diverCity – Work in Progress

Here are a few shots of my project from Narrative Environments WIP Show at Central Saint Martins. This poster is an emotional map representing the intended experience of the target audience. diverCity is a new kind of property matchmaking service. While it appears to invite its clients to match their diverse expectations of their dream neighbourhood and lifestyle, in reality, it exposes the homogeneous world of idealised, standardised architectural renderings.

In the last 18 months the number of new homes under construction in London has gone up by over 40%. Right now, there are 19,000 units being built in 30 inner London postcodes. Many of those developments are advertised in freesheets e.g. The Evening Standard’s Homes & Property or Metro’s supplements. Additionally, they could be seen on the tube and around construction sites. Those visualisations are mostly digitally generated, showing a particular view of the development. Evocative lighting is often added to enhance the atmosphere of the neighbourhood. By showing a desirable inhabitation, the visualisations often oversimplify the socio-political context of the place. On the other hand, showing no inhabitation at all, evokes the feeling of certain luxury and uniqueness, emphasised by the marketing copy including phrases like ultimate luxury, artisan living, panoramic views or unique selection.

Architectural visualisations at their core symbolise a vision of, first of all, what London could be and could become, and secondly, of what Londoners can become thanks to their purchase. Those renderings aim to create an illusion of a social status upgrade (associated with the purchase), but in fact they propagate a standardised vision, turning London into a generic spot on a map. diverCity is a response towards the existing state of affairs, attempting to measure the extent to which the homogeneous language and imagery of architectural visualisations standardise our expectations and propagate one-size-fits-all, conformist lifestyle.

Primarily, diverCity seeks to raise awareness and inform the public. Through its educational content it gives their audience a chance to create an argument that can be used when making future home-buying decisions. The project also attempts to draw the public’s attention to the topic of uniqueness, authenticity and legacy of London,
for which we are all responsible.

diverCity aims to provoke and challenge the existing state of affairs, by showing its audience that the top down city planning (including the Greater London Authority as well as the developers) mainly endeavours to attract investment and deceive new buyers by creating very evocative, yet generic images promoting the same things to different people.

Illustration: Takayuki Ishii