Architects are asking members of the public to make their mark on a real-life pavilion in the Estonian capital — using Non-Fungible Tokens, or NFTs.
“Fungible Non-Fungible Pavilion” by Vienna-based studio IHEARTSLOB was announced as the winning proposal of The Tallinn Architecture Biennale’s 2022 Installation Programme Competition, and will be built next summer opposite the Museum of Estonian Architecture.
The public will be able to contribute to the pavilion’s final design by adding pastel-coloured digital blocks with an app that produces NFTs. The computer-generated bricks will have a real-life impact on the final design. As a result, the installation could look entirely different by July 2022, when the structure is due for construction.
But there’s a catch: if users want to make additions to the design, then they have to pay up using cryptocurrency, contributing to the real-world costs of the materials and labour needed to make those changes.
The pavilion’s creators say their proposal will change the role of architect from “master builder” to “a systems designer”, whose job is to “weave together innovative technologies to empower communities and enable local craftsmanship”.
NFTs, which will be used as “building blocks” in the collective creative process behind the pavilion, use the technology behind cryptocurrencies — blockchain — to give any piece of digital media its own unique signature making it limited edition, or one-of-a-kind. Once an NFT has been added to an image, GIF, or video, it can’t be removed or changed, and allows the digital asset to be bought, sold, collected — and authenticated — just like fine art.
Users can transfer NFTs from one crypto-wallet to another, like a digital currency. Once an NFT is bought by an individual, this information becomes publicly available. Yet while NFT-artworks have been sold for millions of dollars in recent months, the technology has been criticised — both in terms of security, and its high environmental costs.