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MASS-PARTICIPATION ARCHITECURE                                     

Social Media and the Decentralisation of Architectural Agency as a Commerical Imperative

Complete Thesis


Mass-participation Architecture, Pearl, 2016

Published Articles


Anticipate or Participate, Interiors & Sources (2014)

Many companies are beginning to embrace and facilitate prosumption with profound (and profitable) results.


Case Study: Threadless, Design Intelligence (2014)

Lessons learned from a successful and iconic consumer-driven company


Social Media and the Minimum Viable 'Brand-scape', Design Intelligence (2014)

How AEC firms might leverage consumer creativity for productive, predictive and innovative architecture


Prosumption Architecture, H+ Magazine (2014)

The public vote with their feet, and the commercial artifacts of culture are therefore inevitably defined by the invisible handprints of consumption.






The line between the consumers and producers of commercial objects is increasingly becoming blurred in the 21st century, while the implicit rules that dictate how commercial value should be generated and designed are rapidly being re-written. This transformation is part of a trend, running over the course of centuries; one that has increasingly pulled consumers closer into the design process, driven by a commercial imperative to better understand and cater to their needs and preferences. In the consumer goods industry this trend has now progressed to the point that consumers are beginning to emerge as active designers, faciliated by digital technology to drive design processes themselves, in a self-organising manner.


A study of this long running trend has been useful, not least to explore the historic emergence of design decentralisation, but also to reveal how closely developments in the consumer goods industry are being followed by design practices in retail architecture (physical retail shares the selling imperative inhereted directly from consumer goods). An extrapolation suggests that the architectural design industry, in a matter of decades, could feature similar web-based mass-participatory design platforms currently revolutionising the consumer goods industry. What is less apparent is whether this transformation would be likely to occur in quite the same way, given the uniquely political contexts of commercial architecture and urban planning.


Texts that provide insight into the professional implications and complexities of this emerging future are available to the left. These draw on interview content from notable figures (chosen due to relevant and innovative work in the area architectural mass-participation), in addition to both live and archive exploration of mass-participatory design platforms (such as Threadless and Stickyworld). Essentially it is argued that web-based mass-participatory design platforms are likely to present an increasingly viable approach to the practice of architectural design and urban planning over the following decades; given appropriate regulatory conditions, and against the backdrop of the rapidly developing culture and technologies encompassed by social media. It is therefore anticipated that the traditional roles and relationships between the public and professionals of architectural design will become significantly altered, in favor of an anti-authorial, decentralised approach to decision-making, characterised by self-organised design solutions, and a greater degree of public satisfaction and input into the built environment.

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