will be transmitted. An Evolutionary Architecture. Instead. he is obliged to struggle with the technique of inserting knowledge and formal constraints into the growing construction itself.117. III. genetic coding. He sees architecture deliberately much further than the process of building alone in his long search for architectural sign systems that should both be spatial and encompassing. London. use. changing interactively as a function of duration. replication and selection. it is not the object itself. a classification by essential variation. For this purpose. 1911) John Frazer is unit master of Diploma unit 11 at the Architectural Association in London. as the concept of architecture here is primarily considered as a form of artificial life.
but is meanwhile considered to be ‘blind’ to the eventual outcome of the process that is being created. Economics. § Analogy. although in the case of Frazer. Just like the natural ecosystem these principles resulted. information had to be compressed in an extreme manner.2 History It is no coincidence that the development of computing has been shaped by the building of computer models for simulating natural processes. For instance. The perfect and balanced variety of natural forms is the result of the continuous experimentation of evolution. such as the tendency to self-organisation. Sullivan. permit change and adaptation. the realities of the construction industry and the pressing need for environmentally responsible buildings.5. buildings would act much more like natural ecosystems do: they recycle their materials. and make efficient use of ambient energy. Consequently not only the concept of natural selection should hereby be taken over into architectural development. which means it has no notion of design. It can be argued that the system of evolution operates without any pre-knowledge of what is to come. because other aspects of evolution. with the notion that the basis of life was information. the vast majority of buildings of today most certainly do not. seems also to be too complex as a suitable description of architectural terms. In his case. Alan Turing. another significant key personage. influenced by general problem-solving processes. Intentionality. Environment. was explicitly searching a theory that would encompass both natural and artificial biologies. This approach not only requires a syntax and grammar of a particular formal language in advance. Hereby the design is drawn ‘beyond the object’. Inspiration. In his view.III. while an almost unmanageable quantity of permutations should be created as well. Generation. as it focuses on user-experiences rather than on physical form. the architect is very clear of his or her intentions.1 Nature The next paragraph will describe some of Frazer’s metaphors and arguments in which he recognises many characteristics of nature as important and instructive phenomena in the concept of architecture. clear and economical concepts on the individual logical operations had to be used. the technique of ‘shape grammars’ or elemental combinatorial systems to generate architectural design has to many limitations. In Frazer’s view. In case of Frazer. John Frazer promises that his approach of architectural design will reflect much more the changing demands of society. are equally or even more significant. in both hardware and software. Von Neumann on the other hand. In history.5. § § § § § III. Wright and Le Corbusier all employed some kind of biological analogies. This ‘kit of parts’-approach. 73 . Although vernacular architecture might occasionally share this characteristic. into a complex hierarchy built up from the simplest functions. an important figure in the development of the concept of the computer. Furthermore. nature is the generator and instructive example of fundamental formative processes and information systems. the primary inspiration is not that of the image. By designing the artificial generating system. just like in natural forms of codes such as DNA. was interested in morphology and its simulation by computer-based mathematical processes. For instance. architectural form and structure are frequently inspired by many concepts of nature.
and in fact. there are few such problems. The von Neumann Machine Starting from Turing’s concept of the universal computing machine. writing. 1967) 33 John Frazer refers to TURING. we must. part robot. Although Frazer himself does not mention the phenomenon of cyberspace. requiring some 200.3 Generative Systems In this paragraph. with an Application to the Entscheidungsproblem. he considered the Turing machine to represent a class of universal automa that could solve all infinite logical problems. Although he went on building the first American computers. memory. Turing would mainly use the computer for modelling morpho-genetic processes. therefore. Later. This reprogrammable and digital machine worked with an endless paper tape and a head that could move freely along the tape. It was thus von Neumann who recognised that life depends upon reaching the critical and complex level in which items are able to self-organise and self-reproduce into more complicated objects. Logically. III. it can easily be imagined that these techniques would be used in the electronically transmittable realm. John von Neumann developed the foundation of the serial computer. pencil and paper. but able to follow exactly millions of precisely defined operations… In asking how the computer might be applied to architectural design. Turing had moved on and already proposed the notion of artificial intelligence. A. all stupid and entirely without initiative. On Computable numbers. as it will be proven that a maximum impact of materialised form can be created out of a strict minimum of computer code.M. defining three basic elements of central processor. In this field. evolving automation resulted in an immensely complicated and essentially unbuildable project. or erasing symbols. By this time. the same as a huge army of clerks. Proceedings of the London Mathematical society. this remained a paper exercise that was part cellular automation. reading.” (Christopher Alexander. his work on self-replicating automata would be more significant.000 cells in any one of twenty-nine states. he began to investigate the possibility of one automation taking some raw materials and building another automation. equipped with rule books. Alan Turing already thought about an abstract experiment in which for the first time in history. this important investigation of a self-building. it seems that life exists on the edge of chaos. It would take until the Second World War before Turing’s designs were built and these machines were used to break the German Enigma code. Furthermore. Furthermore. having only a conceptual robot arm. 1937 74 . The role of the Computer “A digital computer is. The Question of Computers in Design. this is the point of departure for Frazer’s new model of architecture. Hereby. ask ourselves what problems we know of in design that could be solved by such an army of clerks… At the moment. the feasibility of such automation physically replicating itself into more complex forms was examined. The then revolutionary idea consisted out of the fact that any computable process could thus be performed by following a set of logical instructions on the tape. Ultimately.5. essentially. and control unit. some of the techniques that are described in An Evolutionary Architecture are further investigated.The Turing Machine In the year 1935. a research which would occupy him for the rest of his life. a universal computing machine33 was being conceived.
This is reflected by a rather radical change of the applied human intuition. and imagination. They were not only able to perform analysis. modelling. Instead of implementing the seventeen 2D possibilities. Symmetry operations are extensively used in design and architecture. Hereby Frazer tried to imagine a model. and mutability. The Generator In 1979. axonometric. rotation and shearing in the three dimensions were programmed. capable to evaluate environmental performance and showing the related shadow and sun-path movement on the associated architectural projects. After the development of communication. of which the interface offers the user the capability to transmit the required commands for computable evaluation. the first working model of a self-replicating computer was built. reflecting. computer languages and even prototype computer hardware. but the initial spark comes from human creativity. It was only later that the research in the generation of architectural form was emphasised. this thus resulted into electronic processes of self-inspection and transmission of various messages. a tool was created that made all 230 symmetry operations in three dimensions possible. It was thought to be possible to physically build a certain ‘intelligent structure’. perception. although only the simplest procedures such as reflection and rotation are generally available. which can be multiplied by the matrices of the transformations. § § III. § § Data-structures are important to contain the graphic representation and the results of the various transformations. Or like Frazer himself puts it: ”The prototyping. Commonly this is in the form of a matrix. solar-geometry programs were being developed. able to explore their neighbouring sides.5.” 75 . and coach itself to make better suggestions. Furthermore. all elements that can be considered as essential requirements of life as well. selfproduction. Shape processing graphical programs had to be defined. but assisted with the processes of design as well. it was more than necessary to develop and design new essential tools: computer software. although the first step still relies on the human skills of its creator. which was able to “learn from the alterations it made to its own organisation. It consisted out of a collection of three-dimensional cubes. translating. as there was a clear shortage of suitable and efficient sources in these fields. testing. orthographic. as the difficulty lies much more in developing and prescribing the ‘rule book’. Transformations such as scaling.But actually the evolutionary approach is ‘exactly’ the sort of problem that could be given to such army of clerks.” The Concepts Throughout the following projects. All this work was then concentrated on the so-called Generator project. evaluation and evolution all use the formidable power of the computer.4 The Tools In the earliest phase. isometric and perspective projections were added. in which architecture exhibits the characteristics of metabolism. The following list sums up the most important efforts being done by Frazer’s research team. ‘Imaginative use’ is translated into ‘using the computer’ to compress information in such way that complex architectural form is able to develop. differential scaling. It is furthermore noticed that the use of a computer is not without any dangers.
a Fibonacci curve-fitting program. evolutionary. § § § § § A genetic code script Rules for the development of the code The mapping of the code to a virtual model The nature of the environment for the development of the model The criteria for selection 76 . The Universal Constructor This early idea was further investigated in the Universal Constructor project developed in 1990. They actually consist out of a coded form of parameters. but its precise expression is environmentally dependent.5 The Evolutionary Model In nature. Furthermore. characterised by string-like structure equivalent to the chromosomes of nature. III. which now could be performed by the physically present participator. was initially considered as a form of artificial life and contained such a code-script. The range of possible applications included three-dimensional cellular automata responding to a complex site problem.” points John Frazer. Genetic algorithms are a class of highly parallel. which permitted the mapping of different codes in the physically flat base into height in the computer model of the virtual contoured landscape. But much more conceptual elements were needed to achieve an ideal evolutionary model. This enabled finally modifying actions as ‘take me away’ or ‘add a cube on top’. The model as a whole possessed also a certain common computer program for interrogation. A problem could thus be implemented by adding some environmental features with the coded cubes. they are described as adaptive for reaching optimal solutions through gradual changes within the population over several generations. and an encoding of a suitable landscape for a particular dance-performance. These systems were investigated out of their potential as generative devices and from their simplicity that makes them appropriate for exploring rule-based systems.5. and are considered as highly parallel because they search using populations of potential solutions rather than performing this task randomly. the genetically coded information consists of manufacturing instructions. The cubes now additionally received the capability to output messages by means of illuminating a combination of eight LED-lights to the surrounding environment. and screen display. and ultimately possess a kind of artificial consciousness. This application can thus clearly be understood as a powerful tool for the explanation and demonstration of a radically new design process able to represent an expression of logic in space. Frazer’s model of architecture which started already in 1968. the technique of the genetic algorithm was chosen for communicating the compressed information. which was in fact the sole element that was able to ‘evolve’. necessary for the generation and optimisation of form. The application program would then respond by the addition or removal of cubes representing its coded and diagrammatic response. Out of this theoretical field. messagepassing. adaptive search procedures. Polyautoma “Polyautomata is a branch of computational theory concerned with a multitude of interconnected automata acting in parallel to form to form a larger automation.This environmental control system would evenly register ‘boredom’ if the building would not be changed enough.
