diverCity Matchmaking / London Festival of Architecture
diverCity is a new kind of matchmaking service for Londoners that appears to offer its clients a way to find a neighbourhood that matches their diverse beliefs, needs, wants and expectations. In reality, it exposes the mismatch between those beliefs and the homogeneous world of idealised architectural visualisations.
The project targets practising architects and architecture students, challenging them to take a more critical stance in their practice towards the generification of London’s cityscape.
diverCity comments critically on the way generic architectural visualisations, by oversimplifying the socio-political context of places, contribute to the propagation of a homogenised, conformist lifestyle and meaning of success that is not necessarily shared by those seeking a place to live.
In the last few years, the intensity of private property investment in London has increased significantly. Due to fierce competition, many developers are forced to resort to elaborate methods to attract potential buyers.
As a result, the property advertising sector has become its own caricature, selling concepts rather than flats. The role of architectural visualisations has been reduced to imitate place-making, often disregarding the existing context of the location and neglecting London’s socio-political diversity.
diverCity is a spatial experience inspired by the pompous language of the high-end property ads, inviting its audience to find their perfect property match. Upon arrival, the visitor is prompted to open an online quiz featuring 10 multiple choice questions designed around his needs, wants and lifestyle preferences. Each question features two answers – A & B.
The quiz is supported by an audio assistant explaining the instructions. With every question, the visitor comes closer to the dome – the central structure of the experience – by following a simple ‘A–go right, B–go left’ rule. After answering the last question, the visitor is asked to enter the dome, where his match is to be revealed.
The dome is a moment of revelation, when the visitor realises that his own needs, wants and preferences do not really matter. The perfect match does not exist, as each visitor is paired with the same set of properties irrespective of his answers.
Prachi Joshi, Mamta Khanna, Adrianna Frank, Alessandra Coda, Fatima Khuzema, Andres Restrepo, Timi Oladeji, Siân Hunter, Norbert Schwab