Metaverse: A Fertile Ground for Architects?

Metaverse is the name of an immersive, collaborative and hyper-realistic virtual world where people can live together with 3D personalized avatars.

The term was first used by Neal Stephenson, a science fiction writer whose 1992 book “Snow Crash” featured it. It tells the story about “Hiro Protagonist”, who is in real life a pizza delivery boy but is in the virtual world (called metaverse in this story) a samurai.

A few projects have attempted to create a metaverse like the one in Second Life. Liden Lab released the game Second Life in 2003. It is a 3D virtual world that replicates real life. You can create avatars to interact with others. Although the game has attracted thousands, it has not yet been able to unite virtual and real worlds.

Fortnite, Roblox and Minecraft all take advantage of the metaverse concept and introduce elements from this new universe. These games allow people to create their own characters and participate in quests. They also bond with one another and attend events. Fortnite was home to a concert by Travis Scott that was viewed by 12.3 Million people.

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Facebook’s connection to the metaverse is not new. Oculus was acquired by the group in 2014. Oculus makes virtual reality headsets and other equipment that allows users to experience this new reality.

It is hoped that the metaverse will have its own virtual economy and people can work, buy homes, clothes, attend parties, meet up, and live a normal life online. This new reality is dependent on the blockchain and the technology that runs it, such as cryptos, NFTs, and other technologies. Science fiction? It feels more real every day.

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The foundation of the metaverse economy could be blockchain. This technology was created with Bitcoin at 2008 and allows for the creation of immutable records. It is a great tool for platform governance, without governments or banks.

Opportunity?

Virtual environments become more common as companies try to create platforms that will attract people to their particular corners of the metaverse. Metaverse is a platform like Spatial.io and Microsoft Mesh, which allows avatars to meet in modern settings or supernatural encounter environments.

Mega-platforms such as Roblox, Minecraft, Second Life, Second Life, and Second Life have been creating immersive virtual worlds for many years. This allows players to create their own structures and explore these ever expanding landscapes.

Future people won’t experience one metaverse. Instead, they will be able to navigate multiple interoperable metaverses. All powered by the blockchain, on-platform currencies, and all connected to one another in a tapestry digital space.

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The built environment has been shaped by architects, engineers, and builders for centuries. Because of the complexity of the physical world, regulations, zoning and accreditations are necessary. There are many reasons not everyone can build skyscrapers.

On the other hand, the metaverse is usually viewed as a collective retelling the built environment. It is often compared with the Wild West. Anyone can set up their own flag and create their own virtual world.

Reality is, however, less egalitarian than this. The same forces that hold real estate in the physical realm – money and access – are increasingly governing the metaverse. Already, real estate companies and speculative cryptocurrency investors are purchasing large swathes of metaverse “land”, where a small amount of virtual space can have a value of thousands of dollars.

Decentraland is one of the most popular platforms in the metaverse. The price of land in the busiest virtual areas has increased to more than $10,000.

You can use virtual land to build virtual buildings. Some of these are quite different from what you are used to.

End of all Barriers

Gravitation and material constraints are not possible in the metaverse. According to Leon Rost (director of the Bjarke Ingels Group, BIG), things like structure, materiality, and cost all go to waste.” He has also worked on virtual projects for clients. This lack of stylistic restraint attracted architects who are interested in pushing the boundaries of space. BIG and UNStudio teamed up to create SpaceForm, a virtual meeting platform that allows people to collaborate in real time inside futuristic rooms equipped with holographic tables that display renderings as well as data visualizations.

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These spaces are often designed and coded by users, or developers without any design experience. Although this may sound like an imminent threat to architects, experts view it as an opportunity to ask who should and can participate in the design process.

Some architects have seen the potential and expanded their design boundaries to the virtual world. Zaha Hadid architects presented “NFTism”, an interactive virtual art gallery that explored architecture and social interaction in the metaverse at Art Basel Miami.

Customer Inversion

Is the metaverse able to attract clients and projects in the same way as the real world?

Realistically, architects and designers require clients in order to start their offices. Although it seems natural for architects to spend their time designing buildings and not work on other projects, in reality, the majority of architect’s efforts go towards finding new clients.

The metaverse’s creative economy can provide equal opportunities for underrepresented and emerging designers, regardless of their gender, race, or sexual orientation. If you create virtual experiences for brands or landowners, you can earn commissions. Users become owners and reduce customer acquisition costs by almost zero.

We can only have one winner design for each design competition. Each designer has incredible designs that are lying dormant on hard drives. You can host an exhibition of “unbuilt Architecture” and share your creativity with others in the metaverse.

Imagem via Virtual Reality Reporter

Each niche can be identified with its own group, create its own industrial chain, and find users.

Metaverse and Design

How about the design world?

Nemo, a lighting design and technology company, announced earlier this year that it had broken the NFT world. This is a non-fungible token. It is essentially a type of virtual art that can be encrypted and traded on platforms for use in metaverse environments.

This was done with a collection created by Luca Baldocchi (digital interior designer). Baldocchi collaborated with Nemo in order to reinterpret iconic brand lighting solutions in a “metaphysical way”.

Even though the buyer may be only interested in the digital part of the NFT, Nemo’s NFTs include rights to all associated drawings, renderings and sketches, telling the story behind each piece.

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NFTs for furniture and lighting don’t necessarily have to be compatible with real-world physics. Palazzari believes that Nemo’s NFTs are excellent examples. He says that they are maximalist creations and “the creative process is spontaneous and unintentional” which results in the creation of many unrelated components.

It is important to be able to appreciate living in the digital world and to have a unique way to own and curate artworks and objects. — Luca Baldochi

Nemo’s classics were placed in surreal settings, and inevitably gained a new power speech. Perhaps it is possible to have a conversation about high-value connections between reality and virtuality.

The metaverse extends even further…

Metaverse and Transport

The arrival of the new ways of communicating, living, and working can have an impact on the entire transport universe as well as travel.

Online collaboration tools have made intercity business travel obsolete. The future planes will all be leisure travelers, connecting with people and places in ways that can’t be quickly replaced by the metaverse.

Because all travelers will be leisure travelers in the future, there will be changes to the appearance of airports, aircraft, rail terminals, stations, capsules, and other transport infrastructure.

Because of all the work in the metaverse transit systems such as subways or light rail will not be relevant and may even lose funding.

These systems are not going away. The metaverse will transform the way it is used. The metaverse is about creating digital twins in high-fidelity of what we experience, including transportation infrastructure such as highways and airports. These digital twins can then be managed digitally.

This will, at the very least, create new efficiency. These efficiencies will result in less infrastructure being needed, so we won’t have to maintain or build as much.

We still have a lot of questions, to understand, and to study about the consequences that will impact areas we don’t yet know.