Mona Space TAG-3 is presented as an example of cyberspace architecture in this article. Monaverse is a Metaverse world-building platform that focuses on inventive and one-of-a-kind 3D places.
TAG-3 is a virtual art gallery for displaying NFTs. It includes two conflicting design styles with a general theme of the clashing of opposites. The highly futuristic shape on the outside segment demonstrates modern design without constraints. ''I also wanted this to feel a bit like being in the clouds, where you can't see anything around you except for white forms.'' About the designer: Bryan Ye is a student at the Azrieli School of Architecture and Urbanism (Canada). As a designer in the Metaverse, I was interested in his perspective on virtual reality. Read his response to the article below.
''I agree that seeing architecture digitally isn't the same as experiencing it in person, and I like to remind people that while virtual reality is a future of architecture, it's not THE future of architecture; rather, it's an extension of what architecture may become. The metaverse is essentially a tool for exploring architecture, and that will most likely be its limit. The constraints that architects face while creating in the actual world can never be replaced, and working with those tight physics and building code constraints is what makes the architecture profession so unique.
There's one more thing. The metaverse notion may be linked to the popularity of zoom during the COVID era, when zoom was the key tool for workplaces and schools during a period when we weren't permitted to meet face to face with our teachers and coworkers. While Zoom provided a good set of features that allowed for even better methods of presenting work via screen share rather than spending money and time printing and building physical models for crits, nothing beats the in-person interactions with people at school and the studio culture that virtual learning will never be able to replace.'' Find more of Bryan Ye's work on Instagram: @_telstar.
This article will be an introduction to the concept of virtual reality. It will make an attempt to put a difficult concept into words by exploring different perspectives on the Metaverse (Meta, previously Facebook) in its manifestation to a VW. The fundamental question revolves around the benefits and concerns of architecture in a virtual reality from a philosophical perspective.
According to architect Nicholas Negroponte VW's are in broad sense still assigned as fiction, however, we should get familiar with the fact that it may already be a part of the present.1 Speaking from personal experience, the idea of using a VW as a means in our daily life seems very distant, and in some ways, surrealistic. Nevertheless, Meta claims it to be an excellent tool for the future, and humanity is bound to utilize it in some way or another. If you, like me, love the feel of pen and paper and occasionally feel disconnected due to the vast amount of technology in today's society (or disconnect on purpose), then let's take a look into the advantages of a VW as a tool with a healthy dose of skepticism.
The term "Metaverse" refers to a VW in which people can interact with one another online. It is a network of virtual 3D environments where users may do various tasks using an avatar, or digital doppelgänger. Contrary to popular belief, the phrase was first used in a science fiction novel in 1992. Last year, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg revived the concept by renaming Facebook into Meta and investing billions in the creation of a metaverse.
Although, for the time being, this is largely speculative. Small metaverses such as Fortnite, Roblox, Minecraft, The Sandbox, and Horizon Workrooms exist, but they are not yet linked into a larger virtual environment. The superpower and attractive features of the metaverse relies on the following: in theory, everything is virtually possible.
The position of the Metaverse
With a background in philosophy, I view the concept of a VW to be problematic. To eliminate the untouchable element of the VW paradigm, we must navigate its placement in reference to the physical world.We can debate if the objects in the VW are merely counterparts of substantial creatures, or if they define themselves as entities as is. Begin by asking, 'Where is the virtual world?'.
We briefly touch on the philosophical theory of Metaphysics in our analysis of computer-generated objects, where we define reality and address the question, "What is our position in the universe?". Concerning the Metaverse, I want to start a thought experiment in which we consider the following question: "What is our place in the universe when the Metaverse exists alongside our world?". It is essential to study the Metaverse's position, whether we are talking about a new world within our world, a new world next to our world, or a new world apart from our world. In the next section, I used both early (Magermans, 2004) and recent (Moneta, 2020) literature to study this subject as a notion that has circulated over time (and surprisingly shares the same principles).
A tool versus a space
Magermans raises a fundamental challenge in how we should address virtual reality. In the first case, it could be viewed as a tool that allows us to experiment in an infinite setting. In architecture, for example, it solves the difficulty of visualizing a notion into a three-dimensional representation for the client. There is an indisputable power in seeing a space before it is completed to identify architectural errors, validate theories, and serve as an effective means of transmitting the architect's ideas. Yet, in the first case, we consider virtual reality to be a fictitious world in comparison to the physical world. There are no big operations that have a direct impact on our reality.
The second case implies virtual reality as a space. When considering virtual reality as a space, we must believe that telepresence is only conceivable when the body and mind are separated; transferring the mind to a virtual environment while the body remains in the physical world, we basically gain access to exist in both the physical and virtual world at the same time. This lends support to the idea of virtual reality not being isolated from, but rather existing alongside, physical reality. In terms of architecture, should virtual environment be an identical duplicate of the real world? or may it be an opportunity to create something new?
However, treating virtual reality as a space raises the following concern by Magermans: ‘’When virtual reality started, the tendency was to imitate and simulate the ‘’real’’ in the ‘’virtual’’ space. I very much believe that soon the tendency will be to try to imitate and simulate (actualize) the ‘’virtual’’ in the ‘’real’’ space.’’. Will our existence in the physical world be satisfied within the constraints of reality if our imagination has access to such complex and spectacular virtual reality forms and spaces?
''It is essential to study the Metaverse's position, whether we are talking about a new world within our world, a new world next to our world, or a new world apart from our world. ''
The role of the architect
This concern also arises in more recent literature. Andrea Moneta states in her academic research on the Metaverse the following: ‘’Designing architecture on the Metaverse is a challenging task even for experienced architects, let alone for those who do not have their cultural and technical background. Freed from spatial, economic and technical limitations, without a natural environment and an anthropic history, designers of architectures could be easily lost in the digital magic domain where everything is possible and potentially huge.’’ In addition she also claims the VW is not isolated from the RW anymore and we need to extend the role of the architect into the VW. Having said that, a following problem arises when we consider architects are trained to analyze and understand the environment in which they design, including its history and natural environment, all of which doesn’t exist in the VW.
Losing touch with reality
I'd like to address one final point raised in both Magermans and Moneta's articles: a critique of control and virtuality technology. Magermans cites architect and philosopher Paul Virilio, who claims that "after the seduction of simulation comes the disappointment of substitution," i.e. preferring a virtual being over a real being is problematic.2 Additionally, Moneta quotes a prediction made by philosopher Guy Debord , stating that ‘’Our society is replacing authentic social life with its representation. Being the built environment an aspect of social life, we need to acknowledge that VW’s are becoming a wider expression of our personal and collective space, an interactive spatial dimension where, in the very same moment we shape its shape, it shapes us.’’.3 Both citations indicate concerns about losing a sense of reality and eroding our authenticity as a result of digitalization. Should we be worried?
In conclusion, I feel the perspectives presented above provide us with a glimpse of what thoughts revolve around the concept of a virtual world. However, the amount of literature, perspectives, and ideas available is immense, and I personally believe I fell short of providing a thorough introduction to the philosophy of architecture in a virtual reality. In brief, the concept is too vast to grasp in a single article, so I would like to invite you to start thinking about the potentials and concerns around this topic.
To give you a head start, think about the following: Do you agree that architecture in a virtual environment will be the solution to many problems as well as a fantastic tool for design? Or are you convinced that if we get too hasty with the overwhelming freedom of the virtual world, we would forever live under a false pretense of reality?