Study level

PhD

Master of Philosophy

Honours

Vacation research experience scheme

Faculty/School

Topic status

We're looking for students to study this topic.

Supervisors

Dr Simone Brott
Position
Senior Lecturer in Architecture
Division / Faculty
Faculty of Engineering

Overview

This project will explore the application of Non fungible tokens NFTs to the architectural discipline specifically. It will do so with both intellectual and entrepreneurial goals.

In light of today's highly liquid global financial markets, and the rise of intangible capital as the dominant form of corporate wealth (think Facebook, Google, Bitcoin), the property sector often seems like an anachronism. Land and buildings have historically been identified as the most fixed and tangible forms of capital. They have thus been difficult to trade i.e. quite illiquid assets. However, this narrative is a less and less accurate way of understanding the links between property and finance, and the growing role of intangible capital in the property sector.

Architecture is an embryonic site for financialisation, through the expanding prominence of architectural images in iconic urban real estate developments. We propose that digital renderings deployed by developers are not merely a marketing tool for iconic projects, but increasingly liquid financial assets in themselves. Given that such digital campaigns precede iconic buildings by sometimes ten years – if the building materialises at all – these digital simulacra are the financial entities standing in for the development, and in many ways give architecture a 'double life' in excess of the completed land and building.

Architectural images are seen by the industry as bundled to a future building. Freely circulated by practitioners who view built design as their core business, and don't perceive they are giving away principal assets, their intellectual property intrinsic to their branding. This renders the architectural apparatus of electronic assets intangible and valueless. There is no mechanism or framework for driving value and drawing investment to architectural images as commodity.

The key to financialising the architectural image is to establish an elite market for trading architectural images and erecting a blockchain and cryptocurrency platform to make that happen.

In the last three months, NFTs have exploded in the cryptocurrency industry seeing the birth of multiple new selling platforms for trading digital assets from art to music to anything at all. A non-fungible token is a unit of data stored on a blockchain (meaning a decentralised digital ledger or database), that certifies the uniqueness and authenticity of a digital asset NFTs are auctioned on a number of NFT marketplaces (the main ones are OpenSea, Rarible, SuperRare, and Foundation) backed by their own blockchain. The token is linked to and represents a non-fungible meaning non-interchangeable asset like a house or artwork as opposed to a fungible asset like cryptocurrency used to pay for an NFT (5 bitcoins are interchangeable with any other 5 bitcoins). NFT sales are executed with smart contracts –algorithms built into the blockchain which trigger actions based on pre-defined parameters e.g. they automate royalty split payments at the end of an auction.

Research activities

  • Assist with researching and developing a longer paper for publication based on an existing conference paper.
  • Producing citations for publication
  • Assisting with converting the material into a shorter piece for submission to popular Media outlets: The Conversation, The Architect's Newspaper, Archdaily, Deezeen, etc.
  • Assisting with pitching to architects to test the first iconic architecture NFT on an open platform (I have already pitched this project in the past before NFTs existed)

Outcomes

  • A full paper submission to a designated Q1 Journal and Architecture Theory Review's special issue on Financialisation.
  • Submission to popular media outlets to publicise the project: The Conversation, The Architect's Newspaper, ARchdaily, Deezeen, etc.
  • If we find a partner, preparing the first NFT for auction on a crypto site.

Skills and experience

  • Ability to research evidenced by a strong GPA or strong grades in history and theory.
  • Ability to write evidenced by a piece of research/writing submitted to me.
  • knowledge of the NFT/crypto market and technology a bonus
  • passion for this topic and interest in how to financialise images in architecture will suffice.
  • Skills in marketing/publicity of architectural research or understanding of popular online media outlets in architecture.
  • Helpful, diligent, easy going personality.

Scholarships

You may be eligible to apply for a research scholarship.

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Keywords

Contact

Contact the supervisor for more information.