Dezeen Magazine

Second Life architecture competition

Second Life architecture competition

A new architecture competition has been announced for virtual buildings designed for the Second Life digital world.

The competition will be judged at the Ars Electronica festival in Linz, Austria, in September with the prize-giving and related exhibition taking place at the Zollverein World Heritage site in Essen, Germany.

Full details below:


CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS! to the First Annual Architecture and Design Competition in Second Life. Spatially interesting and aesthetically independent pieces of architecture are sought from the inhabitants of the digital parallel world that has almost seven million participants.

The competition will be part of this year's renowned Ars Electronica Festival in Linz / Austria (Sept. 5th - 11th, 2007), where the jury will be held. A massive prize ceremony with party and exhibition will be held at the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Zollverein Essen to celebrate the winners of this competition.

There is no submission fee.

Deadline: Sept. 1st, 2007

Online submission form at:

A highly qualified, independent jury of designers and architects will award the prizes:

* Shumon Basar, curator, author and architect. Unit Master at the Architectural Association, London

* Mathieu Wellner, architect and curator at the Haus der Kunst, Munich * Tor Lindstrand, architect, International Festival und Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm

* Pascal Schöning, author and architect, Unit Master at the Architectural Association, London

* Michael Schirner, head of the institute for art and media, professor at ZKM, Karlsruhe

* Stephan Doesinger, artist, creative director & architect, initiator of the competition, Munich

Projects will be chosen from five categories:

* High rise
* Private homes
* Corporate architecture and v-business
* Landscape design
* Special freestyle projects

The Initiator: Stephan Doesinger is a conceptual artist and architect living and working in Munich. He has held guest lectureships in the Design department at the University for Applied Arts in Vienna and at the Architectural Association in London. He has been the Art and Creative Director for many magazines, including, among others, Penthouse, Hideaways, Country Style, High Life and Yachting & Style. His second book, "Learning from Sim City," will be published by Revolver Verlag in a few months. Further information available at:

Theoretical Background: Computer games have stopped copying the world, and instead the world seems now to function more and more like a computer game. The aesthetic and cultural consequences of this twin relationship can already be seen in architecture at its best. Second Life consists of pixels, yearning, and fantasy. While in the real world architectural utopias play only a small role, the digital worlds of computer games, including Second Life (SL), have become the actual venue for this (and other) utopias. Freed from practical necessities and economic and technical obligations, a new architecture has established itself that will not remain inconsequential for the so-called real world.

Though there are still technical limits of the 3D programs in Second Life, they shouldn't distract one from seeing the aesthetic and cultural developments that are in the course of forming. How independently will the SL-architecture develop? How closely will the ideas stay bound to the real world? The buildings in SL serve only as representations of communication and commerce. Inside the parallel world of Second Life, one can meet others and make appointments with an avatar, a digital alter ego. One can do business or go to a virtual U2 concert.

The Potemkish planet of Second Life reminds one of what Robert Venturi reported about the iconography of modern business cities in the 70s in his "Leaving Las Vegas." He described the metamorphosis of buildings into signs. The goal of this transformation was later called "Corporate Identity." But what will happen now that people are starting to create their personal identities pixel by pixel in SL? On the "cross-hatching" of Second Life, all the buildings and all the characters are – lacking other functions – pure projection surfaces. They are covered with pictures, so-called Skins, and become signs themselves, just as Oscar Wilde places the whole truth in the mask. These masks have become pieces of a new language. Through them, new communication possibilities and possible architectural designs are created – because they enable communication of real people, and with it also "real places."

If one accepts the thought that the house is an extension of the body, then one ought to be excited about the new expressional forms and experimental spaces inside SL. Alone in the "superhuman" physicality of Second Life – one can, as an avatar, fly or be transported – new spatial relations emerge. The spatial relations in our real world have dramatically changed in the last few years: not least through the internet. It has opened up innumerable exiting questions with the new "SIM" sensibility, one of which is: Which relation does the real architecture (-culture) have to this development, which is reflected and refracted in Second Life – on all levels? Second Life and Linden Lab Second Life is a 3D online world with a rapidly growing population from more than 100 countries around the globe, in which the Residents themselves create and build the world which includes homes, vehicles, nightclubs, stores, landscapes, clothing, and games.

The Second Life Grid is a sophisticated development platform created by Linden Lab, a company founded in 1999 by Philip Rosedale, to create a revolutionary new form of shared 3D experience. The former CTO of RealNetworks, Rosedale pioneered the development of many of today's streaming media technologies, including RealVideo. In April 2003, noted software pioneer Mitch Kapor, founder of Lotus Development Corporation, was named Chairman. In 2006, Philip Rosedale and Linden Lab received WIRED's Rave Award for Innovation in Business. Based in San Francisco, Linden Lab employs a senior team bringing together deep expertise in physics, 3D graphics and networking.

Note to editors: Second Life® and Linden Lab® are registered trademarks of Linden Research, Inc. Linden Lab is not involved in the competition and is not judging it or responsible for prizes.

Ars Electronica:

UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Zollverein Essen: