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16m Labyrinths virtual spaces master studio

Master Studio Summer Semester 2017 Institute of Architecture and Media TU Graz

Virtual Spaces Master Studio: 16m2 Labyrinths Summer Semester 2017 Institute of Architecture and Media, TU Graz

# VIRTUAL SPACES MASTER STUDIO The Virtual Spaces Master Studio is an experimental master design class given at the Institute of Architecture and Media of the Architecture Faculty of TU Graz. The 2017 VSMS was titled “16m2 Labyrinths” given the 4x4m tracking space of the HTC Vive Virtual Reality system that was used to develop the projects. The aim of the studio is to approach Virtual Reality as a choropoietic medium, instead of a representational one, and explore from an architectural perspective, the possibility of designing spatial experiences that don’t rely on physical materiality but are however sensible. Our focus of exploring the architectural aesthetic potential of this medium, was pursuit by a wide variety of methods implemented in the student projects, ranging from the design of spatial narratives, to navigable non-euclidean spaces and to more abstract experiences. Starting from the concept of the Labyrinth the studio investigated the geometrical, formal and organizational aspects of labyrinths and mazes, and also through key readings from both architecture and game studies, how such concepts can be applied to spatio-temporal interactive environments, as an intention of approaching the videogame medium with an architectural sensibility. The VSMS module includes besides the studio core taught by Constantinos Miltiadis and Prof. Urs Hirschberg, the electives: “Interdisciplinary Media” taught by Constantinos Miltiadis, and “Digital Form and Motion” taught by the external lecturer Oliver Reischl. The studio projects were developed using the Unity 3D game engine, along with an assortment of multiple low-poly modelling and image editing tools. The VR applications were developed and implemented for the HTC Vive.

Teaching Team Constantinos Miltiadis

Prof. Urs Hirschberg

Assistants Ludwig Grimm

Julian Jauk

Course website: Course blog:

Oliver Reischl


Petrit Vejseli Escape From The Unknown Contents Concept Storyboard Visual style Mood board Models References Trailer Earlier examples

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Concept Overall Aim The main idea was to create a captivating narrative and combine it with VR for a more immersive experience. Aſter being curious about AI and its critical role it will play in our future as modern society one asks himself when the difference between AI and human intelligence will be so minimal that the famous Turing test won´t be reliable method anymore. I put the player in a role of a robot- who doesn´t know that he is a robot. Aſter completing task aſter task – some meaningful, some mundane- it is revealed that the player has been a robot all along. The whole thing was just a test factory – in fact the player will never know if the escape wasn´t was test too. The perfect AI has to beat the Turing test everyday – the test never stops. It is an element of the everyday life. Further issues that i tried to tackle – or at least launch a discussion about would be ethics when it comes to machines. When they think like us, how long will it be till they feel like us? Machines are created solely to help humans. No issue there, till we give them intelligence- then the machine becomes a mechanical slave. If and how we could approach these ideas and issues – we will see in the future. As environment I chose contrasts. On the one hand you have the clean, white and tidy white labs – on the other hand you have the loud, dirty and industrial hallways and halls. With the help of VR it is much easier and better to set the player in a certain mood by changing the environment – with it the music, characters and lights. Furthermore it is possible to explore big structures just by using simple tricks – so even though there was a limit of 4x4m the spatial discovery was practically limitless.

As main tool for the narrative I used voices – since the tone itself can add much more to the story as plain text. The two side characters lead the actions of the player and drop hints about the intention of the game.


Story You find yourself in a bright room with bright walls. You are alone and have no idea where you are and what you are supposed to do. All of a sudden a female robotic voice comes through the speaker on the wall. Apparently this place is called Turing Labs and you started working here, You want to answer but somehow you are not able to speak, the voice implies that you will need time to heal - did you have an accident? You go to the next room - she guides you through your first tasks. She tells you to throw away a malfunctioning robot. As you go near the robot he starts speaking to you - he begs you to help him. In return he will help you escape. He tells you that this is a terrible place for you to be. You just need to give back his battery. Aſter doing so the female voice is not very happy- she is sending “help” and you should not get in contact with the robot anymore. Through the glassdoor you can see the next room- it is a beautiful huge hall, but before you can enter your robot friend finds another exit. If you stay wherever you are you will soon be carried away, so he convinces you to follow him. This new route brings you to a very different place - the bright colours and the clean white surfaces are gone. Instead you find dark and dirty places - you are now behind the scenes of Turing Labs. The further you go the more you see robots - getting transported and coming out of the giant robot hall you find. You get the impression that there is something terribly wrong with this place - and also with you. Together with the robot companion you search not only for the way out of this place but also try to find out who you are.

All levels - topview















Visual style



Mood board







Topic wise my most valuable and maybe most obvious inspiration is the movie ExMachina (2014) by Alex Garland. The movie is about a turing test and how it can be passed by an AI. It also reflects on the notion that to pass the test, you need to lie. So the final test we give our machines is to lie to us.

Portal (2007) and especially Portal 2 (2011) influenced not only the NPCs in the game but also the principle of contrast in leveldesign. There you also start in a very sterile laboratory and the more you advance the more you see “behind the scenes”. The principle of having that – oh I found something or I am somewhere where I don´t belong – makes the player feel more accomplished and awakes the interest. The leveldesign combined with personality of Glados – the main villain- the story and let you forget about mundane passages. Glados itself is a prime example of how one NPC with well balanced personality and a special sense if humor can make palying a game enjoyable.

One medium that probably influenced every work of science fiction and AI is the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) by Stanley Kubrick. Especially HAL , the AI on the spaceship, was inspirational for obvious reasons. His sense of right and wrong is very questionable but in some understandable. His actions point to ethical issues and how AI should or should not handle them.



Blade Runner


Half Life 2





Earlier examples Early Concept They early concept focused more on the mechanics of the game. Grabbing/manipulating and assembling objects was a main factor in the first ideas. Later the spatial moods and narrative elements became central keys. Models and the overall quality of the light was improved.


EventBoard 2


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Intro After an accident you wake up in a labroom. This is your new job, sadly you had an accident and cant talk at the moment. Through the speakers a woman with a friendly voice gives you instructons to your tasks.


Repair the Robot While cleaning a room a robot - or at least part of a robot- begs you to repair him and not throw him away. He tells you that you are in a horrible place and that they will never let ou out. After a bit of thinking you desice to help him.


Escape The female voice gets very angry at you for reparing the robot and closes down the room you are in. After the robot causes a short circuit you escape through dark corridors which are the opposite of the clean and white surfaces of the lab you were before.


A robot factory


Destroy the factory After destroying the batteries you manage to escape through the production hall to ge to the elevator.


Reflection You are a robot. This was not only a robot manufacturing facory but also a AI conditioning lab.


First Trailer


Virtual Spaces Master Studio: 16m2 Labyrinths Summer Semester 2017 Institute of Architecture and Media, TU Graz

VSMS 2017 | Petrit Vesjeli - Escape from the Unknown  

Documentation of the project "Escape from the Unknown" by Petrit Vesjeli for the Virtual Spaces Master Studio 2017

VSMS 2017 | Petrit Vesjeli - Escape from the Unknown  

Documentation of the project "Escape from the Unknown" by Petrit Vesjeli for the Virtual Spaces Master Studio 2017