Virtual Spaces Master Studio (VSMS) was an experimental VR game design course (16 ECTS master design studio module), taught during the summer semester of 2016 to a group of 13 architecture master students, at the Institute of Architecture and Media, Faculty of Architecture, TU Graz. The theme was based on “project Anywhere” (2014), and later research on architecture and virtual space, and its aim was to introduce architects to VR as a platform for experimental architectural design, that doesn’t have to result in building form. The VSMS module included the electives “Interdisciplinary Media: Space to Sound” and “Architecture & Film.” The module was taught by Constantinos Miltiadis and Prof. Urs Hirschberg.

VSMS 2016 projects poster

Virtual Spaces Master Studio: projects trailer (2016) from studio any on Vimeo.

Working essentially in the ‘videogame’ medium, the design approach of the studio is a fusion of disciplines, techniques, and skills that require the parallel development of both technical and conceptual tools such as concept design and narrative development, storyboarding, interaction design, UI design, 3d modeling, sound design, video editing, scripting, app development, etc. The course introduced theoretical discussions of culture and space, analyzing and drawing inspiration from diverse discourses including video games, films, novels, architecture, and critical theory. Besides in VR, the students were asked to experiment with spatial evocations in other creative media such as text, sound, video, and 2D graphics.

The breadth of the 13 works developed by individual students demonstrates that VR and the videogame medium hold significant potential for architectural explorations of many different kinds, including the design of experienceable spatiotemporal environments and configurations of being-in-a-world that are impossible to come across in physical reality. Furthermore, the course showed that many aspects of designerly and tacit knowledges as well as technical design skills are well transferable between architecture and game design and development.

The studio as well as the electives are taught in English. All projects were made with Unity3D for Android/GearVR. All module output is digital.

Following “project Anywhere” the VR setup is wireless and full-body immersive, based on a combination of hardware. It consists of GearVR headsets with Samsung Galaxy S6 phones [courtesy of Drei Austria], deployed in a space tracked by Kinect V2 sensors which can follow 25 points of a user’s skeleton, synchronized with the android app through a web cloud in real-time.

Final Review
June 30th, with invited jury: Jan Markus Ludwig (wideshot entertainment), Lewis Scott (VizConnected), and Florian Fend (IAM).

Guest Lectures
Michael Hansmeyer [Academy of Fine Arts, Vienna] – „Tools of Imagination“ (IAM guest for the Graz Architecture Lectures 2016) [x]
Prof. Werner Jauk (Musicology Institute, KFU-Graz) – „Sound to (auditory) space“ [x]
IOhannes zmölnig (Institute of Electronic Music, Kunst Uni Graz) – Introduction to granular synthesis with Pure Data.

Studio Excursion
2-day excursion to Linz, including a tour of Ars Electronica and Deep Space 8K by AEC manager Andreas Bauer, Hohen Rausch, Lentos Museum, Schlossmueum, Tabak Fabrik, and other cultural landmarks of the city.

The studio was sponsored by Drei Austria with four sets of GearVR headsets and Samsung Galaxy smartphones.

TU Graz VR Night, public exhibition, 28.06.2016, with the Institutes CGV, ICG, IICM of TU Graz in cooperation with Fraunhofer Austria [x]
Graz Open Architecture Day, public exhibition, 01.07.2016 [x]

Edna Basanovic, Björn Gerd Seidl, David Seiwald, Felix Obermair, Ines Zajkic, Kathrin Julia Wutte, Kelly Man, Ludwig Grimm, Michael Deutsch, Philipp Glanzner, Philipp Schnitzhofer, Primoz Brglez, Xin Guo

Teaching assistants
Ludwig Grimm
Julian Jauk
Martin Schrotz

Teaching team
Constantinos Miltiadis
Prof. Urs Hirschberg

Course material
The trailer video (above) was assembled from video trailers of students’ projects. It is a reupload of the original published 07.2016. The original course documentation websites (course website (IAM TU Graz) and project videos collection), were archived due to the university’s privacy policies.

Virtual Spaces Master Studio 2016
Institute of Architecture and Media, TU Graz, Summer Semester 2016