Blockchain Speculations

Page 1


B lo c k c h a i n S p e c u l at i o n s



In the last days before Christmas 2017 we were confronted with a request by the Rotterdam Academy of Architecture. The Academy offers a fouryear Master’s programme in Architecture and Urbanism. During those four years students will gain professional experience through day-jobs at design offices or government planning departments on Monday through Thursday. In the evening and on Friday they train their academic knowledge and skills at the Academy. The Academy delivers its programme mainly through studio-education. In these studios students are faced with a design task. Some of the studios focus on the essential technical skills of the architect’s profession while other studios try to stretch the limits of the profession. Every year the Academy leaves one studio blank to be filled in through a Call for Proposals directed at the students: the Wild Card Studio. The students are challenged to come up with a topic they think is missing in the regular curriculum. Diederik Vane, a first year urbanism student and cryptocurrency-fanatic proposed the theme Blockchain. ‘Can you set up a studio for architecture and urbanism students around the theme Blockchain?’ That was the request we received from the Academy. We were tempted organising a studio around a topic we knew next to nothing about. The following

definition by Wikipedia was our starting point to set up the design brief. A blockchain,[1][2] [3] originally block chain,[4] [5] is a continuously growing list of records, called blocks, which are linked and secured using cryptography.[1][6] Each block typically contains a cryptographic hash of the previous block,[6] a timestamp, and transaction data.[7] By design, a blockchain is resistant to modification of the data. It is “an open, distributed ledger that can record transactions between two parties efficiently and in a verifiable and permanent way”. [8] For use as a distributed ledger, a blockchain is typically managed by a peer-to-peernetwork collectively adhering to a protocol for inter-node communication and validating new blocks. Once recorded, the data in any given block cannot be altered retroactively without alteration of all subsequent blocks, which requires consensus of the network majority.

traceability[15], and voting.[16] Blockchain was invented by Satoshi Nakamoto in 2008 to serve as the public transaction ledger of the cryptocurrency bitcoin.[1] The invention of the blockchain for bitcoin made it the first digital currency to solve the doublespending problem without the need of a trusted authority or central server. The bitcoin design has inspired other applications.[1] [3] Source: Between Christmas 2017 and now the Bitcoin lost over half of its value. Some argue bitcoin and blockchain are overrated and just a hype. But the underlying principles like the decentralisation of transactions and trust form an interesting starting point to speculate about what it could mean for architecture and urbanism.

Gert Kwekkeboom (Civic) Thijs van Spaandonk (Bright)

Blockchains are secure by design and exemplify a distributed computing system with high Byzantine fault tolerance. Decentralizedconsensus has therefore been achieved with a blockchain.[9] This makes blockchains potentially suitable for the recording of events, medical records,[10][11] and other records management activities, such as identity management,[12] [13][14] transaction processing, documenting provenance, food

Matthijs Ponte (FUR) Artur Borejszo (IMG+)


B lo c k c h a i n S p e c u l at i o n s






Swarm society


Earning while sleeping


Sen city


Cpo 2.0






Blockchain as spacemaker


Big data is watching you


What if a building becomes a bank


City for sale




Blocked from the blockchain


Offline school


The wolf is in our living room






Living with purpose


The smart building


Food revolution





B lo c k c h a i n S p e c u l at i o n s



Architecture and urbanism have always, to a certain extent, been influenced by transformations in society, economy, technology and culture, either in a reactionary or affirming way. (For instance Modernism can be understood as an ‘answer’ to big societal questions like overpopulation and hygiene) Decades after the introduction of computers and the internet as a global network of information and the following optimization of computer power and self-learning system, the concept of the smart city has been adopted by several large cities worldwide. The concept of the smart city is now in generation ‘3’, which means that smart city tools and instruments are developed, adopted and used to empower individuals to improve their shared habitat.1 Since the introduction of the bitcoin, a new fundamental technology has been developing as a tool to support this idea of ‘smart city 3.0’. Blockchain technology2 enables individuals to do transactions and to store and transfer validated information, without the infrastructure or interference of large institutions like banks, governments and global corporates. According to many, these technologies will have a ‘disruptive’ effect on all aspects of society.