gold.net/ellipsis/evolutionary/evolutionary. Secondly. personal formal language in all of their projects. p. after which the program adjusts itself to the most successful ones. The genetic algorithms act as seed out of which then abstract representations of structure. JOHN. the user evaluates a series of solutions in terms of nonquantifiable criteria. 34 FRAZER.G. it was considered as important to develop and code a certain architectural concept in a generic and universal form. in which intensive modelling and simulation are rather difficult to perform during the designing phase itself. First. London. after which the seed is grown and stretched until it conforms to these requirements. and where objective evaluation of different alternative approaches are still not being widely implemented yet. (http://www. including aesthetic judgements.html) Architectural Style In order to create a genetic description.Figure III-7 The different evolution levels of a materialised genetic code script. all conceived as generative systems susceptible to development and evolution..”34 This style should then represent the alternative approach of most existing CAADsoftware. conceptual model of the building information. spaces.67 77 . The model should thus become adapted iteratively in the computer in response to the feedback from the applied evaluation. and a description of the actual components and details for the output stage. This approach should then be capable of being expressed in a variety of structures and spatial configurations in response to different environments.Bond Ltd. An Evolutionary Architecture. all possessing that quality characterised by Viollet-le-Duc as ‘style’: ‘the manifestation of an ideal established upon a principle’. a strategy which is also followed when specific individual architects apply their generally immediately recognisable. Two kinds of information have to be stored in the overall framework: the coded. “What we are now proposing is a technique applicable to a wide range of architectural concepts and geometries. These modifications are processed in two ways. Then the resulting seed is compared to the user’s database of requirements for a particular building. 1995. and surfaces are being calculated. optimisation routines search and evaluate alternative strategies. This information is different from the information derived by the seeds themselves and is thus necessary when the generative technique is started. E.
and is derived by measuring properties on the sides of the cubes. as both the environment and the structures itself were evaluated in exactly the same way. and because most environmental components (including site. Consequently. was called the Universal State Space Modeller. which resulted in a proportional evaluation that was then passed to the genetic algorithm to select the cells for the next stage. colour. hereby in fact representing both in-form-ation. the visible form itself of the process-driven virtual model can be considered as a byproduct of cellular activity. The Universal State Space Modeller The computer environment for this developed model. the model has greater proximity to generate buildable forms than ordinary CAADmodels since it understands the process of manufacture and construction. The receivers used different technical means to sense several kinds of movement.The Universal Interactor The main structure of this program developed in 1992 contained a possible solution to the problem of providing suitable environmental factors for computable evaluation. This means that the form of the model thus can evolve in response to the environment. the drawback of the system was the limitation to the three-dimensional geometry of the specific components on which it was based. both the conceptual model as well as the structure itself can consequently be called intelligent. users. Each point carries all possible information of its identity and of its neighbours (properties. environmental cues and internal rules determined the seed’s response. also described as the ‘architectural genetic search space’. Experimental antennae were developed which were either transmitters or receivers of information. the data-structure itself is the program in the sense that “only the whole knows about the whole”. and touch. and even movement. light. climate. information travels through the groupings of cells concentrically in the form of logic fields. and that it is able to learn which rules are successful in developing and modifying form. location and much more). Hereby. wind patterns. which in fact represented the emotional state of the system. plus a complete copy of the architectural genetic code and the instructions needed for the generation of forms. Here the form of the data-structure is based on a direct analogy with DNA. Unfortunately. In this way. This technique was capable to model any structure or space. In this instance. history. In this technique. The transmitters were able to send out sound. hereby encouraging human participation by experimenting with the notions of conflict and co-operation. It is even discovered that individual cells gradually take on specialist functions in the generation of the structure.…) are here viewed as simple logical states in the data-structure. Furthermore. cultural context. sound. 78 .
Frazer foresees the unpredictable future of the evolution of the seeds themselves as well. with no preconceptions. it becomes possible to seed far more complex generations of new designs than could be individually supervised.6 Conclusion Discussions about the relationships between the actual and the virtual have proven to be polarised very easily. but it will be a transmutation of the known. it is a certainty that urbanism will alter. natural. 35 FRAZER. but order generic.and user-participation in the process. This should even lead to the application of self-constructing physical buildings. An Evolutionary Architecture. Architects would now be transformed into the creators of rich genetic ideas.III. 1995. Following Marcos Novak. Moreover. possessing a complexity that would be impossible otherwise. many other formal recognisable movements are now emerging as well. freed from a fixed geometry.” Furthermore.”35 III. since cities will become the alternative interfaces to the net. And from this chaos will emerge order: order not particular.G. It is thus clear that the notion of cyberspace architecture should not be interpreted as the new surveyor of architecture. while “the role of the mass of imitators would be more efficiently accomplished by the machine. where all living things emerge.5. it seems that the city of the future will be intensively filled with forms of intelligence. and even have to be prepared to accept the concept of client. and stand alongside as well as be interwoven into the contemporary reality of the city.103 79 . Architecture itself is already being influenced by the newest insights of those architects who are already exploring the electronical borders of programmable form-generating techniques. will not be the post-physical city. Taking the example of natural selection. peculiar. Ultimately. Sensors and effectors will be considered as normal and will be linked everywhere with information utilities just as running water. this approach implies drastic changes in some of the architects’ working methods. even with no design at all.. Architects now have to determine the criteria for evaluating an idea. London. fundamental and inevitable – the order of life. JOHN. It may furthermore not be forgotten that it has never been stated that the whole field of architecture should be devoted to the phenomenon of the virtual.6 Conclusion Naturally. architectural life could then emerge out of nothing. Nevertheless. In his view. typical. “Our new architecture will emerge on the very edge of chaos.Bond Ltd. the building process could be incorporated into the model by the application of various nature-based scientific insights of biological and physical construction. already imagined by many other authors. odd. much still can be done in the development and invention of new principles and applications in this field. or contrived. as this evolutionary technique is primarily based on the equilibrium of the architectural concept and influences of the environment. The design responsibility hereby changes radically to one of overall concept and embedded detail. such as for example minimalism. which has ‘superb tactics but no strategy’. and it will inevitably share some characteristics of primitive life form. This non-local urbanism. Many socio-economic advantages could arise. which in fact stand for quite opposite views than the principles mentioned in this chapter. However the spatial effects of the dynamic and digital society becomes more clear in some of the emerging contemporary architectural projects. E. p. as Frazer is convinced that the role of the architect will enhance.
Nov/Dec 1993. It is thus certainly not the intention to examine the technical aspects or detailed concepts of the applications based on the insights of cognitive perception and efficient programming thoroughly. IV Information Architecture “In cyberspace. certainly out of the point of view that a part of the future of architecture is foreseen to be built in the virtual realm. No. In this view.In this last chapter. it is much more interesting. However. to pursue the future possibilities architecture could create when cyberspace is understood as a primarily informational tool. In fact. what does it mean to build?” (Mark C. it is remarkable that not many dare or are able to theorise them and write them down. are considered more then challenging. it is noticed that many authors mention or are convinced that cyberspace also possesses some valid rules and principles which its designers should follow. p. In this space that is no place and yet is not everywhere. the field of information visualisation can be seen as an important and rapidly developing scientific field on its own.3. Taylor – in Any. perhaps. the attention will be much more focused on one particular aspect of the relationship between cyberspace and architecture. the real is hyper-real and reality becomes virtual.24) 80 . the principles Michael Benedikt himself has proposed. In the contrary. Furthermore.
online services. such as hardware. 1991. and interface design.189 3 WHITTLE. books. radio. MIT Press. in Cyberspace: First Steps. and since the cost of sharing is very low. For today. while data is a binary stream. New York. It is a fact that information available on the Internet is characterised by its immediacy and sheer breadth and scope. MICHAEL (Ed. No industry or enterprise is untouched by the persuasive influence of the information revolution.. software. a whole ecosystem. designers. This is made possible by the representation techniques and calculation power of contemporary electronic technology. He foresees this process taking decades of time. But as the supply of information exceeds drastically the actual demand. and managers will be working to make this visionary cyberspace a fact of reality. information. and television). it requires ‘physics’. and appearance. W. p. MIT Press. Cyberspace: Some Proposals.234 2 BENEDIKT. and information is pattern perceived in the data after the data has been seen through the expectations of a general representation scheme or code. meanwhile offering various spin-offs into many areas in the field of computing. institution. ‘subjects’. p. investigating and exploring this tool meant to increase the productivity of many companies and agencies. . the ‘cyberspace program’ should begin experimentally. art. 1991. As a world. although illegal copying of electronic content is still a serious problem. movies. educational institutions. information systems.”3 IV.1 Cyberspace as an Information Tool David Whittle is convinced that the right information (on the right time) can have an enormous value that consequently could command a high price. Form seems now to be governed by representation. In that aspect. For Michael Benedikt. Furthermore. and architecture. in BENEDIKT. ‘objects’. Already today. business. NOVAK. magazines. probably by first creating ‘crude’ and ‘fragile’ cyberspaces with a limited number of users.2. MARCOS. London. Freeman Co. DAVID B. cyberspace is already motivating research projects in science. 306 1 81 . “Because the design. Understanding this revolution requires an examination of the determinants and sources of the value of information and the impact of that value on the organisational infrastructure of business and commerce. Cyberspace: The Human Dimension.IV.Cyberspace: First Steps. out of which the most essential lessons should be learned. there are databases of all kinds. programmers. as its value varies from person to person and its price often has little to do with its value. 1996.1 Introduction “Cyberspace is an invented world. telecommunications. varying from high-priced and real-time financial and stock market information to more hidden but free collections of high-school students’ papers.H. This digital technology has implemented dissociation between data. and management of cyberspace will be a task of immense scale and complexity. this electronic network can deliver any digital good imaginable. and ‘processes’. thousands of engineers.”1 Until today. and more.2 The Information Revolution “The information sector of our economy is enormous – including mass media (newspapers. it can simply be argued that ‘it is never too soon to begin’”2 IV. form. Liquid Architectures in Cyberspace.. information is anything but a commodity. the price quickly approaches zero. MICHAEL. London.). p.
