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in conversation with pico velasquez on architecting the metaverse

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Designing next-generation virtual realms

No longer sci-fi or fragmentary imaginary concepts, metaverse Here it is, built as we speak. Called the next generation web, this immersive extension of physical reality is already beginning to transform the human experience. Today, digital experiences are dominated by blockchain, 3D modeling, artificial intelligence, AR, VRTogether they have revolutionized the way we design, work, learn, play and socialize. In particular, the fusion of the physical and virtual worlds has created endless opportunities for architects and designers shaping the Metaverse.

While this alternate reality has already established a strong foothold in the digital world, uncertainty about its nuances still permeates its development. In an iterative process, its parameters are still being defined, its limitations are still being worked out, and its future is still being innovated.as a media partner MetaWeek Summit in Dubai Held in September 2022, designboom attended a two-day conference to learn about the future of the enigmatic digital realm from some of the most prominent global experts and industry pioneers at the forefront of metaverse development.

At that time we sat with Pico Velasquez — conference keynote speaker, prolific architect, computer designer, and founder of Metaverse startup VIIRA — seeks deeper insight into the role architects and designers can play in shaping the virtual We discussed the integration of human-centered design in world building, its limitations, underlying technology, and more. Read our full conversation below.


All images are © Pico Velasquez unless otherwise stated

Interview with Metaverse Visionary Pico Velázquez

designboom (DB): First, cPlease explain what the metaverse actually is.

Pico Velazquez (PV): The Metaverse can be defined as an extension of the Internet with an infinite interconnected space that is interoperable, decentralized, community-controlled, operated and owned. Visually and creatively speaking, the Metaverse is a set of 3D virtual environments that resemble a combination of multiplayer video games, social media, and augmented reality. It consists of all data whether visualized via 2D, 3D, XD, XR, website platforms or pure code. It also allows users to access it through multiple hardware such as computers, smartphones, VR, and AR.

From an architectural perspective, the metaverse sits at the intersection of technology and design for both physical and virtual environments. This includes worldbuilding, urban planning, architectural construction, immersive experiences, gamification, marketplaces, and NFTs where digital identities interact in real time.

Conversation with pico velasquez on metaverse design at metaweek dubai
Conversation with Metaverse visionary Pico Velasquez at MetaWeek Dubai

DB: The Metaverse is still an enigmatic and exciting concept, built as we speak. What role do architects and designers play in shaping it? What new opportunities are already opening up for creative expression?

PV: The Metaverse is a compelling new opportunity for architects and designers as it transforms every industry, including art, culture, education, entertainment, the economy and every aspect of everyday life. It’s essential to understand that the metaverse has an incredibly complex set of layers. It’s about designing entire parallel universes that connect seamlessly with the existing universe. From cities and buildings to avatars and identities, we need to design “space” as well as how humans and AI will communicate, transact and interact.

Designing a metaverse is like creating a story. Essentially, we know that people inherently want to be globally connected. We aim to invent new and innovative ways to connect people in engaging, human-centered experiences that are unmatched. In addition to the nearly limitless creative possibilities in constructing immersive virtual worlds, the design of virtual spaces and interactions will define new dimensions of social behavior, leading to large-scale behavior and global impact. Creativity and responsibility go hand in hand in this case.

Conversation with pico velasquez on metaverse design at metaweek dubai
2D DALL E output converted to 3D virtual architecture

DB: as you mentioned meta week Like the keynote, you moved into the virtual realm after many years as a traditional architect and designer. Can you tell us more about your latest venture, VIIRA, a metaverse startup?

PV: When Villawe are focused on playing a pivotal role in shaping the future by providing the platform and tools to build the metaverse of tomorrow. Focused on culture, we work with individuals and institutions, both traditional and digital natives, to develop a Web3 presence integrated with blockchain, NFTs, and DeFi.

We are building the first 3D-NFT marketplace focused on interactive and collaborative art and design. Through its design and technology, the Metaverse believes it offers a new approach for artists and brands to express their work and connect with their fans and customers. It is therefore important to provide a place where these new forms of expression, such as animation, interactive and generative art, can be built, exhibited and traded.

We work with renowned museums, Grammy-winning artists, luxury brands, as well as up-and-coming artists. He also advises multiple Fortune 500 companies and start-ups on their Metaverse vision and strategy around innovation, community and global impact as part of educating the larger ecosystem.

Conversation with pico velasquez on metaverse design at metaweek dubai
Sensory experience portal

Database: What are the factors and parameters that distinguish how physical and virtual spaces are constructed?

PV: The determinants of physical space are the availability of land and materials to build on, and environmental requirements. Instead, in the virtual realm, the parameters are determined by the desired user experience, engagement, and use case application. Buildings meet the most basic human needs such as shelter and security, but architecture influences the emotional state of those who interact with it.

Metaverse architecture is more than static buildings. It’s akin to developing a “live architecture” that combines spatial design, cinematography, animated digital content, storytelling, and guided experiences with gamification and interactivity. Here, it’s easiest for metaverse architects to design virtual buildings and cities that mimic what we know. Think digital doubles and game worlds where space follows our own rules and physics.

Conversation with pico velasquez on metaverse design at metaweek dubai
Ombiia: An Immersive Theater Experience in the Metaverse

But imagine. What aspects of our virtual spaces and buildings do not need to follow these existing rules? To do. Thus, even without real-world rules and constraints such as gravity, structural stability, climate problems, and physical laws, architects can overcome existing conditions and create exceptional, ever-evolving environments, unless programmed to do so. and the freedom to create authentic experiences as art.

For example, imagine a gallery exhibition in the metaverse space. Instead of replicating what exists in the physical version, it can be a 360 immersive exhibit where the user not only witnesses or observes the artwork, but also interacts and experiences the entire exhibit. Multiple artworks can exist within one of her spaces and can be programmed to be unique to each individual and the user’s actions within that space.

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