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An open international competition – featuring a $50,000 cryptocurrency prize fund – has been announced for virtual infrastructure designs for the metaverse (Deadline: 31 March)
The ‘Next Top Metaverse Build’ contest invites architects, students and designers to design new buildings such as museums, galleries and events spaces for an online 3D virtual world.
The call for concepts – organized by NFT marketplace Renovi – aims to raise awareness of the opportunities for designers in metaverse environments such as Decentraland, Sandbox and Second Life. Prizes will include free software, parcels of land in Decentraland, and Renovi tokens to the value of $50,000.
Andy Charalambous, co-founder of Renovi said: ‘We are calling for all talented architecture students, 3D designers, game developers and metaverse enthusiasts to come join us for this unique Metaverse Build competition on the RENOVI platform.
‘The metaverse is coming and it will offer architects and designers a unique opportunity to showcase and monetise their work.
‘We have set aside $50,000 in RNVI tokens and will be giving software subscriptions to talented students participating in the competition. This contest is about giving back and empowering both upcoming and established designers, and we are thrilled to have such premier partners such as Decentraland and the Metaverse group join us in this pursuit.’
Metaverses are online 3D virtual worlds where users around the world can design and build structures on land they either own or share freely with others. High-profile metaverse environments include Decentraland and Sandbox which both have their own digital currencies allowing users to buy and sell land in the form of non-fungible tokens (NFTs).
Architects currently working in both real life and the metaverse include Space Popular who created Punto de inflexión (Turning Point) – a virtual festival and exhibition curated by Gonzalo Herrero Delicado for the Arquia Foundation.
The Next Top Metaverse Build contest aims to help raise awareness of the metaverse and ‘show architects and designers how they can monetise their expertise in these up-and-coming virtual worlds, in addition to traditional industries they already serve.’
The contest features ten categories and judges will include Stavros Zachariades from Squire and Partners, Oliver Lowrie from Ackroyd Lowrie, Hilary Lancaster from Fusion Interiors Group, Michail Georgiou from the University of Nicosia, and Mike Charalambous of 3D software company Threedium.
Q&A with Adonis Zachariades
The co-founder of Renovi discusses his ambitions for the competition
Why are you holding an international competition for new virtual infrastructure designs for the metaverse?
We want to raise awareness of the metaverse and the opportunities open to architects and designers. While traditional models will naturally always exist, we believe there will be an evolution; one where architects are designing virtual spaces with the help of game developers instead of construction companies.
In the post-pandemic world, organisations are trying to identify how we will all interact in virtual spaces, and how this impacts business operations, productivity and outcomes.
NFTs mean that now we can have digital ownership of any asset. With the blockchain, we can own our digital data, our virtual land and our virtual buildings. This is a game-changer and presents so many profiling and commercial opportunities for architectural and design professionals.
However, engagement in this space needs to accelerate. While some progressive architects and firms are on-board, and we are seeing studios renaming themselves as ’metaverse architects’, there is still a lot to do.
The competition is not only an opportunity to win some incredible prizes, but we hope it will empower architects to embrace the metaverse as a new market.
What is your vision for these future virtual infrastructures, and what would you like to see in submissions to the competition?
Ultimately, we want to see structures that are interactive or structures that are impossible to build in real life.
We want creativity to take centre stage and for entrants to stretch the boundaries set by traditional design rules. The metaverse is a space where you can let your imagination run wild, and free yourselves of the constraints of what is possible.
Facilities and aesthetics are totally down to the architects and where their imagination takes them. We only hope to see spaces that are engaging and promote interaction between visitors.
What role do you see this competition playing in the development of new local, international and underrepresented architectural and design talents, and helping to address the underrepresentation and engagement of many communities in our interpretation of the built environment?
We are all about breaking the barriers and profiling up-and-coming global talent, including student architects. Younger architects have not been ‘institutionalised’ yet, and their ideas are wild/fresh, not limited by space or planning permission.
Those more established in their careers could also use it to get a foothold in this new space. We are at the beginning of the journey, the metaverse is happening – so they can be the early adopters.
Anybody can collaborate as part of the competition. It’s not limited to a country or continent. Anyone can win, anyone can apply.
The absence of boundaries might cause contestants some challenges, however, we are encouraging people to push as hard as possible beyond this. This is where innovation will happen and the very essence of the Metaverse.
Are there any recent similar competitions or projects, either locally or internationally, which have delivered impressive results?
There have been notable projects over the last years. Perhaps Andrés Reisinger’s impossible furniture collection, the mars house by Krista Kim, or the meeting place by Cyril Lancelin and Benny Or.
However, we have not seen metaverse competitions to this scale. We have partnered with some of the absolute leading names in the Metaverse space – which reinforces how important some of the largest companies in the world are seeing the role of architects and the impact they will have.
As our competitions evolve, we will challenge existing procurement trends as they develop.
How do you see Renovi projects evolving in the future and what competitions will you hold next?
With more and more adoption, we see this competition becoming more specific in the future and perhaps more dedicated to metaverse platforms instead of encompassing all.
For example, we could be hosting it in the metaverse with seminars delivered to participants through their avatars. We could even see some of these ‘impossible’ buildings concepts using augmented reality through our phones or goggles. The opportunities are limitless.
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