Since Peace House has not yet secured a physical location on campus, it became my goal to create an outlet in which its functional development could begin occur outside of a concrete space on campus. By the time Peace House launches, it would therefore have a foundation of community recognition and support as well as an international presence. My original objectives were:
- To create a foothold for Peace House within the international community
- To research the skills and expertise required to successfully facilitate emotional discussions and creating comprehensive guidelines for discussants.
- To practice international dialogues on specific topics.
- To create an “audience for peace” on campus and promoting student involvement in Peace House through participation in the student work group.
To accomplish these goals, I decided to conduct an experiment of sorts in Peace-related spaces. Using the 3D virtual world known as Second Life, I designed and built a Perennial Peace Garden in UKisland, a space which is already used for classes and streaming of interactive activities at the University of Kentucky. My goal was to create a 3D learning environment, or a realistic simulation of the way a Peace space could function on our campus.
The first rough sketches of this space can be seen to the left. I wanted it to be circular because circular shapes give a sense of unity and cohesiveness. The pathways through the garden formed a wagon wheel, which was intended to roughly mirror the map of Lexington. New Circle Road and the roads that connect out to it (Nicholasville, Harrodsburg, Main, Broadway, etc), form a sort of wagon wheel. Highlighting four of these pathways also created a subtle peace sign in the design. I created space for twelve perennial flowerbeds, which the Avatars in Second Life could walk through while receiving interactive information about the Peace House Initiative at UK. Finally, the central courtyard space was created with group gatherings in mind. In its final form, the garden will link users to relevant sources from the “flat” web, track how many avatars use the space, and provide individual and group activities.