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Digital Direction (MA)

Daniel Vera-Villalobos

Daniel’s work develops in the intersection between architecture and digital arts. His research focuses on the meaning of inhabiting digital spaces, the relationship between virtuality and the abstractions in our reality.

He is an architect by UPV, Valencia, and a masters graduate in Digital Direction by the Royal College of Art, London, after being awarded with the RCA Fund Scholarship 2019. He also participated in the Stage Design programme in die Angewandte, University of Applied Arts, Vienna, and holds a masters course in VR with UE4 applied to architecture. He has experience working as an architect in Karlsruhe, Germany and has worked for many years for the Hundertwasserhaus Vienna as a Lead Visual and 3D Artist, where he directs projects mixing new technologies and architectural heritage. Still in collaboration with them, he lives in London combining his work as co-founder of RAREA Studio and also of MAIA digital, a team of RCA graduates working on new models of interaction in virtual environments. Besides that, he recently has acted as a visiting lecturer in the Creative Computing Institute at the UAL University of Arts London, and has been selected as speaker for the Media Architecture Biennale MAB 20.

Some of his awards and recognitions are:

-’Encuentros’ selected as Demo to participate in the Media Architecture Biennale MAB20.

-’Valencia 360’ Non-Architecture Open Call, Valencia 2021. Selected team: Rarea Studio.

-IRCAM 2020, Exhibited project “You’re in the way” at the Centre Pompidou, Paris 2020. 

-RCA Fund Scholarship 2019. 

-PAC 2014 Scholarship - Cultural Initiatives UPV

-UIA 2011 TOKYO Youthjamboree - 2nd Prize. 

-Scholarship UIA 2011 for students and young architects (only 5 in Europe). 

-International Theory Workshop Alter+Actions Valencia - 1st Prize.

During the 15 months I studied at the RCA I have had, without a doubt, one of the most intense and rewarding learning experiences one can have. I say this because, aside from the technical expertise and findings I have constantly developed, all this experience has served to learn intensively about myself and my interests. I applied to the Digital Direction programme knowing I wanted to experiment with architecture and a different approach to direction of architectural expression.

I came with a bag full of projects I had done in the past, knowing that some of them were important for me, but not being really able to evaluate their weight within what could become a professional practice. Please don’t get me wrong, I haven't left the programme with less questions than I had when I entered. In fact, I have so many more that it can at times feel overwhelming. But at least I feel those questions are focused on a future, on the answers they may receive and how they can evolve into something meaningful for me and for my surroundings.

Encuentros - Documentary Poster
Encuentros - Still
Encuentros - Still
Encuentros - Still
Encuentros - Documentary Excerpt — Excerpt of the online interactive documentary.

During the past year, our interactions outside our household have been digitally mediated and we have understood our home, through the digital, as the place from which we access the digital social space. The same way that we augment our social identities with our online presence, our spaces become also augmented by it - where home was understood earlier as the first social entity, now it is the first public entity. Home is our virtual background to our digital frontend.

The augmented interactive documentary ‘Encuentros’ explores the weight of identity as it develops and projects itself onto a space that is shared. It attempts to represent the contemporary relationship of inhabitant and habitat in its multilayered presence and make the audience reflect on the benefits and dangers of digital hyper-mediation within residential spaces.

‘Encuentros’ - a word in Spanish used to define both a meaningful encounter and the point of intersection of two masses in architecture - invites the audience to observe the concept of home through a case study. It gives the user tools to navigate the non-linear narrative as if it were a space itself, to explore the different layers of the inhabitants' identities in parallel to the strata of the spaces. In the documentary, this particular home becomes public through its digital viewing.

To visit the interactive documentary:

/// Project selected as Demo for the Media Architecture Biennale MAB 20 ///

Encuentros - Event Poster — Click to go to the gathering environment.
Encuentros - Event Excerpt — Excerpt from an event organized on the 28th February 2021.
Encuentros - Still
Encuentros - Still
Encuentros - Still

‘Encuentros’ explores the potential of interactive web tools to achieve non-linearity. Instead of the traditional non-linear approach where a main storyline branches out on certain points in time, it experiments with the idea of using flexible navigation to express human-centered architectural concepts in a more accessible and relatable experience. 

In this networked gathering, the audience can navigate the spaces to explore the contents of the documentary while interacting with other users within the space. The scenes of each character are presented in the room they belong to, and after two loops, all the rooms de-activate except the kitchen, where the three characters join to discuss together the meaning of home. This timeline is repeated infinitely.

Visually, the most important feature is the use of photogrammetry as point-clouds to represent the built environment and the characters. The pointcloud assets were made by Rarea Studio, with the assistance of Álvaro Vera to generate the initial photo sets.

The audio in the environment is positional. It’s composed of recordings taken from the videos and ambiences recorded in each of the rooms. The user can mute/unmute within the experience, to control their social interaction with other members of the audience.

/// Project selected as demo for the Media Architecture Biennale MAB20 ///

Dissertation Cover — Click to go to the full dissertation text.
The off-grid house
The streamed house
The expected house
The other house

[...] To explore these questions, I would like to start considering the home as a being, whose identity is a reflection of that of its inhabitant and is, just as they are, affected by the apparatuses of neoliberalism. [...]

/// CHS Dissertation awarded with Distinction ///