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Gogglebox: The Top 10 Viral Videos on Architecture

Is YouTube a valuable source of education and inspiration when it comes to architecture, or just an ocean of mindless tomfoolery for the procrastination generation? The answer it seems, is almost certainly both: here are some fine examples from either end of the spectrum, along with a few in between. Whichever your favorite might be, I promise not to judge you… too much. 


10. The Venus Project

98-year-old architect Jaques Fresco presents his utopian vision of future cities, where our current monetary system overturned in favor of collective knowledge sharing and problem solving. He argues that if the science and technology of today was fully harnessed for constructive causes, instead of being controlled for personal profit, we could live in a society free from crime, poverty and war: material possessions become unnecessary, buildings are created in factories, and all mundane jobs are fully automated. A socialist pipe dream? Maybe, but it has still captured the imagination of many, with the full documentary garnering well over half a million views to date.


9. How To Think Like An Architect

Santa Barbara architect Barry Berkus began his online series ‘How To Think Like An Architect’ back in 2011, and it’s proved highly popular, with the opening video hitting 500k views recently. This is largely down to accessibility of his presentation: architects are often accused of being pretentious, and of using obscure language that alienates people outside the industry, but Barry explains his process simply and clearly to great effect. Watching the architect sketch really connects viewers to the work, and allows people a glimpse into studio practice that is all too rare on the Internet to date.


8. 30-Story Building Built In 15 Days

It’s the kind of video title that gets people clicking, which probably accounts for the 1.3 million hits to date: this is a time lapse video showing the construction of Broad Group’s prefabricated high-rise, which was completed in just 360 hours. The firm’s sustainable building arm does not plan to stop here: there are plans for Sky City One, set to become the world’s tallest tower at 2,750 feet, to be constructed in just 3 months. The company’s ever more ambitious claims raise a sense of awe in some viewers, and apprehension in others: regardless of your view though, it is undeniable that their videos are the ultimate click-bait when it comes to architecture on the net. Speaking of tall structures…


7. How High Can We Build?

Commentator on all things fascinating, Michael Stevens gives a neat potted history of building tall, and looks up ahead to the astronomic heights that might be achievable in the near future. The 10 minute clip is packed to the lofty rafters with facts and figures, all summarized with eye-opening real world examples: Did you know that sunset occurs three minutes later at the summit of the Burj Khalifa than at its base? Me neither. Mind=blown.


6. Bridging Our Future

Computing technology giant Intel offers up their vision of the near future for architecture and engineering lessons in schools, utilizing many existing technologies to show a highly interactive and intuitive learning process. Touch screens are generously sprinkled around the classroom, along with handy 3D printers that allow students to create intricate structural models as they design them. It all looks incredibly seamless, a little too seamless perhaps – but the intriguing ideas presented here have clocked up nearly a quarter of a million hits nonetheless.


5. Life of an Architecture Student

Chris Torres and Peter Hess present a highly relatable narrative of one day in the life of a Berkeley architecture student. The video knits together chronological real-life visuals from Torres' all-too-familiar all-nighter, played out against the increasingly threatening tones of Nine Inch Nails. Torres laments: "If you give the reviewers that inch, they will jump at that... and they will tear you and your project down with you." Know the feeling? I know I do...


4. James Kunstler: How Bad Architecture Wrecked Cities

Considering the much celebrated TED Talks are supposed to revolve around inspiring minds, James Kunstler’s video title might seem a little negative on first impressions. But boy, is this particularly TED talk inspiring: Kunstler’s straight talking is combined with vicious wit to explain the fundamental problems with suburban sprawl in the United States. A case in point: “If you stand on the apron of the Walmart over here, and try to look at the Target Store over here, you can’t see it because of the curvature of the earth. That’s nature’s way of telling you you’re doing a poor job of defining space.”Beneath the hilarity of the presenter’s brilliant metaphors for our abject failure in planning cities for the last 50 years, there are glimmers of hope that maybe, just maybe, we can fix things. Essential viewing.


3. Bjarke Ingels: 3 Warp-Speed Architecture Tales

If that TED Talk felt a little painful to listen to (truth hurts!), Bjarke Ingels of BIG offers up a more optimistic presentation, outlining his firm’s joyful approach to architectural practice. This video offers up some wonderful anecdotes, including the twist of fate that led to the Danish firm’s foray into China, and the cheeky logic behind Ingels’ concept for a residential block neighboring his own home: “We cut up the volume so we wouldn’t block the view from my apartment.” Bjarke is a natural storyteller, managing to encapsulate the processes of architectural design in a simple, incredibly accessible fashion.

If you’re done with real architectural talk though, take a peak at these last two videos…


2. S*** Architecture Students Say

In the midst of an epic struggle to finish their final projects, the class of 2012 from the University of Texas used the medium of YouTube as therapy … the result was a painfully relatable montage of moments from the studio at 4am. Model-making catastrophes, caffeine addictions and tears hitting the drawing board: this video will likely bring at least one memory from your University days roaring back, and has gotten plenty of users reminiscing in the comments section. It also sums up the perpetual juxtaposition of self-pity and incredible resolve found in almost every architecture student: “I’ve only been up for 46 hours. I’m fine.”


1. I Am An Architect

“Yo, Where my red lines at?” The first line of YKKAP’s rap gives one a pretty accurate idea as to how cool the industry can seem when it comes to crossover careers in the music industry. While the tongue-in-cheek song will have the majority of architects cringing and sinking fast in their chairs, the valiant efforts of the American firm show that – contrary to popular belief – we can laugh at ourselves occasionally. Be ready for a barrage of clichés, along with special mentions for Frank Lloyd Wright, Mike Brady … and Ted Mosby, of course.

Yours televisually,

The Angry Architect

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