Digital media give new ways for architects to engage with environments, allowing us to shape our expectations of the real world. Contemporary videogames contain spaces that challenge our conceptions of cities, and twist them towards new realities. Although this compares to prior media like text or film to describe cities, virtual spaces offer the ability to act within a space under a set of established rules. Whereas architects once imagined new societies and civilisations through the drawing, perhaps they can now test these as occupiable virtual cultures. What would we choose to include in the digital realm and what would we wish to discard?
In this workshop, together we will create a Back Up Gjakova, examining the collective memories and experiences of participants and translating them into a virtual city over two days.
We will ask you to think of which elements you would preserve within your city, and what built elements have contributed to the development of that city’s culture. Where do people meet, what are the significant buildings and historical sites that have shaped the city? Is there even a famous bus route, café, or perhaps a song or painting that is held in the collective memory? We are interested in you defining ephemeral and unexpected elements without which the city would not be itself.
Over the course of the workshop, we will crowd source these elements, and through a series of exercises will transcribe these into hand drawings, 3D models and sounds that will become a constellation of fragments. Through a process of turning these fragments into spatial typologies, scanning and collecting them, we will build a database of imagery and sounds that will be brought into a videogame space built on the Unity game engine. After a brief introduction to the software, together we will turn all the collected elements into a navigable virtual environment and back up Gjakova into the form of a videogame space.
Finally, we will use our screenshots from the videogame to output ‘drawn maps’ of the game space. The game will be hosted online, and developed so that it can be experienced with Virtual Reality technologies.
Back Up Gjakova will become an inhabitable, subjective cartography of people’s experiences as a virtual videogame environment rather than a strict geographical mapping.