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‘Architecting the Metaverse’ exhibition shortlisted for AJ100 “Innovation of the Year Award” 2023

‘Architecting the Metaverse’ was a collaborative experiment for Zaha Hadid Architects (ZHA) and the artist Refik Anadol whose digital works examine machine intelligence. This immersive 2022 installation at the DDP Design Museum in Seoul, Korea integrated two societal and architecturally important innovations in internet and spatial content creation technologies: the Metaverse and Generative AI. The Metaverse combines advances in photo-real, Massively Multi-player Online (MMO) gaming technologies, high-speed telecommunications and cloud technologies to advance the internet towards becoming spatial, immersive and socially interactive. Generative AI refers broadly to the synthesis of images from prompts of user-provided text descriptions. Architecting the Metaverse experimented with prompt engineering and automating the process of interpreting generated 2D images into 3D spatial scenes to create engaging virtual spaces for social interaction. The project demonstrated the importance of architecture and architectural technologies in the creation of purpose-designed user-focused virtual spaces that enrich social interaction. This experimental collaboration with Refik Anadol tested our parametric design expertise, code-base and tools, particularly for interior spaces. Projects developed within cyberspace are fast-paced, have quick turn-around times. Yet they are also bespoke and must provide excellent user experiences. The user’s spatial experience has always been important focus of our architecture. As these virtual environments provide an accurate approximation of occupancy, navigation and user-experience data of ZHA designs, applying the workflows and engineering developed in the creation of ‘Architecting the Metaverse’ is leading to the enrichment of the architectural interiors we build for clients in cities around the world by strengthening our expertise in computational and experience-enhancing design.