DRAFT OF

Tags: architecture, ONL, videogames, Viewed, architects, Winy Maas, Architectural Association, Digital Culture, Antoine Picon, Nathalie de Vries, Kas Oosterhuis, Ibid., Rotterdam, The Netherlands, urban planning, K. Oosterhuis, media city, Serious Game Institute, Marco Biraghi, Space Fighter, Tomasz Jaskiewicz, J. Huizinga, Scott McQuire, Peter Weibel, Friedrich van Borries, El Croquis, Electronic game, design, MVRDV, media and architecture, Constant Nieuwenhuys, Office for Metropolitan Architecture, architecture in The Netherlands, Dutch architects, Nicholas Van Orden, future research, MESO Digital Interiors, Los Angeles, Liane Lefaivre, Steffen P. Walz, Ben van Berkel, architecture and urbanism, Burnham Pavilion
Content: DRAFT OF: Pйrez Indaverea, Marнa Arбnzazu. 2013. `Convergence between Architecture and Videogames. The case of The Netherlands'. In Navigating Cybercultures, Nicholas Van Orden ed., 43-56. Oxford: Inter-disciplinary Press. ISBN: 978-1-84888-163-1. Convergence between Architecture and Videogames. The case of The Netherlands MЄ Arбnzazu Pйrez Indaverea Abstract Computers and electronics have been crucial to the understanding of the last few decades. The emergence of new media has changed how we perceive and relate to our environment. If we take into account that videogames have become, by income, the main cultural and leisure industry, it becomes necessary to analyze their influence in our lives. Their impact has not been limited to everyday life but it has also reached other seemingly unrelated fields. This can be verified by looking at new frontiers and research in Architecture. Therefore, the purpose of this paper is to analyze in this communication are the origins and main characteristics of the merging of media and architecture. Architects have started using computing as a basic tool for developing new aesthetics. The utopias that mixed building and machines slowly started to move beyond the science fiction realm to become real. The importance attributed to pop culture as well as the research in new architecturally-related technologies in the Netherlands, has made this country a focus of this phenomenon. Through a qualitative analysis of texts, projects and interviews with experts, I have approached works of Dutch offices like MVRDV, ONL or UN studio. They are perfect examples of this new method of designing, researching and looking for a new relationship between media and architecture. My main objective is showing how videogames have crossed the mere playing frontiers, to influence a new generation, changing along the way not only how architects, but also their users, deal with these changing buildings. I plan to delve further into this issue in future research. Key Words: videogames, Architecture, The Netherlands, Dutch, Hyperbody, MVRDV, ONL, UN Studio, interactivity, city. ***** 1. Introduction
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Digital games are `any interactive game operated by computer circuitry'1. During the last forty years videogames have entered our lives. Separated by a `porous membrane'2, our physical world is influencing our digital ones and vice versa. The number of players and the average time dedicated to digital playing have been growing incessantly3. These increments have led some researchers, like J. McGonigal, to affirm that they are `fulfilling genuine human needs that the real world is currently unable to satisfy'4. Being already the most consumed cultural product by sales in some countries5, it seems reasonable to think that they are strongly influencing our collective imaginary. Situationists said that `play (...) must invade the whole of life'6. Utopian architectural projects like Fun Palace (1959) of C. Price or Plug in city (1964) by P. Cook, already depicted an interest in creating ludic spaces applying technology. From then on, technologies have evolved and some architects have kept researching this field. Knowing that each media models our perception7, my hypothesis is that videogames have modified our sense of time and space. Therefore, my objective in this paper is to trace the existing connections between videogames and architecture.
