If you’re on Instagram, there’s a decent chance you’ve seen a picture of one particular building called the Yardhouse. It was designed by the London-based architecture collective Assemble. The design of the building had a lot to say about creating spaces that were functional, collaborative, and inexpensive. But people on Instagram mainly saw a pretty wall to serve as the backdrop to their photos. Instagram and architecture have formed a symbiosis and the consequences of them interacting and feeding back on each other are still playing out.
This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
Hello, beautiful nerds. There are a lot of intense actions and discussions going on in the world today. Many long overdue, and much of it happening on social media for better or worse This story of have today is about how Instagram and architecture interact and feedback on each other. It was reported in produced before the covert. Down and before the protests over police brutality have swept the country so of it feels like it is from another era. It is but. We witness social media platforms evolving to meet this moment. I think it's worth one or two report on how they evolved up to now. It's also just a delightful peace, and I think I like it so there it is This is ninety nine percent, invisible, I'm roman Mars.
The grim has never really been my thing, I just don't tend to use a camera one amount in the world. I just like to use my boss, I do like screwing through Instagram, occasionally mainly as is a lot of good architecture on their. The app is a wash in pictures, fruitless towers, graffiti balls and elaborate staircases, and if your needs aground there, decent chance. You ve seen a picture of one particular building. It's called the yard house. The artist was designed by a London based architecture, Collective called assemble producer and Fitzgerald assemble is, kind of a big deal. They won the Turner Prize for visual art into doesn't fifteen for their work, reconstructing a derelict buildings in Liverpool, but the yacht the house was the first building that they ever built. The designers had just move into this new stew YO and Stratford near where the two dozen twelve Olympics were being held. There was on the street, called your house lean, and they wanted to build something,
in the empty yard out front collaborative workshop, for designers and artists. There is the idea that this yard house. It be the new model of affordable workspace. This is Joe Halligan. One of the architects and so the answer is no longer have to live or work in that kind of cold warehouse basis on the fringes, but they can. They can be in these new war insulating buildings. The problem was that they we had a short term lease. The property like a lot of properties and Strapper was going to be redeveloped after the Olympics, and so they knew that they need to build a cheap structure. That could be easily disassembled. So knowing that we only had the least the two years or something it was like, how can build a building as kind of afforded they and efficiently as possible the designers, but some things that made the building, functional and inexpensive. It a simple timber frame structure and cheap mass
produce components everything's bolted, screwed so that you can take it down again. The building was like an urban barn with pie, ceilings and lots of open way. Space. But the reason you may have seen this building has nothing to do with any of that. The yard house, isn't instagram famous for its day, why design or its off the shelf affordability know its famous for undesigned decision that have very little to do with assembles larger vision. The architects knew that they were to have a look at this very functional building all day long so the allowed themselves would seem at a time like one. Or concession to beauty, on the one facades that face the yard, we knew we wanted to do something special that would conduct elevator in some way. One special war I guess it is a bit like an italian church or something you know web,
the front facade is marble, and this got this kind of incredible market train. But then the back is really just like bricks: slap together. They wanted to make their first themselves, and so when they found a book on traditional handmade, shingle work lying around the office, they took it ass, a sign they started. Bring cement shingles in the studio and mixing each batch with a different colored pigment. After making thousands of these tiles, they ended up with this greedy and different Let us say together when you see them on the sound it becomes like a lizard skin or something but passed on so called surreal to me. It looks like this oh, my God, whimsical, tropical fish, yeah yeah fish scales, both definite tropical fish.
