A design for SLife

Following on from yesterday’s musings, i’d like to further consider the lot of the sl builder.

There are perhaps two main things that put people off participating in the sl construction industry, the first pretty much follows on from what i considered yesterday – building anything in sl is not simply a matter of throwing a few prims together, in the fashion of building blocks – much as the stock in trade of the sl builder may resemble children’s toys, the cubes, tubes and cylinders we use in our constructions really are far more complex beasts than we might at first think. The sl builder has to be both a theoretical visionary and an experimental practitioner when it comes to twisting, torturing, cutting, shearing and fiddling about with those differently shaped bits of plywood, in order to achieve something that looks right and fulfils the function for which it was intended – it comes naturally to some; for others it’s a case of try, try and try again until experience, pot luck and the odd flash of genius conspire to produce the hoped-for results – in sl, at least, the concept of fitting a round peg into a square hole isn’t necessarily an impossible one!

The other, perhaps greater obstacle to building in sl is the often yawning gulf between concept and finished article: We may have very specific ideas about what our finished object will look like, but what happens from that point onwards in realising our vision can test the strongest will and is a task that has caused many a budding builder to quit and resolve to leave the whole sorry task to the experts. In the real world, we pay lots of money to architects to come up with buildings that look good, are practical and fall within the realms of possibility rather than the fantasy world. To do this, most people need to gain appropriate qualifications and have ready access to propelling pencils and very large sheets of paper, (this doesn’t always hold true… you might want to check out my real life dream house, which required none of these… /me sighs wistfully). So, to add to our woes, the sl builder also needs to wear an architect’s hat, on top the multitude they’re already sporting.

SL architecture is a funny thing – you’d expect it to follow the same rules as in rl, but of course it doesn’t. For a start, you can forget practical concerns about load-bearing capabilities, structural support, energy efficiency and building regulations, but this doesn’t mean that you can get away with just about anything… when considering a build, i suggest there’s a few important questions that really need to be asked:

  • Will it fit?;
  • Is it going to upset the neighbours?;
  • Will it need a ridiculously high prim count;?
  • Do i really have the skills to make it?:
  • Are the ceilings high enough?

That last point is particularly important – there are few things more dispiriting than completing your scale sl replica of the Chrysler Building, only to find that the average avatar has to duck to avoid the light fittings and is forced into camming the room above whenever they walk around. My simple rule of thumb for sl ceilings is: Make them high and, when they’re about as high as you dare to go, add a couple more metres. The same applies to doors and windows – big is beautiful! As for rooms, even the cupboard under the stairs should be the size of a small football pitch! In short, never, ever, build anything to scale in sl, unless you only want people to see it from the outside.

So, how do you go about designing for sl? Do you still need a drawing board, set squares and protractors, or will the back of an envelope and that felt pen you found knocking around in the kitchen drawer do the trick? To be honest, it’s pretty much a case of ‘whatever works for you’ – draft away to your heart’s content, or roughly scribble a design – it doesn’t matter how you do it… or, frankly, if you do it at all! i’m afraid i approach my building a bit like i approach writing: Sometimes i’ll have a good grasp of what i want to do, but more often than not, i’ll simply have a vague idea bouncing around my head, with little thought about how it might turn out or how it might get there. The way i write tends to follow a pattern of having the initial thought, then just getting on with the job and, pretty much, letting the bulk of the writing just ‘happen’ as it comes. When i think i’ve reached the end, i stop. My building style follows much the same route, (perhaps those who’ve seen anything i’ve built will have guessed that already!): i’ll start with the basic idea… shack, airport, gothic castle, yurt… whatever, and then get on with the job of making it happen. Forget plans, drawings or specifications – i’ll only have the vaguest idea of what i’m doing, even when it’s half done! If nothing else, it’s an interesting way to do things!

It’s probably just as well i’m not an architect, or indeed a builder, in rl!

S. x

Well go get your shovel
And we’ll dig a deep hole
To bury the castle, bury the castle
Paramore – Brick By Boring Brick 

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