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April 26, 2022

Architectural Designs as NFTs in the Real World and the Metaverse

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As you've undoubtedly heard by now, NFTs are leaving their mark across major industries, and the AEC (Architecture, Engineering & Construction) industry is no different. This new technology that has been taking the world by storm has created lucrative opportunities for artists and designers, among others, to monetize creative works in ways that did not exist before. As a key industry that marries the creative with the practical, it only makes sense that the opportunities offered by NFTs in architecture are just as vast. But in a world where anyone can build free from gravity and other constraints of physics, how are architects and other players in the AEC and related industries leveraging their unique skillsets and setting themselves apart?

One way that those in the AEC and related industries are diving headfirst into the world of NFTs is by developing architectural designs that can be built in both the physical world and the metaverse. Earlier this year, British property developer, Stately Homes, announced the launch of Hampton House - a yet-to-be-built palatial residence in Surrey. Along with buying the beautifully designed physical mansion, the lucky purchaser of this $40 million property will also receive the right of first refusal to purchase an NFT replica of Hampton House to build in the metaverse platform of their choosing.

Approaching the concept of designing buildings that can be built in both the physical world and the metaverse from the opposite angle is Aureal, a team of architects, 3D artists, visual artists, BIM experts and virtual world enthusiasts. According to Aureal, whose first NFT, #001 Isola, launched recently on OpenSea, those who purchase NFTs from their NFT Architecture Collection, will receive not only the necessary files to build the NFT structure in the metaverse, but also an IFC file that contains the preliminary information needed to build the house wherever they choose in the real world. Aureal's next NFT, #002 Isola, is set to launch on June 1, 2022.

Another group of architects and collaborators poised to make waves in both the metaverse and the physical world is State of Address (SofA). As an architectural design community on the blockchain, SofA aims to shift how design and architecture is made, owned and collected, using NFTs to democratize architectural designs to make architecture both more affordable to the end consumer and more lucrative to designers, who will receive royalties on the resale of their NFT in perpetuity. Each SofA NFT collection will consist of three designs by an emerging designer (on the cusp of ‘stardom'), a hero (highly celebrated & renowned designer) and a legend (a retired or past industry icon). With the purchase of each individual NFT design, the purchaser will receive the intellectual property and licensing needed to build and use the design in both the metaverse and the real world.

In addition to its architectural design NFT collections, SofA has also launched a limited number of membership pass NFTs. Holders of a SofA membership pass will join a community of designers, collectors and traders with access to exclusive content and events. Membership pass holders will also be granted early access to mint new collections before they're released to the public.

It's clear that we are only just beginning to discover the exciting and innovative ways NFTs can be used in the AEC industry. To learn more about the impact of NFTs on Architecture & Design, and relevant copyright and contractual issues to consider surrounding this innovative technology, join us for Ingram's upcoming webinar hosted by the AIA New York Center for Architecture on May 4, 2022.

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