Architecture and Metaverse, by Rubén Muedra

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Rubén Muedra, founder and director of RUBÉN MUEDRA ARCHITECTURA and founder of meta-v-arch gives his vision on architecture and the metaverse.

More than 2,000 years have passed since Vitruvius defined the three basic principles of Classical Architecture: Firmitas, Utilitas and Venustas (Resistance, Functionality and Beauty). Vitruvius claimed that without one of these three principles the work could not be considered a work of architecture.

However, today we try to understand the transcendence of Virtual Architecture applied to the metaverse. The concept of Virtual Architecture has evolved since the first experiences of Computer Aided Architecture in the 1960s, but it has taken off since the boom of the virtual, at the end of the 20th century, with the International Virtual House Competition held in 1997. Today the concept focuses on Architecture made for cyberspace, applying Virtual Reality technologies, immersive or not. Among the pioneers of this discipline, Marcus Novak stands out, who in the early 90s presented the essay “Liquid Architecture” and from that time onwards a series of related documents on this subject were published on the Internet. This gave rise to the concepts of Liquid Architecture (Architetture liquide nel Cyberspazio) from which the ideas of virtual and virtuality arise to refer to spaces that are physically intangible but completely experiential, within a controlled mode such as cyberspace; in reference to liquid architecture, Novak expresses: “It is an architecture that breathes, pulsates, jumps into one form and falls into another. Liquid architecture is an architecture whose form is contingent on the user’s interest; an architecture that opens to welcome me and closes to defend me; an architecture without doors or corridors, where the next room is always where I need it and is how I need it”.

The identification and exploration of a virtual environment in which complete, digital-to-digital architectural projects are generated, both in their representation and in their architectural characteristics. In this type of virtual environment, the concepts and behaviours of cyberspace can be handled, such as immateriality, incorporeality, instantaneousness in moving from one point to another, that is, non-conventional displacement, such as flight or teleportation. One can also use non-buildable concepts, such as portals that appear when one approaches, changes in the “external environment” that one visualises when one is in the world, changes in the behaviour of architectural or urban furniture. the possibilities for formal and functional innovation are almost limitless. For the purposes of this event and consistent with the most promising trends of the present time, this last phase will be referred to as virtual architecture or architecture made for cyberspace.

Metaverses are environments where humans interact socially and economically as avatars through software in a cyberspace, which acts as a metaphor for the real world, but without its limitations. The metaverse is generally composed of multiple three-dimensional, shared and persistent virtual spaces, linked to a perceived virtual universe.

Virtual Architecture thus gives rise to the space in which subsequent social and economic interaction takes place, thus completing the interactive virtual environment we know as the metaverse. Free from constraints such as physics, material properties and construction costs, the metaverse opens up a new realm of architectural expression. Even far removed from other non-built architectures, such as temporary or ephemeral architectures.

Thus, as defined by Vitruvius, Virtual Architecture must be able to respond to the three principles:

Firmitas: Projects must be stable and optimised to the technology and human interface devices that will support them, so that they allow a realistic experience of immersive interaction between users.

Utilitas: Projects must respond to a function, although entertainment and social relations may be the most obvious, they will not be the only functions to which the metaverse will provide a solution: knowledge exchange, professional collaboration, cultural communication, art, education, health, commercial, etc.

Venustas: Beyond beauty in its literal sense, virtual architecture exponentially multiplies the capacity of architecture to suggest, provoke or surprise.

The development of technology, with a truly immersive internet that facilitates a new level of realistic spontaneity in social interactions, and the internet of value that enables truly global economic collaboration, without physical or territorial boundaries, brings us closer to an imminent new technological revolution, the Metaverse.

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