For many people, terms like NFT, Blockchain, Ethereum, Bitcoin or Metaverse are a distant galaxy. Modern technologies not only change our reality, but also create, their own alternative worlds. Where is architecture in all this? How will new technologies affect the architectural profession in the future? This is what we are discussing with Jędrzej Lewandowski of Le 2 Workshop. One of the first Polish architects to offer his project as NFT.
Wiktor Bochenek: House on the Water can be purchased as a non-exchangeable token, or NFT. What does an interested person actually buy?
Jedrzej Lewandowski: One needs to understand the nature of the NFT itself. In general, NFT as a non-fungible token is an address on the Internet - an inviolable virtual numerical value. The right to decide the fate of this value has only the person who has the access key to it. In the real world we have a credit card to make transactions, while in the NFT we use a virtual wallet that allows us to encrypt the virtual property. Someone who owns an NFT owns a piece of memory on the Internet.
It is a property that has a representational function. People buy NFTs to show that they have an NFT. It can be said that at the moment it is a kind of luxury good. NFTs are evolving all the time. Their direction is such that they will represent various values, including material ones. We often bring back souvenirs from vacations and decorate our home with them. Later, using them, we can prove to our guests that we have been somewhere. This is an abbreviated analogy.
NFTs are based on Ethereum cryptocurrency technology. The technology may become even more widespread with the development of Metaverse. Sony and Lego have also joined the race in creating virtual reality by investing in the Epic Games project.
Wiktor Bochenek: How does this make sense in the context of architecture?
Jedrzej Lewandowski: An architectural example is precisely House on the Water. It's a pre-2008 project that was shown in a really large number of publications around the world. There is a small chance that this project will be built in reality. Currently, you can read about it on the Internet and in archival newspapers. Alternatively, visit me and see the printed boards. NFT is an opportunity for this project to be revived. It is possible that someone will buy a "virtual property" and put it on a real plot of land. It will be possible to view it through special glasses or a phone in so-called Metavers. Such a property can be placed on the Internet, a game or geolocated in the real world and used in a virtual space. It can be toured. It can be rented for a virtual meeting. It can also be sold.
The value of the NFT is a matter of contract. We agree on what the token represents. House on the Water appears as one piece. If someone decides to buy it for the price indicated, they do not acquire the copyright, but they do acquire the right to say that they are in the digital world the first owner of the object. This is how it looks at the moment, but the situation is very much in development. As an author, I can agree to transfer the copyright to the new token owner. Already today we are seeing media interest in people and institutions owning expensive NFTs. Since you can own an image of a unique monkey for $250,000, you can also own a digital model of a unique architecture for $2 million.
Jedrzej Lewandowski - one of the first Polish architects to stokenize his architectural project
Photo: Michal Omyla
Wiktor Bochenek: How is the NFT protected?
Jędrzej Lewandowski: In short, NFT is owned by the person who holds the digital access key to it stored on a virtual wallet (e.g. Metamask). The whole technology is based on blockchain technology, which is used by the so-called marketplace (e.g. OpenSea). It is used to document the history of transactions made. This makes it known where and when such a project was created and who owned it. This eliminates the risk of duplicating NFT and allows you to prove its first creation. It is worth mentioning that right-clicking on a graphic and pressing "save as" does not mean taking possession of the NFT. Thus, we save the graphic representation of the NFT token on disk, but it does not become our property. Simplifying, we can say that the address combined with the graphic represent a value because they are original. They were created at a particular place and time on the Internet and someone took the trouble to document this fact. This is the digital equivalent of land records. For example, computer-generated graphics not stored in the blockchain are just graphic files. We can generate thousands of them, but this is not NFT.