2. Structure and methodology In this research I apply a qualitative methodology for delving into these links between videogames and architecture. I base my study in bibliographic research, a critical analysis of semi-structured interviews with experts8, and artistic-historical analysis of architectural projects. I focus on a period of approximately fifteen years in The Netherlands. My chronology is defined by the appearance of the first depictions of 3D space in games. Wolfenstein 3D, released by id Software in 1992 was the first game that built a 3D space. It would take some years for videogames to appropriate and configure this feature to develop their own language. Therefore, my chronology starts around 1995 and ends in 2010. The phenomenon I study is in an embryonic state. I suppose that it appears only in areas with a high economical and industrial development. In this context, I have chosen to study the work of Dutch architects because they show a special sensibility towards innovation though the application of technology9, pop culture and playfulness. In this paper I am specifically focusing on the work of the generation that set up their studios around the 1990's. I will first introduce the main spatial characteristics of videogames for tracing them in architecture. Then, I present the Dutch context, to focus later in case studies. I analyze critically the projects and discourse of MVRDV, ONL and UN Studio that can be related to videogames. Finally, I present my conclusions while proposing future lines of research.
3. Videogames and space: transparent cities Fictional worlds in digital games are one of their main characteristics and sets them apart from other games10. Videogames create spatial environments that can be accessed through screens and technological devices. Prior to 3D environments
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they applied the resources of previous media to construct space. The arrival of more powerful processors and the increasing memory storage allowed them to offer coherent 3D representations of space11. Nevertheless, their revolutionary feature was the increasingly growing sensation of navigational and action freedom in those 3D spaces. The players relate to space through avatars12 in an indirect physical interaction, yet the actions they decide with controllers are immediately reflected and answered in the screen. Interaction has been evolving towards the simplification of controls and the increase of comprehensive sensorial experiences and coherence in actions. More intuitive interfaces have appeared. Everything aiming to generate a deeper feeling of immersion. Every game needs to generate a space where the laws of our physical reality are temporarily suspended, letting the rules of the game work. This space is called, the `magic circle'13. J. McGonigal points out that those rules `unleash creativity and foster strategic thinking'14, generally focusing on the achievement of a goal. The magic circle creates a safe environment, where participation is `voluntary'15. To maintain the magic circle, the gameplay has to keep the attention and motivation of the players by using different types of feedback, avoiding a game too difficult or easy. These elements generate immersion, and as long as the players feel it, the magic circle exists. The postmodernist transparency theory16 indicates a tendency to forget that the experience is being mediated by technology. Therefore, applying it to videogames, the experience of their worlds is felt as real, as physical spatial experiences. If the border between videogames and physical reality is porous, in the same way as physical environments are influencing videogames, we could find new ludic relationships with physical space. They should be technologically mediated interactions, enhancers of `engagement' and `collective attention' as well as tools for a creative attitude.
4. Playfulness and architecture in The Netherlands: Cases of study After World War II, Amsterdam became the first city in designing a plan for a comprehensive group of playgrounds. They were a `polycentric net', distributed in `interstitial' spaces that were proposed by communities that turned them into `participatory public spaces'17. This model would be applied later to urban planning. In 1959, Situationists were invited to create a exhibition for the Stedelijk Museum in which they planned to apply their urban theories by installing a labyrinth in the Museum18. In parallel and under their influence, Constant Nieuwenhuys was working in his urban project New Babylon. He worked in this utopian project in which technology would bring prosperity to allow the advent of the homo ludens19 for whom "space is `a toy'"20. These three projects not only were influential, they point towards a peculiar sensibility and value of the relationship between play and the city. A quick survey of books and exhibitions about architecture and new technologies show frequent references to Dutch
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architects. This led us to look for specific relationships in this territory between Architecture and videogames. Videogames started to enter the home market in the eighties, by the end of that decade computer programming courses began to enter the curricular programs of architecture schools21. At that moment a generation of Dutch architects were completing their studies, while others started to consolidate their offices. R. Koolhaas, a key figure for understanding contemporary Dutch architecture, was one of the latter with his Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA). He has insisted in the need of adapting architecture to its cultural context22. Nevertheless, it would be the generation that was studying in the eighties, the one that would take a step further. I found three approaches to architectural linkages with videogames: theoretical, conceptual applications to projects and aesthetical. I will apply them to the study of ONL, MVRDV and UN Studio.
