Visiting the Sakura Linden Home regions in Second Life

Sakura Linden Homes – Shobu Community Centre, May 2022

On Monday, May 16th, just a month after their preview, Linden Lab released the Sakura Linden Homes theme for Premium subscribers. Thanks to the prior April preview, I’ve already offered something of an overview and thoughts on the house designs within Linden Homes: Asian theme in Second Life, so what follows is a very brief recap on them, followed by more of a look at the Sakura regions as a whole, and my thoughts on now having seen the regions.

Overall, the theme is offered with both 1024 sq m and 512 sq m parcels, with a total of 8 house designs split between 4 styles (each style having two versions, one with multiple rooms, the other with fewer rooms and something of a more open-plan feel). Some of the designs are specific to the 1024 sq m parcel size, but the smaller designs are available on both 1024 and 512 sq m parcels.

Sakura Linden Homes Theme with Mount Soji on the horizon

The houses are predominantly single-floor units, with only the Himawari / Haibisukasu (available on both 512 sq and 1024 sq m parcels) and the Kaneshon / Kuchinashi (available on 1024 sq m parcels only) having upper floors.

By default the outer walls of all the designs have been given stucco / plaster finish, and all have the typical steep tiled roofs we in the west identify with this style of house. The majority of doors are of the sliding variety, either fully glazed and set between glazed window panels, or for a degree of privacy between rooms, may be opaquely screened. I assume they include the same decorating options found in the more recent Linden home releases.

Sakura Linden Homes – Shobu Community Centre, May 2022

I confess that on first seeing the house designs, I couldn’t help be feel the variants with multiple rooms tended to feel as if their interior spaces were a little cramped and in places awkward. Some of the designs still leave me felling that way, but I confess to have changed my mind somewhat on others – the Shion, for example, with its central “courtyard” potentially offers a lot of opportunities for the imaginative interior designer.

The Sakura regions offer a mix of roads and waterways running through the regions, with the houses arranged in informal “blocks” between them such that the majority of properties either face onto either a road or waterway (and in some cases both), even if they don’t provide fully open access to due to a strip / belt of intervening protected land. The roads are similar in nature to those within the Newbrooke theme regions and cross the waterways using relatively low bridges (compared to some other bridge designs seen across Bellisseria), potentially limiting the waterways to smaller water vehicles – which as actually no bad thing; who really wants a honking great cruiser crowding its way inland?

Sakura Linden Homes, May 2022

As I noted with my preview piece, the waterways all have their own footpaths running alongside them, giving them something of a canal-like feel and offering the opportunity for waterside walks. Garden spaces both on land and on the water in places), ponds and copses help to break up the houses and provide a sense of space, while both roads and waterways have periodic rez zones for vehicles. A nice touch with some of the roads is that, rather than ending short of a waterway, they actually slope down into the water quite handy if you have an amphibious road vehicle or wish to drive your boat to the water on a trailer!

However, the most attractive parts of the Sakura theme come in the presence of Mount Soji and the Shobu community centre and surrounding gardens.

Sakura Linden Homes – Shobu Community Centre railway station, May 2022
Mount Soji, seen in most of the images here, is a four-region snow-capped peak that bears something of a resemblance to Mount Fuji. It’s defined as a park, but could perhaps do with a little more flora around its lower slopes (LI allowing) – which I hope will come, as it does make for an eye-catching backdrop, one that is quite unique among the Linden Homes regions.

Shobu, meanwhile, is perhaps the most attractive community centre yet provided for a Linden Homes theme – and I’m speaking as someone who really likes the Fantasy theme community centre. It presents a marvellous mix of gardens, waterways, footpaths (complete with Torii gates), places to sit, places to meditate, water gardens and features, trees, and its own railway station (although the tracks don’t, as yet, run very far).

Sakura Linden Homes, May 2022

Within all this, the community centre itself sits as a grand, modern take on a feudal palace of old, complete with its own waterway sitting within cloister-like covered walkways. Shoji-style lanterns light the large, airy rooms inside the centre whilst stairways within either wing of the centre provide access to two rooftop spaces.

