NFT-funded pavilion at Tallinn Architecture Biennale aims to promote decentralisation

by AAshir
Iheartblob climbing the Fungible Non-Fungible Pavilion at TAB 2022

Architectural design studio Iheartblob has revealed the puzzle-like Fungible Non-Fungible Pavilion at the Tallinn Architecture Biennale in Estonia, which was partly designed by the public using NFTs.

Located outside Tallinn’s Museum of Estonian Architecture, the experimental structure was built from physical versions of NFT objects designed by the community.

Iheartblob climbing the Fungible Non-Fungible Pavilion in Tallinn
Fungible Non-Fungible Pavilion is an installation at the Tallinn Architecture Biennale

Fungible Non-Fungible Pavilion was the winning entry of the Slowbuilding competition held for the main installation at Tallinn Architecture Biennale (TAB) 2022.

According to UK studio Iheartblob, it is the first pavilion designed by the community using NFTs.

Wooden structure outside Museum of Estonian Architecture
It was designed by Iheartblob with the community

“This is the first NFT pavilion in the world that is designed by the community together, it’s also co-owned by the community and co-funded by the community,” Iheartblob told Design Daily at the installation’s opening.

“The technology we’re using is very new and experimental, and we find it important to integrate it in architecture because architecture can benefit a lot from it.”

Aerial view of Fungible Non-Fungible Pavilion at Tallinn Architecture Biennale
Its puzzle-like form was built using NFT technology

NFTs, or non-fungible tokens, are certificates of authenticity and ownership that exist digitally and can be assigned to both physical and digital assets. Each one is individually recorded, or “minted”, on a blockchain similarly to a cryptocurrency transaction, allowing it to be purchased, sold and collected.

Iheartblob’s intention is for the pavilion to promote a slow and decentralised approach to architecture, in which the community replaces the architect as the “master builder”.

Photo of pixelated wooden pavilion
Its components are physical versions of NFT objects minted by the community

Its design responds to the theme of the sixth edition of the biennial TAB festival, for which Design Daily is media partner. Called “Edible; Or, the Architecture of Metabolism”, it was curated by architects Lydia Kallipoliti and Areti Markopoulou to explore food systems through the lens of architecture.

The pavilion is currently built from 78 unique puzzle-like pieces, although it is expected to expand.

Iheartblob climbing Tallinn Architecture Biennale pavilion
Iheartblob (above) created an NFT-generative tool for the project

To facilitate this, Iheartblob built an NFT-generative tool that anyone can use to design and mint objects. Every NFT minted by this tool funded a unique physical twin that is now used in the pavilion.

The end result is a fragmented structure that has a presence in both the metaverse and real space and is co-owned by and reflective of the community that designed it.

Detail photo of Fungible Non-Fungible Pavilion at TAB 2022
The blocks are made from wood

The tool is still open for use, meaning the pavilion will evolve and grow in size over the course of its installation until the opening of the next TAB in 2023.

“The idea here is that since we have decentralised the process of architecture, since anyone can design a block that becomes part of this piece, since anyone can add to the pavilion, this will change over the course of the biennale,” the studio explained.

“To date, I think we’ve had designers as young as five, create a piece we’ve had people here locally in Tallinn create many of these pieces. We’ve also had people from all over the world from Asia from America, designing different pieces that have come together.”

While Iheartblob handed over the reins to the public when it came to the pavilion’s design, it did provide a series of constraints to ensure the structure could be physically realised.

This included predefined forms for the interlocking components and predetermined timber materiality. There is also a maximum of 165 pieces, which will create a width, depth and height of roughly five metres.

Detail photo of Fungible Non-Fungible Pavilion at TAB 2022
The structure sits on the grass outside the Museum of Estonian Architecture in Tallinn

While promoting the idea of decentralisation in architecture, the studio hopes the Fungible Non-Fungible Pavilion will demonstrate the value of NFTs in the sector.

“We think blockchain and NFTs can feed into many aspects of the profession from having NFTs determine authenticity of architectural drawings to more experimental approaches which determine ownership and authorship, with royalties, of shared housing or even entire cities,” the studio explained.

Pavilion built from wooden blocks
The pavilion is expected to evolve over the course of its installation

The Fungible Non-Fungible Pavilion was selected to create the pavilion shortly after the original competition winners, Australian duo Simulaa and Natalie Alima, withdrew their proposal for an installation made of mushrooms.

Alongside the pavilion, this year’s TAB includes a curational exhibition at the Museum of Estonian Architecture and other fringe events. The event was previously expected to take place in 2021, but it was pushed back to 2022 due to the coronavirus pandemic. The seventh edition remains scheduled for 2023.

It is intended to promote decentralisation in architecture

At the previous TAB in 2019, the central installation took the form of a twisted pavilion designed by SoomeenHahm Design, Igor Pantic and Fologram. The structure explored augmented reality and old-fashioned woodworking such as steam-bent hardwood.

Tallinn Architecture Biennale takes place from 7 September to 20 November 2022 at various locations across Tallinn, Estonia. See Design Daily Events Guide for an up-to-date list of architecture and design events taking place around the world.

The photography is by Tõnu Tunnel.

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