Toward a Taxonomy of Contemporary Spatial Regimes

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The current coalescence of virtual reality, architecture, and experiential design is a vibrant space of theory and practice. As new technologies become even more efficient and affordable in the coming years, this intertextuality will only increase in focus. Both broader lay user adoption and transformations in architectural practice suggest a near-future in which our environments for living, work, and play are increasingly conceived virtually, constructed virtually, and also augmented virtually. This world has been a long time coming. There is a lineage of developments both technological and cultural that span the twentieth and twenty-first centuries which have steadily moved us away from an architectonic, programmatic spatial regime and towards the holistic construct of game engine software and the immersive nature of virtual interactions. We characterize this as an evolution of the human relationship to the image, which was changed irrevocably with the introduction of the cinema. This article briefly describes a shared post-cinema humanity: the intertwined history of animation, motion pictures, themed spaces, video games, and now the game engine and virtual reality (VR). We posit that beginning in the 1920s, four spatial regimes beyond traditional architecture have evolved: the filmic, thematic, electronic, and holistic. It is our desire that this preliminary framework will provoke new dialog around the intermingling of built and virtual spaces in the context of architectural displacement and cinematic subsumption.