As the technology itself is still in a phase of fast and radical development. Lack of real security. the novelty of looking at Web pages will surely give way to demand for quality content. The amount of similar information present is often astonishing. based on the characteristic of very large prime numbers. and permanence. This is a fact as cyberspace certainly can be considered as being in a constant state of flux.2 The Value of Online Information To clarify the role and the characteristics of cyberspace as a delivery mechanism of information. picking items that the user has proved to be interested in. useful. Quality With the millions of pages on the World Wide Web currently in existence. For instance. Most users often bump on a stubborn and overcomplicated. real estate agents and so on. actions should be made possible such as screening and removing junk-emails. Serious efforts are being undertaken to implement various techniques of filtering and searching. six different key factors in this matter have been recognised and will be explained. the primarily known disadvantages of Internet cyberspace as a commercial tool. The technology used for this matter is known as Pretty Good Privacy (PGP). In short. high-bandwidth fibre wires are still not a common good for normal modem users. secret private key. 82 . Often. only raw material of ideas is found in cyberspace. Bandwidth constraints. complementary. sometimes even over-designed user-interface. § Difficulty of access. which should adapt to the users needs over a period of time. Consequently. 4 The concept of agent embodies a help tool for humans where expertise is mixed with knowledge of the user. which in fact are based upon the thoughts of David Whittle. These latter should be able to perform delegated standard tasks and even make simple decisions on the user’s behalf. which is then the only person able to decrypt it after arrival by means of his own. Wide disparity in the quality and applicability of information. telephone and coaxial wire will probably still be used in most homes for the next decade. while reviewed. it offers the possibility of encrypting messages with a so-called unique public key of a certain individual user. This idea can easily be compared to the intrinsic characteristics of travel agents. Convenience Netsurfing is more convenient for quick access to a huge amount of knowledge. scanning news services. As the most economical oriented problem. Much is expected from the technology of agents4 in this matter. it is likely that by the time you read this text. it is also an important factor at the expense of history and uncertainty. § § § IV. and so on. Although it can be argued that this is an easy way to keep the information current. some of the cyberspace sources will have disappeared. the extreme opposite design should be considered as not really user-friendly as well.2. For instance. stimulated and well reasoned writings would be more appropriate. content. which is often characterised by a great amount of text and links asking for immediate attention or a search-button on the first web page. while printed media is better suited for portability. are listed and shortly explained below. this lack of privacy has received a technical solution quite fast. searching and negotiating the cheapest air-travel.Furthermore. Of course.
and best-seller lists for the Internet. that this is a typical American point of view.152 Comment: This should obviously be interpreted very carefully. London. it can be argued that this phenomenon could trigger growth of the economy as a whole. cyberspace promises targeting and delivery technologies a big step forward as the granularity increases drastically. It is a source of information. although once found. as web pages have the characteristic to disappear rapidly and without any notice. 7 It should be noted. if not immediate. In an attempt to solve this very problem. With traditional. Suitability Information is more valuable when it is suited to the needs of the consumer.6 Scarcity Scarcity affects the economic value of information. The impacts will be far reaching. In short. it has the advantage to being continuously available. when a user requires a certain series of magazine articles. as not all social classes possess the opportunity to ‘go online’.000 online users earns over $250.7 “We commonly mistake data for information. But now. 1995) 5 6 NEGROPONTE. 83 . which can be considered as a rough granularity of the offered information.Granularity Granularity stands for the concept involving the size of the pieces of information that are still of great value for the consumer. people will become more educated. while the cartoonist himself with a public of 100. he generally needs to take a subscription for a whole year. Information starts data. Imagine the opportunity of an Internet subscription of your favourite newspaper-cartoon. Hodder & Stoughton. of course. well-known. commentary. while the time and effort being spent for gathering it will either decrease or become more productive. As more and more information will be available at lower cost. finding the information that is best suited for a certain well-defined target is often more than a challenge. but data is not information.000 a year. the more expensive that information is to deliver and the more narrow the market. 1995. a country in which the development of the Internet is intensively supported by the federal government. physically limited information. the finer the granularity. and no matter how great its potential is understood. questions about the universal access of cyberspace can be raised again. As the value of such information itself is inherent and thus not based on its price. as information and knowledge increase productivity and the effective use of other forms of capital. What can be noted is the remarkable lack of good. Accessibility Accessibility is the ease with which information can be obtained and understood. it will not become an everyday part of most lives until it becomes as accessible as for instance cable TV.” (Ramesh Jain. p. This presents a challenge because advantages of convenience and granularity should not be lost in lack of quality and suitability. NICHOLAS. which is considered of great value in any society. for one cartoon a day: the individual member price should be about one cent a day. reputable catalogues. For instance. 5 In short. in Elements of Hypermedia Design. leaving the user behind with a ‘File Not Found’-notice. the granularity phenomenon should result in a more efficient information flow. As dramatic as the total growth of the Internet phenomenon may be. Being Digital. socalled search engines with filtering capabilities have been created. Furthermore. critics.
of which the increasing part is becoming purely commercial. able to recognise for the user relevant elements and records. Pluto Press.). First. in fact.1 Information Quantity It has already been noted that computer networks as the World Wide Web are growing in a rapid. purveyors of pornography. for instance because they are not directly relevant to the query. Some critical researchers. Cyberfutures: Culture and Politics on the Information Superhighway. Meanwhile. alt. almost true exponential manner. “The net. much of it is local. the problem thus no longer lies in getting the information as such. paedophiles and all those contemplating sex with a donkey. which may be of interest but could be missed by search algorithms. academia. London. ZIAUDDIN. (Ed. it is a fact that although the amount of data has grown. lunatics who go on about aliens. Before some principles and examples of the architectural inspired techniques in this area will be closer and more thoroughly SARDAR. research into visualisation techniques is receiving much attention.3 3D Information Visualisation IV. right-wings extremists. the problems of finding relevant information have shifted thoroughly. ZIAUDDIN & RAVETZ. However. Although it can easily be argued that information is maybe not the right word to describe these huge mass of meaningless ‘noise’. provides us with a grotesque soup of information: statistics. it is only logical that this results in an ‘information big-bang’. namely to overthrow any possible context or question in which the information is being asked.”10 In this chaotic pile of information. these possess the characteristic of most ordinary software.civilisations. Coupled with the increasing processing power and storage capacity of contemporary computer systems and the decreasing price of this high performance computing hardware for the general public.lycos.Figure IV-1 The information which can be retrieved out of a typical search result. but more in finding it and sorting out the one useful record from the more than hundred similar items.3. information was not easily accessible or searchable. Ziuaddin Zardar for instance. research institutions. most of it is deafening noise. They even allow the users to make use of their cognitive. This concept puts the task of retrieving relevant data more to the side of the users themselves. 1996 10 85 . perceptual and intuitive skills to find data.com ) IV. although this has changed since the emergence of so-called search-agents and searchengines. addicts of Western pop music and culture. (search result is retrieved from http://www. Researchers are investigating various tools and techniques to deliver the user various comfortable and economical applications to pass this problem. On the other hand. in SARDAR. data and chatter from the military. describe the situation of the Internet of today as follows. A great deal of this stuff is obscene.faq: Cyberspace as the Darker side of the West. JEROME R. Now. the amount of information has certainly not. Algorithms and methods for intelligent data evaluation are being developed to automate information filtering.
it is even more real because it is able to respond and interact. § Presentation techniques: do concentrate on the appearance. This photocopying technology-daughter of IBM still put much research in the future of the so-called ‘paperless’ office. much work is still being done to visualise and offer all kinds of information on a more intuitive and human-friendly manner. Berlin 14 14 YOUNG. 1996.147 12 In order to get hold of 100. This space is real because it is independent from the potential user.investigated. Virtual Worlds: a Journey in Hype and Hyperreality. but to develop a completely other concept of a kind of real user interface. a technology which meanwhile has proved to be worth millions of dollars.3. when Apple’s co-founder Steve Jobs took one particular project (for free). WOOLLEY. Most known application developed in this laboratory is the comfortable. PETER. into a field of activity. Still. or value of the dataelements to produce a mapping onto objects within the visualisation. these GUI-technologies enable the user to experience control (‘cyber-‘) as a projection of self. IV. able to respond automatically to changes in the data or actions by the user. The next classification is largely taken from the book Elements of Hypermedia Design13 and an investigation of three-dimensional information visualisation done by Peter Young14.000 Apple shares.11 The approach that the PARC researchers adopted was to show the computer’s resources graphically. Most example techniques described can be classified as belonging to one of the following three groups. Birckhäuser. 12/96).ac. this classification is merely conceptual and a degree of overlap can easily be noticed in some of the following cases. the challenge of the future computer industry is not to deliver better and faster hardware technology. user-friendly Apple Macintosh graphical desktop. the own will. the natural opposite of the actual goal of the company. so that the user could explore to discover everything what could be done with the application of the computer. Xerox offered Apple the access to PARC’s research achievements. p. resulting in some applications that will be explained in the next paragraph. Most efforts in this matter are focusing intensely on the possibilities of three-dimensional representation techniques. and developed it into Apple Lisa. while some part of this research is concentrating on the communications level of this task –such as speech recognition and other artificial agents capable to learn the user’s preferences out of a certain experience-. 1992. BENJAMIN. (also published in Computer Science Technical Report. No. Of course. Classification of 3D Visualisation Techniques § Mapping techniques: use some aspect. Elements of Hypermedia Design: Techniques for Navigation and Visualisation in Cyberspace. property. Blackwell Publishers. which still receives much merit even until today. § Dynamic techniques: enrich the visualisation with behaviour and dynamic properties. This deal has proved expensive. which was found on the Internet. and usability of the data. it can be useful to describe the variety of the now existing 3D information visualisation techniques.2 Visualisation Techniques The growth of specially designed graphic user interfaces (GUIs) started at Xerox Palo Alto Research Centre (PARC) in 1971.dur. which can be characterised as space. accessibility. Three Dimensional Information Visualisation.12 Within the concept of cyberspace. which then should result in a user-friendly and intuitive interface. one that recognise the presence and needs from its user not only by the keyboard. http://www. PETER. In this view. Oxford. 13 GLOOR.uk/~dcs3py/pages/work/documents/lit—survey/IVSurvey/ 11 86 . out of the own centre.
allowing the user to view and navigate freely while maintaining some degree of location or context. 5. 6. This very concept will be the subject of a thorough investigation and will be further explained in this chapter. These visualisations are constructed by plotting data triples: X and Z axes usually contain standard sets with regular structure. linearly structured information. Fish-eye Views The name is taken from a similar resulting view produced by a very wide-angle ‘fisheye’ lens. They fold the linear structure in a 3D space. the visualisation resembles a landscape with relative easily detectable patterns or irregularities. and proved to be very useful in visualising large graphs containing many interconnected nodes. To accomplish this task. which are placed on a uniform 2D horizontal plane. This allows a detailed study of objects of interest. Cityscapes Cityscapes are created in a similar way as surface plots by mapping scalar data values onto the height of 3D vertical bars or blocks. Benediktine Space The term ‘Benediktine space’ can be traced back to Michael Benedikt’s research of the structure of cyberspace. while the base diameter of the cones is reduced at each descending level. more cognitive and comprehending load of the represented information has to be shifted to the human perceptual system. In this way. Several actions and features can be implemented on this visualisation to search and clarify certain perceivable patterns. these trees could be rotated smoothly and bring any particular node into focus. while the height represents variable data in the Y-axis. 87 . 4. The smooth animation was found to be critical in relation to the cognitive capabilities of the human senses. based on the two principles of exclusion and maximal exclusion. Perspective Walls Perspective walls are able to represent large. This process is repeated for every node in the hierarchy. Originally produced at Xerox PARC. while maintaining a view of context or position with respect to the other objects. He has investigated intensively the possibilities to map attributes of an object onto certain intrinsic and extrinsic spatial values. Cone Trees and Cam Trees The aim of both techniques is to display a larger amount of information that can be navigated in an intuitive manner. After the resulting points are netted and coloured. for example forming a cylindrical shell with the data mapped onto the interior surface. 2. This technique results in a view in which objects with greatest detail and magnification appear in the middle of the view. child nodes are placed at equal distances along the base of their mother’s node cone. Surface Plots Surface plots can be considered as the most familiar extension of the standard 2D graphs. as sudden changes in the orientation caused severe disorientation of the user. This technique has already received a widespread implementation. It has to be noted as well that cam trees are identical to cone trees except that they grow horizontally as opposed to vertically.1. 3. whereas other objects on the periphery are distorted in a way that show lesser detail.
