“I Believe that Architecture is Never Finished”: In Conversation with FAR, Creator of the First Generative Project for the Metaverse

“I Believe that Architecture is Never Finished”: In Conversation with FAR, Creator of the First Generative Project for the Metaverse

The promise of the metaverse, this new type of three-dimensional and immersive digital space, is proving to become more and more appealing to architects eager to explore the new realm of virtual creations. As it currently stands, the metaverse does not have a singular definition but is composed of many narratives and explorations. This unknown land is however fruitful ground for architects, who have to opportunity to shape not only the new environment but also the experiences of future users. The SOLIDS project represents one response to these conditions. Developed by FAR, an architect and engineer working with digital environments, SOLIDS uses a generative process to design unique, metaverse-compatible buildings.

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For this project, over a dozen generative algorithms were used to develop 8,888 unique SOLIDS buildings, NFTs compatible with metaverse platforms, game engines, and modeling software. This form of generative architecture opens the conversation about the changing role of architects and the possibilities of digital environments. It also gives new meaning to the principle of accessibility and safety in the virtual realm.

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SOLIDS. Image Courtesy of FAR

FAR spoke to ArchDaily about the potential of the metaverse, the constraints imposed by this new medium, challenges of openness and accessibility, as well as ways in which the virtual space evolves and adapts to the needs of its users. Read the full interview below.

ArchDaily: On your website, you say that in the Metaverse, "architecture is needed to shape the habitat of the Virtual Realm". The SOLIDS initiative offers architectural objects that are generated algorithmically. A conclusion could be that we need architecture, but not necessarily architects. What is the changing role of architects in this new realm of virtual experiences?

FAR: Humans designed SOLIDS. We spent significant time developing the algorithm and system that would give us unique architectural objects within the project, instead of replicating the same SOLID hundreds of times. Despite relying on parametricism, SOLIDS responds to an exact architectural logic created having design in mind.

As the Virtual Realm is more ubiquitous and digital experiences are more immersive, designers that can create environments and spaces will be needed to improve the experiences. The processes of erecting a building in the "physical" world are different from doing it in the virtual world; however - at the origin of the design problem, there are some needs that are equivalent and need to be resolved. We don’t have to deal with gravity, for instance, but we deal with file sizes and Normals. The goal is the same: to create a suitable environment for humans.

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SOLIDS. Image Courtesy of FAR

AD: How do you make sure each of the 8,888 virtual buildings is unique? Do they require different inputs, are they optimized for different uses, based on different algorithms, or is it just a randomized process?

FAR: There are over a dozen different Archetypes, each different and with its custom script. Some are slim and elevated, suitable for landscapes with high slopes and narrow conditions; others are towers that should go on small parcels and accommodate large internal spaces, etc.

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SOLIDS. Image Courtesy of FAR

AD: Architecture in the real world must respond to many constraints: gravitation and structural integrity, limited material availability, ergometry and the proportions of the human body, not to mention socio-economic implications. Does virtual architecture have any constraints and how does this influence the process of design?

FAR: There are many constraints in the virtual realm!

To begin with, the 3D assets need to be interoperable, and compatible across platforms, applications, games, and/or metaverses. This challenge has to do with the lack of a set of common standards that are used across platforms. However, as the Metaverse becomes more ubiquitous, there should be a consensus on a code equivalent to the "building code" each city would have.

Then, in terms of our relationship with the human body, there are constraints - on different levels. For instance, when we talk about accessibility to the Metaverse. How can disabled people access and enjoy the virtual experience like the rest? We need to work intensely on this, and architecture will be able to contribute considerably. Then perception and mobility within the Metaverse is something crucial. Immersive experiences are mostly purely visual, but we need to enhance other senses so that the metaverse is open and accessible.

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SOLIDS. Image Courtesy of FAR

AD: What is the utility of a SOLIDS building? How would somebody use it, and what are the activities it is optimized for?

FAR: SOLIDS are interoperable buildings registered in the Ethereum blockchain. When you mint the SOLID on our site, you get access to the GLB 3D file that can be loaded in a metaverse, game, or other application in AR or VR. For now, they are flexible containers that could accommodate galleries, meetings, or immersive experiences.

As Architecture in the physical world, a SOLID, once minted on the blockchain, should have its own life in the Virtual Realm, and potentially serve different programs for which it was not originally planned for. That would be the ideal, in my mind.

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SOLIDS. Image Courtesy of FAR

AD: When somebody buys a house, the first impulse is usually to modify it and make it yours by adding furniture, repainting, changing tiles, or maybe even demolishing a compartment wall. This often goes against the wishes of the architect, but it happens nonetheless. How will virtual users inhabit and adapt their spaces to fit their personal needs and tastes?

FAR: Wearing my Architect hat, I must say that I like that evolution in architecture. I believe that Architecture is never finished - it evolves over time, and that's something we would like to emphasize with SOLIDS, by building tools that allow that to happen.

SOLIDS are in the blockchain, and that allows us to record every transformation in a public ledger. So, you could see who did what, when, and how. In our case, we want to store all the past statuses of SOLIDS throughout their history. That is something quite interesting to be explored within Architecture.

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Mars House. Image © Krista Kim

AD: Finally, why do you think it is worth investing time, effort, resources, and capital in the Metaverse? What are the big advantages it could bring to our lives?

FAR: I don’t provide financial advice. Nevertheless, I think it is a new space opening to us that will influence how we live: creating unique social experiences, job opportunities, and challenges.

And most importantly, it’s time to give shape to the Metaverse, which for now, is an abstract concept.

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SOLIDS. Image Courtesy of FAR

Editor's Note: This article was originally published on October 20, 2022

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Cite: Maria-Cristina Florian. "“I Believe that Architecture is Never Finished”: In Conversation with FAR, Creator of the First Generative Project for the Metaverse" 31 Dec 2022. ArchDaily. Accessed . <https://www.archdaily.com/990862/i-believe-that-architecture-is-never-finished-in-conversation-with-far-creator-of-the-first-generative-project-for-the-metaverse> ISSN 0719-8884

SOLIDS. Image Courtesy of FAR

建筑永远不会被完成,对话首个元宇宙生成性项目创造者 FAR

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