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Voxel Architects builds virtual houses for the metaverse

By Kevin Donovan

22:51, 17 February 2022

House of M virtual house
House of M virtual house - Photo: Voxel Architects
House of M virtual mansionHouse of M virtual mansion - Photo: Voxel Architects

For companies seeking a presence in the metaverse, or investors seeking to buy and develop virtual real estate, ancillary services companies are springing up as early movers in the “exponentially” growing virtual world, noted a pioneer virtual architect.

“I’m a digital artist and an architect,” said George Bileca, CEO of Voxel Architects. “There’s a blur between the lines in the metaverse.”

A virtual home, office or other place of business is nothing more than a slightly more complex non-fungible token (NFT) that can be used to store virtual goods or host visitors, meetings or concerts, granting access based on smart contracts stored on a blockchain, Bileca explained.

“The digital presence is proven by the NFT and it can also be transferred like real property,” Bileca added. “You are getting a digital product for your digital land.”

And business has grown exponentially since Facebook announced it was changing its name to Meta to focus on the metaverse. In two years, Voxel has grown from two to 21 employees, consisting of teams of conceptual artists and programmers to steer virtual real estate from concept to (virtual) reality.

Just last year, Voxel received two to three requests per week. Currently – since Facebook’s rebranding – Voxel fields two to three requests per day. “We don’t have a catalogue of prefabricated structures. Every metaverse world is different,” he added.

ConsenSys virtual office blueprintConsenSys virtual office blueprint - Photo: Voxel Architects

Cost similar to a real architecture company

There are currently three metaverses dominating the virtual world, Cryptovoxels, Decentraland and the Sandbox. Voxel Architects began as a digital developer in the Minecraft gaming system before transitioning to Cryptovoxels two years ago and has since expanded into Decentraland and The Sandbox.

And the price for a digital presence in one of the metaverses can get expensive, with a “cost similar to a real architecture company,” noted Bileca. The only difference, he added, was engineers have been replaced by programmers.

For $10,000 to $300,000 (£7,340 to £220,299) per project, the Voxel team is equipped to handle a capacity of four projects per month, or 48 per year. Voxel charges clients in cryptocurrency, Bileca added, primarily Ether or ERC-compatible tokens, such as USDC.

“You have to charge a little more for some of the more volatile tokens so it’s best to charge in stablecoins, it depends how we do the contract,” he added.

“I’m a digital artist and an architect. There’s a blur between the lines in the metaverse” ~ George Bileca, CEO of Voxel Architects.

Interactive, gamified experience

It takes, on average, six-to-eight weeks to complete each project. “If we have a massive project, a shopping mall for example, it could take up to six months,” Bileca said.

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Additionally, Voxel can create a gamified experience with a backyard garden with unique games in the garden for metaverse inhabitants to play. “Each building can become interactive,” Bileca said.

ConsenSys metaverse HQConsenSys metaverse HQ - Photo: Voxel Architects

Voxel clients

Currently, Voxel’s clients are primarily a mix of companies and institutional investors. “A lot of the building in the metaverse now are corporations because they want the brand advertising presence and investors see an opportunity,” Bileca said.

Sotheby's London gallery in Decentraland metaverseSotheby's London gallery in Decentraland metaverse - Photo: Voxel Architects

Voxel's client list ranges from blockchain software technology developer ConsenSys   to auction house Sotheby’s, as well as some of the larger names investing in the NFT space, including Vignesh Sundaresan – known as MetaKovan – who reportedly paid $69m for a Beeple NFT last year.

For Sotheby’s, Voxel designed and built a virtual recreation of its London-based gallery in Decentraland, for which viewing rooms can be digitally altered depending on the work being displayed.

“For a Bored Ape Yacht Club exhibition, we turned the viewing room into a virtual swamp. For a Botticelli viewing, we turned the viewing room into a Renaissance-themed gallery.

Sotheby's virtual Botticelli exhibitSotheby's virtual Botticelli exhibit - Voxel Architects

In the not too distant future, Bileca envisions the institutional investors will be the virtual landlords of the metaverse, “where retail investors buy or rent (virtual property) from the institutional investors.”

“In the grand vision we have,” Bileca added, “a company like JPMorgan would buy a large plot of land in a metaverse and sells plots to other banks to create a (virtual) banking district.”

Currently, Voxel’s revenues are expected to be in the couple of million per year, but Bileca projects that to grow to the tens of millions within a few years. “Within five years, I’m more than sure the metaverse will be as mainstream as reality.”

Voxel Architects is a subsidiary of decentralised autonomous organisation (DAO) NFT Studios and is self-funded from a revenue standpoint. “We currently have sustainable revenue but we would consider outside funding for a strategic partnership, a really large project,” Bileca added.

Sotheby's virtual doormanSotheby's virtual doorman - Photo: Sotheby's Auction House

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