Qhawarizmi Architect’s non-fungible terraces visualises a digital home that is built on blockchain to allow owners to socialise and work in the metaverse. In the first part of this interview, Tatler Homes finds out more about this concept

Qhawarizmi Architect's winning proposal for Sime Darby Property’s Concept Home 2030 put forward the concept of non-fungible terraces. This disruptive concept of homes visualises a digital home that is built on blockchain that allows owners to socialise and work in the metaverse—and one that can be eventually translated into the physical world.

An architectural design and research strategic outfit based in Cyberjaya, Selangor, Qhawarizmi Architect position itself as a strategic consulting firm that revolves around spatial and built environment to arrive at a solution. Led by Ar. Qhawarizmi Dato Norhisham, the firm specialises in formulating exceptional spatial solutions for ever demanding issues in the built environment, particularly in areas relating to housing, sustainable food, and human interaction with technology.

Thus far, the firm has won multiple national and international design competitions. One significant win was the Penang Bay International Ideas Competition where the firm proposed transforming the Penang waterfronts into a new economic zone with Sustainable Development Goals in mind; it beat a team from the prestigious UK Bartlett School of Planning.

Recently, Qhawarizmi and his team took home the first prize winner for Sime Darby Property’s Concept Home 2030 Competition. Tatler speaks to Qhawarizmi about the winning concept.

How did the idea for non-fungible terraces come about?

The idea of non-fungible terraces derived from the urgent need to rethink terrace housing in Malaysia. For many Malaysian families, terrace houses are an aspirational life purchase. Ironically, purchasing high ticket items are less democratic, less personalised and have less options.

If you observe some of the common high-ticket items we buy in our lives starting from a smartphone, a car and then a home, variants or options are becoming narrower. That is the paradox we try to invert, by enabling and empowering purchasers to craft, customise and possibly personalise the biggest purchase of their life.

The term NFT was borrowed from the technology associated with blockchain, that refers to cryptographic tokens that exist on a blockchain and cannot be replicated.

The individualistic nature and democratisation of expression enabled by the technology is what the next iteration of terrace house has been waiting for. Currently, mainstream adoption of NFT technology revolves around digital art, and slowly more and more utilities are introduced with them. But I believe there is a huge potential of adoption to Malaysian terrace houses in many levels of its lifecycle.

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What are non-fungible terraces?

Non-fungible simply means unique and can’t be replaced with something else. In a glance, it is characteristically opposite to the nature of terrace house development in Malaysia which typically are standardised. Hence, we formulate a generative design platform powered by artificial intelligence (AI) in the attempt to derive personalised design for each buyer based on their digital footprint. 

This will enable Sime Darby Property to address the new generation of home buyers by analysing and profiling their preferences and lifestyle. The new way of designing terrace houses will be a liberation instead of compromise, and optimisation instead of limitation.

Future homebuyers have an ever changing digital lifestyle. Their house will be an extension of their personality and priority. Hence, this provides an opportunity for future Sime Darby Property products to incorporate flexibility and agility of change, to mirror the phase of life of its occupants.

Each and every house unit is uniquely crafted by its individual owner, then minted on the blockchain. These purchased meta-terraces are in the form of NFTs and it can be enjoyed in the proposed Sime Darby Property metaverse as a digital domestic space where buyers can socialise, host and work. 

When the time comes for Sime Darby Property to offer physical terrace lots in a township, terrace house token holders can commit to build their dream home. This allows future Sime Darby Property communities to be developed in the metaverse before they are translated in the real world. The project will revolutionise Sime Darby Property to become the first developer that can sell digital land and actual real estate products to future consumers/meta-sapiens.

We defined meta-sapiens as an advanced member of the homo sapiens, to which modern humans possess abilities of living seamlessly between physical and digital worlds such as the metaverse.

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How will they benefit homeowners?

A quick drive in any mature terrace housing estate, you will instantly realise that all homeowners are longing and desperate to express their individuality through their terrace iteration. It's not just a matter of personal preference or taste; it also reflects their lifestyle and spatial need of their phase in life. 

By purchasing a customised terrace house directly from property developers that fit buyer’s life aspiration, terrace houses will no longer be a compromise. Our work attempts to pave a way for buyers to get the freedom and flexibility of a crafted home, in the format everyone loves.

On top of that, having a productive home allows homeowners to leverage their domestic assets against their mortgage. Just like how Grab turns private vehicles into mobility service providers and Gojek turns domestic kitchens into thriving cloud kitchens. The digital twin of the house can be utilised as a digital space for online tuition, work meetings and online stores for their SME products, to name a few. The potential of case use of the digital alternate of the house opens up a new avenue for possible revenue generation.

The house will be an ever-evolving organism, sensitive to future needs, and new technological adoption. The Home-Brain manages all smart devices in the house, powered by a personalised AI profile. This will bridge the gap between the real house and its digital twin in the metaverse.

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How are they purchased? 

All terrace house purchases must be transacted through the existing legal framework that we already have in the country. Compliance with the Housing Development Act is crucial to protect the interests of purchasers and the developers. 

Even by working with the current legal framework, we still think there is plenty room for innovation. However, since we were working on the scheme with 2030 in mind, we have streamlined the purchasing process via a Web3.0 application.

Can they be bought with crypto currency? 

A lot of possibilities may come by 2030, the house could be bought with fiat, cryptocurrency, combination of both, or a totally new future asset class. 

Our research has shown that the physical component of the house is heavily regulated, hence fiat currency might still be in the picture. But entities that form an extension of the house in the form of digital assets are much less so. 

At the end of the day, it will all boil down to the market appetite in 2030 and developer’s marketing and sales strategy formulation.

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