Just as we launched this year’s Archiboo Awards Instagram changed its algorithm prioritising entertaining short-form videos over photos. For practices, as for many other creatives who were winning work via the platform, this posed a question.
Should they continue with Instagram or try another platform, TikTok being the most obvious because of its phenomenal stats and user engagement?
Based on entries in the Social Media category, architects remain loyal to Instagram even though few are making the investment into Reels, the platform’s poor attempt to match TikTok’s, which it launched last summer.
Yet those who’ve dipped their toe into TikTok’s waters have found it rewarding, including the winner, Open City which launched its TikTok channel earlier this year.
Its objective was to celebrate a variety of people, places, and architectural treasures in an accessible and refreshing way with 60-second films taking viewers inside famous and lesser-known buildings and landscapes. And with currently close to a million views a month, the approach seems to be working. Its one minute tour of Trellick Tower has been watched 419,000 times.
That’s not to say practices aren’t investing in short-form video but they prefer to post on Instagram and increasingly LinkedIn. But why not TikTok?
Short-form video is a trend we spotted last year which is why we created two categories, one for films over two minutes 30 seconds and short-form films.The attraction of short-form is that they are cheaper to make and a great medium to tell a highly visual story.
Both category winners did this. Tétris Design & Build, winner of the Short Clip category, pushed the format hard, telling a story about a new hybrid workspace it has designed for Sanofi. While it lacked the beautiful architecture of some of the other shortlisted films, it broke through the genre using humour – something the judges said was lacking in architectural films generally.
We are constantly being told that social audio is the next Big Thing despite Clubhouse sinking almost without trace. But the ability to allow users to have real-time conversations in ‘virtual rooms’ that can accommodate groups large and small was liberating – especially during lockdown when people couldn’t talk to friends and colleagues in person.
One of the many groups that established itself on Clubhouse and then pivoted to a podcast is the Property Development Book Club (PDBC) which was shortlisted in the Best Podcast category.
Bringing together architects, quantity surveyors, structural engineers, planning consultants, landscape architects and development managers, who have experience working on mixed-use developments, it didn’t win but the format could be a model for others who want to break free from the standard interviewer/guest format that is very hard to get right.
We consistently receive some great Podcast entries and our past winners include Material Matters and the Londown but the award has never gone to a practice. Why not?
It would take another blog post to answer this properly but to create an award winning podcast, whatever the subject matter, you need a unique voice and great content. One way around this is to partner with a media creator which is what this year’s winner American Hardwood Association did, teaming up with Disegno to produce Words on Wood.
Launched in 2021, the podcast explores forests and the timber industry. It's a niche subject but as one of the judges, podcast producer James Bishop said: "Words on Wood is produced with craft and attention to detail. … and has the feel of a crisp audio documentary”.
Visual Design and User Experience have always been our most popular categories. Would they be this year? We decided to drop the Best Newcomer category because emerging or new practices were relying on Instagram avoiding the expense of a website, which makes more sense when there are few or no projects to show. Or does it? With social media being such a lottery, a website remains one of the few places where you are in control and it is where your personality and your brand are judged.
In the old days, practices who went down the re-brand route often did so out of desperation rather than confidence. Not anymore. Both BVN and Sheppard Robson, winner of the coveted Best Overall, have undergone major rebranding without having to change the practice name but it has allowed them to reset their agenda.
The Alan Davidson Award is a category we care passionately about but each year it prompts the fiercest and longest debate. It’s one of the few categories that we actively encourage developers and their branding agencies to enter because they bear more responsibility to make sure people connect with new places or buildings via a strong story.
In the end this award went to an architect because, like last year's winner, it showed an understanding of the community and encouraged local people to contribute to the narrative.
So what has been the main takeaway from the Archiboo Awards 2022? I think it's about a mood swing away from architects as service providers to companies that care and have personality and are not afraid to show it.
Websites are less corporate, the writing is less stuffy and there is more emphasis on architecture as a collective endeavour. Of course there’s still a long way to go and architecture businesses and organisations can be financially successful without an Instagram or Twitter account. They don’t need to make films or start a podcast or hire professional writers. But if they do, it helps.
A full list of this year's winner's is here
The 2022 shortlist is here
Images: BVN's new identity is by Base Design (top). Tétris Design and Build won the Short Clip category (bottom).