Non-fungible tokens (NFTs) are the latest entrants to the cryptocurrency world, and they have captivated users worldwide. But what is an NFT, exactly?
An NFT is the digital paperwork that authenticates the origin of a digital file and its owner in a blockchain. Because they are non-fungible, they can’t be replicated. NFTs can represent items we see in the real world like artwork or, these days, even real estate.
Tokenized assets are easier to trade, buy, and sell because they are digitized. Exchange can, therefore, be made on any NFT marketplace from anywhere and anytime.
NFTs are now widely used in various industries like gaming and art, but did you know that they are gaining ground as well in architecture? This post, in fact, will talk about how architects use the technology.
What Does NFTs Have to Do with Design?
Ever heard of the term “NFT architecture”? It recently made headlines with the sale of the so-called “Mars House” for $500,000 just this March.
The Mars House is not a typical house like those you see in your neighborhood. It’s not located on Mars either. It is an NFT, a digital house to be exact, created by Krista Kim.
While it is a house, its owner can’t live in it physically because it doesn’t exist in the real world. Instead, its owner can only visit it virtually or show it off to family and friends from the comfort of his or her actual living room.
NFT usage in design and architecture most likely emerged for newbies who may not have enough financial resources or backers (e.g., a real estate company) to bring their creations to life. The technology allows them to design and even build projects in metaverses like Decentraland to showcase as part of their portfolio in place of 3D models. That brings forth several benefits, including:
- Architects don’t have to bring bulky and fragile 3D models to the houses or offices of potential buyers or financial backers each time they’re asked to show their work.
- Interested buyers or backers can fully immerse themselves in the space the architect designed, move around, see how everything inside and out is laid out, manipulate lighting, and more even if the house or building hasn’t been built yet.
Tokenizing architectural designs also makes it possible to create what would be considered today as out-of-this-world buildings—those you’re only likely to see in futuristic films today. While building them may not yet be feasible, someday soon it might be. And wouldn’t it be nice to already have a one-of-a-kind design on hand when that time comes?
What Is NFT Housing?
We talked about the Mars House earlier but designers are not the only ones considering NFT use. Forward-looking real estate developers are also considering NFTs as means to represent property rights. And experts agree.
You may not believe it but TechCrunch founder Michael Arrington’s apartment in Ukraine is being auctioned as an NFT. And no, it is not a virtual apartment; Arrington actually lived in it. With a starting price of $20,000, whoever outbids the competition and gets named as its NFT owner will also own the real property.
Following Arrington’s lead, real estate broker Shane Dulgeroff took to OpenSea to sell a house in California as an NFT. The offer also comes with a psychedelic representation of the actual house.
So, in the realm of real estate, NFTs have more to do with how a physical property is showcased (via a virtual tour maybe), paid for (using cryptocurrency), and eventually sold (via an NFT auction and backed by a smart contract).
Although we see NFT housing becoming a trend led by platforms like Propy and OpenSea, we have yet to see its full application in the real world. We expect adoption to take off slowly, though, as it may take a long while for traditional and conservative home buyers to become comfortable with making big purchases using digital currency.
How Do I Create an NFT?
Is your interest piqued enough to want to create your own NFTs? If you are ready to take on the challenge but do not know how to begin, we can help.
First, you need three things—a digital wallet with seed digital currency, a blockchain project to work in, and your target NFT marketplace.
1. Choose the content or item you want to create.
Your choice would depend on what your profession or talent is. If you are an architect, that would be a dream project. Think along the lines of the Mars House, something you would want to build one day but currently don’t have the means to. It does not matter what the object is, what matters is that you created it and no one else can claim it as their intellectual property.
2. Select a blockchain technology.
A blockchain is a digitally distributed ledger that records real-time cryptocurrency transactions. It is publicly accessible but once data is added to it, it cannot be deleted or edited unlike in a database.
While Bitcoin is the oldest blockchain, you should know that most NFTs are bought and sold via Ethereum. Note that the California house and Arrington’s property are both being sold as NFTs for Ethereum.
3. Create your digital wallet.
If you do not have a digital wallet yet, set one up because you will need to have cryptocurrency on hand to fund your initial investment. Knowing what you now know about blockchains for NFT trading, you may want to use Ethereum coins as capital.
4. Choose an NFT marketplace.
The adage “different strokes for different folks” applies here. Graphic artists normally flock to NFT marketplaces like OpenSea, Rarible, and Decentraland. And it is not surprising since OpenSea, for instance, is where the most expensive NFT painting in the world—Pimptronot—is being auctioned at a floor price of $260,000. Research is critical if you want to find the right fit for your offering and funding capacity.
For architects looking for a niche marketplace, it may be a good idea to go to RENOVI. Showcasing your work on specially crafted platforms for architectural designs may also help with promotions.
5. Upload your content or item.
The uploading process varies from one platform to another. If your heart is set on OpenSea, for instance, you can find explicit instructions on creating and uploading your first NFT from its Help Center. Pro tip: Be specific when describing your content.
6. Start selling.
Selling NFTs happens through auctions but you can choose between a timed or an unlimited auction. OpenSea’s Help Center can clue you into the selling process, too. Whatever choice you make, though, indicating the floor or starting price is essential or you may end up losing instead of making money off your hard work.
Are 3D Models NFTs?
The answer to this question is twofold.
If you’re talking about 3D models you create physically with cardboard, glue, and the works, then they aren’t NFTs. 3D models created using computer-aided design (CAD) and similar software are also not NFTs even if they’re one step closer to being one than physical 3D models—they are already in digital format. Both 3D model types need to be tokenized first before they can be considered NFTs.
For now, all we know is that NFTs will allow architects to create the impossible at present, at least, unleashing their creativity and imagination and thus elevating the profession to new heights. Though we have yet to see more architectural NFTs, including 3D models, auctioned and sold, the wait may not be that long.
We already witnessed the launch of several platforms for architectural NFT. Architects can, for instance, join SOFA or Aureal, platforms specifically designed to showcase designs that can be sold as NFTs and built in the real world. The world’s first 3D model and industrial design collectibles marketplace, was also just launched last month.
Based on what you read, it is quite clear that NFTs could be considered the next cryptocurrency phenomenon, even in the architectural realm. They not only expanded the concept of asset ownership, extending the physical to the virtual realm, but also allowed architects to design dream projects that they can showcase even if they have yet to be built.
Are NFTs worth the hype and money, though? Did the Mars House owner just waste thousands of dollars on a home he or she cannot actually live in? Will tokenizing allow architects to ever reap enough for their hard work?
Only time may tell us the answers to these questions, but given the trajectory at which NFT usage is growing, it seems like the technology is here to stay and will continue to change the way we look at trading and even architecture.