Approachable by road or water (or, eventually, I assume, rail), it’s a superbly considered design; the surrounding gardens offering an engaging series of walks. And, having been built as a part of the initial development of the theme, it very much sits at the heart of it, rather than feeling a little pushed to one side, as has been the case with the community centres for some Linden Home themes.

Sakura Linden Homes – Shobu Community Centre, May 2022

Taken as a whole, the Sakura theme – allowing for the caveat on room sizes in some of the designs (which in fairness applies to some of the other themes, such as Newbrooke and Victorian, IMHO) – is one of the more visually engaging and attractive Linden Home environments, particularly with this initial release built around Mount Soji and the Shobu Community Centre. So much so, that I’m actually tempted to make the jump from Newbrooke!

SLurl Details

Linden Homes: Asian theme in Second Life

Linden Homes: Sakura Theme preview, April 2022

On Friday, April 15th, Linden Lab opened four preview regions featuring the upcoming Linden Homes Asian Theme. In all, 16 styles are to be provided, broadly split into into two groups of 8 apiece: those with rooms throughout and those of a more open-plan nature. Also, and like the Newbrooke theme (see here for more), they are also offered with either 512 sq m or 1024 sq m parcels.

While I have not been able to confirm this, these being preview regions, I assume the 1024 sq m parcels provide a choice of both the 512 sq m and 1024 sq m designs, with 512 sq m parcels obviously restricted to the smaller footprint designs.

Although defined as “Asian” in theme, these could also be referred to as “Japanese”: the overall theme name is Sakura (cherry tree/blossom), with each house style given a distinctly Japanese name (Ajisai = hydrangea; Botan = button, Himawari = sunflower; Kosumosu  = cosmos, etc.). They are presented in a typical (to western eyes at least) urban-residential style, the houses built around a network of roads. However, sharing the regions with houses and roads are navigable waterways and canals that give the regions a nice set of options for exploration, with rez zones to be found on both land and water.

Linden Homes: Sakura Theme preview, April 2022 (nearest to furthest) – Himawari/Haibisukasu, Ajisai/Asagao and Kaneshon/Kuchinashi

A nice element of the regions is that many of the waterways are bounded by footpaths, making for gentle walks, whilst elsewhere water gardens have been created to further break up the landscape.

The houses themselves are predominantly single-floor units with stucco walls (by default at least) and the typical steep tiled roofs common to this style of home. The majority of doors are of the sliding variety, their glass either fully glazed or, or give privacy between rooms, fitted with opaque panels. I assume they include the same decorating options found in the more recent Linden home releases.

In all the, the styles of the Sakura comprise:

  • Ajisai (1024 sq m): a front entrance opening off of a full-length front porch and providing access to a hallway extending to wings at either end. One of these forms a large single room, with other forms three rooms, one to the front, two the rear, one of which provides access to the rear aspect, shared by doors from the main room and the hallway.
    • Asagao: an open-plan version of Ajisai with a large L-shaped room and second large room occupying the second wing.
  • Botan and (512 sq m): providing a front entrance to one side with vestibule accessing three interconnected rooms running front-to-rear.
    • Benibara: an open-plan version to Botan with a single large room and smaller room to the front aspect.
  • Himawari (512 sq m): front entrance providing access to four ground floor rooms, three of which are linked, with the fourth separate and to the front aspect. Stairs provide access to two upper floor rooms.
    • Haibisukasu: an open-plan version of Himawari in which two of the ground floor rooms have been linked to form a single large room.
  • Kaneshon (1024 sq m): a large house with front entrance leading to a hallway with stairs to a galleried landing. Four interlinked rooms run around the ground floor, separated by sliding doors. Upstairs, the landing provides access to two rooms, one at either end of the landing.
    • Kuchinashi: an open-plan version of Kaneshon with a large primary room downstairs with separate room to one side. Upstairs features an open-plan gallery room and a single room behind it.
Linden Homes: Sakura Theme preview, April 2022: Renge/Rabenda and Kosumosu/Kinmokusei
  • Kosumosu (512 sq m): a square house with front entrance leading to a large front-to-rear main room with two rooms opening off of it to one side.
    • Kinmokusei: an open-plan version of Kosumosu with a large L-shaped room and single small room with views to the front and sides.
  • Renge (1024 sq m): a front entrance and hall opening out into front room split into two by an open arch, with hall to the rear and side hall accessing two further rooms.
    • Rabenda: an open-pan version of Renge with a large main room with doors to the rear aspect, and two rooms to one side, one reached via a short hall.
  • Shion (1024 sq m): A square house built around a central “courtyard”. A front hall accesses a single room to the front aspect a large room to one side, a second room to the other and a further room to the rear aspect.
    • Sumaire: an open-plan version of Shion with a single large main room surrounding the central “courtyard” with two smaller rooms opening off of it to the rear aspect.
  • Tenjikubotan (512 sq m): a front entrance accessing a perpendicular hallway leading to three linked rooms, one running front-to-back, and two to the rear aspect.
    • Tsubaki: a single large L-shaped room and second room to the front aspect.

