Posted by Chris on 18.01.2011

“The Worst Thing To Happen To Architecture Since The Internet Started” (link)

So says architecture magazine (and brunt of many photography jokes) Dwell of new site Arcbazar. Following the cloud/crowd-sourcing trend that has seen designers across the internet devalued once again, Arcbazar apparently wants to make it easier for clients to connect with professional architects.

Like many sites, it advertises this connection as a competition—standard amongst architecture, admittedly—and a to way lower costs for the client, while granting the opportunity for the client to “Be a Patron—Promote young designers and professionals”. This cannot possibly be a good thing.

Part of the way we work at ID/Lab is to get together with architects, urban planners and builders as early as possible, in order to advise them on how to improve usability throughout their building. Generally, the more successful the project, the earlier we’ve been involved. Effective architectural design relies on great interaction between all parties involved; the client, the architect, the builder and the specialists. Crowdsourcing an architectural design—with the limited understanding of the peculiarities of the client’s site and needs that this results in—removes any real possibility of creating an effective and long lasting design.

Instead, what we will see are designs which do not relate well to their environment, which are difficult to navigate, and uncomfortable to use. While the site seems to be targeting smaller projects, there is little doubt that we will eventually see a major cloudsourced building. And it will be a sad day indeed.

Unfortunately, you have to register to get any information regarding the competitions. Which we did. Already there are two competitions on the site—both for large public spaces, both with eleven week deadlines. The information provided consists of some aerial shots, some StreetView photographs and approximately 300 words of text. The rewards? $400 and $600.

Here is the building schedule for one:

Andrew Square Redevelopment Schedule

Andrew Square Redevelopment Schedule

A large, mixed use development is asking for an architectural design with a reward of $400. This can only end badly.