The Metaverse as Opportunity for Architects: An Interview with Patrik Schumacher

The world of Architecture is gaining momentum over recent NFT and Metaverse hypes. Zaha Hadid Architects, a pioneer in innovation, shows us how to use Web 3 and the socio-economic opportunities it offers architects globally.

This topic is especially relevant in the new year because more and more platforms are publishing about it. All this hype makes it necessary to reevaluate our roles as architects and decide if we are willing to serve the digital realm.

After reading a few publications on the “Cyber Urban” Metaverse City, as well as how Zaha Hadid Architectures Presents Virtual Gallery Exploring Architecture and NFT’s, I decided to speak with Patrick Schumacher about his recent investments in digital architecture.

Sara: Patrik. Can you tell us more about your metaverse and the opportunities that you have identified for your practice?

Patrik The metaverse construction is fast. But who designs it? It should be designed by who? My thesis states that the design and implementation of the metaverse falls under the purview of architecture and other design disciplines. Not videogame artists. My theory of architecture/design states that video game developers/artists do not qualify as designers. They are not designers, but they belong to the entertainment industry. This does not imply any value judgment, but rather a distinction in purpose and criteria for success. In the future, the metaverse will host a lot of architectural innovation and action. The metaverse also offers parametricism, the only digitally computational and contemporary architectural style, a powerful opportunity to advance toward the hegemony it long seeks within the discipline.

Courtesy of Mytaverse

S: What do you think the metaverse opportunities that architects have for positive effects on society and the future built environment?

P. This metaverse that I wish to contribute to is part of productive societal lives and integral to social production and societal reproducibility. This metaverse is not an alternative reality, second life, or escape from social reality. It enhances society and allows for productive, fulfilling lives. Entertainment isn’t entirely excluded. But it is only one part. Fiction can play a positive role in society’s self-reflection, education, and even though the world of virtual games and many of its metaverses are often ideologically regressive fantasy realms, they do have a place. The videogame industry has created all the incredible digital technologies that can be used to empower people and transfer them to more challenging tasks. Although the computer game industry is large, it is a niche in comparison to the larger concept of virtual interaction spaces, which will allow for all aspects of human interaction, including knowledge exchange, professional collaboration and cultural communication. As long as we still have our bodies, real architecture will not disappear. Virtual substitution of social media communications will not be possible. These new opportunities will not leave any domain unaffected, and there will be virtual competition for physical spaces.

Courtesy of Mytaverse

S – What, in your view, is the role for the architect in the metaverse.

P The social life is an ordered communication process that uses a variety of communicative situations. The designed environment (both physical and digital) distributes, frames and stabilises these different situations. It then unfolds them in a structured order that allows us all to participate in specific social interactions. Communication is also the designed spaces, whether they are real or virtual. They are communications that establish, preside and prime the communication interactions that are expected within that territory.

Design is all about framing social interactions. Virtual interactions are also affected by this. This space includes the three components of an architect’s project that I have identified in my theory architecture: the organisational, semiological and phenomenological projects. The dramaturgical project is an interaction design component. This semiological project is essential: All urban spaces are information-rich navigation spaces and interaction spaces. However, this information rich communicative charge is what is at the core of all virtual spaces as well as the metaverse. Real or virtual architectural projects require the development of a spatiovisual language with an enhanced communicative capacity to create navigable, legible, information-rich environments that are accessible for multiple layers of social interactions, purposes, and audiences. Metaverse promises co-location synergies just like cities. A 3D immersive layered visual field makes more interaction options simultaneously navigable, recognisable, and accessible than 2D pages that have scroll down menus. The designer must be able to keep perceptual tractability and legibility despite richness and complexity. This is their core competency.

Courtesy of Zaha Hadid Architects

S: Are there other opportunities for architects that you think are worth exploring?

P Architecture will lead metaverse design. This is because all organisations, including firms, cultural institutions and charities, will be involved in it. – virtual spaces will be available in the metaverse. They will most likely retain their urban properties. It is natural that physical and virtual premises can be used as extensions of one another and are designed together. My prediction is that the virtual worlds will become interfaces to our urban and architectural environments. Users can now access the virtual worlds from their own homes using headsets and laptops, or with others through large panoramic screens and other spatial interfaces. The metaverse will be accessible from our shared social spaces, work spaces, and public spaces. Therefore, I see a mixed reality and cyber-urban fusion. If this is true, then it is important to create real and virtual spaces together as a continuum.

Courtesy of Mytaverse

This task is a must-do for architecture and design professionals.

He will present “opportunities within the metaverse” and provide advice and steps-by-step strategies that architects entrepreneurs can use today to improve their ability to strategize and be successful as metaverse designers.

Courtesy of Zaha Hadid Architects

This topic will be the focus of a deep conversation and breakout networking rooms. Disrupt brings together C-suite executives and practices from the AEC sector to discuss topics such as Business Development, Marketing and Branding, Sales, Client Attraction Strategies and Financials, Practice Operation, Tools of Digital Transformation, and other topics.

UnStudio is one of the major companies involved.

Tunarch, Graphisoft and HP generously support the event.

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