In terms of room arrangement / shape, I have to say the styles with rooms felt to me to be a little cramped, and I couldn’t help but wonder how crowded they might feel once furnished. This is an issue I’ve also had with some of the smaller Newbrooke houses. However, given that Asian / Oriental has been a frequently requested theme for Bellisseria, the Sakura range will hopefully meet with the approval of those who have been requesting the theme – and it is certainly a considerable improvement over the original Oriental / Japanese themed Linden Homes – perhaps more so than is the with the Newbrooke when compared with the original Meadowbank style of Linden Home from 2010.

Linden Homes: Sakura Theme preview, April 2022

I’ve no idea how long the preview regions will be open for, or when the Sakura will be made available. For now the SLurls to the preview regions are below, and I’ll have more to say when the theme is released.

SLurl Details

All the preview regions are rated Moderate

Bellisseria’s third anniversary in Second Life

Bellisseria – when it opened in 2019 – blog post

Friday April 15th through Sunday, April 17th 2022, will see the Linden Homes continent of Bellisseria and its residents celebrate the third anniversary of the continent’s opening in April 2019.

Conceived as an enhancement to the Premium Subscription option for users and to replace the original (and smaller) Linden Homes and lands first introduced in 2010, Bellisseria was developed from the start as a means to both present a better product to Premium users and encourage the development of more of a community spirit among those leveraging their ability to obtain one of the homes.

The four styles of the Bellisseria Camper and Trailer homes, the first theme to offer a mix of 512 and 1024 sq m designs, June 2019.

The opening of the continent came with the release of “Traditional” Homes and Houseboats – the latter being perhaps still being the most popular (and most versatile) of the designed released to date. Initially sitting to the south of the Sansara continent, Bellisseria has grown over the last three years, generally as a periodic result of the release of new Linden Home themes. As such, it initially stretched south to connect to Jeogeot, providing the means to not just travel by air / sea from Sansara through Bellisseria to Jeogeot, but to travel down the entire western continents from Heterocera on down.

More recently, Bellisseria has extended east and north, not as a contiguous landmass but as what might be regarded as “sub continents” defined by Linden Home themes: Silt Homes, Fantasy, Chalet and Newbrooke. This has allowed the continent to form a bridge with Satori. As I and others have tracked through blogs posts and reports over the last three years, each theme has brought with it entire environments for residents to enjoy, local facilities such as swimming pools, themed community centres and individual features and updates compared to previous releases.

The Bellisseria railway has proven to be popular with locals and visitors

While the development of distinctly-themed environments for the various themes has been understandable, it has – combined with overall demand for individual themes – lead to Bellisseria as a whole becoming somewhat disjointed in form when compared to other continents. This is most clearly noticeable when looking at the continent on the map, where unfinished coastlines remain – something that will hopefully be dealt with as Bellisseria continues to mature and as the final planned themes are deployed, allowing the LDPWs to complete any remaining nips and tucks that might be needed.

