Monday, 27 August 2007

Al Goes to Church

Phew! Well that's a lot of Japanese sites visited in the last few days. I think it's time to come a bit closer to home. My ramblings today took the form of an invitation to the opening of a virtual church. But this is not just any church, this is the Koelner Dom - Cologne Cathedral. A massive building in Real Life, it survived the WWII bombing of Cologne (though not unscathed) because its sheer size made it a great visual indicator for the pathfinders looking to bomb the German industrial heartland, the Ruhr.

The RL building was started over 800 years ago, but was not completed until 1880 - a grand total of 632 years in the making. The SL building, on the Koelner Dom sim, took rather less time. Even so it is (or so I'm told) a 15,000 prim construction. If you are not familiar with SL construction, you will need to take it from me that that is - well - simply huge. I'm not sure that it is that big (yet), since in the current phase it still needs a lot of the interior work completing - a task that will be carried out over the next few weeks. But I can assure you, it is huge!

So what's it like? Well, I took a huge number of pictures (click on each for blowups):

And the interior:

My guide was my friend Piper Pitney, a resident of Cologne, who assured me that this is a stunningly good rendering of the Real Life cathedral - a view borne out in a conversation with another friend who also knows the building well. The quality of the imported textures and graphics, and of the overall construction itself, is something to behold. I hope my piccies give you at least an idea of it.

If you plan to visit, try and do so between 11:00 and 13:00 PDT (SLT), as the sim may otherwise be closed, while the remainder of the work is completed (and to protect against griefers). On the plus side, you stand to get a guided tour from one the Virtuelles Koeln team. The project itself is the product of Seminal3D, a Cologne-based build company whose work I have not seen before, while communications were provided by Medeya.

I have not used the word in a while, so I think I can get away with it... for the city of Cologne the Dom is an iconic building. It is therefore understandable why it forms the centrepiece of a more substantial, multi-sim build. This is still early days, but I understand the next large-scale phase will add more familiar Cologne landmarks - and start to encourage virtual businesses to come and set up shop. However, that is still some months away. In the meantime come and marvel.

I know that replicating RL buildings is not to everyone's taste. But I would hope you'd agree that if it is done, then it should be done well. And this is certainly done well!

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