Tag Archives: architecture

Tall Grass House on the River

Tall Grass River 1

This is Tall Grass, nestled into a site along a river. I changed some of the interior materials to feel more at home in the Pacific Northwest setting, but you can’t really tell from the outside.Columbia west_013 edited

The parcels along this river are flat, and they encourage tenants to align their houses straight along the river, in a straight east-west direction. It is so much more interesting if you don’t do that. Angle the house so that when you stand inside your view is directed along the river bank – the view is better if it is directed up and down the shoreline. The shoreline is the interesting part. There is no law that says your house has to be aligned on  the compass points, but I rarely see houses in SL that aren’t.

Many boats sail up and down this river, and planes land here, too. I really enjoy watching them.

Tall Grass River InteriorI was only given a few hours to terraform the land. So I had to do the best I could, and then maneuver the house and the landscaping to fit what I had. I think that’s a good thing. In the real world you need to make the house fit the landscape. It’s expensive to sculpt the land to fit the house, so it’s better to start with the land, and then design a house to fit. I think much better results are obtained when you go with what you have, rather than trying to change the land fit a preconceived notion of a house. Columbia west_015


Tall Grass House Returns

A long-overdue post to announce the return of one of my favorite houses – Tall Grass.

Tall Grass vendor

Tall Grass fell victim to inventory loss, and I had no backup copy. Lesson learned. Thankfully a friend had a copy of the house. I had to painstakingly copy each prim, texture it, then add scripts to operate the doors, privacy windows and security settings. I decided to upgrade a number of the textures while I was at it, and I’m very happy with the result.

This house was inspired by the tall grass prairies of south-western Minnesota, and the Native Americans who lived there. The weather on the prairie can change rapidly from baking sun to frigid temperature, from lashing rain to snow and back to sun again in the course of a day. I’ve experienced all of that plus hail, tornadoes and flash floods, all common in Minnesota and the Dakotas. If you’re living a nomadic life on the prairie, you need a sophisticated home to protect you from this constantly changing weather.

I recently had the opportunity to examine an authentic Lakota Sioux Tipi up close, and it’s a very intricate piece of engineering. It’s what architects call “switch-rich,” meaning the dwelling can be easily opened and closed to the environment depending on how much ventilation, heating, cooling, light or shade is needed. What especially struck me was how the skin of the dwelling served as a canvas on which to record the history of the family. When the family folded up the dwelling and moved it to a new place, they took their symbolic history with them – a deeply important act for a culture with no written language.

When I designed this home a few years ago, I was interested in capturing some of the aspects of a nomadic home on the prairie – both the structure and the cladding made of lightweight, easy to transport and assemble materials, seemingly assembled directly on the earth.  While the reality of building a home like this would be somewhat complex, I wanted people to look at the materials and think “I could buy all of this at Home Depot, and screw it all together myself in a weekend.”

After I had designed and built Tall Grass, I realized it some things in common with one of my favorite houses, the iconic Magney House at Bingie Point by Australian architect Glenn Murcutt.


Murcutt also had in mind the idea of a nomadic home, built of the lightweight aircraft materials which were important in settling the Australian outback, plus the lessons about switch-rich dwellings he learned from designing for Aboriginal clients.

With a Land Impact of only 117, I really feel this house delivers a lot of interesting space and detail for very few prims. In fact, I like this house so much that I made it my own personal home, and I look forward to sharing that in my next post.

Tall Grass is on the Second Life Marketplace :


Tall Grass Dream Book 3 for marketplace

I’m at the Home and Garden Expo!

I finally made it to the Second Life Home and Garden Expo as more than a tourist. I have a new home I’m selling there, with all proceeds to the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life.

The home is called “Gull Lake” and it comes in two flavors. One is my usual Minnesota Modern North Shore palate of materials – warm wood, stone, glass, bronze.


Honestly I really like that palate, but I’m a bit tired of building with it. I’ve tried to declare the North Shore series of homes “done” for a while, but people keep asking me to do custom homes, and I don’t refuse.  But I think now I am done.

I’ve long wanted to use a quite different palate of bleached woods, concrete masonry units, grey tile and steel. It is cool, beachy, modern and calming. I am calling it the “Global Warming Edition,” as the palate reminds me of natural materials that have been blasted by the sun. This is the palate that drove the design, and I’m very pleased with how it turned out. Judging by the sales at the Expo, others like these materials, too.


Please visit the homes in Second Life.

The Gull Lake “Global Warming” House can be seen at the Expo:


The Gull Lake “North Shore” House can been seen in my meadow on Toor:


The Expo is really quite an experience, sixteen sims of homes, furnishings, and garden items, plus entertainment, hunts, and raffles. The talented people in Second Life are so inspiring to me, and I am very proud to be with them at the Expo.

Why Second Life Mainland is a Bad Investment

 or, How I was Banned from the Sex Jungle

I have a little art gallery on the Second Life Mainland. I have been meaning to blog about it, but hadn’t quite gotten around to it yet. It looked like this:

It is on the top of a steep hill, with land and houses below it. I only own to the edge of the hill, not really wanting to pay very much for something that isn’t producing revenue. I figured that if somebody bought one of the adjacent small lots they would build at the foot of the hill, because steep hills seem to flummox the average SL builder.  And this has proven true for the past year.

