We live in a time when most of our waking hours are spent scrolling through a sea of images. Social media and digital communication has led to a visual disruption where we are continually exposed to a multiplicity of expressions frozen in eclectic imagery. Architecture, too, has lately come under the influence of frenzied image-making, which is largely impacting the way we interact with built spaces.
Until recently, architectural images were mostly found in magazines as polished visuals devoid of human engagement and often directed by the design firms themselves. Today, an architectural image as it exists online, captures the dynamism of everyday life. It involves the end users within the frame and offers unique views of architectural spaces from multiple perspectives.
PLANE-SITE, a global research, production and communication agency involved in urban, cultural and social spaces, has created a video which portrays how social media is impacting architectural practices today, with insights from two distinguished firms, UNStudio and AMO/OMA.
UNStudio applies a significant use of the medium in determining the post-occupancy analysis of their projects through features like geotagging and hashtags; these often give surprising results about the quality of the space and how users like to inhabit it. “We look at social media, at the images that people post, how do they actually appropriate the spaces that are often times different from what we imagine it to be,” says Dana Behrman, Senior Urban Designer at UNStudio.
Ben Van Verkel, founder of UNStudio, raises an important concern that taste is being favoured over functionality in the image-based reality today. Steering away from prioritising the façade across digital consumption, he has previously said that architects should be wary of submission to the image.
It is not to be dismissed that a large part of social media engagement depicts how people view themselves and how they want to be seen. Giacomo Ardesio of AM0/OMA remarks, “The more a building is capable of engaging somehow the visitors beyond the programme that it is meant to solve, atleast from a certain point of view, the more it is successful today.”
(The video was created during World Architectural Festival 2018, where PLANE—SITE led a panel on the thematic, Building Images.)