What do a strip of abandoned land, a former Czech politician and virtual reality (VR) have in common? The answer is the self-proclaimed Balkan micronation of Liberland.
First established in 2015, it will advance the kingdom’s own ambitions with the development of a new metaverse.
Liberland will be the first country to be created and populated in a virtual world awaiting its realization in real life.
In addition, Zaha Hadid Architects, a world-renowned architectural firm, is working on a vision for a virtual city that would provide a home for the country’s growing number of citizens.
What is Liberland?
Although not a formally recognized country, Liberland has 7,000 approved residents and processes more than 700,000 citizenship applications.
Located between Serbia and Croatia, the 7 km2 area – which is larger than the Vatican City or Monaco – is disputed land and is not claimed by either country.
Liberland has steadily increased its international reputation since its founding by former Czech MP – and current president of the micronation – Vit Jedlicka and his partner Jana Markovičová.
Before 2015, the liberal Jedlicka had been working in his homeland to create what he envisioned as a new society unconstrained by the trappings of the old. Despite enormous efforts, he had to overcome many obstacles.
“It was then that I realized that it might be easier to start a new country than to transform an existing one,” he told EuronewsNext.
Once this radical and inspiring idea caught on, the pair literally turned to Google to find land that would serve their purpose.
The result was a piece of forgotten land on the west bank of the Danube and a new nation was born, the Free Republic of Liberland.
Since the breakup of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, a border dispute has existed between Croatia and Serbia, with both sides making conflicting claims to different areas along the Danube.
However, the Jedlička area, located on the western bank of the river, was not claimed by Croatia, Serbia or any other country and therefore had the status of terra nullius, in other words no man’s land.
Until Jedlicka – the current chairman of the Provisional Government – and the other founders of Liberland claimed the territory on April 13, 2015.
“We are building a country that can be a good example for other countries. The biggest improvement is that taxes in Liberland are voluntary and people are rewarded when they pay them. is ready,” Jedlicka said.
“We founded Liberland on April 13, 2015 to celebrate Thomas Jefferson’s birthday. We wanted to evoke the spirit of the American Revolution. We also wanted to combine the best elements of American Republicanism, Swiss democracy and Singaporean meritocracy. “We want to put our systems on the blockchain, so that the government works in a modern and transparent way.”
Liberland bases its nationality law on international legal norms that outline four main features.
Firstly the population, secondly the demarcated territory, thirdly the government and finally the capacity to enter into international relations with other states.
It is on this first point that the nascent country’s president really sees the strength of support for Liberland’s claim to statehood.
Jedlicka said: “The first day we had 2,000 citizenship applications, the second day 10,000 and the third day 200,000. This alone shows that there is a demand for what we do.”
Designing a virtual land in the Metaverse
By partnering with Zaha Hadid Architects to create Metaverse, Liberland is creating a place where thousands of residents can meet without having to travel to that small and hitherto uninhabited land.
It can indeed be a safer option for citizens as visitors are not exposed to the risk of possible arrest by the Croatian police.
Patrik Schumacher, Zaha Hadid’s principal architect, is a longtime supporter of Liberland and has chaired previous architectural competitions to create a vision for a physical Liberland.
Seeing the Metaverse, he offers an alternate and immediate way to allow the citizens of Liberland to enter the micronation.
Schumacher – the mind behind parametricism, a concept first coined in 2008 that fundamentally re-established architecture’s relationship with computer technology and algorithms – is a legend in the industry.
He recently published his12 Dissertation on the advent of the Metaverse‘His vision of what the virtual world would look like.
Schumacher’s primary thesis is that the metaverse will deliver vibrant telepresence, co-location synergy, exploratory browsing, immersion, collective experiences, and more.
The use of this capability will be universal, as all websites will be spatial, all organizations will move to the metaverse, and all physical locations will be expanded or replaced with functionally equivalent virtual locations.
His second proposition is that the metaverse is a single reality.
Schumacher wrote: “The Metaverse is neither a game nor a fantasy. The virtual reality in the Metaverse will be no less real than the physical reality in our cities.”
“Physically and virtually mediated social-communicative interactions are equally important and together form an undivided continuous social reality. There will be both competition and cooperation in and within these realms.”
But he really gets going with his seventh and eighth theses, which he calls “Architects Take Over” and “Architectural Essence Distilled”.
Architects as creators of the Metaverse
Schumacher wrote, “In the coming era of VR-powered cyberspace, it will be architects, no longer graphic designers, who will design the coming immersive 3D internet: the metaverse.”
“This expansion of the mission of architecture will advance the essence and core competence of the discipline, namely the spatial-visual arrangement of conversational interaction, upgraded through investments in the sub-disciplines of spatial sciences, phenomenology, semiology and dramaturgy”.
In many ways, bringing architects into the metaverse finally makes sense if we want to create cities that make sense rather than just look pretty.
And it seems that it takes a new country, without bloodshed, to take traditional architecture seriously and bring it to de-architecture.
“Architecture is UI/UX for the built environment, a field that is deeply intertwined with systems thinking, and has many parallels with communications and web design. Architects are strategists of spatial social functionality and communication,” explains Daniela Ghartovici, the founders of ArcAgenda.
He argues that architects are best placed to strategize and design urban environments in the Metaverse.
“Architects are digital natives, design computationally, create 3D digital environments and use game engines for VR representations of spatial designs,” said Ghartovici.
“We have put more effort into creating physical environments for social interaction and productivity, and now we are entering the realm of UX design for complex real-time multi-user interactions in virtual reality platforms. Architects understand that 3D How to connect space with social networking”.