“TikTok-itecture”: Is This the New Digital Media for Architecture and Design?

"TikTok-itecture": Is This the New Digital Media for Architecture and Design?, AT&T (Long Lines) Building - Featuring Ariel Viera (@arielviera). Image © Kaley Overstreet
AT&T (Long Lines) Building – Featuring Ariel Viera (@arielviera). Image © Kaley Overstreet

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.

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