Students from Dulwich High School of Visual Arts and Design were asked to write a report on how historical and/or contemporary architectural design informs their design choices in the virtual world. The example below by Jason (Year 10), illustrates the depth of thinking and understanding that students are engaging in for this task.

“This is my process so far. I started researching information on human behaviour, before working on my idea for “A Tale of Two Cities”. I was also fascinated with the behaviour of animals and insects and I have found in many ways, we are not so different. Research has shown that depression levels are rising every year and I heard from my PE teacher that depression will be the No.1 killer in 50 years. Apart from all the stress levels in keeping up with technology and trends (this is more of an opinion than fact) I believe it has a massive connection to loneliness and isolation. My house is an example. When Richard Goodwin came to talk to us about architecture, he said something that caught my attention. He explained that the happiness levels of people who lived in a crowed area were higher when compared to people who lived on farms. I agree with his statement because I came from a very populated and compacted background. When I lived in Shanghai, China, there were a lot more people and people were a lot closer to each other. Logically this meant people communicated more frequently. At times, I had never thought there were too many people because we were more focused on how to communicate and interact with one and another, to give each other company and use that as an advantage or stress relief.

This is very different to where I live now. (This is an opinion, I have nothing against Australia). Just based on my apartment now, I barely talk to my neighbour. It is very jail-like, but I do feel a sense of relief when I’m on my balcony compared to living in China. So getting back to the project, I realised I should design a structure that can keep people occupied and socialised in a more healthy and simple way. I was deeply inspired by the movies (Wall-E) and (Meet the Robinsons). I think we should have a system where people can talk to one and another face to face physically but just as easily as Facebook or MSN. I believe providing an open space in a high area is important. We feel differently when we are in height. I think colours of the structure should be simple and plain because I want to put the focus on the people: I want to make ‘us’ the piece of artwork. Fashion will be so crazy in 50 years, I want to make every wall white for the runway, providing a monochromatic frame. I have defined the term “A Tale of Two Cities” and I have very different thoughts to my working buddy (Paolo). He believes it is about a building with two sections, up high and and contrast between the two. It’s like leaving Africa and entering Japan sort of feeling.

In conclusion, I think saying you have a house does not mean you have a home. I’m trying to develop this network, more like ‘a tree of life’ that reaches in every direction and yet so compact. Just like the ‘home tree’ in Avatar. It will provide opportunities for everyone, entertainment, education, inspiration, personal space for individuals and also be populated enough for socialisation. It should contain both past, present and future tastes in all areas. It should be sustainable, rather than expending on the (X) axis, it rises to the (Y) axis. I would like the structure to have a constant movement of motion like our brain, beehive or an infinity cycle. It should be a place where art and science bond as one.” – Jason