In terms of inviting a sense of community, there can be no denying the success Bellisseria has attained – the Bellisseria Citizen’s group is one of the most active on my list of groups, and I’m aware of around 24 other in-world groups focused specifically on Bellisseria.

Community Centres have been at the heart of several of the released Linden Homes themes, including the impressive Fantasy Themes centre

The continent has also seen the Linden Department of Public Works and Bellisseria residents establish a mutual exchange of ideas; suggestions voiced by the latter from the start were taken on-board by the Lab and acted upon wherever possible; I well remember (and not saying I was alone in this or that it was my comment that caused it) passing a comment in the early days that Bellisseria could benefit from airstrips for those of us who enjoy flying – and a few days later, one popped-up just of the east coast. This plus requests for more rez zones in general and for things like home security systems helped cement the community / LPDW relationship.

The community has also given rise to its own ecosystem of activities, from the Bellisserian Bureau of Bureaucracy and passports, to people presenting their homes as local social centres, cafés, and boutique galleries – or simply opening them to the public as examples of what could be done with the different themes and styles in terms of general décor. It’s an ecosystem that has also extended to the Marketplace, with an expanding range of options and additions being offered to those wishing to modify or extend their homes.

One of the public spaces within the Victorian Homes regions

For my part, I’m not that active in the Bellisseria community, although I try to keep an eye on things. However, since the Homes first arrived, I’ve made use of three of the themes – the Houseboat, Stilt and Newbrooke – all of which I’ve found appealing and well suited to modding and making into comfortable homes. I’ve also written up some ideas for using rezzing systems to make using individual house styles easier and for quick swapping between styles. I’ve even been cheeky enough to model one of the house styles for my personal use!

Of the three, the Houseboat probably remains my favourite; in part because it offered the most flexibility for what I wanted to achieve, but also because I was lucky enough to grab one in a region of low density – just nine houseboats – and which didn’t seem to impact general performance. Next to this I’d place the Stilt Home, with the Newbrooke coming up third – but only because it’s the location that hits my viewer the hardest.

Third Anniversary

For the third anniversary weekend, events will be focused on the Bellisseria Fairgrounds, the venue for events and activities in the region. It will play host to a range of entertainment (see below), and also the starting point / location for a number of activities, including:

  •  How well do you know your moles contest? Name the moles (in their human form) as pictured on the board and win one of five L$500 Gift Card prizes.
  • Bellisseria Easter Egg Quest – win a Bellisseria anniversary cap.
  • The Moles special Bellisseria 3rd Anniversary Display Area.
  • Three different styles of Linden Home to offer suggestions for interior décor to residents – and to show non-Premium members what some of the homes are like from the inside.
  • Take a scheduled air tour of the continent, courtesy of H. Quimby Aviation.
A Linden Homes caravan is one of the style on display at the third anniversary celebrations

Schedule of Entertainment

All times SLT.

  • Friday, April 15th:
    • 10:00 – 10:15: Patch Linden Opening Speech (have voice turned on but microphones muted)
    • 10:15 – 11:30: DJ Krys rocks the fairgrounds.
    • 11:30 – 13:00: Dj Floyd hits the stage for more party tunes.
    • 13:00 – 14:00: live music – Reality? Maybe.
    • 17:00 – 19:00: Hooten Haller Contra Folk Dance.
  • Saturday, April 16th:
    • 10:00 – 11:00: DJ Freddie starts the day of celebration.
    • 11:00 – noon: Mole versus Residents boat race.
    • Noon – 13:00: DJ Stephanie continues the festivities!
    • 13:00 – 14:00: The Greatest Showman Particle Show by Delain Canucci
    • 19:00 – 21:00: DJ Dulcinea will bring in the evening with some spectacular sounds!
  • Sunday, Aril 17th:
    • 10:00 – 11:30: DJ Chuckey brings in some Easter Celebration.
    • 11:30 – 13:30: Hooten Haller Contra Folk Dance.
    • 13:30 – 15:00: DJ Fuyuko picks up the tunes and the party rocks on.
    • 15:00 – 17:00: DJ Gabi will bring the celebrations to their height and close it out with fireworks.

