trees of Furillen

Trees are a vital part of Furillen’s look.

There is the distinctive double tree line next to the main building …


The lone, twisted tree on the slag heap …

Return of the Tree

The windswept tree bent over the airstream …

At Furillen

The tree on the eastern edge of the sim, which has taken three different forms, from the initial bare tree …

A Tree at Furillen

the rather wonderful Christmas tree …

A friend

and now, the heart-shaped tree that will – soon enough – show signs of spring growth …

new year b

Then there is the tree next to the lake …


The tree facing south, next to the big rock …


There is the tree facing west, next to the railway carts…

We also had a special ‘eco’ Christmas tree, which was a gift from Soyoy …

New light for new times

And finally, a tree that few people seem to notice, in the quarry area …

quarry tree a

With the exception of the tree line, all of these trees are solitary, distinctive, barren.

They suggest that while organic life is certainly possible on this concrete wasteland, it will never grow in abundance.

Reach out

Slim pickings for passing birds.




nothing but concrete

From photographs, the real Furillen looks like an industrial wasteland of rough shingle and grey concrete dust. There are plants, flowers and trees, but even these appear to be from the wrong side of an apocalypse. Just my kind of place …


Although few people pass comment on the ground textures at the Second Life version of Furillen, they are – alongside lighting and geometry – crucial to giving the sim its particular atmosphere and feel. What I did here was quite unusual, although certainly not original.

I went for complete uniformity.

Nothing but concrete, everywhere …

slag heaps 01_009

When designing a sim in Second Life you can set the texture of the ground at four different levels. I have the same setting on every level, using an identical concrete texture everywhere – even on the slag heaps.

The exact texture I use has changed over time. I started with a realistic concrete – very grey – but although this looked fine in some light, there was a repeat to it that looked too obvious, especially on low graphics.


Then, until recently, I opted for a creamier concrete mix, with a grungy tinge to it that was good in most light and graphics settings.

Although some people mistook this for snow – and why not, given that the stuff falls constantly at Furillen – it gave the sim a slight weirdness, an air of unreality, that was difficult to pin down.

When the light settings were changed recently, the subtle repeat in this texture showed through more: it looked stripy.

So I changed the mix. There is now a seamless concrete texture.

surreal land a

To me, in this light, the sim looks more surreal than ever.

grounded b

those chairs

I would love to claim credit for the line of chairs on the pier, which add a touch of colour, texture and chaos to the monochrome environment of concrete and snow. But like most of Furillen’s best bits, I took my inspiration from the real Furillen. Having said this, I don’t know whether these chairs are a permanent feature of the real island or – more likely – were a temporary art installation or photo op.


In a slight deviation from the arrangement pictured above, I placed my version of the chairs further right, on the pier. To my eye they work better there, providing a focus of their own – and leaving the airstream to bask in its own glory.

The show...


chair 01_016

Although they are not easy to capture in pictures – something odd happens with the LOD – the chairs are so popular that they now have their own Flickr group. There are many very creative images of them, either empty or with one or two people sitting.

But one of my abiding memories of the early days at Furillen is when Mich Michabo turned up and invited a group of her friends to sit. The result was deliciously surreal.




Most visitors to Furillen comment on the wide open spaces. Some see the emptiness as beautiful, while others see it as desolate, dystopian or even depressing. But all agree that this sense of space defines the sim and explains its impact. Look beyond this, however, and there are other sides to Furillen, such as those found in the rooms of the main building. When I first built the sim, these were designed as standard hotel rooms, but this quickly became quite repetitive and predictable. While one or two such rooms remain, the other rooms have been given up to small-scale ‘installations’, usually featuring furniture of one kind or another alongside other objects that are less likely to be found in a hotel.

Everything here is about simplicity and detail: the precise arrangement of objects in a tightly defined space. These are, I think, the perfect counterpoint to the vast empty spaces elsewhere on the sim.

To me at least, these are like two sides of the same – minimalist – coin.

the cutting room 01_010


In terms of its basic structure, Furillen was built in around two weeks.

I planned the sim by mapping out the lines running north to south (the pier) and east to west (the trees; the electricity poles). Every structure, slag heap, tree and road was represented by a single prim block. The sim’s underlying symmetry may be difficult to see now, but it is there.

Besides distinct geometrical form, I was striving for a stark, austere atmosphere that I could see in the real Furillen. This proved more difficult to achieve, because every building I initially placed on the sim was in the ‘shabby chic’ style that is now popular in Second Life. Too cute for Furillen …

Then I found the central building of the sim, made by Soyoy. This is not cute. If anything, it is anti-cute.

soy hotel a