I recently completed a large project for the Port Spinoza learning commuity in Second Life. Port Spinoza is a brand new sim dedicated to individual and group learning in SL. It’s physical and philosophical model is the Netherlands in the Age of Enlightenment, when reason and critical dialog emerged as intellectual processes for understanding reality. The community seeks to find residents who are similarly interested in personal growth and collaborative work with learning (broadly defined) as the goal.
Jon Seattle, founder of the amazing Cedar Island group, has established the two new sims (Port Spinoza and Spinoza South) across a pair of openspace sims separating it from the Cedar Island/Sea Turtle Island sims. There promises to be a close relationship between the communities as a number of the members of Spinoza are current or former members of Cedar Island. In both cases, the residents are required to participate by attending events and making presentations or other activities for the communities to experience. Both are governed using a Quaker consensus process with a residents’ council of the whole making all major decisions. Jon has generously supported Cedar/Sea Turtle and has underwritten the new development as well, though there is a nonprofit educational partner in the new development. Nearly all of the building on both developments is the singular work of Jon, but the Spinoza project has involved a number of other builders as well, working closely with Jon to assure a consistent and appropriate appearance.
Jon has always been very supportive of my building work. He asked me if I’d like to build a “museum” in the new project. He gave me a budget of like 1500 prims or something, which is a much larger project than anything I’d tried before. The opportunity to build a major public building in the new developent was too good to pass up. I’ve taken a townhouse across the canal from the museum as my new home base, having resigned from the Cedar community to concentrate on helping to launch Spinoza, so I expect to tweak the silly thing for the rest of my life there.
My original thought was to do a reasonably accurate reproduction of an historic building in Amsterdam appropriate to the Age of Enlightenment. My first thought was to choose Amsterdam’s Royal Palace building (now a museum), which is a big, square, neoclassical structure. I did a rough draft on the parcel in near full scale. It wasn’t real pretty. But Jon had something else in mind. He suggested the Tropenmuseum, a 19th century(?) building now housing a large anthropological museum, as a model. While it is not a historical building in the same way as the palace, it blends much better with the architectural style of the rest of the development. Since we decided to go with something not entirely historical, I felt more at liberty to also vary the layout and details to make it all more buildable in prims and without using photographic textures of the actual building.
The main challenge on this build was keeping prims in check without using giant prims. The structure is basically a big box with a main floor with an atrium and a grand stair leading to a mezzanine. This gives a lot of floor space without making it feel closed in. I’m very happy with the openness and light in the space.
The slightly asymmetrical tower entrances that jut out a bit from the box made for a lot more prims than would otherwise have been required. But probably the most extravagant part are the lines of corinthian columns inside. Each column is eight prims, largely due to the capitals which use alpha textures in a way similar to plants and trees, and there are 30 of them.
My usual building process is to throw together a rough draft to get a sense of scale. In this case, I made a texture using an image of the actual Tropenmuseum building. The key features are, of course, the towers. Once I had that section set up to scale, the rest developed fairly organically. I had to rework things a couple of times to make the most efficient use of prims, but the end result is still right around 1100. The most tedious part is aligning prims and textures to a microscopic degree. Most of this can be done by the numbers, but it’s still a chore that took a good deal of time. To keep things as simple as possible, I used only a few textures in the whole build. Jon provided the brick for the outside and the interior walls are all a standard white paint texture that is used commonly on the sim.
I’ll be happy to give you a tour or answer questions about the build. Just IM Oriscus Zauberflote in world. For lots more pictures of the build, see my Picasa album.