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16

When Social Media Shifts Your Perspective: or, How I Became a Social Media Convert

By Mary Chow, Community Recreation Sector Leader

I’ve seen the influence of social media; the power to connect to a world larger than immediate family members, friends and acquaintances. Last year I saw my 13 year olds Instagram account reach over 800 followers within months. At the time, his entire elementary school didn’t even have 500 students. So how could he know 800 people?

I’ve seen a change in expectations from our community and recreation clients; that our projects meet the needs of the entire community, not just of a limited demographic. I’ve seen social media help us achieve this  – we’ve even changed building programs and designs because of it.

I can’t see it stopping there. Facebook has 1.2 billion active users, and Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and Youtube are all major players in brand outreach. As we continue to leverage social media to connect with community members, it’s made me wonder: what’s next?

When writing about the biggest social media trends for 2016, Hootsuite CEO Ryan Holmes forecasted that social video would become ever more prevalent and that we would begin to see more 360 video. And he’s right. Video has become ubiquitous. I know because I now click on more videos in my newsfeed than I do articles.

For architecture, a photograph is a still image capturing one moment in time. Video, on the other hand, can weave a story through movement through spaces. Video in architecture has already permeated social media through fly-throughs, professionally-filmed promotional videos, and interviews with building users, but we still haven’t fully tapped the potential of the medium.

So I put the challenge out to my media savvy son (the one with the over 800 Instagram followers who has since abandoned Instagram to build his YouTube following). I brought him to our recently completed City Centre Community Centre in Richmond, BC and asked him to make a video of what he felt the facility was all about. I didn’t give him much more instruction then that. The result is a showcase from the perspective of one individual. It’s a work in progress.

To continue the experiment I recruited Riley, one of our recreation sector team members to create a separate video interpretation of the same facility. I wondered how different individuals from different age brackets, backgrounds and experiences would perceive the same spaces. The two videos tell a different story even though the spaces are the same.

The results are striking because the possibilities are so evident. A few hours of work and a story is told. Architects love the stark, pristine nature of their work but our community buildings are all about the people and how they inhabit and use the space. What better way of showcasing our projects?

I imagine that pretty soon we’ll all be making videos all the time. But as with every craft, it will always be about the quality of the spaces and the storyteller that will set us apart.

Looking for more posts like this? Check out HDR’s blog, BLiNK, written by employees at HDR. Our bloggers represent offices from around the world and write about topics of importance to the architecture and design profession.