Image 1 - Scheme of linkages between architecture and videogames a. Theoretical. It can be conceptual or used as a tool. i. Conceptual: Architects have researched concepts that are key elements of the perceptual experience of videogames: interactivity with technological devices in real time, communication, new architectural experiences, immersion. K. Oosterhuis studied in TU Delft and Architectural Association (AA). He started to work with the artist I. Lйnбrd in the late 1980's, founding ONL. Their premise was merging art, architecture and new technologies. K. Oosterhuis has developed a theory for a `quiet revolution' understanding `buildings as a medium'. He states that we are `idiot savants' when relating with computers and that architecture had to be redefined by literally merging with this technology. He proposed `swarm architecture'23, in which every element of the building should be
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active, connected and interacting harmoniously with all the others and with its users continuously `in real time'24. The continuous streaming of information allows new computerizED Design techniques, avoiding `Platonic geometry'25. This leads to `e-motive architecture', proactive architecture that can get adapted and reprogrammed while being able to `stimulate [its users] to act and explore'26. Architects must take a democratic approach in the design process, actively work with engineers and `deploy game theory'27. ii. Tool: The creation of videogames by architects is especially significant, as they considered it the best manner of reflecting their research or trying to find more effective tools. In 2000/2001 K. Oosterhuis started teaching his ideas in TU Delft. There, he created the Hyperbody centre with an associate Research Group. ONL and Hyperbody use game development software like Nemo or Virtools28 and have developed serious games29 as art installations like ProtoCITY 2005 ++30 (2005) or multiplayer collaborative design and planning tools like protoPLAN DESIGN TOOL31 (2006). K. Oosterhuis is interested in their engines and their capacity for creating new alive worlds, although he is disappointed about the urban vision videogames generally offer. MVRDV started in 1993 as a group of three principal architects educated in the TU Delft, although W. Maas, their media figure, `fascinated by the[ir] research' had contacts with the Architectural Association. J. van Rijs and W. Maas had been working in OMA, while N. De Vries in Mecanoo32. MVRDV focused in new processes of design and urban planning, from an iconoclastic position they researched how to use great amounts of data for managing `datatowns'33. For analyzing and visualizing data, they worked developing software and computers animations, the aim was optimizing and clarifying concepts. Various are their theoretical projects following these premises, which they later apply to their designs34. With the `accumulated knowledge' of their previous works Regionmaker and Climatizer, appeared Spacefighter: The Evolutionary City35 (2007). It is a digital game `meant to model the complexity of time-based competitive urban developments'36. This tool for urban planning aimed to democratise this task, engaging individuals interactively and continuously in this field37. It can become an analytical and critical tool and also, offer the chance of generating unpredictable directions. W. Maas finds videogames interesting because they are a greatly `successful media' that is constructed on `an intellectual model' defined by `evolution'. Their capacity for optimizing and generating adaptability will gradually be applied in architecture, because automation is already happening. b. Conceptual applications to projects. The application of concepts related to videogames in architectural projects shows a quest for a new architecture. New spaces adapted to new informational and experiential values and uses are possible due to the appearance of new computational technologies. These projects represent the merger between the
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Convergence between Architecture and Videogames. The case of The
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physical and the digital, with an increasing interest in avoiding prosthetic results. This evidences a growth in the confluence in the work of architects and engineers. Experts are needed from the beginning of the projects and teams grow in members. Many of the most experimental projects of ONL and Hyperbody have not been built or remain as prototypes. One of the most significant built works of ONL was the Web of North-Holland (2002) created for the Floriade World Exhibition. Later, transformed in the iWeb that housed the protoSpace 2.0 Laboratory of Hyberbody. This `sculpturebuilding'38 was converted into an `augmented design studio' whose interior allowed collaborative work in real time, with different interactive elements: movement and pressure detection, projections, speech recognition, etc. The same year they proposed Digital Pavilion for Seoul, `a complex adaptive robotic system of interacting installations'39 that intended to show the technological advances. The complex interior was planned for offering a fully sensorial immersive experience. UN Studio heads are the architect B. van Berkel, graduated from the Architectural Association, and C. Bos, art historian. The duality of practice and theory provided the office with a clear internal discourse. UN Studio has been interested in how the complex forces related to architecture could relate