In a world that was once so obsessed with architecture that was “for the ‘gram”, the rise of TikTok is creating a shift in how we experience and consume architecture. It's no small trend either, nearly 950 million TiKTok videos utilize the hashtag #architecture, frequently to describe buildings in various cities or a specific architectural style that the video creator is familiar with. Does this mean that the era of the "instagrammable building" over, and is TikTok the new way to connect across generations and locations to explore the possibilities of architecture?
If you’re unfamiliar with the TikTok app, it’s taken the world by storm and has transformed the way we consume social and digital media almost overnight. Its Generation Z users (people born after 1996), account for more than 60% of the apps total downloads and are the main consumers of the 15-second dances, skits, lip-syncs, personal stories, and other information that users can share with its 850 million monthly viewers. Just like Instagram has created the influencer career for those who have risen to fame through the app, TiKTok has experienced the same, with dozens of teens generating millions of dollars in revenues and product endorsement through their views and followers.
Due to TikTok’s popularity, architecture on Instagram has perhaps met its match. Instagram over the past few years was already becoming an increasingly saturated digital world where imagery quickly favored quantity over quality. At first, it seemed like the ability to share work from all over the world would benefit and inspire en masse, but perhaps the ability to share ideas too frequently, and too easily, meant that their power and purpose became lost and diluted. It is difficult to ensure that Instagram uploads contribute value to both the architectural profession and discourse. TikTok, however, demands an additional level of editing, thoughtfulness, and elevated sense of creativity that has contributed to its wide success.
In the world of architecture and design, maybe some prefer to not consume it through architecture memes, personal travels. and images of academic projects in progress, but though someone else sharing a bit of their expertise alone. TikTok architecture videos feature people discussing important building codes, how-to tutorials on hand drawings and renderings, and creative videos that tell stories about some of the world’s most famous buildings. It trends towards being more informative and aimed towards a particular audience and less about the graphic representation and quality that might earn Instagram fame and likes.
Especially in the era we live in, locked in our homes due to the global pandemic, it seems that we have nothing of interest to share on Instagram. No one is traveling, and few are returning to school or work. TikTok has given people something to do, whether it be learning choreographed dances, or creating videos about personal architectural design passions. It’s not to say that Instagrammable architecture is entirely over, but that it will surely rival the consumption of the same ideas that are presented in a completely different way via TikTok.
The next time you’re looking for information on obscure architecture, or want to learn the brief history of Lloyds Bank in London, download TikTok and let its dynamic nature take over- almost one billion videos are waiting to be discovered.
This article is part of the ArchDaily Topic: 2020 In Review. Every month we explore a topic in-depth through articles, interviews, news, and projects. Learn more about our monthly topics. As always, at ArchDaily we welcome the contributions of our readers; if you want to submit an article or project, contact us.