The Metaverse in Practice: How to Build in Digital Space
“All of the physical spaces that we (architects) design—buildings, interiors, and cities—are born as metaspaces, and we call them 3D models.” With this statement, Brian Jencek, director of planning at San Francisco-based architecture firm HOK, narrows the boundaries between the current way of designing and the future of architecture in the metaverse. According to him, we’re not far from that technology because we’re already using the same tools that visual designers use to create realistic environments, like Unity, Twin Motion, and Blender.
Despite these similarities, however, building in the metaverse requires new skills and, above all, a change of perspective. In addition to 3D modeling, other features such as content, character, and game design need to be included. With this, the world of architecture opens up to different professionals, resulting in an even more multidisciplinary team focused on the design process of the new era.
A connection from the world of jogos virtuais, por example, já pode ser vista em colaborações inéditas de grandes escritórios de arquitetura com a indústria de entretimento como Zaha Hadid Architects que recentemente trabalhou in conjunto como empresa de jogos PUBG Mobile na criação de um ambient virtual onde os jogadores experimentam um campo de batalha esteticamente bonito e tecnicamente rico.
Overcoming the limits of so-called traditional architecture, designing in the metaverse therefore means exploring a still unknown field, ranging from dialogue with other disciplines to mastering new software. With that in mind, this article would like to make some important considerations for architects who intend to venture into the world of the metaverse.
Choosing a Metaverse Platform
Within the metaverse, two product branches need to be created: viable and scenes. The first wearable devices, as the name suggests, refer to digitized goods such as clothing, design objects and other non-architectural products. In the case of architecture, creation in the metaverse refers to scenes, architectural structures, or landscapes viewed.
To create a scene, you first need access to a Metaverse platform. Nowadays are the most popular sandbox, cryptovoxels and decentralized. The first is a more user-friendly and intuitive gaming platform that allows users to create, use and sell their works through the platform’s own marketplace. For the creation in sandboxa simple editor called VoxEdit is used. cryptovoxelsin turn, is a virtual world inspired by the famous Minecraft Game in which you can buy virtual land, build shops on this land, create avatars and fill your own art galleries with NFTs. While the best option to build within this platform is owning your own land, cryptovoxels also offers the Free Space option for those who don’t own land but want to test their skills. In this case, the architecture is not built exactly in the cryptovoxels metaverse, but in a kind of limited copy of it.
For now, decentralized is perhaps the most well-known platform of the three mentioned above. In general, it can be defined as a 3D universe governed by a decentralized autonomous organization (DAO), and much of its popularity is due to the opening of a unit by JP Morgan within the game itself. In addition, it was also on the agenda when one of his virtual estates was sold in November 2021 for $2.4 million (618,000 MANA units – their home currency).
to use in practice decentralizedIn order to use the full architectural meta potential, it is necessary to have a cryptocurrency digital wallet known as metamask and begin investing in a land – which has become one of the greatest obstacles to construction in the metaverse these days. Barring the exorbitant exceptions, like the one above, their land costs an average of $15,000, very different from when the platform started when it was possible to buy a plot of land for $500. However, as with cryptovoxelsWith decentralized It is also possible to create parallel structures just for fun without having to invest any money and if you want you can still register yours scene used on foreign land.
Unlike architecture in the physical world, designing in the metaverse requires more specific approaches to deliver an immersive experience. With that in mind, many architects have appropriated tools from the film industry like storyboarding to bring their creations to life. With this it is possible to organize the scenes that are shown one after the other, almost like in the 21st century architectural promenade. In this way, the immersive and interactive experience in the metaverse is enhanced with good storytelling.
Patrik Schumacher himself, project manager at Zaha Hadid Architects, explained in an interview with ArchDaily his belief that much of the architectural action and innovation in the next era will take place in the metaverse, and it’s a mistake in the hands of the entertainment industry regarding purpose and criteria. Weronika Marciniak from Metaverse-focused architecture firm future is metaShe also says that the digital space is currently dominated by game developers or people interested in 3D design – but not necessarily by architects and, in her opinion, the result. Additionally, they are spaces that are difficult to navigate or are not necessarily designed from the user’s perspective.
These statements underline the importance of architects in creating this new technological age because, as in real life, it is not enough to design aesthetically pleasing structures, it is necessary to be aware of the subjectivities that compose them, be it in the physical or digital world. To do this, we must be prepared and oriented to new software and technologies so that our profession is reinvented, but without losing its “human” essence.