This is the third installment in a four-part series The New Creative Economy about the local professionals who are leading Singapore’s creative and innovation-based economy.
“We are at the nascent state of technology,” says architect Yong Sy Lyng when describing the metaverse.
As a result – and probably because of it – the founder and principal architect of OWMF Architecture, who immersed herself in it, is passionate about working in this space.
She already has her name on two projects: the Crypto Art Museum for crypto exchange Matrixport and its virtual headquarters. She plans to one day turn unused designs and drawings from these projects into NFTs.
Yong studied architecture at the prestigious Cooper Union in New York, where she developed an interest in nonlinear parametric geometry and even teaches and does research in this area. The shapes she favors are unconventional ones created using mathematical equations or algorithms.
In the physical world, this often leads to higher costs caused by more difficult construction and, often, controversy over whether the finished building adds value to the environment. The Metaverse, however, has very few limits, so it’s pretty much the norm. This is precisely why Yong is thrilled to stay the course.
“Most of my parametric geometry ideas haven’t made it to the real world because there are too many practical constraints like functionality and budget, but I could have them all built in the metaverse,” she says.
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Create “open, wild and magical fun” in architecture
As Yong explains, she chose architecture because she wasn’t interested in other courses at university. “But I knew after the first week of classes that it was for me,” she recalls. Drawing and making models were some of the things she loved about homework, along with the constant critical analysis and research that led to an innovative kind of work.
After graduating, she worked for various firms in Singapore, China and New York, including Arc Studio Architecture & Urbanism, before launching OWMF Architecture in 2013. Her firm’s long name embodies what it stands for: Open Wild, Magical Fun.
“I tend to focus on the structure of spaces, the skeleton of a building, not just its skin,” she says. “I use transformable and nomadic structures to disrupt them and I like to explore and experiment with materials.”
As an example, she cites the office of financial advisory and investment firm Odyssey Capital in a preserved shop near Raffles Place. Using copper pipes, porous wave-like screens create both a feeling of space and privacy. The reference to water is no coincidence – Odyssey runs a fund that invests in companies related to this industry.
Related: The British Museum launches more NFTs
The Whole New World of NFTs, Metaverses, and Decentralized Blockchains
It seems like Yong is unconsciously paving her own path to get to where she is today.
When a friend introduced her to Matrixport, she met all the requirements for a small business willing to try something new and unconventional. “I was curious,” she admits. “Then the client came to our studio and introduced us to a whole new world of NFTs, metaverses, and decentralized blockchains.
“I was sold and went down the rabbit hole from there. I thought I could finally implement all my parametric ideas! »
As part of the design process for the art museum and virtual headquarters, she had to learn how to convert or “voxelize” the buildings to the 3D pixel format recognized by the metaverse platform.
At the same time, she took advantage of her three unique properties of space to create the museum: the ability to change according to the demands of NFT artworks; the ability to navigate by flying or teleporting; and lack of gravity. “Some of the schematics we’ve designed are floating – like a field of exploded rocks – and cannot exist in the real world.”
Despite all she has accomplished, Yong has barely scratched the surface.
As she continues, she points out that there are “new materials, new interactions, new economy” just waiting to be made in the metaverse that cannot be replicated in the physical world. “The possibilities are limitless!”
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