to its own shapes, like `how to translate time to space'40. For this reason, they started to use diagrams, `multidimensional graphics'41, that showed the dynamic relationships of those forces. They researched on how software could help, and started to use CAD in 199042. This new tool showed a new fluid way to work in which information and forces continuously and immediately modelled the shapes of architecture and challenged traditional `assumptions'. Mixing these concepts they worked in structures `without a geometry'43. This led them to reflect on the perception of space and how to make it dynamic and interactive. Their projects with videogames were experimental. They applied the philosophy of gaming to two installation projects for leisure spaces. One focused on what activities could take place in an airplane and the other reflected about different behaviours at different times of the day in a collective space for exhibition projects. In some of their built projects I trace some elements that can be linked to videogames. The changing room (2008) was a temporary folie that through its plastic white curved shapes and its interior game projections altered space perceptions44. While still keeping the same aesthetical characteristics, Burnham Pavilion (2009) added a new feature, interactivity. Instead of video loops, here the lighting reacted to the presence of visitors detected by a system of sensors, hardware and software which would change colours and patterns45. c. Aesthetical Although this category shows a direct cognition and uses of the imagery of videogames by architects, I find it the poorest connection since it is just a formalist approach.
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This approach can be found in some publications by MVRDV, such as Visionary Cities (2008). The influence of SimCity is noticeable in the image46 where they ask if it is possible to build a collective dream. Enter the Matrix47 videogame is mentioned after stating that images of future cities produced by media enter the `popular consciousness [...] determining the the future of our cities'48. Later on they wonder if architects and urbanists should not become the authors of our cities and therefore, determine the future. The interest in pop culture and their repercussions in architecture is evidenced by these statements, but the allusions to videogames do not deepen in its complexity.
5. Results and Conclusions The previously analyzed architectural studios share interests and characteristics in creating a new type of architecture answering to a new context of complexity in which experience economy is rising. They continue the research of avant-garde architects on merging technology and architecture. They have reflected, consciously or not, on Key Concepts related to digital games49, reaching to research about their use as tools for Theory and Practice. Their offices have become big and interdisciplinary, becoming especially interested in merging engineering and art50, while denying the role of the architect as the ultimate creator. Nevertheless, at least in the beginning, they define the rules that delimit the possible interactions with the space, as game designers. Applying software to design is innovative, both formally and structurally, represents an innovation in mass production and testing new architectural materials. In these hybrid projects, there is a growing importance of the immaterial. Their designs make use of software and hardware that manage different visual displays and responsive devices. Light allows these works to `skin dress', have innovate functions and communicate during the night. The objective is generating a comprehensive sensorial, and therefore, emotional experience, in order to stimulate a direct and active communication with citizens, while offering a ludic event. This enhances a new feeling of immersion, seemingly with the purpose to gain a social role of community and space engagement, proposing new spatial approaches. These changes in the perception of buildings relate to a dynamic and immediate sense of time51, like games. The projects built were thought as public, temporary and were linked to exhibitions or commemorations. But they are `glocal'52, the individual experience is shared with a collective and although they were built for a concrete context, they became representative to world level. These works answer to a concrete consumer oriented model that can be related to Postmodern ideas. But their proposals are also connected to the utopian views of the Situationists and Archigram that aimed for a democratic, creative and playful experience of the urban. Finding in game play the opportunity to rethink the city and subvert its rules and having overcome the problems related to the high cost of technologies and sustainability, these projects still have to face the reluctance of
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commissioners, the market and some critics. S. McQuire has pointed out the risk of control, manipulation or `hyper-commodification'53 that these new environments could bring. A. Picon criticizes that many remain in a formalist applications and asks if this instability is desirable54. Meanwhile, these architects recognize that they are just at the beginning and that we should expect more changes from next generations. In further research I intend to study the relevance of the TU Delft and in the AA as possible seeds for this new architecture, and also how a younger generation of architects have claimed to continue working in interactive playfulness.
