Dream House The rise of renderporn.

Dream House The rise of renderporn.

  • Words George Upton
  • Photograph Zach Phan

In March 2021, a virtual, three-dimensional model of a house sold for more than half a million dollars. That the house didn’t exist—it was designed by Toronto-based artist Krista Kim with software more commonly used to create video games—did not stop the digital render of the Martian-looking, glass-walled villa from reaching the same price as actual brick-and-mortar real estate. In an article published in The New Yorker a few months later, Anna Wiener decoded what had become a defining trend of the digital age.1

“Renderporn,” as these hyperrealistic architectural fantasies have come to be known, is the product of recent developments in three-dimensional modeling software. Neoclassical architects like Giovanni Battista Piranesi may have been creating fantasy worlds back in...

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