The 3rd anniversary celebrations are open to all, not just Bellisseria residents. So, if you’re curious about the continent, its homes and its residents, why not hop over and join the fun?

A further look at the Newbrooke Linden Homes Theme

Newbrooke – Coniston rear view

On Thursday, March 3rd, Linden Lab released the Newbrooke theme of Premium Membership Linden homes, which I’d previously previewed in December 2021, and took another quick look at the release just after it was announced.

As noted in the latter of the above two articles, the preview was very quickly withdrawn for “updates” – although I could (on the surface at least) see what was different between the release versions and those in the preview. Anyway, for only the third time since Bellisseria – the “home continent” for Linden Homes started rolling out, the new designs were enough to encourage me to make the move (I’ve previously held a houseboat – which I personally feel is still the best of the themes when it comes to making something of a unique mini-home in SL, as they offer the broadest opportunities for modding their interiors with additional walls, floors, etc., – and a Stilt Home.

The “good” points about these houses are the fact they are very light and airy – a lot of windows, and a good set of variants in overall style; the mix of houses sized for a 512sq m parcel sitting on a 1024 sq m parcel offers plenty of exterior scope – and some are already starting to take advantage of that. As well as the various house styles, these home come with there own contents pack, which includes a range of furnishings (indoor and out), all very basic and nothing to write home about; together with plants and planets and things like additional wall / fence panels for those who wish to either add a boundary to their land or do something else with them (patio walls, exterior dividers, etc.).

One thing that did strike me as new – although not having held a Chalet theme home and not being a regular on the SL forums, I’ve no idea if this is new to the Newbrooke Theme, or first surfaced with the Chalets – is the updated means of changing the colours of the interior walls directly through the use of RGB codes or the use of a colour picker HUD in addition to the usual selection of colour presets presented by a dialogue box.

The personal colour options for re-tinting the internal wall of the rooms in each house style

As with the pre-sets, the custom colours option works on a per-room basis, and is accessed via the My Colors button in the dialogue displayed by the house controller panel. For those with Linden Homes who have not previously seen this, the image above provides an overview.  The only addition is that when you click the Type <RGB> button, an input dialogue is displayed, requesting the desired RGB values.

Obtaining one of the homes also gave me a light bulb moment as to why these have been referred to as “container homes”. This is because as well as changing the exterior wall colours (as per other Linden Homes I’m familiar with through ownership) you can change the appearance to the finish of some of the wall elements – which I think is new with this release as an option. The three choices are: stucco (default on rezzing), wood, and metal (hence “container”).

I have to admit that while an interesting ability, I found both the wood and metal finishes a little two “bleah” for my tastes; to my eyes the panels of the forms looks to be too big and the materials finish overblown, and the metal just made the place look weird. As with all the exterior options – colour changing for the brickwork, etc., – these three options are available as presets on the house control dialogue menus.

The three exterior finishes (brickwork is also moddable, but not changed in these images): top – stucco; middle – wood; bottom – metal

After having spent the better part of a day trying to find the best “fit” with the Newbrooke styles (all eight of them), I settled on the Coniston, a 1024 sq m design as initially best suiting my needs – although I am also swayed towards the Heaton as well.

With its large central through-room, the Coniston offered me plenty of space for a living area, display cabinets and a fireplace – and one of my grand pianos. Similarly the second through-room provides a good amount of space for a kitchen and dining area. That said I have to admit to finding some of the rooms in most of the designs to being cramped.

