Grounding & Awareness Management: Two Architectural Principles for Collaborative Virtual Worlds

  • Avon Huxor
Conference paper
Part of the Eurographics book series (EUROGRAPH)


This paper considers how certain abstract aspects of design might effectively be brought over from the domain of architecture and planning into virtual world design. Two issues are specifically investigated, the management of ‘awareness’ and encounter in shared spaces, and the ‘grounding’ of the virtual space onto a real geographical site to assist in the legibility of the space. Both considerations inform the sketch design of a shared space to support distributed working in an organisation, in which the user is aided in ‘chance encounter’ with others, and in which the culture of the space is made more visible. Finally, these two issues are integrated in a manner which acknowledges the increasingly local use of the Internet, and the possibilities for virtual worlds to help support physical communities. The main concern that arises is the importance of encounters with others that are unplanned, but also appropriate, be they for work or for social reasons, resulting in face-to-face meeting.


Virtual World Virtual Community Virtual Space Physical Building Space Syntax 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Backhouse, A. & P. Drew (1992) The design implications of social interaction in a workplace setting. Environment and Planning B: Planning and Design, 19: 573–584.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. De Bure, G. (1992) Jean Nouvel, Emmanuel Cattani and Associates — Four projects. Artemis.Google Scholar
  3. Belanger, F. & R. Webb Collins (1998) Distributed Work Arrangements: A Research Framework. The Information Society, 14: 137–152.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Blanchard, A. & T. Horan (n.d.) Can we surf together if we’re bowling alone? An examination into virtual community’s impact on social capital. Paper presented at The American Sociological Association Session on the Internet and Social Change. Available online at Scholar
  5. Broughton, T., Coates, P. & H. Jackson (1998) Evolutionary Models of Space. Proc. Eurographics UK Conf., Leeds, UK, March 1998, 231–249.Google Scholar
  6. Carlsson, C. & O. Hagsand (1993) DIVE — A Platform for Multi-User Virtual Environments. Computers & Graphics, 17(6): 663–669.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Fitzpatrick, G., Mansfield, T. & S. M. Kaplan (1996) Locales Framework: Exploring foundations for collaboration support. IEEE Pro.c of the 6th Australian Conf. on Computer-Human Interaction (OZCHI‘96), Hamilton, NZ, pp. 34–41.Google Scholar
  8. Greenhalgh, C. & S. Benford (1995) MASSIVE: A Collaborative Virtual Environment for Tele-Conferencing. ACM Trans. On Computer-Human Interfaces, 2(3): 239–261.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Hillier, B. (1996) Space is the Machine: A configurational theory of architecture. Cambridge: CUP.Google Scholar
  10. Huxor, A. (1998) The Role of 3D Shared Worlds in Support of Chance Encounters in CSCW. Proc. of “Digital Convergence: The Future of the Internet and World Wide Web” Conf., Bradford UK, April 1998.Google Scholar
  11. Huxor, A. (1997) The Role of Virtual World Design in Collaborative Working”. Proc. Interactive Visualisation (IV’97), London, August 1997.Google Scholar
  12. Huxor, A. (1996) Virtual Realities, Media Landscapes, and Real Cityscapes. Proc. 3rd UKVRSIG Conf., De Montfort University, July 1996.Google Scholar
  13. Ingram, R., Bowers, J. & S. Benford (1996) Building Virtual Cities: Applying Urban Planning Principles to the Design of Virtual Environments. Proceedings of ACM VRST’96, Hong Kong, July 1996Google Scholar
  14. Isaacs, E. A., Tang, J. C. & T. Morris (1996) Piazza: A Desktop Environment Supporting Impromptu and Planned Interactions. Proc of the ACM Conf on Computer-Supported Cooperative Work, Boston, MA.Google Scholar
  15. Katz, J. E. & P. Aspden (1997) A Nation of Strangers? Communications of the ACM 40(12): 81–86.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Kraut, R. et al. (1998) Communication and Information: Alternative Uses of the Internet in Households. Proceedings of the Computer-Human Interaction (CHI) Conference, Los Angeles, April 1998, pp. 368–375.Google Scholar
  17. Lewis, P. F. (1996) A Feasibility Study of Implementing a Telecommuting Program at Booz●Allen and Hamilton. In Watson, R. T. & Bostrom, R. P. (eds.) Telecommuting’96. Electronic Proceedings, Scholar
  18. Line, L. & Syvertsen, T. G. (1996) Virtual Engineering Teams: Strategy and Implementation. In Turk, Z. (ed.) Construction on the Information Highway. Electronic Proceedings, http://www.fagg.uni-lj/bled96/Google Scholar
  19. Mayer, M. (1977) The Telephone and the Use of Time. In: de Sola Pool, I. (ed.) The Social Impact of the Telephone. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press.Google Scholar
  20. Rocco, E. (1998) Trust Breaks Down in Electronic Contexts but Can be Repaired by Some Initial Face-to-Face Contact. Proceedings of the Computer-Human Interaction (CHI) Conference, Los Angeles, April 1998, pp. 496–502.Google Scholar
  21. Scholtz, J., Bellotti, V., Schirra, L. Erickson, T., DeGroot, J. & Lund, A. (1998) Telework: When Your Job is On the Line. Interactions, January + February, 44–54.Google Scholar
  22. Weinreich, F. (1997) Establishing a point of view toward virtual communities. CMC Magazine, Feb. 1997. Available online htpp:// Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag/Wien 1998

Authors and Affiliations

  • Avon Huxor
    • 1
  1. 1.Centre for Electronic Arts, School of Art, Design and Performing ArtsMiddlesex UniversityBarnet, LondonUK

Personalised recommendations