Trend Watch May 2022

Rise of the metaverse:

‘Metaverse,’ a term from the 1992 novel Snow Crash, in which people live as avatars in a three dimensional world, has recently hit the zeitgeist referring to virtual worlds in a burgeoning next phase of the internet.

Architects, writes Chloe Sun for ArchDaily, could be facing crises in the physical world due to constraints of factors such as structure, and management, that limit the possibility of the discipline. The wake of COVID-19, she says, may further catalyse the rise of the digital alternatives to brick-and-mortar shops, houses and offices.

The NFT industry also is rapidly growing, and unique digital creations, Sun says, are not limited to traditional visual art, but include digital architecture and landscape architecture.

“Toronto-based artist Krista Kim has sold the first NFT-backed digital home for over half a million dollars,” Sun said.

Virtual real estate is surging in popularity, offering “an interesting and possibly lucrative domain for designers to leverage their design skills in the physical world and to extend that into the virtual world.”

The metaverse could offer the chance for architects and place designers to follow game designers and evolve their service to be scalable “solutions that can be reused and can benefit millions of users, not just one client.”

Read the full story at ArchDaily.

Image: Mars House.

Amsterdam plans its first modern-day timber neighbourhood:

The city of Amsterdam has confirmed an ambitious plan to build a neighbourhood entirely out of wood, writes Feargus O’Sullivan for Bloomberg CityLab.

The project reflects a move towards renewable materials by the city’s construction industry and a commitment from the municipalities of Greater Amsterdam to “ensure that at least 20% of new construction uses wood as its primary material by 2025.”

Timber is valuable in reducing the carbon footprint of construction as trees can not only be replanted, but also sequester carbon. The material requires less finishing and masonry, further reducing the use of resources and emissions.

O’Sullivan refers to a 2020 Finnish study that estimates “if 80% of Europe’s construction switched to wood as its primary material, the amount of carbon sequestered would be equivalent to 47% of the emissions from the continent’s concrete industry.”

The new neighbourhood, the Mandela Buurt, will be located in the city’s south, and offer affordable housing. “It will contain ten new apartment blocks, a primary school and social facilities, housing an estimated 2,100 residents in 700 new apartments.”

Construction of the Mandela Buurt neighbourhood is anticipated to begin in 2025, for completion in 2026. Read the full article here.

Image: Municipality of Amsterdam


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Trend Watch March 2022

Street trees and addressing liveability inequity: Street trees have the capacity to impact the liveability of suburbs, should community members be included in the design and planning of urban greening, say Melanie Davern, Dave Kendal and Camilo Ordonez Barona in an article for Cities People Love.  The RMIT, University of Tasmania and University of Toronto researchers write that “street trees and urban forestry provide a great example of a ‘nature-based solution’ to building environmentally sustainable liveable cities that provide multiple benefits.” Although the benefits of urban greening are well known, there is inequity in the distribution of street trees. “Disadvantaged communities in cities characterised by a lower level of income and education, and, in some cases, higher percentages of minority populations, tend to have less street tree cover and less …

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Trend Watch February 2022

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