The Next Nature Habitat VR is an experience that looks at the future of human habitat from a Next Nature perspective. What kind of world will we live in in a future where "Nature" and "Technology" are becoming more and more indistinguishable? What will our world be like when the things we make become a nature in their own right - a Next Nature?
The Next Nature Habitat shows us four possible scenarios for our future. Should we go back to living in communion with the animals and the plants? Or should we live in a fully simulated and automated world? Do we want more technology? More biology? More or less control? We want you to tell us.
CONCERNING THE PROCESS:
The Next Nature Habitat concept is design for debate; its goal is to generate discussion and make people think about the future in terms of Next Nature philosophy.
It is the result of the speculative architecture research project by the same name that was developed in collaboration with the Next Nature Network in 2016. Our research is hereby presented in a VR experience which works like a Virtual Guided Tour of speculative future worlds. By visiting them, you get to know its distinct properties and how they relate to the intersecting concepts of Nature and Technology. Born, Made, Controlled and Beyond Control are the core concepts; which, being intersected, produce four distinct speculative worlds.
The experience was intended to work like a dream for the future of human habitat. You begin by being placed in a neutral world with four doors, which you then proceed to enter, one by one, and step into each possible future world. Inside each world you are presented with its specific properties and characteristics. This is a passive experience, in which you are guided by a narrator in your path through each scenario.
This "dream", as we thought of it, needed to effectively communicate a somewhat dense body of design research. The concept behind each world was worked to the point where it aligned with the Next Nature concepts of blending nature and technology. What spatial concept would convey a fully Made and Controlled world? What space would convey a Made, yet Autonomous world? These were the questions that we were confronted with during the process.
Each scenario (have a look below) needed to communicate not only a certain set of ideas, but also a specific feel and tone. We approached this by making the underlying narrative, the music and the sound design as well as the kinetic aspect work in unisson at every moment - so as to produce an immersive, entertaining and substantive VR experience.
The space was the story; the story was the concept;the concept was the philosophy.
In other words, the experience is the intersection of research, theory, narrative, spatial design, experience design, speculative design and storytelling. It represents a threefold step from Philosophy to Storytelling to Spatial Design, resulting in a twelve-minute long VR experience which is sure to leave you wondering - in what future would you like to live?
GARDEN OF EDEN
This is a world where everything is Born and everything is Autonomous. Make no mistake: this “Eden” is no paradise. In this world, we would have no technology to help us. We would go back to the cave. We would struggle with diseases and predators, dramatically decreasing our life expectancy. To find food and shelter would be daily challenges. Nevertheless, many would still prefer to live free from modern civilization. We would have to create new art, new philosophy, new values - in short, we would be the starters of a new society. Our lives would finally be in tune with what evolution prepared us for - a life of hunting and gathering in the great outdoors. Would you like to live in this “Garden of Eden”?
In this world, everything is Made and completely Controlled. What if we lived in a completely simulated and virtual reality? The Modernist Dream is an environment made completely out of screens and interfaces. Data and information become an integral part of our spacesv. Our walls, windows and ceilings would become responsive. We would have absolute control over what our spaces and our behaviours would be like.The world would be at our fingertips. Yet, here we would no longer be able to distinguish between real and virtual. Simulations would become so perfect that fantasy and reality would blend seamlessly. Could you live in such a controlled and simulated world?
This is a world in which everything is Made, yet everything is Autonomous. What if what we make became a nature on its own right? In the Techno Favela, global commerce and economy have been taken over by autonomous systems and by artificial intelligence. They have become the masters of the world, and humans are brushed aside as a secondary species. Culture becomes Nature. Yet, those of us who lived here would never have to work, because machines have automated everything. We would be free to explore and to create, under a system that is beyond our control. We’d have to adapt to this vast system; deal with it just like we do today with climate; as an inescapable factor of life. Would you be willing to live here?
This is a world in which everything is Born, yet everything is Controlled. What if we lived in Cultivated Nature? Enter the Hypernatural Resort; a version of nature made by designing, mutating, manipulating and genetically modifying biology. Here, Nature becomes Culture, and you can find anything from biolumenescent flowers, pink skies, crazy trees and psychadelic fireflies. Just like regular parks, the hypernatural resort is a space made for leisure. But here there woould be no space for wilderness anymore. Say goodbye to green leaves or blue skies. Everything you thought you knew about “nature” would never apply again. Birds would never sing the same way again. Would you like to take part in such a world? What would our life look like in this scenario?