It was great to see Acute House included in DESIGN MILK's list of their 10 BEST ARCHITECTURE POSTS OF 2017. We're especially excited to make the list as we're aware of the torrent of projects they publish each year. Thanks Design Milk! You've helped take our work all around the world.
As I have ranted about in previous posts, the reach of these online magazines is staggering with social media streams followed by millions and a publishing regime that leaves you breathless. Design Milk, for example, posts almost hourly to Twitter (2.3 million followers) and Instagram (2 million followers). The bite sized information, manic regularity and 'hit and miss' nature of social media readership is so paradigmatically different from traditional print media, it's difficult to gauge what all this means.
Is design culture better (however you want to define that)? Is this explosion of information allowing many more people to be interested in design? Or are we just talking more amongst ourselves, MUCH more?
No definitive answers from me but I'll offer some observations. Anecdotal evidence suggests that we share a huge umbrella of 'news' ie. we all know who's building what, shortlisted where, awarded this, completed that, but not much more. Sharing this umbrella is a badge of belonging to your tribe and provides important currency for dinner party conversations. I'm as aware of what my archi friends are building down the road as I am of Rem Koolhaas' latest exhibition in New York or some gem of a beach house in faraway Iceland. I even know what's happening in Sydney (ha ha).
Almost all online architectural media information is communicated via images alone as accompanying text is usually minimal or, sometimes, entirely lifted from the architect's website - the archi equivalent of publishing a press release. While it is true that we have largely lost the 'serious' architectural writing culture practised in the 1980s + 90s I, for one, am grateful. No, not for lazy writing but for the elevation of images as the primary carriers of information.
Architects are notorious for buying books just to look at the pictures (guilty). Contrary to popular belief, this is not merely because we are too superficial to read. It's likely that we are more adept at reading images than words and find visual information easier, faster and richer to read. Beyond recognising the hand - or eye - of the photographer as you would the author of any piece of writing, interpretation of images is far looser than words and this imprecision gives you room to think.
It's not surprising that our training and practice means we are more proficient at making and reading diagrams than words - anyone who has suffered 'serious' architectural writing will tell you that.
If you missed Caroline Williamson's article on Acute House the first time check it out HERE