The Augmentation of Architecture

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Original idea by Jon Brouchoud 2008

Given the rapid growth of virtual worlds, it has quickly become a feasible and popular destination for a vast range of functions, from conducting business, teaching classes, networking, sales, holding conferences to a multitude of other purposes.
In some cases, virtual interaction compliments real life functions. In other cases, virtual counterparts are completely replacing certain kinds of real life interactions. In either case, the phenomenon of physical transcendence into a lower cost virtual medium has already started, and will inevitably and significantly change the way we think about physical architecture in the very near future.
This course will hypothetically consider a large world-class accounting firm that has hired an architecture firm to design a new headquarters. Like any company with employees stationed worldwide, they depend on local commuting, long distance travel and hotelling to accommodate a global work force.


As architectural plans for the headquarters are evolving, a group within the company starts holding their weekly meetings in Second Life as an alternative to long distance travel and commuting. Within a few weeks, they are able to save time and money using this virtual alternative and the concept starts to catch on in other departments throughout the company. As this alternative becomes increasingly pervasive within the company, they realize it could be a significant cost savings to reduce the square footage of the new headquarters in favor of a virtual counterpart.

The architects are informed that the building’s square footage can be decreased by 5%.


This course will ask and seek answers to the following questions through a series of research assignments and design charettes:

  • Who should be responsible for designing the virtual architecture?
  • Should it interface and share common characteristics with the architecture of the new physical headquarters?
  • Will such fundamental principles of wayfinding, scale, proportion, and hierarchy be important in the virtual counterpart?
  • Does an architectural background lend itself to designing this kind of virtual interface, or is the design of this environment a better fit for game designers, 3D modelers and computer programmers?
  • If construction and annual use of a certain percentage of physical architecture can be transcended into a virtual mode, could it be considered a sustainable or ‘green’ measure?


A list of topics to study for this scenario

Topic 1

List of resources

Topic 2

List of resources

Topic 3

List of resources

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