The main room of the Newbrooke – admittedly re-floored

Within the Coniston, for the example, the smallest room looks to make an ideal bathroom – except that when it came to furnishing it, I found myself hearing the imaginary voice of an estate agent (realtor) saying, “Now this is the bathroom. As you can see, there’s room for a toilet and either a vanity unit or a bath…”  While I got things fitted, I did find myself wondering if part of the room size “problem” is down to camera positioning, and the difference between the official viewer’s default and the adjusted, over-the-shoulder views most seasoned users employ, and which can result in cameras ending up on the wrong side of walls in small rooms.

Another slight issue for me with these houses is the use of materials – not that I have anything against materials; it’s just that in places, these do seem overly pronounced  – such as the floorboards, the individual planks of which struck my as looking either poorly laid or poorly finished. Of course, this is somewhat including with the “Contain homes” aspect of the theme – but it would have been nice to have something a little more – graceful – as an option. As it is, I opted to lay my own floors, which can be seen in the images here.

The kitchen with a personal flooring and a divider originally created for the Windlass Houseboat

As is to be expected with a new release of Linden Homes, creators are already busy producing add-on kits for the various styles of Newbrooke homes – and doubtless more will be added in time. However, these are house than anyone with a modicum of building capability can have fun playing with.

But enough for now; suffice it to say, the Newbrooke homes do have a lot going for them, and I’ll likely retain mine for a while, and will likely have a play with at least the Heaton style as well!

 

Linden Homes Newbrooke theme released in Second Life

Newbrooke Linden Home Theme

On Thursday, March 3rd, Linden Lab released the Newbrooke theme of Premium Membership Linden homes.

Our concept of a modern container home community is stylish, warm, and inviting, while being nestled in a contemporary setting of rolling hills peppered with small lakes, ponds, and public pools.
All of the Newbrooke regions are offered in both 1024sqm and 512sqm sized parcels.   In total, there are 8 stylish house models to choose from, and the smaller 512sqm parcel homes can also be placed on a 1024sqm parcel, giving you a larger outdoor area.

from the announcement on the release

The Newbrooke was first previewed in December 2021 during the Christmas Expo (see: Previewing the Linden Homes “Newbrooke” theme) only to be somewhat quickly withdrawn for “update” following some unfavourable feedback. I’m not sure what the problem was with the theme – whilst somewhat reminiscent of the Meadowbank theme of the original Linden Homes, I personally felt this theme have a good amount going for it.

Although largely land in nature, the Newbrooke theme regions do include a number of lakes of various sizes

I’m not entirely sure what has changed with the theme since its preview; from my wandering around I couldn’t see that much that has changed (keeping in mind the preview was just a single region, so hard to judge the overall environment). Certainly, the houses all appear to be the same models – a total of eight styles, split between four designs requiring 1024 sq m parcels and four that can be used on either 512 sq m parcels or on the 1024 sq m parcels:

Styles available for both 512 sq m and 1024 sq m Parcels

  • Denver: a single-storey rectangular design with a central front entrance directly accessing a large main room with doors to the side aspect covered terrace, and a front hallway accessing two further rooms.
  • Ender: a two-storey property featuring a large open-plan ground floor with a single bedroom upstairs, together with a large landing that provides access to a balcony at the front of the house.
  • Faraday: a single-storey house with central front entrance opening onto the main central room with doors to the rear patio.  This main room is flanked by two rooms to one side and an open-plan space to the other, which also provides access to a third room.
  • Gatewood: a two-storey house with front entrance and vestibule opening onto the main room, with a smaller room opening off of it to one side. A staircase leads up to a single bedroom with doors opening onto a large rooftop balcony with views to three sides.
One of the communal swimming pools to be found among the Newbrooke theme houses