It's not something you'd find in the channel something round. Britain is definitely like Bahamas or something I think, a beautiful tropical fish of a building tucked away in a post industrial hinterland right next to a highway which isn't that friendly to the kind of pedestrians, particularly tourists. But if Joe thought that tourists working, to find this hidden, pastel wonder wall? He thought wrong. You know in the summer time we would be our lunch outside and what we still it's a notice, would be groups of people I'm wondering in and then getting their photograph taken in front of the building. In the front of the wool, really soon photos of the world. Started circulating on Instagram with the hashtag sugar how studios Addio tag of the exact location of the assemble offices, which only drove more people to the wall. It was quite frequent is maybe, like twenty people every day would turn up you kind of it. They just become part of the
it of what it is to work to work there, but really people will not enjoy like people were not interested in the work that we were doing. They weren't. Interested in affordable workspace for artists or the fact that a simple had managed something so cheap and yet functional. They were only interested in that beautiful facade, professional photo crews started calling the office to try and book the wall, and people were showing up from all over the world, but definitely like lots and lots of international guests Here is the international community and international community of people coming together to take more or less the same photo over and over again entertaining to watch them. They always do this. Job got. It looks like a floating within space. Against this backdrop, the boy take photos of couples kissing and babies crawling and kid, doing, can stand in front of the war. Someone pool the plug, they place,
kind of pack, their incite photos of their pug infallibly school. What was her? with assembles was an extreme version of a pretty common phenomenon. People take a photo of something go around. The world water forum will be simplified. You're, a sculpture and other people see that photo and they say I want my own version of that picture. I too, if I said you know it's like. If I went to the pyramids, I definitely take right. I'm not complete Comparing our votes at the pyramid. Did you ever get an answer on kind of like how it went VI The ruling was there, it was there in instigating event or was it just slow? accretion of legs, then calm, pin point one particular blogger or like this influence it took her composure, something maybe it was the pug, maybe was the park yeah. Maybe it was the cod
Architects in assemble weren't, trying to poor people to the back millions of EAST London, but they accidently design the perfect Instagram Flytrap, a wall that met all the criteria of what stands out on the Arab, because Instagram is creating new rules about what kind of design looks good and what deserves our attention vision. Also, look at an answer. Gram are actually very simple. This is example, Lang Architecture, critic for curbed and long temper of the show, and she says that for an image to look good on a tiny screen in the palm of your hand, it has to have certain characteristics. Bold colours and patterns are good. It can just be a colored while or a pattern while not too many family details. It has to be like relatively few elements. Centering as good. A pop of color is good, and the lighting has to be good enough, so that the colors stand out and in general flatter is better
he's a good answer. Graham photo is really a pretty shallow photo, so walls and floors and pretty simple, geometric patterned, really look best unanswered like it. If I gave you the feed and sea and of what power ups it's this kind of flat, pattering Alexander Lange is particularly interested in pattern floors. I feel like the first cool flora that I notice getting in Syria and all the time was the blue and white tiles. Or in the intelligentsia, coffee and Silverlake witches by best, our architecture is hidden Lay coffee shop has these amazing geometric tiles and they ran all the way across the floor, and then the front of the coffee, bar and kind of over the lip so is basically almost like a carpet of tiles, a carpet of tiles. What made the perfect background for an instagram picture of a customer's desert boots and then suddenly it was like every New coffee bar had pattern. Title
like assemble the intelligentsia floor, designer didn't set out to make something for Instagram, but in recent years designers have begun to intentionally designs basis. That will look good on the Lange says that hotel oh and restaurant interiors in particular, have been designed to lure customers with their instagram ability. One argued he told me that is really important to have an answer: Grandmama bathroom, so like good lighting a coup. Feature while behind the mirror people one a pop into the bathroom and take their selfie and sort of say, like I was here these days, clients, often ass designers to create in the grand moments, which basically mean some feature in the space that is just there, so that people can take a photo with it in a night another in secret. Wall or whatever burner
Alexander, as the co founder of O plus a interior design firm in San Francisco that primarily works on office spaces for tech companies and she says, Even one client aren't demanding a designated selfie spot platforms like Instagram are still impacting had designers through there. Work that we know that when we photograph projects, we need to have that that first image that's first shot that is going to drop people in this going to get people excited as you're going to want people to, pin it or look at it twice right, and so whether we do it consciously or subconsciously we're always design. In a moment and isn't the only abbots impacted the architecture and design World Verba Alexander was a judge this past year at a few design competitions- and she says it fell, like everyone, was just copying. What was cool on interest, which, at the time
Was this very particular style of italian post, modern design associated with nineteen eighties architecture, firm called the Memphis group fell. I would be looking at these projects all had hast helping ground near reserve or narrow arched doorway they were. All the same details This is the one designers rely too heavily on platforms like Pinterest for inspiration. They can get stuck in this derivative loop getting its tail rather just they stay within this circle at dawn. Expand beyond that. I guess. That's I fear that by focusing on digital trans designers lose track of with ability, work ability, climate all things. They can't really capture in a photograph
Joe Halligan from Assemble says that as a designer, it's impossible, not to think about how something you make will be photographed later on. I think you have to be aware slightly of that and you finish this building that you spent five years on the way most people will view it will be through the image which praises tough. Since, do you then pander to that or you d d? this will ensure that the kind of main focus is on the person who visits the building and experiences it? It's not hard to imagine what the world would look like if everyone just went fall on with Instagram, pandering in some ways that world already tests just a bit so called Instagram playgrounds, which are essentially stage sets made four days
the great as concentration of amazing selfies in the shortest amount of time, the Museum of ICE Cream and the color factory aren't really museums or factories. There, spaces build with colorful rooms and sculptures and ball bets Oliver sure designed for the sole purpose of being the backdrop of an Iphone picture, then Irene about. Those. Is kind of like the least fine playgrounds for grownups, then you could possibly make you want really supposed to play them at all. Just think of you pictures and we walked the next room reduces architecture to a photo abbot. It turns architecture into basically a flap experience right now. This flat photo of park. Detector fuels pretty contained two. The cafe in particular tells in the instrument on playgrounds, although it is not hard to imagine in escaping from the color factory in slipping out into the broader city.
