“Architecture never ends”: an interview with FAR, creator of the metaverse’s first generative project
The promise of metaverse, this new type of immersive 3D digital space, is proving increasingly attractive to architects eager to explore a new realm of virtual creativity. As it currently stands, the metaverse does not contain a single definition, but consists of many narratives and explorations. However, this uncharted land is a fertile ground for architects, who have the opportunity to shape not only the new environment, but also the user experiences of the future. The SOLIDS project is a response to these circumstances. Developed by FAR, an architect and engineer who works with digital environments, SOLIDS uses a generative process to design unique buildings compatible with the metaverse.
For this project, more than a dozen generation algorithms were used to develop 8,888 unique building SOLIDS, NFTs compatible with metaverse platforms, game engines, and modeling software. This form of generative architecture promotes reflection on the changing role of architects and the possibilities of digital environments. It also gives new meaning to the concept of accessibility and security in the virtual world.
FAR spoke to ArchDaily about the potential of the metaverse, the limitations of this new medium, the challenges of openness and accessibility, as well as the way 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 essential to shaping the home of the virtual world.” The SOLIDS initiative presents architectural objects that are generated using algorithms. One conclusion could be that we need architecture, but not necessarily architects. However, what is the role of architects in this new world of virtual experiences?
Away: Humans designed solids. We spent a lot of time developing the algorithm and system that would give us unique architectural objects within the project rather than repeating the same SOLIDS hundreds of times. Although parametrically based, SOLIDS respond to a precise architectural logic that takes design into account.
As the virtual world becomes more prevalent and digital experiences more immersive, there will be a need for architects who can create environments and spaces to enhance experiences. Building constructions in the “physical” world are different from building constructions in the virtual world; However, at the origin of the design problem, there are some equivalent needs that need to be solved. We don’t have to deal with gravity, for example, but we do deal with file sizes. The goal is the same: to create an environment suitable for humans.
AD: How do you make sure that each of the 8,888 hypothetical buildings is unique? Does it require different inputs, is it optimized for different uses, based on different algorithms, or is it just a random process?
Away: There are over a dozen different custom archetypes. Some are slender and tall, suitable for landscapes with steep slopes and limited conditions; Others are towers that must occupy small plots of land and accommodate large interior spaces, etc.
AD: Real-world architecture must respond to many constraints: gravity and structural integrity, limited material availability, ergonomics and human body proportions, not to mention social and economic impacts. Are there any restrictions on virtual architecture and how does this affect the design process?
Away: There are many restrictions in the virtual world!
First of all, 3D assets must be interoperable and compatible across platforms, applications, games or benchmarks. This challenge relates to the lack of a common set of standards used across all platforms. However, as the Metaverse becomes more ubiquitous, there needs to be a consensus on an equivalent code of “building code” that each city will have.
And then in terms of our relationship to the human body, there are limitations — on different levels. For example, when we talk about Metaverse accessibility, how can people with disabilities access and enjoy the virtual experience like everyone else? We need to work intensively on this, and architecture can contribute greatly. Therefore, awareness and navigation within the Metaverse is crucial. Immersive experiences are mostly purely visual, but we need to enhance other senses to make the metaverse open and accessible.
AD: What is the benefit of building SOLIDS? How might someone use it and what activities would it be optimized for?
Away: SOLIDS are interoperable buildings registered with The Ethereum Blockchain. Through the SOLID instrument on our site, you can access a 3D GLB file that can be loaded into a metaverse app, game, or other application in AR or VR. For now, they are flexible containers that can host exhibitions, meetings, or immersive experiences.
Like architecture in the physical world, solid matter was once formulated blockchain, should have its own life in the virtual world and potentially serve various programs that were not originally intended. That would be perfect, in my opinion.
AD: When someone buys a home, the first impulse is usually to modify and make it their own, add furniture, repaint, change the tiles, or maybe even demolish a wall. Often this goes against the will of the architect, but it happens anyway. How will virtual users rate and adapt their spaces to suit their personal needs and tastes?
Away: With my “architect hat” on, I have to say that I love this evolution of architecture. I believe that architecture never ends: it evolves over time, and that’s something we like to emphasize with SOLIDS by creating tools that allow that to happen.
solid in blockchain This allows us to report each shift in a public record. So you can see who did what, when and how. In our case, we want to store the entire history of SOLIDS. This is a very interesting thing to be explored in architecture.
: Finally, why do you think it’s worth investing your time, effort, resources, and capital into the Metaverse? What great advantages can it bring to our lives?
Away: I do not give financial advice. However, I believe it is a new space that opens up for us and will influence the way we live: creating unique social experiences, job opportunities, and challenges.
Most importantly, it’s time to form the Metaverse, which is an abstract concept for now.