concept rendering of roar meta space
Concept rendering of Roar Meta Space. COURTESY ROAR

Architect Pallavi Dean Discusses Buying Land in the Metaverse

Having acquired two plots in Decentraland, the Dubai-based architect and Roar Studios founder is envisioning the future of virtual architecture and development.

In recent years, Pallavi Dean, founder and creative director of the Dubai-based architecture and interior design studio Roar, has been observing the rapid growth of virtual architecture and design in both her studio and her personal life. “Besides reading about Bitcoin going through the roof and NFTs selling for millions, I had been spending a fortune in the metaverse for my sons to buy characters, weapons, skins, even a few virtual countries on Minecraft, Fortnite, or Roblox,” she tells Metropolis. But it wasn’t until seeing Microsoft pay $68 billion for the video game company Activision that Dean realized if there was ever a time to acquire land in the metaverse, that time is now.

We have to move away from the traditional ways of thinking about land.

rendering of a virtual cafe

Last month, the architect purchased two plots of land for 18,600 Mana (approximately $36,000) in Decentraland, a browser-based platform in which users can develop virtual worlds from homes to shopping centers to live music venues. The virtual property, Roar Meta Space, is located close a shopping district and will be developed into a multi-purpose complex for commercial use and hospitality, including an art gallery, event space, furniture boutique, and a hotel. Dean explains their long-term goal as “a one-stop source,” to display and collect NFTs, hold events, and lodge. 

After operating within the logistical, financial, and even social limits of physical architecture, Dean admits the “slightly daunting reality of having no restrictions,” adding that one regulation she has noticed is that the platform only allows for vertical growth in par with plot size. Regardless, Dean says she feels a “genuine thrill and keenness for designing and building a new type of architecture that hasn’t been seen.” The general lack of a governing body in the metaverse makes it both vulnerable towards unrestricted development but also promises experimentation and innovation.

rendering of a virtual office

The growth of virtual architecture is likely to shape the future of physical buildings and public spaces. But in its current stage, many examples of metaverse architecture still stem from the logics and typologies of analog design and construction. While Dean is ready to push the boundaries within her firm depending on “whether clients are willing to give us carte blanche” she recognizes that designing architecture in an artificial universe largely relies on “relatable design features,” at least when it comes to virtual homes or commercial venues. “Another way to induce feelings in a digital building is through the use of colors and textures as strong sense-awakening elements even through a VR headset.”

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Is the metaverse the closest we can get to a utopia? Dean thinks that in reaction to the harsh realities of real estate and land ownership in the physical world, “assets in the virtual realm have the potential to become the stepping rung of the real estate ladder.” She thinks decentralizing property and land ownership on 3D land is an important consideration while its emotional and social aspects are to face the test of time: “Now we have to start thinking in terms of ‘immersive’ and ‘experiential.’ [We have to] move away from the traditional ways of thinking about land.”

Rendering of a virtual cafe and bar

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