10 Metaverse Studio
Metaverse Studio | PMI's 2022 Most Influential Projects | #MIP2022
The Metaverse Studio unifies our world by removing geographical boundaries around art and features artwork of every genre, including life-sized models.
For helping architects explore a new digital dimension of design
What does architecture look like when it’s liberated from the restraints of technology, engineering, geology and even the laws of physics? The virtual world of the metaverse allows project leaders to consider these questions—and India’s NOOR Architects Consultants is at the forefront of figuring out a few answers.
In May, the firm finished a nine-month project to build an extension of its Chandigarh studio in the metaverse. There, team members and clients can experiment with emerging technologies and conjure up designs that might one day be reality.
“The metaverse sets a tone for boundless possibilities,” says company founder Noor Dasmesh Singh. “It is a realm for the creative amalgamation of the real, the unreal, the surreal and the mirror reflections of the real.”
After following stories about the space, Singh’s team began working on a metaverse version of Noor Architects Consultants’ studio as a “purely academic exercise.” There was no timeline or business goal—just designers dedicating spare time to the project through the firm’s think tank, Roon.
“We don’t always aim for tangible outcomes,” Singh says. “It is the quest in the unknown that drives us.”
But the deeper Singh and the team delved, the more they saw an opportunity to transform architectural design in a virtual space—and the chance to explore radically new ways of working.
“We followed the same creative process as a project that goes through the physical world. However, the metaverse brings with it a greater flexibility and imaginability,” Singh says.
The biggest challenge came down to a skills gap: aligning creative goals with technical abilities. For example, while team members used conventional architectural design software to create a vision of the studio, they needed to acquire new capabilities to convert the model for the metaverse.
The learning curve was fast—and transcendent.
The metaverse studio is a subterranean structure nestled against sand dunes, with a stairway that appears to be carved from rock. Inside, there are various nods to design, including works by abstract painter Mark Rothko and a model of the famous Open Hand monument in Chandigarh. Raked-sand floors are meant to underscore the beauty of empty spaces.
“The materiality is consciously imagined to rise from the metaverse ecosystem,” Singh says. And—because it’s the metaverse—his team is offering non-fungible tokens for some of the design objects.
He’s also talking with clients about bridging the metaverse and physical realm. Case in point: NOOR Architects Consultants used the studio to imagine an experience center for EVage, an Indian urban mobility company looking to showcase the long-term potential of electric vehicles. Planning is underway for a physical center in New Delhi, while a digital version will be showcased in the metaverse studio.
Indeed, what started as a creative whim is quickly having a tangible impact—showing the power of the metaverse to change architecture, Singh says. “It has started to manifest how the power of design can start impacting real change. It is giving us endless opportunities to design and imagine in this futuristic space.”
Listen to NOOR Architects Consultants founder Noor Dasmesh Singh explain how his team took on new challenges to create a studio in the metaverse:
[The] metaverse intrigued us a lot. The metaverse sets a tone for boundless possibilities and is a realm for the creative amalgamation of the imaginary, the unreal, the surreal and the mirror reflections of the real. [The] metaverse is no different than creating projects in the physical world. It does go through the rigor of following the same creative process as a project may go through in the physical world, just that the metaverse brings with it a greater flexibility and imaginability that a physical world may sometimes be limiting.
So our studio, if I can humbly put it, is a labor of love. This is a “post-architectural” studio, which is not limited by the limitations imposed by the material reality of things. When we talk about challenges, there were technological challenges or, better still, new answers to be understood. The fact that a metaverse framework has its own constraints to be understood and worked with—it’s more like learning a new software or dovetailing our existing skill set or tools to adapt with the technological requirements. So in every single project, we tend to push boundaries, be it technological innovation at that level or [from] a creative innovation standpoint. In a way, for me personally and our practice, it has taken a similar sort of process that has really guided us to the end result.