In this specific technique. while a floor plan is used for overall economical navigation and comfortable cognitive orientation. this concept could provide an important development towards a so-called ‘living’ data environment. Highly related objects are placed close to a pre-selected object of interest (OOI). icons may come closer. information sources such as 3D-objects or wall projections may be present. Navigation is accomplished by rotating the main sphere to bring objects of interest into view and traversing several possible links to lower level. 8. In short. model the layout as an unstable physical system that tries to reach a state of equilibrium.uk/research/applications/cones/) 7. To be able to ‘carry’ information. (http://www. For instance. The overall view consists of a number of nested spheres. change colour. several rooms and the navigation in between are used to organise and structure several kinds of documents and applications. Emotional Icons Emotional icons are objects that can perform certain actions related to the presence of a user or other icons. each representing a different level of information. retreat. darkener spheres. Within each room.Figure IV-2 Picture of a cone tree visualisation. objects or important items while working in this environment.ac.crg. representing a UNIX-file store. a helpful pockets-metaphor was created. Icons with a similar nature might also move together when they sense each other’s presence. Sphere Visualisation Informational objects are mapped onto the surface of a sphere. The whole network of these objects and 88 . 10. Rooms Xerox PARC’s so-called ‘room’ concept is a powerful three-dimensional extension of the common known desktop metaphor that is encountered in computing today. grow. Objects can be represented as rings and springs. or get animated dependent on the user’s proximity and pre-defined interests in the data they represent. 9. Self Organising Graphs Conventional layout techniques generally possess some sort of function or routine that tries to fulfil certain aesthetic criteria or heuristics on a given graph to represent a suitable layout. Self-organising graphs however.nott. The springs contain a repulsive or attractive force. dependent on whether the string is compressed or extended. This results in a fish-eye view wherein unrelated objects become less emphasised and move round to the opposite side of the sphere.cs.
IV. semi-transparent cubes represent hierarchical information.ac. after which the layout is complete. these future environments will become accessible as for ‘real’. visualisation techniques are very dependent from the applied technology. still only dimly perceived through some imaginations. while other 3D visualisations or information can be represented within the cubes. The resulting spatial configuration is then interpretable and properties of data items can be read out of the relative position and unique 89 .uk/~dcs3py/pages/work/documents/lit-survey/IV-Survey/ ) IV. generally a certain mapping concept has to be followed. this system will attempt to reach equilibrium over a number of iterations. (http://ww. This reduction in amount of presented information makes the model much more intuitively understandable for the user. as a realm is envisaged that is far richer than the physical one. These rules should translate the abstract data into a corresponding recognisable representation and also in a certain location of the object within the information terrain. the original relation with cyberspace may not be forgotten. it has to be noted that some visionary thoughts foresee these applications of information visualisation to become the core of what cyberspace is about: offering a narrow union between users and their virtual representation as a true state of human-machine ‘symbiosis’. nested. Transparency and shading are used to manipulate the depth and amount of information being visualised. In this way.dur.3.forces starts with a high-energy state. The Information Cube The information cube technique extends two-dimensional tree maps into the threedimensional realm. making the user interface ultimately disappear as the user is immersed in the universe of information. Consequently. And like noticed earlier.3 Overview Mapping techniques Surface plots Cityscapes Benediktine space Spatial arrangement Presentation techniques Perspective walls Cone trees & cam trees Rooms Dynamic techniques Fish-eye views Emotional icons Self-organising graphs While concentrating on the different techniques and approaches. 11. Figure IV-3 On the left: the Information Cube. the promises of this universe are great.4 Spatial Arrangement of Data When a three-dimensional information environment is created. as they control the degree of visibility of the cube’s content and its children. In their view.3. In this concept. But ultimately. on the right: the Sphere Visualisation.
in which the user is able to manipulate the data in more familiar surroundings.presentation of the objects. which are initially formless. although. simply a consequence of many sunken layers of patterns acting upon patterns. A stream of bits. Furthermore. Human Centred Approaches This approach is normally used to create abstract real-world metaphors such as cities. and thus for both forms of cyberspace spoken of earlier. The most known example is of course the hypertext structure of documents used in the World Wide Web.g. The main problem of this approach is that the generation is difficult and time-consuming. It should be noted that this theory can be useful for both two-dimensional (e. Hyper-Structures Hyper-structures are created from an amount of information consisting of a number of data objects with any number or arrangement of explicit relationships between them. 90 . because it is still not suitable for automatic computable processes. 15 See paragraph ‘Examples’ for more information. it is probably more than useful to be aware of the existence of other mapping techniques. appearance can then be considered as a late after-effect. Analogies and familiar concepts such as location and motion are used for human intuitive comprehension of abstract facts. buildings and rooms. they demonstrate a part of the inspiration that was used when an own program was being designed. some as data. Systems that adopt this approach include VIBE. is given form by a representation scheme.15 3. which was more thoroughly explained in Chapter II. IV. Although there are many examples in the field of three-dimensional information visualisation. Benediktine Cyberspace In the concept of the electronic cyberspace. A common known and widespread application in this matter is the concept of searchengines which automatically group results according the matching of user-definable key words. different accents can be noticed. 2. of course.3. Although the three-dimensional consequences of Michael Benedikt’s technique will be further explained later. further extended into three dimensions to produce VR-VIBE. items are being grouped according to their semantic closeness to the searched item. four different approaches can be recognised. In this way. Further analysis results in ‘scores’ of the separate items.5 Examples Most examples are built on the premises that navigation through an information space can be very effecting when applied to retrieve useful information. 4. some behaving as code. can certainly be considered as a difficult and time-consuming task. Within the research of these mapping techniques. Furthermore. the concept of mapping is a strong and already widespread technique. Ultimately. hypertext) as well as three-dimensional representations. which then can be used to create a suitable mapping into Benediktine space. creating such an abstract model. and information emerges through the interaction of data with the representation. some are picked out in this paragraph to show some of the creative and convincing possibilities of these techniques known until today. Statistical Clustering and Proximity Measures Statistical methods are applied to analyse large database contents. 1. which matches the real-world environment plus the appropriate structure and representation of the data itself.
VR-VIBE The example of the three-dimensional VR-VIBE can be considered as part of the concept called ‘Populated Information Terrain’ (PIT). namely the number of dimensions or terms this model is able to present. 91 . In a PIT-environment. All this results in the concept of spatial proximity (close together/far apart) to represent semantic meaning (similarity/distinction) of the elements. First nodes are placed on a 2D-plane with respect to the proportion of relevance attributed to each POI. Meanwhile they can select documents. A vertical displacement is then introduced to each object to represent the degree of relevance. Users are able to navigate freely through the structure.nott. Furthermore. The interactive force of the model is proved by the possibility to add or remove certain POIs.uk/research/technologies/visualisation/vrvibe/) The visualisations in VIBE are constructed by a primarily defined set of ‘Points of Interest’ (POIs) containing certain keywords which are then used in a query.ac. and the user’s interests. Vineta Vineta is a visualisation system that can be compared with 3D-visualisations like VRVIBE. For instance. multidimensional analysis and numerical linear algebra for mapping documents and terms into the three-dimensional space are used as well. the objects’ position in the navigation space is dependent of the semantic relevance between documents. The second method allows the objects to be placed freely at any point in the threedimensional space. one document may have a score of 4 to POI A and 3 to POI B. with two POIs A and B. and even to move POIs to see which documents get pulled after them. perform queries. This means that users are aware of each other’s presence and actions. A full text search is performed on a number of documents after which each one receives a relevance score to each POI. although it has one fundamental distinction. thus trying different configurations. Within this technique. This document is then placed at 4/7 of the distance along the line joining A and B. Two separate methods are possible within the concept of VR-VIBE. or request additional information. Figure IV-4 Two screenshots of the VR-VIBE system visualising a bibliography with 1081 entries and five keywords. the visualisation is then calculated and the representing objects are placed inside the space. but within the confines of the POIs. With these results. (http://www/crg. terms. resulting in a true sharing of information. Intrinsic dimensions such as shape and colour indicate the selection when two separate documents might have the same set of scores. apply filtering. multiple users can inhabit and work simultaneously and thus co-operatively within the data as opposed to merely with the data.
while the stems aid the perception of the actual location onto the ground plane. No.dur. http://www.ch/informationslandschaft/ 92 .Figure IV-5 Vineta: On the left. Three Dimensional Information Visualisation. has proved to be more intuitive and was easier to comprehend. 1996. (also published in Computer Science Technical Report.uk/~dcs3py/pages/work/documents/lit—survey/IVSurvey/ 17 http://alterego. flowers nearer to the user are of more relevance. 16 YOUNG.arch. the galaxy metaphor represents the space as a collection of stars.ac. 12/96).ethz.ac. Informationslandschaften CAAD I: Informational Landscapes17 is the name of a CAAD-course being taught in the first semester at the Architectural Department of the Federal University in Zürich.crg. First.uk/research/technologies/visualisation/vineta/) Two metaphors were programmed for producing the visualisations. The surface itself is a useful feature that offers the user an indication of depth and distance of the many objects. PETER. Each of these smaller rectangles is assigned to a couple of students. who are asked to draw certain signs. the landscape and on the right the galaxy metaphor. textured surface containing flowers with stems and petals. the landscape metaphor. The course starts with a large blank electronic surface that is divided by a number of equal rectangles. It is even so that “the inclusion of the ground plane was encouraged by the study of ecological optics which emphasises that perception of objects should never be considered apart from a textured ground surface. The space is represented as a flat. Finally. (http://www. representing all kinds of information or unique ideas.cs. the directions as well as the colours of petals on the flowers represent the search terms and their relevance to each document.nott. semantic similarity is encoded in the proximity of the stars.”16 Furthermore. in which documents are fixed stars and terms are being represented by ‘shooting stars’. within this ‘domain’. Also here. The other implemented concept.
