The Looking Glass Virtual Peace Garden

Created by The P.A.K.

Second Life is a place where people can go to escape from real environmental issues. To start the Second Life process, one must choose an avatar. This avatar can be a male or female, black, white or purple. One’s avatar can be wide or skinny, tall or short, and dress casually or spunky. Second Life is a place where people can escape and essentially create a personality and a look that resembles them self, one they desire, or one they want to portray with a secret meaning. The game even lets the player pick a false name. Since Second Life is offering people a ‘Second Life’; why aren’t their spaces within the game where one’s avatar can escape since that is why most people play the game in the first place? Many people turn to Second Life to find a ‘peace of mind’ away from real-world stressors; such as work, finances and competition. When trying to find peace in Second Life, why would the user want to be surrounded by avatars and clutter when they are actually trying to escape those stressors in real-life? In the midst of everyday life, one is surrounded by taxis, traffic jams, project deadlines and a clock that never seems to stop. In the middle of all the hustle-n-bustle of people and noise, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Many people need a place to escape during the day, whether that is for ten minutes or a few hours. People need a place where the noise of the city doesn’t interfere with daily work patterns. Pocket parks are designed for public use, they are spaces located in the heart of cities that offer a sense of private isolation. These parks can be suburban, urban or rural. In dense urban downtowns where land is expensive, these small scaled parks are the only option to create public spaces without redeveloping the downtown area. By creating a form of a pocket park in Second life, users will be able to experience the space as if it were a real-world pocket park. This proposal explores where the park can be found, details throughout the site and how the park will affect the Second Life user. “The Looking Glass Virtual Peace Garden” will be designed on the ‘boundaries’ of the Second Life community. This park will be located in a densely wooded area—above the community. The dense wooded area is the complete opposite of that of the community filled with people, cars and structures. The dense new space will attract avatars because of the great contrast between the two spaces of the community and the park. The first impression of the park is a feeling of isolation and intimidation. These feelings are exactly what one feels in the downtown setting where as in our park; it is a welcoming feeling because of the contrast of spaces. The addition of greenery, open space, calming sounds and water features add to the attraction of the space because these features are not usually found in dense cities. Our park is a new space away from the community, which will present avatars a reason to get out of the city and explore what the surroundings have to offer.

The Looking Glass Virtual Peace Garden is located one thousand feet about the community. It is located in the sky because we want players to have an altering mind change before they get to the peace garden. Being above the community will give the player a different experience than if they were on the ground level. The player will be able to hear the wind and feel secluded with nothing altering their views, much like tall structures. The space will have a feeling as if it was completely secluded from the community. In dense communities, urban heat island effect is capable of changing the downtown temperature by 22

degrees. The temperature difference is usually greater during the night hours than during the day. The image below shows how heat island effect happens in downtown areas, not rural areas. Heat island effect is caused by buildings that block the heat that comes off the black asphalt into the sky. Head island effect will not detriment the virtual garden because of its location above ground.

