We're on the cusp of Web 3.0, and the Metaverse is our gateway to experience this revolution.
Fri Aug 18, 2023
Metaverse blurs the realities between the real and virtual worlds. Architects and designers hold the superpower to transform these digital entities into interactive built spaces — only they'll be free of earthly concerns.
As the metaverse evolves, new avatars and neighbourhoods are rapidly emerging in the virtual world. However, the concept is still new and designers need more experience and knowledge to cope with this new reality.
This blog aims to address these gaps and highlight the relevance of metaverse in architecture and design – from the impacts of these virtual built spaces to implementing complex tools – we’ll be covering it all!
On one end of the spectrum, we have designers such as Hugo Fournier, who designed non-interactive, conceptual dreamscapes like “Blueberry House”.
On the other hand, there are artists like Krista Kim, who designed a full-on Mars House (the first sold digital building in the NFT market for a value of $512,000 at the time) with immersive experience through Spatial and VR.
Leading architectural firms like Zaha Hadid Architects, Bjarke Ingels Group, Voxel Architects and many others are already designing spaces for global brands. (Virtual storefronts, customer service and shopping experiences are coming!)
“The metaverse is going to aid the IRL experience with more jobs, no cars, and no traffic. Less pollution and more happiness.” — George Bileca, CEO of Voxel Architects.
The metaverse boom also influences market prices. Platforms like Decentraland, Sandbox, Somnium Space, Voxels, etc., are some real estate investments at the forefront of utilising the metaverse elements. Decentraland also claims to have sold a single plot of digital land for $2.4 million worth of cryptocurrency.
Sam Hamilton, Creative Director of Decentraland Foundation, emphasises the importance of virtual designing and experiences over the plot space. According to Hamilton, “It’s not the land itself that’s important, it's the experience you build on top of that land.”
Architects utilize the flexibility of the metaverse to indulge in norm-breaking concepts. As of now, the metaverse embraces different domains like mansions, villas, art galleries, shopping malls, corporate offices, music venues and event spaces.
The virtual world created by ZHA is a utopian urbanscape, where residents can buy land plots through avatars. The project combines inspirations from the late Zaha’s architectural style and parametric design to create curvy, fluid and complex forms. The ‘cyber-urban’ city aims to promote self-governance, socialization and networking.
“The metaverse is where much of the architectural action and innovation will be happening in the coming period. I also believe that the metaverse offers a potent opportunity for parametricism– the only natively digital, computational and truly contemporary architectural style” – Patrik Schumacher, Principal of Zaha Hadid Architects.
Image Source: Rojkindarquitectos
Rojkind Arquitectos Designs created a virtual distillery experience in the metaverse specifically for the tequila brand José Cuervo. Located in the Decentraland platform, the building enables visitors to interact with the virtual space through ‘tequila-based tasks’ that are not possible in physical environments.
“As experts in creating experiences for distilleries, the opportunity to create a distillery in the boundary-less metaverse, without the constraints of real life is a first-of-its-kind for Bompas & Parr and the world,” – Harry Parr, co-founder of Bompas & Parr.
The structure of Winter House resembles a pile dwelling with clean geometry and lines. It exemplifies how realistic metaverse projects can be. The essence of climate and the intricacy of detailing and modelling pushes the immersive experience in the virtual world.
“We envisioned what the cold season could look like in the metaverse, gathered all the feelings of quietness, stillness and comfort we associate with winter with and translated them into a residential form.” – Andrés Reisinger
Given the fact that virtual buildings existed even before the virtual worlds, 3D modellers and designers have a huge impact on the development of this new reality.
However, what sets the metaverse apart is its interactivity. It enables architects to visualize, test and simulate their structures in virtual spaces without reality checks.
The metaverse serves as a fertile playground for architects, to create multi-sensory experiences free from reality constraints like gravity, principles of engineering or funding.
Virtual meetings and design discussions in shared virtual platforms like VRChat, AltspaceVR, or Spatial will become the norm, facilitating seamless interaction and creativity.
By leveraging advanced graphics rendering techniques, lighting effects, and environmental physics simulations, architects can design immersive spaces that mimic real-world elements.
Architects can integrate AI applications in the metaverse to stay updated on current events and human activities while they build adaptive and dynamic environments for virtual interactions.
With the growing buzz, becoming a Metaverse Architect can offer a promising career. However, one must have a strong foundation in architecture, game design, and programming to excel in this domain.
Solid background in technical skills like 3D modelling software tools, UX and UI design principles and visual scripting is also essential. Learning platforms like Futurly host such advanced software courses to assist aspiring architects to upskill their abilities.
Omniverse is a free computing platform that enables real-time 3D collaboration and simulations. It connects different 3D environments in shared virtual spaces for users to interact with them.
Unity is one of the popular gaming engines used in the metaverse. It provides user-friendly editors to create 3D virtual reality assets and enables work preview through Head Mounted display (HMD)
Unreal Engine is a fierce competitor to Unity in the gaming business. Its realistic graphics and rendering features enhance the user experience through VR platforms like Oculus, Sony and Samsung.
Blender is an open-source software that enables 3D modelling, parametric design and animations. It empowers designers to pursue creative endeavours through its versatile platform and robust features.
Rhino offers a powerful combination of 3D modelling with parametric design. It can easily become the designer's favourite through precise model creations and customizations with its intuitive interface.
You can learn these software tools through online platforms like Futurly. We provide tutorials, courses, and expert mentoring to learn these software tools.
An Architect + Writer, Saili has worked as an Architectural writer & brand storyteller where she has collaborated with firms, studios, organizations, luxury brands, events & educational institutions to communicate in the real estate & travel industry. Her recent initiatives include curating an online workshop on communication and networking within the AEC industry. She is a commentator on the design industry’s upkeep through her social handles while also being an avid reader and traveler.