arch. while offering its content to several potential users.html 93 . UNIX. 1996.arch. The resulting surface was now not only the result of many processes in time. or ignored. Although this objective is certainly not considered as 18 SCHMITT. After the whole abstract surface was grown and finally had adapted itself to its own intrinsic elements. continued. searched and chosen by the students. tele-presence. Interface: the communication mechanism between the hierarchical educational levels and the global underlying and shared structure of the course. as the most remarkable signs now had to carry links. but became a navigable map of links.arch. etc.ch/visits/zipbau. Netscape. to exchange meaningful and thus informational elements.ch/infomationslandschaft/) In the second phase. Wiesbaden.82 information can also be found on: http://caad.ethz. dependent on the characteristics and the concepts of the groups. This means that a kind of graphical communication-form is being established between the related groups in particular and the collection of groups globally.ch/research/ZIPBau/ or http://caad. The following list summarises the things implemented and learned by the students when they designed this original digital information visualisation. talk-command.ethz. In the next phase. Communication: email. (http://www. p. Search techniques on the Internet: online search engines. a higher level of communication was implemented as the groups were now allowed to use email for expressing and sharing their intentions with the others. abstract representations. Designing: creatively working in a group while visualising abstract ideas. is a convincing example of the visualisation of a building as an important shared information source.Figure IV-6 The final end result of the abstract data field representation after months of individual creative adapting processes by the students. developed in VRML language by Paul Meyer at ETHZ. § § § § § § Software: PhotoShop.alterego. another layer of information was added. Architektur mit dem Computer. It tries to clarify the huge amount of information available when a project under development. The three axes represent conceptual variables dependent of domains. functions and phases of a certain building project. GERHARD. Ultimately. this map can be used as a three-dimensional texture or surface in a virtual reality environment.ethz. students are required to take the already visible manifestations of the eight neighbouring rectangles (four orthogonal. stopped. Information architecture: the concept and its potential future. Some elements might be taken over. four diagonal) into consideration. etc. ZIP-CUBE ZIP-CUBE18. Vieweg. or can simply be represented as a kind of mental map by a navigable two-dimensional web page.
arch. In this way. which translates the traces into specific forms. Wiesbaden. When the symbols are clicked. Vieweg. Two orthogonal surfaces divide the cube’s axes and data-objects for further investigation. GERHARD. it can be noted that this technique is a powerful aid for navigation in the building process and for representation of different shared objects in a databank. p. TRACE. Figure IV-7 Two views of the ZIPCube.arch. This means that. In this way. virtual environments as such should take the role of intermediate elements. 1996. dynamic presentations are transmitted and displayed which can vary from simple linear HTML-documents until three-dimensional interactive models. resulting in time-based navigating.ethz. They explore the surroundings and by doing so leave ‘traces’ behind them. the implementation as an interactive. each of them able to show gradually more detailed data. such as the Internet.ch/research/ZIPBau/) In this model. For this reason. tries to accomplish this by building the model out of a number of spaces. is certainly not well defined yet. and then in turn represented back into the environment. while documents open up when approached. The rooms receive their representation by the narrow relation between a certain database that continuously stores all the traces. 19 SCHMITT. able to create a common language of understanding. information is represented by box-like volumes. in which activities of users get registered.177 and the project can be found at http://caad. In short. three-dimensional computer model widely accessible on the Internet however obviously is. For instance. the global space is dynamic and thus able to change constantly as visitors use it. the environment is actually generated by the users themselves. while reading the traces left by other former visitors in this world. whenever the user approaches its surroundings. (http://caad. Architektur mit dem Computer. and virtual systems. and a so-called geometry generator.ethz.revolutionary. such as a city. This project uses the similarity between the concept of an urban city and the new unexplored realm of information as its primarily goal. different schemes of the projects can be seen when successive points are chosen on the phase-axis.ch/trace 94 . like in a physical city. Archaeology of the Future City: TRACE TRACE19 is the title of an exhibition held in the Museum of Contemporary Art in Tokyo in July 1996. programmed by Florian Wenz at ETH-Zürich. it can be noticed that the relation between natural systems. interpreted.
such as residential or commercial areas. and generally identifiable by the nature of buildings within them. The user enters TRACE in the out.ch/trace/) Conceived out of the concept of an urban surrounding. Legibility for Abstract Data Spaces: LEADS This last interesting example. Habitants of various cities were questioned about the city they lived in.arch. manipulates the concept of the more physical city planning to design the overall model. The appearance of such area can be fairly distinct as objects are displayed in different colours or shapes. which is only dependent of these two complementary immersive situations.world’ and a ‘private_in. which were in turn implemented by a number of algorithms to structure the data in the LEADS-model.world (http://caad. in which he identifies five major elements in constructing cognitive models of an urban environment. The user is strictly captured in this labyrinth where he finds his own movements to be bounded. The creation of districts in an abstract space is accomplished by primarily determining similarity between data items. In this view. written descriptions of routes through the city and drawing maps resulted in these five features.Figure IV-8 Left image presents a view of the public_out. developed at Nottingham University. Furthermore. but where the access to some presently multimedia files and links seems to be completely free. received a more simple and specific design. § Districts: are distinct areas. which actually represent the traces of former users. characterised by some form of commonality or character. These interviews. on the right: the private_in. after which the results are grouped together and placed in a particular area. it can be noticed that TRACE is represented in a rather abstract architectural syntax.world.world. a navigation-space containing closed volumes (Blobs) and some so-called NURBS-surfaces (Non-Uniform Rational BSpline).ethz. Kevin Lynch’s theory is introduced from his book ‘The image of the City’.worlds on the contrary. a public as well as a private zone is being created: a so-called ‘public_out.world’. 95 . The containers and interwoven network of the private_in. The user is able to move on top of and around these objects. which are created out of equilibrium of certain imaginable forces that symbolise Internet sites. It tries to prove the notion that the legibility of urban environments can be improved greatly by a careful design of certain key features.
Here as well. First. which could make them almost invisible or useless. In the third and last method a common hull of two surroundings should be found in which an edge can be calculated by interpolating points along joining edges of the districts. This VRMLrepresentation should utilise the intuitive cognitive capabilities of the users in their process of finding the most suitable link that meets most of their individual requirements. In this virtual application. more individual and dynamic and interchangeable in time. landmarks could be placed at intersections between three or more districts. Metrics such as the frequency of access could be used to identify and create new nodes. Landmarks: are static and easily recognisable features. Secondly. The first method is to identify the two nearest data items between districts and place the edge between them. size. It is noted that the latter two methods were not chosen due to the fact that they are computable expensive and rather time demanding. a surface is laid out on which links are represented by box-like objects unto which the necessary data is mapped. although this method ignores the size or density of the surrounding area. Introduction The VR/search-program here described is meant to clarify and three-dimensionally visualise the information provided when an Internet search result is offered. landmarks can be placed by a triangulation between the centres of any three adjacent districts. Edges are positioned by finding intersections between districts. and wants to use this information cognitively when decisions are made. Nodes and Paths: are the lowest level of elements. 96 . whereas frequent successive accesses could be defining new paths. Usage information of the model is stored and used for complementary visualisation. which in turn represent individual informational objects within the visualisation. date. which can be done by three different methods. number of ordering. and relevance of the provided links. such as rivers and motorways. while the process of mapping will be described soon in the next paragraph. paths are proposed to be links between nodes. while old ones fade over time. the technical side of the program will be explained. Finally.§ § § Edges: provide distinctive borders to districts. a hull or bounding box could be determined that encloses a district after which it can act as an edge. such as distinctive buildings or structures. It is hereby assumed that the user wants immediate visible access to some parts of the data such as the title. giving a sense of location. In the abstract model. Otherwise. Landmarks can be placed in the centre of districts. IV. three methods have been recognised.4 VR/search The next paragraphs are based on a virtual reality application that was programmed to demonstrate some aspects and problems that are characteristic when a cyberspace environment is being designed.
the type of file is sequentially recognised and interpreted by the user’s browser as a VRML-content. Tools In order to understand the application. It waits for the returned results and retrieves them. Then. is finally sent back to the user. a Perl program on the server reads the input values and submits this query to a search engine (in this case the search engine called Lycos was chosen). It is only when all this is accomplished and the whole structure is assembled that the VRML-file.Figure IV-9 Two visualisations of the same information. after which the three-dimensional world is displayed. The left image shows the standard result page of the search engine Lycos. texts. The principles of CGI are applied to run an executable application on the server after the user (client) has entered a certain personal chosen query inside an embedded HTML-form on a web page. On this so-called client side of the connection. here for example the term ‘asro’. on the right the three-dimensional world of VR/search. 97 . after which the Perl-program starts to scan the text of the provided HTML-page. etc. coordinates. which contains all the requested values in the form of heights. Figure IV-10 Simplified scheme of the in VR/search applied techniques after a certain user requests an item to be searched. the three main programming tools being used will now shortly be explained. useable information is stored in variables that will be passed to related values in the structure of a VRML-program. During this scan.
. But although Inventor had nothing to do in particular with networks. CGI is a standard for incorporating executable programs into Web documents by way of the server.4. 1996 98 . and printing reports based on that information. but a standard protocol along the lines of TCP/IP and HTTP. The second development started in 1992.1 CGI It should be noted that the Common Gateway Interface (CGI) is not a computer programming language. When an URL-request for a CGIprogram is sent. MPG. the graphics target was set to create a shared realistic simulated environment.IV. The difference between the two sorts lies in the fact that the latter category of programs needs to be compiled into machine code before it can be made available to the web. There are two categories of CGI-languages. From that point. Inventor allows programmers to develop quickly interactive 3D graphics programs of all sorts. it is a way of providing dynamic output as opposed to the static output of a normal HTML document. It is in fact designed to be easy to use and efficient. Perl uses a sophisticated pattern-matching system that is very quick and efficient and is able to scan a large amount of text. A CGI application can be written in any computer language that is available on the server’s system. with the introduction of the Inventor graphics toolkit from Silicon Graphics. Compiled languages like C and C++ comprise the second. IV. BERNIE. Using VRML. the server where the program is physically located will execute it in real time. In this view.…) by extra information that is included in the beginning of the messages being exchanged at both the input as well as output levels. Indianapolis. TCL. STEPHEN & ROEHL. GIF. The first consists of scripting.4. First. § § § Perl is derived from existing languages so that people with some programming knowledge are familiar with many aspects of it.4. Potential programmers do not have to know everything about Perl in order to use it. based on virtual reality and the interaction between users over a certain network. The Origin The combination of three different threads would become the ultimate force that created the foundation on which the VRML language was built. Several reasons are mentioned in the book Using VRML20 that should explain the relative popularity of Perl as the programming language of most of the CGI-applications on the Web. or interpreted languages like Perl.and objectdescription language. The server as well as the client knows how to interpret the transmitted data (in HTML. and Python. Only a small part of the language must be learned for an efficient and practical use. and combines elements of C and UNIX scripting languages. 20 MATSUBA. based on concepts of scene structure and object description. open scene.2 PERL The Practical Extension and Report Language (Perl) is an interpreted language that is well-suited for scanning texts files. the visionary thoughts about William Gibson’s cyberspace were still apparent in the minds of many researchers and programmers. IV. In other words. the UNIX scripting language. extracting information from them. after which its output will be sent back directly to the user who has requested it. it would become the technical basis for VRML. Que Corp.3 VRML The Virtual Reality Modelling Language is a portable. VRML. Its development is greatly influenced by the characteristics of Internet and the force of some highly specialised newsgroups it contains.
