Zaha Hadid Architects (ZHA) in collaboration with Dongdaemun Design Plaza (DDP) in Seoul, Korea presents 'Meta-Horizons: The Future Now'. Designed by ZHA as a catalyst for the instigation and exchange of ideas and for new technologies and media to be explored, DDP opened in 2014 and has become a cultural hub and meeting place at the centre of the Dongdaemun district in Seoul. The inaugural exhibition of DDP’s new Design Museum, 'Meta-Horizons: The Future Now' continues DDP’s commitment to showcasing pioneering design, technological innovation and contemporary creativity.
Exploring ZHA’s work across multiple fields, from digital technology to artificial intelligence and virtual reality, the exhibition outlines ZHA’s recent designs, process, and research that incorporates immersive technologies, participatory design and new fabrication techniques. The exhibition details the practice’s collaborative, multi-disciplinary approach to developing digital design tools and the opportunities made possible when working simultaneously between virtual and physical environments.
Building a comprehensive understanding of construction materials and methods, logistical strategies and end-user case studies, ZHA develops dynamic models, tools and simulations which allow for an increased complexity and range of inputs to be incorporated into their design solutions. Historical knowledge and precedent are paired with the ability to analyse the present and define the design tools of the future.
Three zones within the exhibition – Innovation, Imagination, Interaction – provide a framework for exploring the work of ZHA’s four research teams: Computation & Design (ZH CODE); Virtual Reality (ZHVR); Analytics & Insights (ZH A+I); and Social Interaction Processes (ZHA Social).
INNOVATION: Process & ResearchInnovations in the built environment are driven through ZHA’s process and research harnessing technologies in a more strategic and sustainable way. This introductory section of the exhibition focuses on collaborations across different disciplines which rely on a research-based approach towards the design process and physical prototyping. Presenting projects along three ongoing research strands: Robotic Technologies, Folded Geometries, and Digital Timber construction, ZHA’s expertise of architectural geometry and participatory design enables the practice to deliver resource and energy efficient solutions tailored to individual users.
Featured projects in this zone include the recently completed Striatus, a 3D-printed concrete bridge, and an architectural platform used to create customised modular homes. This platform anticipates the shift towards design for manufacture (DfMA) where individual choice, functional agility and environmental and economic sustainability creates an architecture better-suited to the 21st century: interaction-dense, experience-rich, user-focused and resource-effective.
IMAGINATION: Design & VirtualThe enhanced capacity for the imagination and communication of design vision has increased the possibilities of working between the physical and digital realms. The digital realm continues to become more established as an activated destination, with the virtual world drawing participants to connect and exchange in exciting new ways that integrate with the physical world. Showcased in this zone are ZHA’s recent ventures into designing virtual worlds or the Metaverse such as the cyber urban incubator ‘Liberland’ and ‘NFTism’, a virtual gallery space that explores architecture and social interaction.
INTERACTION: Technologies & Collaboration The ongoing development of technologies across all stages of design through to a physical realisation continues to provide even greater possibilities for interaction and collaboration using a design process that is increasingly more sophisticated and well-informed. These technologies enhance the seamless user experience across the cyber physical, mixed reality, augmented and virtual reality.
The projects presented in this zone explore new possibilities for interaction developed by ZHVR including 'Project Correl 1.0', a collaborative experiment in multi-presence virtual reality illustrating the development of complex assemblies inside virtual space, in addition to the 'LOOP' mixed-reality experience 'NEW WORLDS' which stems from a design simulation created by ZHVR for product testing and design development. Refined for the exhibition by ZHVR in partnership with L-Acoustics Creations, visitors use HTC headsets to experience an immersive soundscape by the artist Halina Rice.
'Meta-Horizons: The Future Now' brings together ZHA with Refik Anadol Studio, the artist behind “Seoul Light: Seoul Haemong” multimedia installation at DDP in 2019.
RAS + ZHA: 'Architecting the Metaverse'The exhibition marks the debut of 'Architecting the Metaverse', a collaboration between ZHA and Refik Anadol Studio (RAS) at the intersection of architecture, art, technology, and artificial intelligence (AI). Aligning with ZHA’s vision of creating transformative cultural spaces in synchronicity with their surroundings, RAS reveals its most innovative experiments with architectural data both in the physical world and the metaverse. Multi-model AI algorithms have been utilized to analyse image and script data compiled and composed by ZHA. These algorithms result in comprehensive datasets representing the practice’s portfolio of works. Visitors will experience this artwork within an immersive room, showcasing the experimental perspective of the metaverse to come by merging machine learning, AI, and ZHA’s repertoire.
Kyung-Don Rhee, CEO, Seoul Design Foundation (managers of DDP) said, “'Meta-Horizons: The Future Now' presents innovations in design that propose alternatives for a better future, allowing visitors to explore ZHA’s pioneering research and collaborations in digital computer technologies, sustainable architecture, AI-based designs, and VR technology.”
Patrik Schumacher, Principal, Zaha Hadid Architects said, “I am thrilled to return to our building with this new exhibition. DDP remains one of my most favourite projects. The pandemic has accelerated the trend towards the virtualisation of life and society. Social communication in virtual space is often as productive as in physical space, and certainly no less real. The repertoire and design methodology of ZHA, and of parametricism in general, is well placed to run with the new design opportunities presented by the Metaverse.”
Refik Anadol, Media Artist & Director, Refik Anadol Studio said, “DDP’s Seoul Light Festival was a turning point for our studio’s public art works, as well as our venture into the digital artworld of East Asia. We developed a new vision and direction for our public art works during the pandemic and decided to focus on the healing qualities of art, especially when experienced collectively either in a physical or virtual space. This project for DDP bears traces of this vision. But more importantly, for the first time we are collaborating with a pioneering architecture studio.”