Instagram as a window to the social side of architecture

In a video produced by Plane – Site, OMA/AMO and UNstudio discuss how social media has become an important tool in learning about how their buildings are used. 

Plane - Site's latest video investigates the ways in which social media, and in particular Instagram, are changing how architecture is seen and designed. In the video "Building Images", the communication agency interviews Dutch practices UNstudio and OMA/AMO, which tell about the criticalities and opportunities offered by these new digital tools.

We live in a historical moment in which the production of images in any field is wide-spread and horizontal, where the main newspapers and magazines must adapt to more rapid and direct forms of communication, such as that of influencers, rethinking the information in its entirety, from the writing of articles to their distribution.

But what are the consequences for architecture? Surely it is easier for the firms to narrate in images the culture around the project and the processes that determine the built forms. "There is a sense of permanent voyeurism, a permanent need to go behind the scene, an obsession to unveil what are the mechanics behind the project, not just the final output," says Ippolito Pestellini, partner of OMA/AMO.

Plane – Site, Building Images, 2019

On the one hand, Instagram leads the visitor to a faster and more superficial "consumption" of the images, converting the buildings into spectacular sets to make selfie. On the other hand, data analysis and the accumulation of points of view can help designers discover unexpected facets and uses of projects.

"We don't have to capture information about the quality of the space only from our measurements of sensors or interview with users. We look at the social media, at images that people post: how they actually appropriate the spaces, that are often times different from what we image it to be," says Dana Behrman, senior urban designer at UNstudio.

Between material and immaterial production, these are just a few ideas on a debate that is recent and evolving extremely quickly. Rather than wanting to affirm the state of the art of the so-called Instagram Architecture, the video of Plane - Site is an invitation to look forward and imagine new scenarios for the discipline and its relationship with reality.

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