Notes
1 Henry E Lowood, `Electronic game'.Encyclopжdia Britannica. Viewed 22 March
2012,
2 Edward Castronova, Synthetic worlds: the business and culture of online games.
(Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2005), 147.
3 For further information.
4 Jane McGonigal, Reality is broken. (London: The Penguin Press, 2011), 4.
5 Juliбn Dнez, `El videojuego ya mueve mбs que cine y mъsica juntos', El Paнs 9
April
2008,
Viewed
10
April
2012,

6 Guy E. Dйbord, dir., `Contribution to a Situationist Definition of Play',
Internationale Situationniste 1 (1958). Viewed 2 May 2012,
< http://www.cddc.vt.edu/sionline/si/play.html>
7 Marshall McLuhan, The medium is the message. (Corte Madera,CA: Ginko Press,
2005), 12.
8 During a research stay in the TU Delft for the research for the PhD thesis
Ciudades pixeladas, between April and June of 2011, we had the opportunity to
interview some experts related with the research. In the present paper we have
included information and cites from the interviews with W. Maas, Principal
Architect of MVRDV and head of the Why Factory of the TU Delft; A. Piber,
Director and Senior Architect of UN Studio; and K. Oosterhuis, Principal Architect
of ONL and head of Hyperbody in TU Delft. I would like to thank them and the
Delft School of Design for their kindness.
9 Bert Bongers, Interactivation ­ towards an e-cology of people, our technological
environment and the arts. (Amsterdam: SIKS Dissertation Series, 2006), 80.
10 Jesper Juul, Half-real: video games between real rules and fictional worlds.
(Cambridge, Mass: MIT Press, 2005), 199.
11 Frans Mдyrд, An introduction to game studies: games in culture. (London:
SAGE, 2008), 90-116.
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12 Avatar: an icon or figure representing a particular person in a computer game,
Internet forum, etc. `Avatar', Oxford dictionaries, Viewed 10 April 2012,

13 Johan Huizinga, Homo ludens. (Madrid: Alianza Editorial, 1998), 46.
14 Jane McGonigal, Reality is broken, 21.
15 Johan Huizinga, Homo ludens, 42.
16 Slavoj Zizek, `Cyberspace and the Virtuality of the Real - Slavoj Zizek.pdf',
Viewed
10
June
2010
%20the%20Real%20-%20Slavoj%20Zizek.pdf> , 1.
17 Liane Lefaivre, `Ground-up City. The place of play' in Ground-up City. Play as
a design tool, Liane Lefaivre and Dцll (Rotterdam: 010 Publishers, 2007), 58.
18 Guy E. Dйbord, dir. `Die Welt als Labyrinth', Internationale Situationniste 4
(1960), Viewed 2 May 2012,
19 Homo Ludens (1938) by the Dutch cultural historian, J. Huizinga, is one of the
most significant studies about playing and games.
20 Scott McQuire, The media city: media, architecture and urban space. (Los
Angeles, CA: Sage, 2008), 93.
21 Antoine Picon, Digital Culture in architecture. An introduction for the design
professions. (Basel: Birkhдuser, 2010), 95.
22 Ibid., 81.
23 Kas Oosterhuis, Towards a new kind of building. A Designer's Guide for
Nonstandard Architecture. (Rotterdam: NAi, 2011), 16.
24 Kas Oosterhuis, `A new kind of building' in Disappearing architecture from
real to virtual to quantum, ed. Georg Flachbart, and Peter Weibel. (Basel; Boston:
Birkhдuser, 2005), 104.
25 Kas Oosterhuis, Towards a new kind of building, 28.
26 Ibid., 99.
27 Ibid., 172.
28 Kas Oosterhuis, `A new kind of building', 104.
29 Serious game: Serious games involve the use of electronic games technologies
and methodologies for primary purposes other than entertainment. The purposes
include e-Learning, simulation, team building, collaboration, social networking and
opinion shaping. Serious Game Institute, `What are serious games?' Viewed 7 May
2012
ry=16>.