Using VRML. although the word ‘Markup’ was later changed to become the more specific and accurate ‘Modelling’. 6.0 New Features 4. In 1996. 142 HARTMAN J. ActiveVRML from Microsoft. who is then able to change certain characteristics of these objects when desired. p. after which in 1994 the VRML 1. & WERNECKE J. BERNIE. After much revision and reshaping done by the community itself.The last spark brought everything together rapidly.0. including the Moving Worlds project from Silicon Graphics. Enhanced static worlds. Amsterdam. scripts offer the ability to perform simple logic or complex analyses of user and environmental events in the scene and respond to that in some intelligent way.8 22 21 99 . Prototyping. based on the HyperText Markup Language (HTML) already spoken of. The VRML 2. STEPHEN & ROEHL. the VRML community read and discussed a number of proposals for the next VRML 2. 5. 70 percent of the overall votes pointed Moving Worlds as the next specification of VRML 2. The Development Within a week. some multimedia standards as audio and movie applications were included to be mapped unto the objects. While VRML 1. p. it was then agreed that a draft specification should be proposed within five months. Also.0 offered four new features. which can consist of many complex objects. This single object can easily be reused by the programmer. background. MATSUBA. such as QvLib and WebSpace Navigator.0 specification was set. Out of This World from Apple and others.0 version. Que Corp.. Several proposals were contemplated and discussed on the email list. and the Silicon Graphics proposal won the general vote. which allow keyframe animation between two or more pre-defined situations. 7. extrusion. HoloWeb from Sun Microsystems. As most participants proposed to adapt an existing modelling language. the new VRML 2. Interaction sensors are specified to wait until a particular event occurs and then to do something in response to that event. 1996. 1996. This meant that VRML would be based on the Open Inventor file format (the meanwhile non-proprietary development of Inventor).21 The term VRML stood then for ‘Virtual Reality Markup Language’.22 VRML 2.0 allowed only creating static worlds containing hyper-linked objects. This consists on the one hand of so–called interpolators. fog and many others nodes. Many browsers were written that were able to interpret and display all specifications of VRML.. On the other hand. Addison-Wesley. Mark Pesce and Tony Parisi proposed their idea of a standard scene-description virtual reality interface that could be used in conjunction to the Web. New objects were added like the elevation grid. the mailing list about the development of a specification for VRML grew to include over a thousand members. This feature allows the creation of a user-defined node. Indianapolis. At the first annual World Wide Web conference in 1994 in Geneva. Animation and behaviour scripting is now supported.0 Handbook: Building Moving Worlds on the Web.
while the others. of course. the possibilities are certainly unlimited.Characteristics of VRML Worlds § Immersion.). are assigned to describe the character of a point in the coordinate space. limits. a spin. N=n+m (N > 0. all some intrinsic qualities that are logically independent of its position in space. and multimedia effects into a single medium. Thus the computer does not provide a fixed set of choices or paths. inCyberspace: First Steps. both the space as well as the geometry carry meaning. § Interactivity.23 now will be investigated. This means actually that this cyberspace is built in a way that some spatial metaphors like up or down. This means that each person can choose a different and unique course through the model. In this Benediktine cyberspace. and classifies these under four. to demonstrate and clarify the VR/search-program already mentioned. MIT Press. Generally. a point-object might have a colour. London. certain dimensions. a weight. can be assigned to perform ‘coordinate duty’. Cyberspace: Some Proposals. so that many different non-complete representations of the system can be produced.1 Dimensionality The rubric of dimensionality describes the possible solutions that could be used when more than three dimensions have to be visualised in a certain designed. § User-Control. 1991. left or right. It should be remembered that these rules are in fact meant to be applied by the so-called cyberspace architects of the future. Benedikt describes then how problems can be solved when more than three variables have to be presented. Thus. MICHAEL (Ed. To accomplish such a virtual realm. In this way. called extrinsic. extrinsic dimensions and m intrinsic dimensions. § Blending. closeness or distance have all some sort of informational and interpretable significance. 0 < n < 5) 23 BENEDIKT. some of Benedikt’s principles will be shortly compared to the concepts of this visualisation. a shape. Extrinsic and Intrinsic Values First. and density. First. although the original author of the world could have suggested some recommendations.. it is assumed that a set of N different kinds of measurements should be visualised. virtual world. A VRML is considered to blend 2D and 3D objects. Benedikt defines seven principles in relation to those of natural.5. a size. essentially topological rubrics: dimensionality. any N-dimensional state of a system can be represented in the data space of point-objects having n spatio-temporally locating.119-224 100 . called intrinsic. etc. IV. the user enters the three-dimensional built-up world on the computer screen and explores it as an almost real inhabitant of it. the designer can simply decide which dimensions to work with and drop the others. Furthermore. The local browser allows the user to explore the VRML world in a personal manner. The user can ‘reach in’ to the scene and change the characteristics of the elements. Objects have the capability of responding to one another and to external events caused by the user. continuity. pp.5 Mapping Information in Cyberspace Some of the techniques and principles explained by Michael Benedikt in his book Cyberspace: First Steps. physical space. IV. Consequently. immersive. animation. Secondly. unlike an Euclidean point. Two different approaches can be followed to describe the state of the system.
effectiveness. the lengths of the vertically placed titles are suitable for additional visual interpretation (similarity. Then.…) if the user finds this issue important. Figure IV-11 Two legends represent the size and date values which are mapped on the X and Z-axes Extrinsic Dimensions in VR/search § The size and the date of a linked web page. Intrinsic Dimensions in VR/search § The main intrinsic dimension is the relevance or the rating of a provided link. and are particularly well suited for finding similar links which exist on different servers. size and title will appear the same. Provided that no information is lost. revealing the data embedded in each address in the data space. but now interpreted as a text-string instead of a real value. which determines the height (Y-dimension) of any link object. § The URL-address of the link. varying between one and ten. For instance. Since intrinsic dimension data in fact only exist at address points. the date and size of the web page. but not necessarily functionally equivalent. § Again. § The abstract or comment of the link. provided by the search engine.respectively Z-coordinate of any presented threedimensional object. and the Z-axis comes ‘out of the screen’. the Y-axis is placed vertically. Other (Intrinsic) Variables in VR/search § The title of the link. a ‘good’ visualisation is considered to have more information. such representations are mathematically equivalent. as they determine the generally perceived view and character of the object as well. determine the X. 101 . for instance. It should be noted that in this text. and in this sense. It should be noted that the so-called ‘other variables’ could also be understood as potential intrinsic dimensions. while the date can be a little shifted. like it is specified by the VRML-code. it is for instance possible that an object changes its size and shape as it moves. It is certainly not obvious to create a three-dimensional view containing mapped data that is immediately understandable by the user. It should also be noted that there is in fact some freedom in how the partition and combination of m intrinsic and n extrinsic dimensions are chosen. § The provided number by which the links are ordered.This technique makes the conception of certain animated actions possible.
26 NOVAK. the Principle of Exclusion25. VR /search At the implementation-level of the program. it should be noted that on the specialised newsgroups. London.). Marcos Novak. Liquid Architectures in Cyberspace. Principle of Maximal Exclusion (PME) Given any N-dimensional state or phenomenon. He states that although in physical space two objects cannot occupy the same space at the same time. in BENEDIKT. MARCOS. commonly understood as “you cannot have two things in the same place at the same time” clearly states that this is. super-similar. This ‘fundamental’ principle is meant to be a helpful rule to be used when a cyberspace designer has to decide which dimensional partition he wants to implement on the offered data.1. MICHAEL (Ed. Logically.”26 Hereby no decisions should be taken by the programmer to follow this principle. 2. at some time. Cyberspace: First Steps. Then. the Principle of Exclusion is not added for the same reasons Novak already has described. Benedikt goes much deeper when he investigates objects that have different extrinsic dimensions. the terms superidentical. Principle of Exclusion (PE) First. it should be noted that this first principle already is denied by the other architectural voice in the book. 239 24 102 . There is no way to equip VRML-objects with some kind of programmable sensor that triggers the proximity of other VRML-objects so that they could perform certain actions. a designer has to choose that set of extrinsic dimensions that will minimise the number of violations of the Principle of Exclusion. in fact. However. similar if they have different values on the same intrinsic dimensions and different if they do not have the same intrinsic dimensions24. To decribe this phenomenon. 25 This principle is named after a similar postulate in quantum mechanics that says that no two electrons belonging to the same atom can have the same quantum numbers. and thus in fact are existent in ‘different spaces’. These objects are said to be identical if they have the same values on the same intrinsic dimensions. and second. this restriction is not necessary in cyberspace. some authors foresee this feature in one of the next versions of VRML. forbidden. as he foresees this to be the characteristic task of his cyberspace desk that visualises the two objects. to keep the implementation of cyberspaces as simple as possible. the same extrinsic dimensions. and wholly different are respectively defined. Extrinsic same dimensions + same values same dimensions + same values same dimensions + different values Intrinsic self-same PE and PME excluded same dimensions + different values identical similar Actually. He motivates this statement with two arguments: “to allow a poetic merging of objects into evocative composites. Benedikt tries to define the following three terms to describe the situation of any two objects existent in his data space. At the same time. to resolve this conflicting situation according to its computable capabilities and the representations chosen. p. MIT Press. 1991. some unpredictable problems arise when two non-identical objects have. and all the values (actual and possible) on those N dimensions. The table underneath summarises the possible relations of two data objects.
as these would be replaced by very arbitrary and interchanging. 103 . Figure IV-12 A link-object (here possessing the information of the first link) first viewed from further away. No overlapping would then be possible as each row and column would possess one single object. Both PE and PME are considered as very effective when. each controllable aspect of the world.VR /search Since the program contradicts the first principle. Another possible technique is that of unfolding. However. as the representations have the capability to adapt to this new situation. Hereby the question arises whether the visualisation would carry a more significant and interpretable information if one of the next approaches would be followed. be placed unto the fixed squares of a divided grid.27 27 This hierarchical scheme is the same technique that for instance the Windows operating system uses when a small icon is clicked which opens into a larger-dimensional window or data-field including new icons.The number by which the links are ordered by the search engine could be used as an extrinsic dimension. When an object unfolds. such as its overall size. proximity. in the future. The values of the extrinsic dimensions could be sorted and then. very difficulty perceivable connections. but is in fact already partly incorporated by the order of the relevance percentages. its intrinsic dimensions open up to form a new coordinate system. in fact resulting in a new threedimensional space. it should be noted that not all the surfaces of an object are visible at all time. and on the right image. while simultaneously some sub-features of the shape (like corners.…) would be lost. Size and Shape Benedikt is convinced that object size is not generally a good variable because an extreme largeness of a certain item might crowd out other objects. just zooming in by the user could solve many of these problems. The enlarged object then becomes isolated from the overall context while some of the intrinsic dimensions expand in inner detail and behave more like extrinsic dimensions. could be increased until the new situation and the visible representation find some kind of new equilibrium. It should be noted that then also a large part of the perceived relationships (closeness. Approach 2. In this case.…) might be misinterpreted as having some significance. the amount of dimensions and mapped information. cyberspace will increase in complexity and content. it is in fact in direct conflict to the second one as well. instead of being linearly interpolated. § § Approach 1. the change of behaviour by displaying more detailed information when it becomes closer examined. Moreover. edges.
