FOR THE ARCHITECTS OF SECOND LIFE, REALITY BITES. SAM LUBELL TAKES A TOUR.
I’m sitting in front of a long glass desk in the office of the architect Scope Cleaver. It’s quite a place, with undulating concrete walls, sharply angled yellow-tinted windows and long, cantilevered balconies. And then there is Cleaver himself. He has dark shoulder-length hair, he’s about 3 years old, and he can fly.Welcome to the surreal world of architecture in Second Life.Unchecked by the usual limitations, designers in Second Life are creating unbelievable structures and entire worlds — either for the money or simply because they can. From sci-fi cityscapes to towers made of French toast, there are endless chances to experiment here. There is also plenty of demand for conventional buildings like houses and schools. Either way, if architects don’t have to contend with the real-life constraints of budgets, permits, engineering or even gravity, is it right to judge their work as architecture? Most designers don’t seem to care. They contend that Second Life will do nothing less than transform architecture as we know it. And anyway, such debates quickly fade to the background once you get here. You’re too busy flying around. Second Life, for those Luddites out there, is a virtual Internet world started in 2003 by Linden Lab in San Francisco. It has more than 15 million residents (about a million of them sto....continue