The Block Foundation mission is enabling architects to take back initiative and contribute in solving the mismatch in housing through blockchain technology. Therefore the Block Foundation seeks to unshackle the traditional constraints and construct middle ground between rent and the rigidity of traditional mortgages.
To address these very issues, the Block Foundation initiates the Meta-Estate Lab to question existing practices. This lab hosts activities through which stakeholders in project development become aligned, to formulate new scenarios for spatial planning. Applications developed in the lab create mechanisms that foster an equilibrium through design. Based on reverse game-theory, these mechanisms validate the creation of quality and the livelihood of people whilst navigating the dynamics of the real-estate market. These mechanisms are effectuated in smart-contracts that can be tested and validated in sandbox environments. Rather than fatalistically taking "the market" as a naturalistic phenomenon, the highly granular cause and effect of such contracts can be understood by means of multi-agent simulations, at a massive scale. As such, the implications of market-design can be understood a priori. Market-design is at the core of future architecture and the Meta-Estate Lab its incubator.
Architecture has lost initiative — real-estate development is in stasis. Architecture is no longer a driving force in social innovation, but a mere service to capital; unable to act and respond to pressing factors that lie beyond the dominant narrow frame. Moreover, modern zoning in cities has caused a mismatch between what residents need, and what developers are allowed to build. This leads to a calcified housing market that is not worth salvaging, evident by serious housing shortages and high barriers to entry. As water provides the liquid bonding agent that crystalizes cement particles, capital is applied to an architects plan to form a concrete construct, one that is irreversible and immobile. However now, real-estate development is sluggish as its liquidity is only crystalized by the few, and not incentivized to the demands of a society as a whole in a sustainable manner. We are in need of a capital market that is more liquid instead of rigid, paving the way for a built environment that is sustainable instead of volatile.
The Block property ownership of the 21st century surpasses the duality of rent and resale rights. Block Foundation seeks to unshackle the traditional constraints and construct middle ground between rent and the rigidity of traditional mortgages. We envision new models that catalyse change and collectively supercharge innovations that build towards a novel market equilibrium. By reshaping and building a novel dynamic and perpetual contract that involves all actors on top of the blockchain, we're working towards shaping a new market — since the existing is broken beyond repair. In the market, the Block Foundation foresees that the boundaries between the initiator, creator, investor and resident will blur. One where architecture claws back initiative, where housing isn't synonymous to succumb to the high-tide of dominant rabid markets. A building economy, in which there is a marginal barrier to entry, where one can invest through democratised investment opportunities with low barriers to entry, fractional ownership and increase legitimacy, security and stability with decentralised contracts. A creator economy, in which promising architects are given a framework for growth and established practices are stimulated to push the horizon, through incentivising smart-contracts.
We have established a foundation — the Block Foundation — that will create and govern the Meta-Estate Lab; a community that brings about, implements and accelerates these changes. Through a series of symposia, we are going to build a diverse community of stakeholders. Together with architects, urban planners, project developers, service providers, research institutes and (semi-)governments, we'll discuss the challenges and opportunities; that are posed by these hybrid Blocks we build our future with? Forthcoming year, the foundation will define this potential in manifestos, papers, technical whitepapers, implementation reference standards, and will cast its vision in (open-source) code. This will form the basis for the development of a range of digital and physical demonstrator projects which aim to set the agenda for 21st century project development. In order to gain traction and in order to share our outlook — taking a hint from our esteemed colleagues —, all results will be published in enticing formats, including a documentary, book and website.
The advent of blockchain has shown us alternate ways of thinking about community initiatives and their financing. The technology has since matured and found its way in common applications developed by multinational software and financing companies. The sudden coming about of the cryptographic art economy has shown us the immense potential for the creative industry, its projection towards project development is dazzling! The Meta-Estate Lab seeks to unlock this potential for architects, urbanists and other spatial disciplines. Thats the mission the Block Foundation is pursuing in the coming years.
Lars van Vianen