30 Chris Kievid, and Tomasz Jaskiewicz, `protoCITY 2005+' Viewed 5 May 2012,

10 Convergence between Architecture and Videogames. The case of The Netherlands __________________________________________________________________
31 Chris Kievid, and Tomasz Jaskiewicz, `Manhal Oasis Masterplan, applying
swarm logic to the urban scale' Viewed 5 May 2012,

32 Cecilia Mбrquez, Fernando and Richard Levene, eds., `MVRDV Biography', El
Croquis 111 (2002): 4-5.
33 Datatown: attempt to summarize contemporary cities only in data. It answers the
increasing technical process that rules city planning and architectural design
nowadays. CAAC, `Datatown' in Glosario de atributos urbanos. Viewed 6 May
2012,
34 Cristina Dнaz Moreno, and Efrйn Garcнa Grinda, `The Space of Optimism [a
conversation with Winy Maas, Jacob van Rijs and Nathalie de Vries]' El Croquis
111 (2002): 11.
35 SpaceFighter was developed in collaboration in the Delft School of Design (TU
Delft), the Berlage Institute, MIT and cThrough. A book explains the project:
Maas, Winy, and MVRDV/DSD. Space Fighter: the evolutionary city (game:).
(New York: Actar-D, 2007).
36 Maas, Winy, `SPACEFIGHTER. A Game for the Evolutionary City' in Space
time play. Computer games, architecture and urbanism: The next level, ed.
Friedrich van Borries, Steffen P. Walz and Matthias Bцttger, (Basel: Birkhдuser,
2007), 362.
37 Maas, Winy and MVRDV/DSD. Space Fighter: the evolutionary city (game:).
(New York: Actar-D, 2007), 24.
38 Kas Oosterhuis, Towards a new kind of building, 97.
39 ONL, `Digital Pavilion Seoul. A complex adaptive robotic system of interacting
installations'
Viewed
5
May
2012,

40 Antoine Picon, Digital Culture in architecture, 68.
41 Greg Lynn, `Conversation by modem with Ben van Berkel' El Croquis 72 [I]
(1995): 13.
42 Ibid., 10.
43 Ibid., 14.
44 MESO Digital Interiors, `The changing room'. Viewed 6 May 2012

45 Studio Daniel Sauter, `Burnham Pavilion - Lighting Program'. Viewed 6 May
2012
46 Winy Maas et al., Visionary cities. (Rotterdam; New York: NAi Publishers,
2008), 28-29.
47 Ibid., 198.
48 Ibid., 196-197.
MЄ Arбnzazu Pйrez Indaverea
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49 Marco Biraghi, Storia dell'architettura contemporбnea II. 1945-2008. (Torino: Piccola Biblioteca Einaudi, 2008), 496. 50 contemporary art has a longer trayectory in merging with new media and space, some examples are the Works of J. Holzer or R. Lozano-Hemmer. 51 We can relate this to the proposals of Giedion or the Situationists. 'The architecture of tomorrow will be a means of modifying present conceptions of time and space. It will be a means of knowledge and a means of action'. Gilles Ivain, `Formulary for a New Urbanism', Internationale Situationniste 1 (1953). Viewed 2 May 2012 52 Gianni Ranaulo, Light architecture: new edge city. (Basel; Boston: Birkhдuser, 2001), 28. 53 Scott McQuire, The media city, 108. 54 Antoine Picon, Digital Culture in architecture, 156.
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__________________________________________________________________
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MЄ Arбnzazu Pйrez Indaverea (Mйxico D.F., 1983) graduated from the University of Santiago de Compostela (USC)in History of Art (2006), was awarded with degrees in Advanced Studies (2008) and in University Specialist in Theory, Methods and History of Humanities and social sciences (2009). She was a predoctoral Marнa Barbeito fellow (2006-2011) lecturing in the University of Santiago de Compostela and completing her education in the Universitй Paris I, Panthйon-Sorbonne and the Delft University of Technology. She currently is a PhD candidate in the USC. Her research focus in the relationships among new media, especially videogames, architecture and cities.

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