The Sail

Big Blue Ocean is a property developer that has been building skyscrapers in cities around the world for the last two decades. They’ve been competing for the purchase of a particular plot of land in Toronto for almost five years when they finally secured it–over nine hectares of land, directly next to a rail corridor which was destined in the coming decade to be transformed into an expansive urban park. The speculative value of this land had made the deal immensely valuable and highly competitive. What clinched it for them was that they were able to get one of their star architects–Amanda Chan signed onto the project. Her name alone would sell out units even before her vision was ready to be shared with prospective investors.

While the building was to be constructed in Toronto, Amanda lives in Paris. This might’ve been an issue for her and the development partners a few years ago, but nowadays and 6 years into a seemingly never-ending global pandemic, working from home is completely normalized. After the initial in-person visit and site research she’s able to continue working from her Parisian studio through the use of an XR workspace.


Following her visit, she received access to the photogrammetry models of the site, which was captured in high resolution by a small fleet of drones. The 3D layers included the current property and the surrounding environment, as well as the future of the adjacent park. In her at-home studio, Amanda has a VR suite, a holodeck of sorts. There she can toggle these layers on and off, tower over, fly through, and walk about both the present and future skylines of Toronto, giving her new perspectives across time and space that helps her to understand the shape of the city; its contours and its sight lines.


Her mood board is a layer that sits suspended over the scene, it consists of photos and videos of her visit are placed in situ through the use of geotagged metadata. When she wants to see her work in a different light she reaches out and grabs the sun and brings it down to the horizon. This lets her see what golden hour feels like, and she can trace the long shadows her tower is casting across the park at sunset. At sunset, the glass and metal cladding makes the building look aflame, represented with real-time ray tracing rendering streamed to her headset by the omniverse cloud servers.

The medium she is using is a type of virtual clay that allows her to refine the form with a high degree of accuracy using additive and subtractive sculptural gestures. Her gestures are interpreted by an agentive AI, an artificially intelligent agent called MYRA. The agent is an example of AGI, brought to life through a multimodal large language model, which was trained to interpret her movements and her requests, and act with agency when appropriate.

Amanda has been working with MYRA for the last four years of her practice, and in that time MYRA has continued to grow with her. Every day they work together the MYRA is better at interpreting her intentions, reflecting her vision, and inspiring her work. You could say that in many ways, they inspire each other. Together they progress in tandem, each taking a turn to refine and illuminate each other's last move.

At sunset, Amanda lays on her back and looks up at her latest iteration. She’s been playing with light and shadow. The cloud rendering is incredibly realistic, but still, it didn’t feel like a typical early fall day in Toronto. Something was missing. ”Myra, can you look up the historical wind data, and use it to simulate the prevalent winds?” Amanda asks.

“Yes I can do that, typically Toronto sees prevailing winds from the southwest. The windiest seasons of the year are fall and winter, when there’s an average hourly wind speed of 18 kilometres per hour. The calmer time of year lasts for 6 months, from April to October with an average windspeed of 12 kilometres per hour.” Amanda paused for a moment to try and apply all the information she was receiving, meanwhile, inspired by Amanda’s inquiry, Myra had an idea.

“Actually Amanda, looking at this data gives me an idea that I think you’ll appreciate. I think that if we changed the cladding to a titanium sheet, with this kind of prevalent wind the building should resonate during moderate wind speeds and it would create a beautiful rippling movement across the surface. In fact, we should be able to simulate that, just give me a moment.”

“So how did they like the new name and direction?” - Myra is curious and seeking validation

  • shimmer of glass and aluminum cladding
  • would you like to see this with any other surface material?
  • titanium
  • looks like a sail
  • broad gesture to carve out sail.

The iterations are effortless, and over the course of several weeks, Amanda runs through hundreds, if not thousands, of them.

After weeks of work in XR, and over a dozen virtual presentations, the architectural design is complete. She’s gotten alignment and approval from everyone on the project team for what is called “The Sail.” She’s conquered the Toronto skyline with a “super- tall”—a building over 300metres. Coming in at 342metres it’s the tallest residential building in Canada, and even though it won’t be complete for several years she’s able to finally relax, lying on her back in grass of the future rail-deck park looking up at The Sail in awe of its massing and posture against the blue sky. It’s lines are anything but conventional, it’s truly her magnum opus. At it’s grand reveal there are tens of thousands of prospective buyers from around the world VR touring from the comfort of their homes.