The process of getting to the site is part of the relaxation and rejuvenation processes we want pedestrians to achieve while in the space. Pedestrian circulation is the only means of transportation to “The Looking Glass Virtual Peace Garden”. The avatar will walk to a certain point before he/she is allowed to fly up to the park. By doing this, the players and their avatar will notice a scenery change and will start the relaxation processes. The avatar will be going from the busy community to a secluded and remote area where “The Looking Glass Virtual Peace Garden” will be found—up above the city. The walking experience will give the player time to relax and gain a better mindset before entering into the park. The player will have to shed the bad stressors of the day and open themselves up to a new rejuvenated state of mind. In the article Cancel the plane: I’ll meet you in Second Life written by Dr. Ruth Conroy Dalton it states that: “Space syntax theories start from the premise that space, the stuff that surrounds us all, is not merely a neutral backdrop for human activities, but rather it plays a fundamental role in guiding and shaping all manner of social interactions.” This quote helps to clarify why it is important to create a positive environment in order to create better social interactions. It is important to have a space to ‘get away’ from the daily stressors of life, a place to meditate and rejuvenate the mind, body and soul. Once the player has shed their ‘daily stressors’ on the walking and flying portion of the experience, it is time for the avatar to fully experience the garden itself. Just like a stop sign in the community, there will be a notification spot that lets the avatar know that it is acceptable to fly to the site. Flying will offer the player another experience. The sound and feeling of the wind as one is flying up to the site will offer another way to help shed those final negative feelings of the stressful day. The views of the island will help the player change their mindset as they watch themselves fly from the busy community to a private secluded park. The wind and feeling of weightlessness will offer a sense of comfort and relaxation to the player, just in time for them to enter the site completely ready for the phases of meditation, relaxation and rejuvenation. The Virtual Peace Garden we designed on the site located in the sky over the existing Peace Garden is isolated, away from the developed area. This is a space that is hidden and surrounded by a thick, dense forested area. While the space is hidden, there are certain spaces that give little glances at different elements of the site. An example of this is the sounds and smells of water and other features within the site. The purpose of this in our design is to make one’s curiosity take over to fully experience the site. One will have to try to find the entrance to our space of reflection. The entrance and exit are one of the same; this lessens the chance of making the site accessible.

Upon entering the site there is a courtyard consisting of a number of natural and sensual elements. In the center there is a small water fall and pond for a space of reflection, the nearest side of this pond has a very rough texture to it, giving an unwelcoming feel to give the sense of overpopulation and its harmful effects on the natural environment. When further experiencing the site you are able to get in the water and touch it, giving the person experiencing the space a more sensual understanding of the issues of overpopulation. There is a waterfall that crashes down in the small pond making noise, as the issue of overpopulation has effected the surrounding environment. While viewing the water, one will feel as though they are looking through a window, with a reflection of the developed area of the Virtual Peace Garden below. This is another experience in our site that is like a “Looking Glass” which focuses on the harmful effects of the overpopulation of developed areas. In the Sustainable Landscape Architecture: Implications of the Chinese Philosophy of “Unity of Man with Nature” and Beyond by Xiangqiao Chen, it states that the world population is continuing to grow and affect our ecosystems and landscapes that are becoming more and more domesticated and designed. Landscape architects play a critical role in the development and maintaining sustainable landscapes, and this has become one of the most challenging responsibilities to this profession. There are also areas surrounding the water’s edge that are multiple purposed informal seating upon natural boulder formations. These formations take the natural environment and utilize the natural elements on the site itself. This allows for sitting, relaxing, rejuvenation, and reflecting on the hustle and bustle of the developed virtual peace garden. There are also kiosks around the site with factual information of our design concept inscribed in these boulders. The article Ecological Landscape Planning by Gill Lawson, there are focuses on the understanding of land-use for the natural processes, cultural values, economic imperatives, and political agendas, these are important component of landscape architecture. In our design we incorporated these ideas to help portray the ideals we believe in as professionals in the landscape architecture profession. We believe that there is a huge concern when it comes to design and overpopulation; we want to make known the unknown of the population of many developed areas. In the article Poetics and Space: Developing a Reflective Landscape through Imagery and Human Geography, it illustrates the notion of 'thinking space' as reflection through geography by drawing a framework for the concept of 'landscape' from a number of constructs. This is a way of understanding the different features of spatial organization. This adds to the representation of the process of reflecting back on something specific. It also allows for the concept of drawing on the theories of space for a framework and for a reflective landscape. We felt that this was a way to demonstrate the way we feel about the issues that overpopulation portrays.