Evolution of the city New technologies are always promising when imagining possible futures of our built environment. At the same time, the current state of our cities reveals a strong continuity through time, regarding typologies of buildings and places, and regarding building cultures, the collective memory and laws of representation. It is not expected that our current cities will be instantly replaced by new technologies. Efforts to invent tabula rasa technology cities rarely succeed. Our cities will rather be influenced, or ultimately be transformed by it. A large part of the smart city movement believes most profits can be gained by tinkering with the city, instead of radical change.


Modu l ar

by Diederik Vane, Dirk Hovens, Jesús Maciasy Macias,


B lo c k c h a i n S p e c u l at i o n s

L I V I NG W I T H P U R P O S E . by Diederik Vane

Living with purpose is about a speculation for new housing systems. What if companies take responsibility for products and the community takes control through blockchain technology. An extreme version of the sharing economy where even real estate and architecture are affected.


Around 2010, the sharing economy is a well-known concept where all appliances, cars or tools can be shared in favor of social benefits. Although, it needs some optimization in some fields. With blockchain technology we can influence the real estate in such a way that even housing can be shared. Not just cars, tools and appliances, but also real estate that could be temporary, rentable, shareable and reconstructable. Two examples of the sharing ideology are Uber and AirBnB. Two companies that behave as if they share cars and houses but are actually commercial business models based on profit. This is because they do not supply nor demand. Using blockchain technology we could create a better sharing economy and design a system where the community has no possession, can make microtransactions ànd act without the trusted third parties. We rent the purpose of products directly from the supplier. This means the business model of corporates is shifting from a product that is not durable, to a product that is intended to last a long time because the customer only pays for the purpose, and not the side assets. It would be in the corporates benefit to make a good

product that can be reconstructed with the least costs. I think that, with this system, the consequences for the housing sector could be enormously. Instead of buying a house, the government provides basichousing. Information about building conditions, legislation, architecture, finances, tenants and resources can be safely stored in ‘building-passports’ using blockchain technology. The house, including exterior and interior, becomes a peer to peer network of data, energy, food and currencies and can form a storage of reconstructable resources. In the end, people need some sort of home. The basic-house will be the only space that is owned. In here, the basic needs like a bed, kitchen and bathroom are provided and can be personalized. This offers privacy and a chance to go off the grid. A welcome outcome in a world where everything is ‘online’. Next to the basic-housing there are optional rooms. You can rent additional rooms for events, sports, work, guests or comfort according to the needs. This program is not used in daily life and could potentially be shared. Rules for usage can be put in a smart contract. The rooms are locked with smart locks and maintained by corporates. The community will need to take responsibility for services and usage. A good comparison are the modular phones from Motorola, Moto Mods. A concept where you only buy the core essentials of a smartphone. Extra parts, like

cameras or storage, can be added or removed at anytime. The add-ons for your house are completely owned by corporates which give them full responsibility. Though, thanks to blockchain, this possession will be transparant. If corporates forsake their responsibility they would not get paid. Besides, through a decentralized consensus system, they can also be monitored by the community ánd government, which endorses double safety. Using basic-housing, climate conditions could be improved and extreme urbanization prevented. Subjects that, in my opinion, need a lot of attention. A city would grow much more modulair, flexible and efficient. The meaning of public buildings and public space would grow intensely and act as magnets for communities. For example, students would rent places close to the university, which will increase localization. The governments role would change from policy maker to data regulator and controller of the corporates. Third parties could be replaced by DAO’s and smart contracts. A scenario where the user decides how to live and with whom.


SE CT I ON [ 0



B lo c k c h a i n S p e c u l at i o n s


4.5 meter







section cut AA 4

A 5

section cut BB




section cut AA Semi public


B A CK T O B A S I C +

n cut BB

A . B asi c- h ous e


B . Expa nsio n s c heme

c. add - o n fac iliti es

flexible housing fo r fa m i l i es i n


Semi public


- BACK TO BASIC, A modulair and flexible housing system for families -

Diederik Vane

A sharing economy and a circulair system, combined with blockchain technology have resulted in a concept called the basic-house. It has been very difficult to create more transparency in the real estate sector. The basic-housing concept combined with blockchain technology and shared facilities create a society that can rely on trustworthy, smart and flexible housing. The need for flexible and more approachable housing is urgent in Amsterdam, the Banne. The district is known for low incomes, intensive social housing,

criminality and refugee housing.

landscape shall come together.