On the other hand, maybe our collective instagram moment won't last all that long, because these days are on Tik Tok or using Instagram more for its story function and we're seeing less of those carefully compose selfies against the perfect backdrop and more short videos with a lot of jump cuts dear ready for it, Doug Architecture, which actually sounds pretty delightful, yeah honest as they don't even know that would look like, but regardless of what happens next Alexander Lang doesn't want us to get carried away with this narrative that Instagram has been bad for design. I feeling debug keep trying to get me into saying, like Instagram is ruining architecture. I would never do that. Ok, maybe I did- and I just no one can say that, because I can still feel all that joy, that I felt that day in Melbourne Lang was, Melbourne Australia about ten years ago, when interim was just getting going and it turns out that Melbourne is an under appreciated mecca for bizarre postmodern architecture.
And I am just completely wowed by these buildings, because their spiky there, Howard and neon they're, just there really kind of crazy, and there are like nothing. I've ever seen before He suddenly have this overwhelming desire to share, and so she posted picture after picture on until someone was like Alexandria is very terrible twitter at a cat like take it to Instagram, Lange hadn't Instagram account the chief barely used, and so she started using it posting all these pictures of buildings, the Australian very like a yeah. We now those like wowie. We don't know if this is what is this magical Europeans, which is mostly joy because I just love again, buildings and instagram- was the perfect platform for that, and it turns out a lot of people, love, joyful, pictures of buildings. My son, whose twelve told me the only time he ever mention me is when you want
of people, love joyful, pictures of buildings. My son he's I've told me the only time he ever mention me is when he wants to flex to his friends at his mother. Has forty two thousand interim followers Alexander Lange's time using Instagram, led her to believe that the app can have a positive effect on Architecture Surrey. Get a few too many selfie laws, but the app can offer window into the built world and encourage people to notice overlooked buildings, I feel it for a long time. Architecture was really associated with specific capital cities and so most people were only seeing a really like limited slice of architecture, and I think something I do in a lot of other people do is show that kind of architecture is everywhere, and even The design and Zander Lang doesn't necessarily think that Instagram moments get in the way of good architecture. The truth is you can simultaneously
no design a good building and make sure that it has a good instagram moment in it and the things are not mutually exclusive and they don't like wonders and undermine the other, but there is another reason: why probably is an accurate to say that instant, And is ruining architecture because designed for the camera, is really nothing new, certainly in it, but he had century from nineteen twenties and thirty's onward. Any ambitious architect has been conscious of a very attentive to the role of photography in conveying his or her work to a broader public. This is architectural historian, key agnor from the University of Oregon architects like neutral, like what like Luis Paragon in Mexico begin to use photography to convey certain- things about about their architecture, that they wanted the larger public to see. Louis
again worked closely with one photographer, in particular, a man Armando Mondo, Solace. Portugal in I would go so far as to say there are very few major architects. In fact, I can relieve and think of another major architect whose reputation is so tightly bound up with the photographs of a single photographer the most famous photos of Barragan's work are really a collaboration between two visual artists. Egnor doesn't think that they are gone designed his buildings for the photographs, but he was an architect who was supremely interested in the way things looked. Not just In fully dimensional lived experience, but also on a two dimensional photographic surface, when there are gone one, the Pritzker prize for architecture in nineteen. Eighty, he was
very well known outside of Mexico, and many of his best buildings had fallen into disrepair, but there were still beautiful photographs of them. Keeping are actually wrote to the members of the Pritzker Jerry to ask how they had picked paragon and most people politely wrote back and said. Well, we can't really talk about those deliberations, but one member of the jury did right back and said well. In fact, most of us had never actually seen any of bare gods buildings, except in photographs, not surprisingly, He's paragons buildings are now really popular. Uninstall ran in fact caused Aragon in Mexico City charges extra. If you wanna, take photos on your tour and people gladly pay a fee to get onto the roof. The task- the really Faint pink walls that people tend to one a photograph themselves with. The truth is that most people aren't taking Alexandra Lang style pictures that make you think about arrogance architecture in new ways. They want a selfish
against one of those beautiful bright, pink walls that really make a perfect salty backgrounds, understandable and those all these are consumed by thousands of people on an app who may or may not have any idea about the real world context. That picture of your friend in front of a pink wall could be at the bare gone House in Mexico City or could be in for the bright pink while the pulse Miss store in LOS Angeles, you can get almost the same photo, and you know Smith said he was thinking of bargain pink when he painted that, while people are always posing a photo on Instagram, because they're interested in telling the world about some poor building sometimes are just using some build. The tool to create a cool image. It does naturally, even matter which building they used to do it and as the number of images grows, they start to lose their connection with the physical world. Just look at what happened.
