The undisputed protagonist of the last few years has been the Metaverse. The news is already flooding the world of video games and technology. Today, architects and designers are increasingly aware of the responsibility they have in leading this construction of the virtual environment. But what is the architecture of the Metaverse, how is it designed, how is it built?
In a quest to bring the topic to the table, the following list is an index of ArchDaily publications that present the basics and the latest on Metaverse Architecture trends and projects. We hope it will help give you an overview and inspire you!
The Basics of Metaverse Architecture
An article written by Chloe Sun, not only brings us closer to the topic: "Derived from a 1992 science fiction novel "Snowcrash", the term "Metaverse" was coined by Neal Stephenson as a successor to the Internet and constitutes Stephenson's vision of how a digital world might evolve in the near future"; but presents why it is important for architects and how designers can play a key role in this upcoming digital economy.
This publication by Liz Stinson delves into the importance of being attentive to the architectural discipline: "The virtual world, with all its possibilities, still needs to be designed and built. The question is, who will be responsible for it? For centuries, architects, engineers, and builders have largely dictated the shape of the built environment, mainly out of necessity. The complexities of the physical world require safeguards in the form of regulations, zoning, accreditation, and best practice. There are good reasons why not just anyone can build a skyscraper".
The sale of the House on Mars marked the beginning of a new era that some scholars have called "hybrid reality". The beginning of this era has been made possible above all thanks to the creation of Non Fungible Tokens, usually known as NFTs. In short, housed within a layer of the blockchain (a platform initially created to carry out transactions with cryptocurrencies), they allow artists to authenticate the originality of their digital artwork, virtually sealing and certifying that a certain image or video is the original.
The potentials of understanding a city as dynamic and virtual are immense - especially if it allows for a duplication of information to be experienced and simulated. The Digital Twin is understood to be "an archive: an archive of the past, present, and future. It consists of three main components: visualization, prediction, and diagnosis. It provides the opportunity to simulate and test changes in the urban landscape before putting them into practice."
The Latest Design Trends
As technologists, architects, and users themselves develop new tools for the metaverse, new projects are increasingly democratized and open source. In architecture and technology, the term "virtual" has become increasingly associated with reality along with the idea of a completely virtual metaverse. As these "realities" continue to evolve, they will revolutionize architecture, engineering, and construction. This evolution also includes MR (Mixed Reality) and AR (Augmented Reality).
When architects think within the confines of real-life architecture, their initial response to this new universe is to celebrate the "limitless possibilities" of the Metaverse. Leon Rost, director of BIG, says that in the Metaverse, "structure, materiality, and cost go out the window", while Rashed Singaby, senior project designer at HOK, believes that "between designing for the metaverse and harnessing its capabilities, the potential is almost limitless". The metaverse seems like a light at the end of the tunnel as an unlimited realm for architects, who have often designed as if resources were infinite in recent decades and are now forced to restrict their imagination due to the current environmental and economic crisis in the world.
This article by Sara Kolata features an interview with Oliver Lowrie, director of Ackroyd Lowrie, an award-winning London-based architectural practice dedicated to building the cities of the future, which is already using this technology to enhance the practice's low-energy designs.
It is suggested that the metaverse creates virtual spaces where people can meet and share experiences regardless of geographical limitations. The possibilities seem endless: exchanging knowledge, fostering professional collaboration, developing and democratizing art, education, and culture and even enabling political engagement. Social interactions are at the heart of the idea of a metaverse. This raises the question: how can the new virtual spaces acquire the properties of public spaces?
Map design and the importance of built environments remain central to the player experience within virtual game worlds, where there are more than enough cases in the first-person shooter genre, such as Riot Games' Valorant. A company that is characterised by trying to break paradigms that the video game industry has used for decades.
The Latest Projects
"A libertarian, virtual micronation, where residents can buy vacant lots centered around an urban core and access them as avatars", is Zaha Hadid Architects' vision for "The Liberland Metaverse". It is a project where the community presents diverse hyper-realistic districts that encourage urban self-governance and also areas where the absence of urban planning "allows for spontaneous order through a process of free discovery".
Japanese digital consultancy Gluon plans to preserve the Nakagin capsule tower in Tokyo, one of the most representative examples of Kisho Kurokawa's Japanese Metabolism. The "3D Digital Archive Project" uses a combination of measurement techniques to record the iconic building in three dimensions and recreate it in the Metaverse. This is with the understanding that the tower is currently in the process of demolition due to the precarious state of the structure and incompatibility with current seismic regulations, as well as the general state of deterioration and lack of maintenance.
As part of an initiative for Tequila José Cuervo, Rojkind Arquitectos presented its first project of the metaverse under the name "Metadestilería" which is based on a design exercise that responds to the function of objects with respect to human needs within specific contexts with the challenge of creating unique experiences through objects and architecture.
Andrés Reisinger is an Argentinian designer based in Barcelona who, together with the architect Alba de la Fuente, has developed a residential project for the metaverse inspired by the coldest season of the year. Under the name Casa de Invierno (Winter House), the project comprises a virtual independent dwelling characterized by its clear geometric lines and rather calm colors that seek to transmit a sense of tranquillity.
Stay up to date and explore more publications at: The Architecture of the Metaverse.
Editor's Note: This article was originally published on September 09, 2022.