Should Architects care about the Instagrammability of their designs?

Should Architects care about the Instagrammability of their designs?

When visiting popular tourist destinations, do you want to snap a selfie with the likes of The Big Ben, The Eiffel Tower or Santorini in the backdrop? Of course, we all do, it is natural. In doing so, a photo will forever offer instant context to the wide smile on your face. You were there.

Since 2010, thanks to Instagram, this same phenomenon has grown a pair of wings. As a photo and video-sharing network, Instagram’s billion users are inspired by beautiful frames. As a result less known, yet “Instagram-worthy” backdrops gain instant popularity. Sugarhouse Studios’ selfie wall in East London is a great example of this. The pastel cement tiling wall was meant to serve as eye-candy for the adjacent Architecture Studio (Assemble). But it became an Instagram hit, and people were drawn to it from far and wide.

From murals in cities across the world to large outdoor sculptures and colourful buildings, Instagram has helped place many attractions on the map. Literally. Geotagging allows users to not only locate the most Instagrammable places nearby but also view a showcase of the most liked photographs taken there.

As if overnight, Instagrammability became less “accidental” and more planned. The Broad Museum in Los Angeles is just one of the many buildings designed with its photographability in mind.

In fact, “Instagrammability” has become part of the Architectural brief.

So to answer the question…

Yes, and no.

Creating Instagrammable spaces are ideal for boosting tourism and launching new attractions. It is also a way to push the design envelope to create spaces that invite and captivate.
British Architect Farshid Moussavi couldn’t have said it better when she said: “Instagram is reinforcing the fact that space matters, which can only be a good thing for designers and architects.”

If Instagram is creating interest in the spaces we design, the news is of course good.

However, there is a flipside to this. If one favours phographability above function or opts for materials that aren’t practical or future-minded, the result will inevitably be short-lived.

In the fast-paced world of social media there will always be the copycats and the innovators; those that follow and those that do. Architects can use Instagram to learn from the latter to gather an understanding of the way people use and interact with the built environment.

As Architects, we ultimately design with human function and purpose in mind and aim to achieve this as aesthetically as possible. The photographability thereof is somehow a happy coincidental by-product when getting it this right.

As a modern Architecture firm in Johannesburg, Veld Architects allow ourselves to be inspired by you and what you love. In incorporating regenerative and sustainable principles into the project, each building we design becomes timeless and photogenic in its own right.

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