I’ve personally always enjoyed the wild-west atmosphere of the mainland. There are your occasional jerks who just don’t care what they build, or what anyone thinks of it, but mostly I’ve found people who have expended care and thought in creating nice places. I wanted to invest  in that, and create a place on the mainland that had some architectural interest and would be an asset to the neighborhood.

I use the past tense (“This is what it looked like,”) because this is what it looks like now:

That is my gallery to the left of the black block, on the top of the hill behind the pink tree.

One of these “occasional jerks” has moved in next to me and erected a gigantic black pile of ugliness. Setting aside the aesthetics of this sophomoric attempt to create a warlock’s castle out of a shoebox and some faux stone wallpaper, there is simply no reason that this build needs to be this big, or be there at all.  People teleport directly there, so they don’t care if it’s underground, in the air, or (as in this case) on top of a couple of huge, empty boxes. And it doesn’t need to be in the snowlands, it is clumsily decorated with tropical plants, and has a tropical theme, although the word “theme” implies some coherency of purpose, and this is merely a mess. So why the owner thought this particular parcel was perfect for his business is beyond me.

But there is nothing I can do about it. My only course of action is to dismantle the gallery and abandon the land. The nice neighbors to the north don’t want the land, because their building is on the next sim, and you can’t join parcels over sim boundaries. Nobody will buy the land with the black monstrosity in their face. Its no big deal to abandon it, I didn’t pay much for it. Mainland is practically free for exactly the reason we’re seeing here – who wants to pay a lot of money for something that can be made worthless in an instant by some half-wit?

However, I may not have to leave because I don’t think the black pile will be there long. For one thing, he’s selling very cheap items for a few L$. Most of the items you can get for free elsewhere. If the quality of his wares matches the quality of his architecture, he’s not going to sell much. With Linden Labs vacuuming money out of his pocket every month, and nothing coming in, he’ll soon tire of the game.

But the real reason he won’t be there long is that the business is called “Sex Jungle” and it sells all sorts of adult items, and contains an adult “playground.” And it just happens to be located on a Moderate sim that doesn’t allow explicit adult content.

When I talked to the owner about this, he insisted that the “M” after the sim name meant “Mature,” and he had done his homework, and the land was for sale as an adult parcel, and he could do whatever he wanted with his land and why didn’t-you-just-stop-being-a-hater-and-now-you’re-banned!!!! Wow, that showed me. Banned from the Sex Jungle. I’ll never live it down.

Two New Houses at Minnesota Modern

Since the beginning of the year I’ve put two new houses up for sale, including the biggest house I’ve ever created.

The Lake Superior Home came about because I wondered if I could create a home that was more “real life.” Second Life homes are a dream to design – no HVAC ducts to plan, no plumbing to route, no closets. No codes! All my homes are relatively “realistic” in look and feel, but the Lake Superior adds some spaces that bring it closer to what a real cabin would feel like – a kitchen and a private bath.

Lake Superior House

The Vermillion Home started as a custom house for a very nice person I met in Second Life. In real life, this woman lives in a congested major city, in a tiny apartment sandwiched by neighbors on all sides. In Second Life she wants space. Lots of space. So the Vermillion house was born.

Vermillion House

Both houses are available on the Marketplace:

and also in Second Life at:

See the Portfolio section of this blog for more photos of all the Minnesota Modern homes.

Eveleth Home – New at Minnesota Modern

After several inquiries along the lines of “where’s that stone cottage that used to be here?” I decided to bring it back. It’s been tightened up, dusted it off, re-named it and voila! The Eveleth Home is born.

Named after a town in the Iron Range area of Minnesota, Eveleth is a rustic stone cottage, very cozy, weighing in at only 99 prims. It comes with privacy windows and doors, a fire with touch on/off and glow (7 prims) and a bath with a couple’s pose (20 prims.) The house is Copy/Mod, and the fire and bath are copy only.

The cost is 1800 L$ and it is available in my sky meadow on Toor:


Also available through my Second Life Marketplace store:


If you go to look at the home, you’ll see a gazebo adjacent to the home. That will be for sale soon.

Edited to add:  As of January 2012 this house is no longer available. I do still have it, and if someone wants it badly enough I am happy to sell them a copy.

Prim Perfect Headquarters

Looking for a more unique way to make a portfolio of my projects, I’ve decided to publish each project as its own book. It seems like it will be a more flexible way to document the projects than just the standard leather book of photographs. Now I can have my portfolio in digital and physical format. As each project is complete, I just make a new book. I can buy as many copies as I need, it’s actually less expensive than making high-quality printouts, and if I display the book digitally its free. Plus there are all sorts of cool widgets, and I can plurk and twitter and facebook the thing to death, instantly.  I’m feeling rather pleased with myself.

Here is the first book, documenting the Prim Perfect Publications Headquarters in Second Life.

Prim Perfect Publications is one of the virtual world’s leading media companies. Among their productions are Prim Perfect magazine, the virtual world’s largest home and garden magazine, and the television show Designing Worlds.

Owner and publisher Saffia Widdershins wanted a new headquarters for Prim Perfect Publications that would provide a focal location for Prim Perfect magazine’s staff, showcase all of Prim Perfect Publications’ activities and provide a place for community events. Located on the Costa Rica sims in Second LIfe, the building reflects the real-life ecosystem and contemporary culture of Costa Rica.