But it must not be forgotten that in order to determine the values of the mapped coordinates of any object. although the three most known naturally consist of the alphabetical. This approach results then in logic and spatial relationships between the final locations of the objects. This action causes a new browserwindow to appear which however does not contain a new virtual world. The linkobject then gradually changes its colour. ready for approval by the user. The ten sizes and dates are thus respectively ordered by the classification of chronology and magnitude. Y. but in fact the requested linked web page represented and ‘possessed’ by the clicked object.2 Continuity Figure IV-13 The top part of the link-object is ‘clicked’ by the user: the requested website appears in a new browser window. Z (and T) axes of any ordinary rectangular coordinate system are understood each to have the character of the real number line: they have to be infinitely divisible and are monotonic. This numberline character generally forms the intuitive and functional basis for any representational mapping technique. most of the available data first have to be ordered so that these variables can be treated as spatial interpretable number-line dimensions. making visible the occurrence of this userti The X. These more or less ‘arbitrary’ sets of aspects should be arranged skilfully. First. ‘clicking’ the top part of a link-object could be interpreted in the same ‘unfolding’ way. instead of 104 . the values of file size and file date determine the twodimensional coordinates of each link-object.5. and have to support ordinary arithmetic operations. after which the remaining eight others are interpolated between these values. The applied ordering techniques can be arbitrary. VR /search Like already mentioned. if the cyberspace designer wants to create a comfortable. the two extreme maximum (coordinate 100) and minimum (coordinate 0) size and date values of the whole collection are searched. IV. geographical and chronological classification systems. active and navigable three-dimensional database.VR /search In case of the VR/search-program.
never sees the torus itself but perceives instead a terrestrial geometry of a plain.5. which is a certain underlying. Furthermore. VR /search The language of VRML is fundamentally specified to represent an infinite space.3 Limits “Will cyberspace have edges to blackness. a whole landscape of data-grids containing personally preferred links could be made. London. the speed of his or her motion becomes gradually slower. how? … Might it be possible to present cyberspace phenomenally as a four-dimensional sphere. and spaceu (space-under or space-uniformly). the vertical dimension is seen as open-ended. and each surface could then represent certain subjects and personal interests. certain programmable nodes can be specified to represent a (never reachable) background that can be seen above an abstract ground-surface. The density of a threedimensional ‘space-in-space’ can then be written as: D(3) = spaceo / spaceu When cyberspace would become more and more complex. so that the density of information per volume unit of (cyber)space would expand as well. This means that when any user approaches a group of complex objects. which nearly all experienced virtual reality users most probably have noticed before. direction brings one eventually back to where one started?” 28 Benedikt himself proposes the conceptualisation of cyberspace into an abstractly glued two-torus. it is designed in this way for the fact that then additional search-requests could be represented as well.arbitrary ones. were striking out in any (threedimensional). This means that any traveller is able to move everywhere and thus endlessly without any standard pre-programmed restriction of the application.4 Density How much space is there in space? Benedikt uses a certain theoretical insight to be able to clarify and quantify this particular problem. any dense virtual environment is surrounded by some strange phenomenon that could effectively be described as a ’reverse gravity field’. which in fact also constitutes the horizon. 152 28 105 . and secondly. in Cyberspace: First Steps. The data-space built by the VR/searchprogram however is understood as representing a very little part of the unimaginable collection of possible Internet-links. 1991. a horizon. This is a rather difficult term to describe the fact that: first. regular grid (coordinates 0-10-20-30-…). the space of varying amount. when for instance sorted values would be mapped unto the intersections of a fixed. BENEDIKT. that any continuous movement in the horizontal plane will ultimately return to the initial start position. the range of scales at which a user can operate could be increased. First. MIT Press. and the user has thus the freedom to wander infinitely far and away from the visualisation. In this way.5. IV. For instance. the size of the underlying created surface is conceptualised a little bigger than the floating data-grids in between which the link-objects are allowed to be placed. cannot be accomplished without some technical difficulties. and a sky. On the other side. The user however. Although this feature is not implemented in the program. Increasing density however. next to or within the first visualisation. IV. Cyberspace: Some Proposals. absolute and homogenous space. p. he defines spaceo (space-over). MICHAEL. walls of final data? Or will it be endless? If the latter.
MIT Press. 1991. which visually tries to clarify the relationship between the vertical dimension and the relevance of the represented links. both beyond and for the individual. Nevertheless. London. MICHAEL. Moreover. one of the powers of everyday reality. in fact. and situations. In the world itself. Moreover. p. Principle of Indifference (PI) The felt realness of any world depends on the degree of its indifference to the presence of a particular ‘user’ and on its resistance to his/her desire. However. and is now able to conclude that link 8 and 9 have a lower relevance than the actual number on which the surface is set on (70%). the user is able to request any desired combination of search items so that. the solution of adaptive refinement is chosen. It is. and of the amount of the ‘increase of information‘ with each frame. This means that the level of detail of an approached object automatically and gradually increases. 3. the resulting VR/search-world becomes individually determined. applying this technique as a norm would violate the next principle. VR BENEDIKT. as the resulting links obtained by the search engine are not fixed in time themselves. it is the argument for the independent existence of virtual worlds as in the thoughts of William Gibson. Figure IV-14 Left image: a dark surface cuts the link-object. and a balance must be found to design cyberspaces both indifferent and responsive. in which the user finally is able to believe the relevance and continuity of the witnessed actions and events. the user has the capability to control parts of the world by means of a provided user-interface. But even a certain unchanged input does not necessarily has to produce one single defined world.29 This principle is primarily based on a simple observation of situations in reality. On the right. of the level of detail displayed. On the other hand. in fact. in Cyberspace: First Steps.The explanation can naturally be found in the finite computational speed that is dependent of the rate of a new-frame display. Cyberspace: Some Proposals. while link 1 obviously /search Most importantly. This view offers the user an idea of the relevance this object possesses (which is obviously a little higher than the corresponding number that appears in the lower left corner of the screen. transactions. this principle should be used with care. where mysterious complexity often is characterised by ignorance and indifference of the actions of its perceiver. some little or continuous actions are taking place without any triggering of the user. in which people become curious about certain developments and have to adapt themselves to the flow of data. the user moves underneath the surface. here 50%). the user is able to move a horizontal flat surface in the environment. Ultimately. 160 29 106 . When a maximum of smoothness and imitation of nature has to be achieved. it can be described as a characteristic that commonly is known under ‘life goes on whether or not you are there’.
in which miniaturised elements reveal their detail only from very close. while various spatial elements (bridges. VR /search In this program. proximity-sensors. monotonic function of the complexity of the world visible to him. For instance. as one of the main advantages of network computing is certainly BENEDIKT.Questions can be raised about what solution would prove to be most suitable when the user wants to govern the level of detail instead of the system’s sensors. the link-objects reveal only an extra amount of more detailed information when the user approaches them close enough to perceive it. 4. MICHAEL. London. Meanwhile other informational elements that become too large in size to be understood correctly.5 The Remaining Principles 5. it should be noted that standard VRMLnodes (such as Box. Partial views direct the offering of new information. touch-buttons. AutoCAD à VRML translators change a rather simple file-structure into a very high amount of abstract and inefficient numerical data. although it seems reasonable to identify it with the notion of time. 32 BENEDIKT. and to avoid any oversupply or overlapping of data seen by the user. loss of range of view. obstructions. the enormous. p. On the other hand. or when the movement velocity would be held constant.…) were used as much as possible.30 Benedikt compares this principle with the characteristics of a traditional Japanese garden.…). complex textures. 168 30 107 . Cyberspace: Some Proposals. Sphere.31 IV. 1991.…) slow the movement of the viewer down. for instance. limiting the amount of new object information per frame could result in a consistent realm where ‘phenomenal immensity follows information density’. This last solution is stated in the next principle. some precautions are taken to avoid that too many moving objects. with their visual simplicity and no visual change. This technique is conceptualised for two reasons: to decrease the number of objects to be calculated by the computer. 1991. empty halls favoured by the Romans. disappear from the user’s view. Then this Principle of Transit may seem rather unnecessary. stones. London. ElevationGrid. the user feels himself powerful as the motion itself makes a difference to what can be seen. Furthermore. MIT Press. is only existent (and thus computable) in the programmed scene structure when the user has touched a certain button. Cyberspace: Some Proposals. the user-interface. Principle of Transit (PT) Travel between two points in cyberspace should occur phenomenally through all intervening points. an event that in fact would ask a very large amount of computing time. this instead of certain complex geometries that can only be generated and programmed via uneconomic. Nevertheless. This in contrast to. which in fact represent. Then. 162 31 For instance. p. and where certain laws of information begin to create a new spatio-temporal physics. no matter how fast. and should incur costs to the traveller proportional to some measure of distance. in Cyberspace: First Steps. and other elements would appear at the same time. of smoothness of motion.5. in Cyberspace: First Steps. a near zero gain of information. Principle of Scale The maximum (space0) velocity of user motion in cyberspace is an inverse. which actually contains many sensors. hereby releasing it from the so-called gravitational grip.32 The concept of ‘cost’ in this context is left open to some interpretation (for example loss of resolution. MIT Press. large data-files derived from nonintelligent data-translators. MICHAEL. IndexedLine.
