NFT’s Speculative Applications in the Architecture & Construction Industry

5 min readApr 22, 2021
House Design NFT by Galo and Stephanie

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Last week aec+tech hosted an event in Clubhouse discussing the speculative future and effect of NFT’s within the AEC industry. The three guest speakers who shared their insights and experience on the topic were: Galo Canizares, Ricardo J Rodriguez, John Egon and the panel was moderated by Niknaz Aftahi.

NFT stands for Non-Fungible Token, and they are digital files ranging from a piece of digital art, a song track, a video clip, or an architectural rendering. NFT’s are available for sale on a digital transaction ledger known as the blockchain, where NFT’s can be minted, bought, and sold using cryptocurrency. The NFT is a one-of-a-kind piece of code, stored and protected on a shared public exchange. Every NFT is a unique digital version of a certificate of authenticity and has a different value — unlike how each instance of bitcoin has the same value at a given time. Some investors are betting big on the NFT marketplace and NFT art, predicting their value will soar. Others are buying NFTs for publicity, bragging rights, or just to join a new growing community.

NFT Clubhouse event poster

Galo is a designer, writer & educator at Texas Tech University. His work is the intersection between architecture & digital art; he is interested in exploring the influences of software on the architecture practice. Galo has been learning and experimenting with NFTs for about two months. He believes that the value of digital art has been overlooked, and now with the increasingly lucrative NFT market & popularity, there seems to be more attention paid to the actual value of digital artwork.

Galo has pioneered his way into the NFT realm, minting the digital drawings & 3D model from a building he recently designed with his partner Stephanie Sang Delgado- minting is how your digital artwork becomes a part of the blockchain — This has been one of the first, if not the first, complete house designs available for purchase as a Non-Fungible Token. Galo and his partner spent 12 hours on a weekend making the model. They sold the design documentation drawings for $400, as well as the right for the owner to modify the design. The drawings are labeled, “not for construction.” This all means architects can now be the owners of every phase of their design process and set up their own agreements. NFT allows creators to cement such agreements.

Schematic Design Drawings of a small house viewed from above
House Design NFT by Galo and Stephanie

John is the CEO and founder at BIMLauncher, and co-founder at aecHive community. He has started his cryptocurrency journey in the last eight weeks, even though he knew about it for the last six years. John sees the potential of each cryptocurrency impacting the build environment, specifically as he has come to learn about the impressive utility of blockchain technology applications during his research. He has identified how NFT is currently changing the concept of ownership for digital assets and is now setting his eyes on how this could be applied to our physical world — our built environment. He sees a path of resistance to digitizing building deeds via NFT, but not too great of resistance to ignore the opportunity. John’s future is one where our built environment is traded on the same exchanges that he currently trades his cryptocurrency on, and recently wrote a very interesting article on the possibility of NFT disrupting the AEC industry on aecHive called: “Welcoming NFT to our Built Environment — AEC Disruption, At last?”

Ricardo is the global virtual design and construction tech advisor at the MBCC Group, and a AIA National Strategic Councilor. He believes that NFT is opening up a whole world of opportunities for the architecture, engineering & construction industries. Though an initial use case might be in contract document authentication, it has applications in real estate speculation, deeds, pro forma’s, and crowd funded development. An important note, as with all “tech hypes”, is that there are typically two waves or curves. The initial push is a “land grab” where you in essence are betting on what would be the prevalent use case will be. This is what we are seeing with crypto art. Then there’s usually a drop in market confidence, after which a second wave emerges where the accepted use and productivity of the tech is available to general consumers.

Please check out our website, and find the aec+tech club on Clubhouse where we will be discussing AEC technologies and their effects on the practice. We welcome your participation.

Thanks to Niknaz Aftahi.




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