The assembly wall as more and more people came to the offices. Thousands of images of their colorful wall started to circulate online, and then the architects started noticing the cement tiles appearing as a stock photo like a generic wallpaper. You might use for your desktop or zoom background, Well, you can't see the building itself that you Jesse a crop of these kind of colorful title. Then they noticed that stock photo was actually being printed onto stuff, laptop cases, rugs and picture I remember being in Copenhagen and seeing someone sitting on the bus, we, the phone cover with this building, the you know, we'd built in his London, and they have no idea why I don't think they would have any idea of the context of where that image has come from and that super weird, I think, that's like super with
then to make matters weirder the wall that became a photo became a wallet. So what we saw then was a request, from I think it was in a shopping mall in China, and it was the request to kind of rebuild a part of the wall, so the people within a shopping mall could get their photograph taken against this kind of image, so it's almost what they see the stock photo and they want to get their photo taken against the stock photo weight, so did did they build their, they built it yeah. It was built and I think If you, if you look on instruments, you can photos of people against that in these fellows in the system. Strange to imagine this journey from architecture to image, architecture, image, as for the real world, the art house eventually had to come down when the least ran out. That has always been the plan there
screw the screws on bolted, the bolts and packed up their building a sum. So the structure, the your house, listen in pieces in storage somewhere in London said still exists, but just in them just in part. I asked Joe who they sold it to, but he said it was a secret. Maybe I could tell you anyway, we didn't sell. It needs to be done. Well, it ain't that we should have made that offer loathing Joe and the rest of his colleagues work out of a new office and South London, although they kept the name sugar. How studios which may have been a mistake because to this day, people ten, you to show up unannounced eyelids, really. You knows quite sad in a way Someone comes all the way and then they ring the doorbell. And they sailor outside the three of us and I to hasten back. We ve got photographer here it's I. We just
we just want to know where the wool is and you have to say. Unfortunately, we took that down two years ago. As for the old log in EAST London, it looks very different. Now. Stratford was completely transformed by the Olympics its name with it now with boutiques in wine bars, but the old photos still tend to the old location? So ever see someone wandering around Stratford carrying a pug looking confused at their phone dont worry there probably just chasing a ghost geo tag. The most instagram of a wall in the world, yeah,
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Ok, so I'm in this video them at this Gerald who reported that story, I do any good so we have. This is where we often have these, like. We'll tangents in the story that don't always make the story in the code is a good place to do them. So what do you have for us? You not funny thing. I think about this story. For me in general. Is that is that, like this is such a side story for a symbolic there? This? This really have impressive and cool group of architects, unlike as I was kind of reading more about them. Ammonia about those good, then a bunch of stories about them in this felt it felt like kind of a funny this. To them is an organization is thing about Instagram, but you know, but it also is funny, I think, Then you know no matter how many cool projects they do. It's like it's hard to imagine that there ever gonna design,
in something that gets seen by more people and appreciated and a lot of ways by more people at least photographic. We re, then that wall and I think that The most smart, Joe Italian, is ok with that I wonder how many people know it's a building the wall, The building is, I guess, that's what's a bit funny about it, isn't it it's like a normal gets too God is a war, and I don't think people know that it's affordable workspace. You know, which is a kind of pilot project, for what could happen of the legacy, If the Olympics, you know it could be deployed to allow us to continue to work in the city, and I think it is kind of shame that all of that stuff gets lost just they come with this kind of pretty candy thing. But I guess you know it's it's it's nice people like it
Oh, I guess attitude in general. I would like, as very impressed with Jos attitude, about this whole thing now towards that of our interview, Joe just kind of in studio in London, like I could tell he had pulled out his phone skulking current looking at these pictures is interesting as people you know. The way MR groundwork. Single of old things, will get kind of resurfaced and reposted The wall in in London doesn't is not up anywhere, but that the photos- of it still kind of tendering surface on Instagram, as if it still was so we're scrolling through? He was coming across all these different photos, yeah, yet still posting about it on the mat completely mad, as a wedding here, look at that balloon! So beautiful thing, it's a beautiful thing to see it brings back memories.
