As an active resident in Second Life as part of my Web work, I am fascinated by the exploration of virtual world environments as platforms for “wikitecture” which essentially is collaborative planning and design. The process is being tested by architects and urban planners, but for anyone building in 3-dimensional spaces, wikitecture could be the next wave of collaboration.
One of the companies exploring wikitecture is Studio Wikitecture, creator of an open-source, 3-D Wiki plug-in for Second Life in partnership with i3dnow that facilitates the creation of a “wiki-tree” to design objects such as building models.
In June, the company’s entry placed third in an international competition hosted by Architecture for Humanity on the Open Architecture Network. The company demonstrated their application by bringing together dozens of web workers from around the world to collaboratively design and build a 3-D model of a medical center in rural Nepal.
The wiki-tree functions like a 3-D rendered wiki so instead of seeing a line-by-line edit, you see each iteration of a 3-dimensional model but also “branches” and “leaves” representing the different versions and direction of the changes. Collaborators can build onto the existing model, vote on modifications, revert to a previous version, and contribute to the design process from anywhere in the world.
While Wikitecture for real-world design is an amazing advancement in collaborative architectural development, the process and tools seem well-suited for working with others to create builds for Web-based and online 3-D gaming and virtual world projects.