There are many concerns regarding the world. These include global warming, terrorism and world hunger. However, over population in the world is becoming more of a concern as every day passes. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, Overpopulation occurs when a population’s density exceeds the capacity of the environment to supply the health requirements of an individual. Environmentalist, along with many others have many concerns regarding overpopulation, these include, global warming, deforestation, desertification and air pollution. The biggest concern, according to Lawrence Smith, President of the Population Institute, is the loss of fresh water. With the rapid birth rates of many cities throughout the world, some say that we will shortly run out of the space and supplies to support life. According to an article, published by CNN, “The 2007 population estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau and the United Nations Population Division set China’s current population at around 1.3 billion people and India’s at around 1.1 billion.” They also said, “If population continues to grow at the estimated rate, such rapid growth in India between now and midcentury could lead to overpopulation and an uncertain future for the environment and the people living there.” In 1804, the world’s population was one billion people. It reached two billion 123 years later, in 1927. 32 years later, in 1959 another billion people were added to the World. In 1974, four billion people inhabited the Earth and in 1986, it reached five billion. In 1999, the World had reached six billion, and currently the Earth is home to 6,692,030,277 people. As you can see, the world is growing at a rapid rate, however, over the last ten years many efforts have been made to educate the world on population control. Many countries have responded to this crisis by providing people with birth control methods and education. Other countries, like China, have adopted a One-Child policy. In China, it is discouraged to have more than one child; however, it is not illegal. The rapid growth rates have been subsiding, but the world is still at risk for overpopulation. With the continuation of knowledge and education we may someday have things under control. With the growing popularity of Second Life and the virtual world, one might think that Second Life could also risk the detriment of overpopulation. In the rejuvenating garden, both the avatar and the individual could learn about the risks and solutions to overpopulation. We want our site to have a lasting effect on both the avatar and its creator. The focus of the site is to educate and bring awareness to the devastating effects that overpopulation has on our world. However, the garden is not meant to be a devastating and depressing place. The main focus of the healing garden is to make the avatar feel refreshed and rejuvenated. We wanted to create a place where one could get away from the hustle and bustle of the busy “city” life and reflect on what matters most. The garden is a place where one can think and reflect, but it is also a place of education and impact. By having informative kiosks in the rejuvenating

garden individuals and their avatars can become aware of overpopulation in the world. Because there are not any man-made elements in “The Looking Glass Virtual Peace Garden”, the kiosk will be made of rock. This will help the kiosk blend into the site, so if one doesn’t intend to come to the site for knowledge, they will not be distracted. An important component in our design is its out-of-reach location. We wanted the avatar to have to search for the site. At first, we did not know whether we were going to hide the location, much like a pocket park, or simply hide the entrance to the site. We later decided that having the site 1,000 feet about ground was the perfect location. Having the garden in the air not only makes it hidden, but also creates more of an experience. To reach the site, the avatar will have to fly. This will be part of the rejuvenation process. While flying, the avatar will be free to clear his or her mind. Upon entry to the site, the avatar will have an open mind and heart to learn and reflect or merely hang out. Another important aspect of our design is the reflection pond. The reflection pond is a body of water surrounded by medium sized rocks to sit. The bottom of the pond is glass, so the avatar can see through the water, straight down to the busy city. As technology advances, people have seemed to become more reliant on the computer. Computer rendering programs such as Revit and 3D Max have been popular amongst architecture firms for a while now, but some firms have decided to take the computer one step further. Some firms are developing in Second Life to sell their designs. By having a model of your design, or structure in Second Life, the client can view it as they please. Also there is no need to travel to meet clients. The meeting can take place online where the client can get a feel of scale and how it relates to the surrounding space. In the article, Second Life and Google Earth are Transforming the Idea of Architectural Collaboration, the author, Christopher Kieran, states; “It doesn’t replace Cad, but it is a supplement for our technology that helps us collaborate.” Overpopulation in the world is an important issue in the world. It is a problem that needs a solution. However, before a solution can be reached, one must be informed. “The Looking Glass Virtual Peace Garden” is a place where one can come to not only relax and feel refreshed, but also come to learn about overpopulation and what everyone can do to help in finding a solution. “The Looking Glass Virtual Peace Garden” will hopefully become a relaxing destination for both the avatar and the player. We Hope that from the moment one begins to fly up to the garden, that they feel relaxed and their spirits “lifted”.

Master Plan of “The Looking Glass Virtual Peace Garden” The space is 50’ x 50’

“Perspective of the waterfall and pond in “The Looking Glass Virtual Peace Garden” Notice how the rough appearance of the rocks and how it provides the garden with seating.

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