And you'd almost that most of these photos are kind of what we describe the peace. It's like either someone scanned. From the wall. Jumping holding a dog there, maybe or just a lot of shot. Of the war itself, but as Joe was scrolling through we came across one those kind of special seal. It It is on a bed. She, oh my god, let that so coup that is the coolest one. Yet you gotta feature that this blanket was inspired by the much photographed, tiled wool and sugar. How studios someone made a quilt of it. So it's not that it's, a prince someone's actually but different fabrics than them and kind of crocheted them together and Edward. Love I mean I I just love. You can tell it just like a little bit enchanted by
as early as the best much that we would ever be able to make a call what it. What does it look at? You show me a picture of your hair Tiggle like eyes. Really nice, it is like, isn't really quite a psycho crocheted blanket yeah yeah. I think I think tat S more. It's more like a like a throw blanket of your bed at its view. It's really beautiful Emily, and you can just tell her in our work, went into making the whole way so who made this. So this is some of them chilean row, who has the inscribe handle tales from a happy house tales from a happy house she's based in Hampshire? and it looks like she finished the quilt in September this year. Maybe we'll messenger and save it looks hunter
So I am not sure if your message, thereby- but I did so I d- I'm idea under another ceramic- she, you know, agreed China phone ending. I called her up. I didn't I didn't, have a whole lot of questions, but I just I want her know that the people who designed the wall, you know really thought her, like it was really cool without talking about one of the designers of the war and we were scrolling to industry and the reason that I found you is that we were ascribed to tramp together. Demi came across your blanket and he was genuinely move I help you too, for your bike about all. I replied. He told me that mostly we move yeah she's, a a good this person, and when one thing that I fear now talking to her was that she had never actually visited the wall like her experience of this wall was in
higher ground was always only on Instagram, yet know everything that I'd like to go back in time is limited, and if I'm going to take some guy that police units are becoming much, I probably correctly to ban or maybe have it out with my family game with my family and are not dragging able to evolve a guide to the natural There was something which makes sense eliminate. This will exert some amazing mothers. I mean, like you, did you do this the context. Realisation of the imagery of appeal to architecture and lots of different ways, and I think you could have kind of a cynical view of it. That, like you, Know- raising the meaning. Of wall, where a building the negative side effects, but in this case, in improbably lots of cases- This is a pattern that people experience just to Instagram gave them joy and in this case you another piece of Google ART was created, and so you, it's not like,
this is negative, for this is just what it is and I was like- I think that was like the entire experience of reporting. This piece is kindly feeling is this bad as this good as this disc opium utopian ideas. I have kept going back and forth on than an In the end, I think it's just like a mixed bag. It's like there are there. Are we it's just weird make a living in in like the internet, age and and trying to interact in the digital and physical world at the same time is just like a weird messy thing, but yeah. I think that this- this example was for me a really nice on, whereas like here, someone that that found something online and made something real in the world the out of it like she didn't even have a relationship with the physical place. And in Joe and the could feel mixed about the sum some of the uses, but they're really truly nothing more amazing, then being an
rest who makes art that inspires other organs to create beautiful things, though delay. That's the greatest gift in the world right. I totally. I think that there is nothing negative you could think about about this blank. It's so good. What thanks for this little addendum to the story? That's absolutely thank you ninety nine percent, invisible was produced this week by Emmett, said Cyril mix intact production by reviews of music, by shown rail Katy Mingle is our senior producer caused at is the dismal director recipe senior editor Delaney Home Vivian lay Joe Rosenberg Crisper, Ruby, Sophia Club, and me woman Mars astute listeners will notice that for the first time in nearly seven years, every travel is missing from this list. If you didn't catch. The announcement at the end of her brilliant articles, ventrous series listen to it just now,
He is moving on to do some new things and I am confident that those projects will be as inspiring beautiful. Interesting is all her work has been here and I M p. I she brought so much to the show and shaped who we are today in income. Global ways. I know You owe me here in her stories on the air just now that we're gonna miss her a thousand times more, Let's be it in regard to this episode, special thanks to Diana birds from curbed and Cooper, Rogers, river him Thank yous from the thousands of people who support radio utopia, including Paul Thomas Ellie, Paul Selina, Dixon Deal Augustus, Prime, and because we are Then one point: seven K, L W in San Francisco produced on video row
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Transcript generated on 2020-06-17.