and connect as required. He refers hereby to coincidental meetings varying from hallways to airports. Finally. The three mentioned systems contain own sets of protocols and are able to overlap. a train station and so on. On the other hand. and creates ultimately a kind of (for computer fans) addictive ‘environment’. the user should appear in a so-called port of entry. cyberspaces. document. Benedikt thus clearly wants to preserve the orienting. blind and easy transportation. and economic landmarks. and evenly be used to show/experience the route between. selecting paths. accessing different and distant computers. a person is open for ‘accident’ and ‘incident’. hierarchies and graphs. These delays could thus made proportional to a determinate ‘distance’ in cyberspace. which offers the user a quick view on the logic of cyberspace on the way back to the port of entry. in which the last principle is ignored. Benedikt proposes certain regions in cyberspace that might have a number of designated transfer stations. namely gateways. hereby existing in the physical world only. leaving cyberspace could be accomplished more or less instantly or by means of a kind of ‘autopilot’. Destinations would all be ‘certain’. § Access is never really instant. However. and program one is interested in. which should resemble its real-world counterpart such as an airport. This action in fact demands human imagining. world-building tendency possessed by human beings. These elements should offer the users a very quick. When such a cyberspace is entered. perhaps proprietary. grow. which have the capability to connect users to parallel. 108 . coincide. of which various mental geographies can be designed and physically managed. while users have to remember codes and manuals to be able to ‘hop’ (instead of a ‘slide’) from one location to another. The process of progressive revelation inherent in closing distance between self and object. offering users an orientation point in their exploration of the virtual world. For Benedikt. Navigating around file structures. which can be considered as essential when an interpersonal network is being formed. Benedikt is convinced that in between tasks both spatially and temporally. there should also be a special kind of ports. It always takes some time to search and locate information and send it to the distant user. and notions as time and history and the unfolding of situations would collapse. § § § Figure IV-15 Two alternative representations of links inside the VR/search world.the almost instant access possible to every file. These techniques should then be implemented as opposed to abstract structures such as menus. Being in transit for significant periods of time in relatively public areas can be considered as useful. cultural. and so on constitutes a good deal of the pleasure of computing. Benedikt offers four different considerations to argument the validity of this principle. These ports should function as geographic. and the narrative of travel are important. and preserve the fundamental concepts of distance and velocity.
instructions. an image. to see/display any or all of the other users in the vicinity. small coloured spheres might represent persons in cyberspace. as users seemed to encounter some difficulties when doing this in a complete black and empty space. and it is even so that they can be transformed in one another. a diagram and so on. § Destination Data: when the user approaches an object-link close enough. by means of addresses. It should also be noted that the conceptual ground-surface was chosen for a better orientation and cognitive estimation of distances between the objects. Figure IV-16 In the left image. gesture. This information is then completely available to be judged by the user’s requirements. MICHAEL. as it is that information which has to be judged by the user. so that an object-link’s coordinates (and thus its size and date) can be roughly estimated. detailed information appears respectively on its surface and on the VRML-interface. 1991. text.33 Although this principle seems a direct threat to the notion of privacy. in some non-trivial form. and to what extent. a face to speak to. or when he moves with his pointer over the object. Navigation and destination data always appear together. etc. No restrictions are mentioned about the channel that should be used for interpersonal contact. its presence. It may take the form of text. of course. London. each indicating alone its position.and Z-axis are clarified by means of a clickable legend on ground surface. and (2) individual users may choose for their own reasons whether or not. p. such as voice. User-identity information BENEDIKT.Navigation Data and Destination Data Navigation data is that class of information that orients the users in time and space. a majority of destination data is offered. or warnings. to all other users in the vicinity. When a certain object is finally reached. Principle of Personal Visibility (PVV) (1) individual users in/of cyberspace should be visible. For instance. For instance. VR § /search Navigation data: the X. Destination data. Benedikt is convinced this is certainly not. Furthermore. continuously choosing items on a menu-driven interface generally decreases the amount of displayed navigation data. because he thinks about a very minimal amount of visibility. video. is that class of information that in some sense satisfies. its movement and. VR-touch. as it ‘waits’ for or ‘expects’ further actions of the user. and at all times. Cyberspace: Some Proposals. until destination data fills the screen. in Cyberspace: First Steps. 6. a piece of music or code. The amount of available information of each category varies in time and by the user’s actions. in location and direction. the user has to judge a large amount of navigation data. MIT Press. 177 33 109 . in fact the tool that organises users in spatio-temporal terms. an always-visible text informs the user about the vertical position of the adaptable cutting horizontal surface so that the object-link’s height (and thus its relevance) can be spatially read out of these both relationships. as it answers some kind of questions or promises.
or in Benedikt’s words “to be there. and so on. 1991. MIT Press.34 In other words. The user even might possess the power to select who should be turned visible by criteria such as proximity. in some deep sense. Not only does this mean that the programmer had to deal with some instabilities of this new programming language. Figure IV-17 A simple representation to clarify the Principle of Commonality. MICHAEL. origin.obviously is not an essential part of the minimal presence. when other persons would behave in some distracting manner. The second rule of this principle is meant to add the user’s capability to work and feel alone. dependent from the feeling. and it is allowed to bring other features into the world as well. 180 34 110 . Obstructions (think of shadows for example) might be different in separate views of two viewers. or how the appearance of groups of many little spheres might draw the attention of many other users. 7. or at least subsets of them. task orientation. London. one might reach for a cigarette that is in an other’s world in fact a pen. this will be a technical issue for the next VRMLspecification. The things that are experienced by both the users are then called common and happen through the intersection of the world perceived by A and B only. For instance. experience. in short. and knowledge that is brought into the situation. VR /search As this program is completely built up by VRML-objects. Thus. but this resulted also in the fact that a VRML-world shared by multiple users is still impossible in the available standard. less hypothetical reasons are also mentioned. for others. The first rule of the principle is not only meant for potential hackers and dangerous ‘sys-ops’. Cyberspace: Some Proposals. Most probably. However. and anonymity is thus considered as acceptable. this principle requires that all users in a certain domain and at a given time see and hear largely the same things. but is actually based on the assumption of democracy and accountability.” Other. sex. interest. two worlds of the users A and B only have to be subsets of an overall domain D. it should be noted that this field of research is developing at a rapid race and that some commercial applications are existent that overcome this problem. one might sit in a leather chair which is for another user an ordinary wooden bench. Principle of Commonality Virtual places should be ‘objective’ in a circumscribed way for a defined community of users. The possible social phenomenon called grouping behaviour for instance. A good part of the information available in cyberspace becomes then apparent in people. and even is people. p. in Cyberspace: First Steps. BENEDIKT. it is also bound to its restrictions.
Benedikt broadens this theoretical principle to encompass the possibility of various users and the technical sides of the possible communication between them. City of Bits: Space. Moreover. mainly because he is one of the first persons who dared to write down the initial cyberspace designing rules in a very straight manner. he recommends a monotonic relationship between the relative volume of space commonly visible to any two users and the bandwidth of possible communication between them. For instance. and maybe most important. he theoretically investigates the consequences if users would not be allowed to see those worlds of which they are not part.6 Conclusion It becomes now obvious that.5. bandwidth. in opposition to the always visible and commonly shared public worlds. They will still care about the qualities of visual and ambient environment.”35 35 MITCHELL. Nevertheless. MIT Press. also the VR /search –program was an important argument to prove both Benedikt’s cyberspatial principles and the still rather visionary character of this statement. Benedikt clearly imagines a peaceful and commonly shared cyberspace in which all the users possess the same protocols.. individually or in group. most of his insights were more than interesting. Place. that most probably not all of Benedikt’s recommendations will be realised in the cyberspaces of the future. Massachusetts. hereby creating the capability to make some ‘private’ worlds. Firmness will entail not only the physical integrity of structural systems. it would be more than valuable if the positive or negative consequences would be investigated that could arise when some other cyberspace travellers would use different principles in this vast and shared realm. And delight? Delight will have unimagined new dimensions.6 Conclusion Many different approaches and original ideas of how information could threedimensionally be visualised were mentioned. the new materials of the cyberspace architect would consist of code. arrange. IV. indeed. WILLIAM J. designing constraint was almost being reached: that of usability of the cyberspace application when the technical developments of today are applied. For instance. even when the rules of Benedikt would have been strictly followed. as most of these rules need some common controlling protocol that everyone has to agree upon. It seems that Benedikt believes in all the positive chances that future cyberspaces will offer to its users and its designers. the first. and the Infobahn. although it can certainly be considered remarkable how he continuously avoids to mention most of the drawbacks that would result if his principles would be integrally implemented. 1995. It should thus consequently be noticed. but also the logical integrity of computer systems. many different solutions could be possible to solve a given visualisation problem. But commodity will be as much a matter of software functions and interface design as it is of floor plans and construction materials. Furthermore. and connect spaces (both real and virtual) to satisfy human needs. and delight. as the computation speed of the program was gradually and considerably raising during the development of the program. IV. p. It is obvious that if architecture would be further applied in this field. firmness. In this view. “Architects of the twenty-first century will shape. and many other electronical tools. They will still seek commodity.105 111 .
other criteria next to the aesthetic one. this new movement could then provide and inspire society with a new sort of imagination. we could certainly be considered as “witnesses to an extraordinary era that will no doubt be remembered in history as an appropriately revolutionary development to accompany the new millennium”. As it is almost completely build up out of the notion of dynamic information. many different approaches are possible to represent the various layers possessed by the offered information. Thus. for instance. Furthermore. Ultimately. And hopefully.RealSpace in QuickTimes. and computing effort had to be strictly evaluated as well. As the used platform consisting of VRML and Netscape Communicator 4.04 certainly could not be considered as ‘stable’. dynamic actions have to be included. which required a complete understanding of the scene-hierarchy and objectfeatures. floating.55) 112 . in the whole shift towards the notion of the informational and cyberspatial realm. Some of VR’s characteristics were found remarkable. still it retains the capacity to provide innovation within a margin of action that is free from standardisation and regulation. architecture plays an essential role. user-speed. this program was more conceptualised as an intuitive exploration than a really ‘workable’ application. Undeniably. such as the workability. The aim of this text was thus to show a part of the wide range of opportunities architectural practice and theory could both grasp when the traditional notion of architecture would be broadened up to include now also the structures and expectations of the digital future. Program The proposed VR/search-program should certainly not be considered as a final statement of a three-dimensional search-result visualisation. it cannot be ignored that most probably understanding programming code will always be an advantage to some architectural inspired minds concerned with the design of cyberspace. and unstable representation of numerous abstract thoughts of in fact those people who try to conceptualise. imagine. when a design has to be made in a virtual environment and. THERE IS AN IMMENSE AMOUNT OF WORK TO BE DONE!” (Ole Bouman . the implementation of animated and triggered behaviour plus the objects themselves had to be programmed ‘by hand’. This means that. Although it is bound to the laws of the marketplace and the principles of its history and theory. the input as well as its interrelated output will continuously change. Future It seems only logic that the future of cyberspace cannot be predicted with great certainty. Moreover. Cyberspace is then that resulting ‘hyper-dimensional’ framework left behind as a fluid. and visualise it. In the contrary.Conclusion And indeed. of which at least the spirit was meant to exist in this text. like for instance the fact that the spatial implications of certain digitised design decisions could be experienced almost immediately. “ARCHITECTS OF ALL DIMENSIONS. like already was promised before in one of the very first quotes of this text. p. this program proves in a way also the importance of coding knowledge (in a certain degree). despite the existence of user-friendly form-generating VRML-applications such as CGI’s Cosmoworlds. this statement has gained at least some credibility while its wide-ranging content was being read. despite the fact that these ‘interactive user interface development’programs certainly will further develop in more sophisticated versions.
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