By implementing the Basic-house, an incentive is created which gives the district ánd her inhabitants a possibility to decide how their neighborhood looks like. The plan area is centered between the north and south part of the Banne. The IJdoornlaan is a great entrance for the neighborhood but needs more formality and densification. There is a new centrum building with a shopping mall and the municipality developed a new cycle road. On this urban cross section, a huge potential arises to create a place where people, program ánd

This resulted in a new city block where you can live in a small house of 40 m2. This house, the basichouse is meant for two persons who are between 25 and 40 and have started to create a small family. One of the unique selling points is that you can add-on extra rooms for a certain amount of time. These rooms can serve the needs of inhabitants ánd people from outside the block. The house can expand by 10m2 for every child that comes into the family. The structure of the building is made up of concrete columns with

a grid of 4x5 meter. Modules can be placed in between the columns and differ in 3 sizes. (1 block, 2 blocks or 3+ blocks) Functions like sauna’s, storage or reading rooms are 1 block (20m2). Big dinner rooms, play area’s or a library consist of 2 blocks. Then there are public functions, like a swimming pool, theatre or a bar, that use 3 blocks or more. These sizes aren’t set and can be adjusted by the needs of the neighborhood. The basic house consists of 2

blocks, with a balcony of 1 block. (40+20m2) When the couple gets a baby, they can use 10m2 of the balcony for extra room. This continues for the whole balcony and for rooms on the side of the basic-house.

The maximum conditions of the building are 14, 4 and 9 stories high and grow on the city plot.

If an optional room is pushed out because of an increasing amount of children, then this room moves to the top of the building. This way, the facade of the building is being diversified all the time.

The municipality owns the real estate. Governmental estate makes a city more flexible. Corporations provide the optional program and are responsible for the interior. The inhabitants are shareholders of their basic-house. The memberships for the additional program and the maintenance costs form the rent.

T he bui l di n g s stru ctur e is f ix e d, the pro gra m is f l exibl e an d g iv e s the buil di n g a dive rs ed appe aran c e


Trading system of spaces

Memberships and contracts are registered and automatically payed

The Cooperation is replaced by smart contracts

Building passports

Subscriptions for public program are registered

Communicating through IoT

Registration of visitors


B lo c k c h a i n S p e c u l at i o n s

Corridors i n t he bui l di n g start for min g n e w stree ts a n d fu n ction as pub l ic spac e


B loc kc hai n provid es the n ecessary trust th at is n eeded i n a coop eratio n

Blockchain in combination with Smart contracts and Internet of Things replace the coöperation. It regulates the trades between rooms, contracts, who lives in the building, how many people are in each house and who uses the program. The continues demontage and remontage of the building is registrated in a building-passport. This gives insight in the buildings structure, state and value. The building itself has 4 entrance points. 2 public entrances on the west side and the north side, 1 private entrance on the east side and a parking garage. Two staircases, a corridor and a

courtyard surrounded by galleries connect the spaces. Over time, the building is being adjusted and shaped to the needs and wishes for inhabitants of the whole neighborhood. Apartments in existing buildings can be switched for basic- and optional housing. People from one block go to the other block for specific program and to meet other people. This way the Banne turns from Banlieue to a more personalized Banne. This plan is a plea for personalized housing, developing more typologies for families in the city and using blockchain technology

for simplifying complex organizations ensuring trust and comfort.


e xtrac te d vi e w of the city block 4 out of 1 6 f loors are show n

Turn static files into dynamic content formats.

Create a flipbook
Issuu converts static files into: digital portfolios, online yearbooks, online catalogs, digital photo albums and more. Sign up and create your flipbook.