Styles Requiring 1024 sq m Parcels

  • Bradbury: a single-storey house with a large central main room with multiple doors to the rear aspect accessing the patio and an open plan extension to one side that could be split into a separate room. Two further rooms open off of the other side of the front door for additional space.
  • Aldridge: a boxy, two-storey house with a patio running the full length of one side and two-thirds of a second side,  each side providing access to the main ground floor room together with the front door. The latter accesses the room via an open-plan vestibule that incorporates the stairs and a door to a single ground-floor side room. The L-shaped landing at the top of the stairs provides access to three further rooms.
  • Coniston: a single-storey unit with front entrance accessing a large central room with four rooms / spaces opening off of it. There is a small room with a view to the front aspect, two rooms with views to one side, one of which has doors to the rear patio – as does the main room. Facing these two rooms from across the main room is an open-plan extension that could be divided into a separate room, if required.
  • Heaton: a large two-storey house with the front door opening onto the main room with two sets of doors to the rear patio. Dogleg stairs provide access to an upper hall with two rooms opening off of it with views to the rear. A ground floor hall with windows to the front aspect provides access to an open-plan space with a further room opening off of it to the front.
Faraday Style – Newbrooke Theme

Given the split of houses, when ordering through the website, make sure you request the correct parcel sizes to suit your needs!

As I noted in my preview piece, whether or not these “container” style homes are somewhat inspired by Meadowbrook or not doesn’t really matter; I personally rate them as light and airy builds in terms of their interiors, with plenty of windows. The floor plans tend to lean towards a more open-plan design with several of the styles, which might a reflection on the popularity of the open-plan variants of some of the previous Linden Home themes that have been released.

One thing I have changed my mind on is that while seeing the houses on the preview region left me feeling as though they would not appeal to me personally, having seen them in situ, I’m very tempted by the idea of grabbing one and having a play with the various styles.

The Newbrooke Community Centre

The new theme is located on its own “island” group of regions, located of the west side of the Chalet regions as they have off the southern tip of Satori. This gives the estate room to grow west and north (with some relocating of private regions), leaving the Chalet estate free to progress to the east, should either / both require expansion.

Unlike the Fantasy theme – which marked the theme released prior to Newbrooke, this theme comes complete with its own community centre, rather than having to wait for one to be built. At the time of writing, this sits at the northern end of the new estate, occupying a large island linked to the rest of the estate by a trio of bridges. And, at the risk of giving Patch a reason to growl, the first thing that structure me about this latest community centre is that it appears to be heavily modelled upon (if not outright lifting elements of) the Welcome Islands variant unveiled in 2021.

The Newbrooke Community Centre and (inset) the new users Welcome Islands variant unveiled in 2021

There is nothing inherently “wrong” in doing this – but I admit that in lading in the community centre, and having visited the Welcome Islands design, I was momentarily spooked by a strange feeling of déjà vu, and half expected Gaius Baltar and Six stroll by discussing the idea that “all this has happened before, all this will happen again” (yes, an obscure sci-fi reference, just to see if you made it this far!) – which, given the faint Meadowbrook vibes to the houses, actually all isn’t that out of place for Newbrooke (and I really do not mean that negatively!).

In fact, if I can grab a Newbrooke 1024 in a location I like, then I likely will make the hop!

SLurl Details

Previewing the Linden Homes “Newbrooke” theme

Newbrooke Linden Home styles

Update: December 7th: The preview region has been closed pending an “update”, apparently due to the negative responses the Lab have received.  A forum note from Patch reads:

We have heard your feedback and we have decided to shut down the reveal region for an update.  It seems that this may not have been representative of our best foot forward approach we have taken with the homes over the past.  So I am here to make sure that everyone knows that we have not changed course, lessened our quality, mindfulness or retracted any of the heart and soul we put in to making these homes, themes and community building areas.  
Proof of the fact that I feel less present is actually due to how busy we are with continuing to do more, which is taking more and more of my time.  I am still present, we all do still participate in everything we can in world within Bellisseria, and we are always trying to find new ways to engage on everything we can, including some great Resident run efforts and projects that I know many are involved in.  
That said, the reveal region will be back Really Soon™ after we’ve put some touches on it to make sure our imagination is still reflected in our work. 
Thank you everyone from the team and I for being involved!

– Patch Linden, December 7th, 2021

On Monday, December 6th, 2021, Linden Lab unveiled the newest (at the time of writing) theme for the Premium Membership Linden Homes. I’m not sure what the official name for the theme is, but I’m coming to call them “Newbrooke” for now, as that’s the primary title given to them in their descriptions.

Comprising eight individual styles of Home, this theme has what might have once have been (still is?) called a “contemporary” look in the USA (and possibly elsewhere), and is interesting on a couple of counts:

  • It offers a mix of houses on 512 sq m parcels (4) and 1024 sq m parcels (4), marking it as the first theme to mix parcel sizes since the release of the Trailers and Campers in 2019.
  • The “contemporary” look to the houses, coupled with the general design of the landscaping around them is suggestive of an urban setting that carries something of a throwback to the Meadowbank style of original Linden Homes.

Given that the Newbrooke design is more developed in terms of landscaping, and the texturing suggestive of concrete and brick, rather than the wood of the old Meadowbank, the latter point is purely a surface resemblance, but it is one that tends to be enhanced by the trees used within the preview region, which brought to mind the Linden trees still available via the Library – although these are clearly nothing of the kind.

The Denver (lower house) 512 sq m and Bradbury (upper house) 1024 sq m styles

512 sq m Parcels

  • Denver: a single-storey rectangular design with a central front entrance directly accessing a large main room with doors to the side aspect covered terrace, and a front hallway accessing two further rooms.
  • Ender: a two-storey property featuring a large open-plan ground floor with a single bedroom upstairs, together with a large landing that provides access to a balcony at the front of the house.
The Faraday (512 sq m)
  • Faraday: a single-storey house with central front entrance opening onto the main central room with doors to the rear patio.  This main room is flanked by two rooms to one side and an open-plan space to the other, which also provides access to a third room.
  • Gatewood: a two-storey house with front entrance and vestibule opening onto the main room, with a smaller room opening off of it to one side. A staircase leads up to a single bedroom with doors opening onto a large rooftop balcony with views to three sides.

1024 sq Parcels

  • Bradbury: a single-storey house with a large central main room with multiple doors to the rear aspect accessing the patio and an open plan extension to one side that could be split into a separate room. Two further rooms open off of the other side of the front door for additional space.
  • Aldridge: a boxy, two-storey house with a patio running the full length of one side and two-thirds of a second side,  each side providing access to the main ground floor room together with the front door. The latter accesses the room via an open-plan vestibule that incorporates the stairs and a door to a single ground-floor side room. The L-shaped landing at the top of the stairs provides access to three further rooms.
  • Coniston: a single-storey unit with front entrance accessing a large central room with four rooms / spaces opening off of it. There is a small room with a view to the front aspect, two rooms with views to one side, one of which has doors to the rear patio – as does the main room. Facing these two rooms from across the main room is an open-plan extension that could be divided into a separate room, if required.
The 1024 sq m Heaton
  • Heaton: a large two-storey house with the front door opening onto the main room with two sets of doors to the rear patio. Dogleg stairs provide access to an upper hall with two rooms opening off of it with views to the rear. A ground floor hall with windows to the front aspect provides access to an open-plan space with a further room opening off of it to the front.

Overall, these are light and airy builds in terms of their interiors, with plenty of windows. The floor plans tend to lean towards a more open-plan design with several of the styles (again typical of the Meadowbrook), which might a reflection on the popularity of the open-plan variants of some of the previous Linden Home themes that have been released.

Whether the invocation of the Meadowbrook design (also noted in the related forum thread on the preview) is intentional or not, I’ve no idea. While it doesn’t – at first look at least – appeal to me, I have no problem with the Lab looking back at their own history for ideas as well as looking elsewhere. Who knows, maybe it will encourage some of those retaining an old-style Linden Home to finally ditch it and make the move to Bellisseria, once these houses are officially launched and available.

The Gatewood (512 sq m)

I’ve no idea when these houses will be made available – presumably some time in early-ish 2022, if past releases are a reasonable yardstick – but in the meantime, the preview region will be open through until the end of the Xmas Expo on December 14th, 2021.

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