Architecture and crowdfunding, a new way to explore?

Why architects must use crowdfunding

Crowdfunding is one of the emblems of the new state of mind implied by the current technological revolution. The intellectual mechanism and the approach of this phenomenon born with the Internet are both very interesting.

The principle of crowdfunding is that creators ask people who believe in their project to finance it. One condition: the money is only collected if the 100% requested have been promised by visitors. The system is working, and many designers submit projects every day on different platforms (on kickstarter for example, or kisskissbankbank for France, or others).

One thing that aroused me after navigating many times on these kinds of sites is that there has never been a single architectural project submitted. However, from architecture to design there is sometimes only one step, for exemple drawing a building is well said “designing a building”. It is therefore surprising that architects have not yet appropriated these platforms, which beyond being a new financial way, involve a new working method and a new way of thinking architecture.

Benefits to linking architecture and crowdfunding

Today, an architecture project intended for the public is based on the idea that the architect and the partner imagines about the needs of future users of the construction. Presenting your project directly to the public who is the recipient and asking them to invest in the project literally (money) and figuratively (time and attention) can create a sense of ownership much more important. The construction is THEIR construction more concretely than a municipal building for example. The appropriation of a building by the users is the objective of any architectural project, and reinforcing this feeling is a very good thing.

Crowdfunding sites operate as follows. Once the project proposed by the creator (with images, videos, texts …), is putting online to search for its investors. A dialogue begin when they ask for explanations and clarifications to the author. This is a very important thing for projects that work: there is a real relationship between the inventors and the community of people interested in the project. They can influence the proposal by giving their opinion. As part of an architectural project, it allows users to be included in the project’s thinking, which could evolve according to their real needs.

The crowdfunding by its functioning allows to realize projects which meet the needs and in the expectations of people. Indeed, we could say that it works on a binary principle of all or nothing. Every project is financed only if it fully completes on a given lapse of time. So, we can imagine that the people concerned by a proposed construction would only finance it if it answers to a real need.

Investing one’s money with the ability to choose the amount is a much more positive feeling than investing in municipal buildings through indirect and painful taxes. Architecture and crowdfunding can offer a new model for some collective buildings (for example for a small neighborhood library), with a greater consideration of users, and with an increased participation in the development of the construction.

A new way of practicing architecture

For the architect, the use of crowdfunding as part of a project for the community induces several changes in both role and mission. He must act as a designer because crowdfunding platforms being made especially for them. For such a project, the architect must for once “self-mandate” and propose a project by himself. He must identify a need in a territory and find the appropriate answer while guessing the (money and programmatic) constraints that a promotor does not indicate. Like the designer, the architect must identifying the constraints of the target users, but above all, find the answer to a real need.

The main difference between the architect and the designer is the question of the scale of the project. We are talking about the size in space, the size of the investment, but also a much larger time scale. These importants issues are part of the reasons why architecture is evolving slowly. However, in Mexico, there is already a crowdfunding architecture initiative. Although this first experiment was carried out on a large scale, I personally think it would be better, to begin to develop concretely this new model, to take advantage of the recent “fashion” of small constructions. Indeed, probably as a result of the financial upheavals of recent years, architects are increasingly interested in small structures and pavilions. Using this reduced project scale to experiment with this alternative model and testing proposals can be a good solution.

More concretely, there are several types of crowdfunding campaigns, that allows differents ways of projecting:

  • charity (someone asks people for money to help pay for his trip, for example),
  • the common pot (there is a fundraiser to obtain and finance the realization of a unique final thing),
  • pre-order (this is a system that is used by the counterparty system, for example, contributors must give a set amount to receive a copy of the object in return, which allows the seller not to make an investment before having his orders closed),
  • the “minimal project” (the objective announced at the beginning of the campaign corresponds to a minimal project that will certainly be reached). Levels that make it possible to build an increasingly elaborate project are set, if the initial objective is exceeded.

These different methods - which I quickly exposed - allow creators to have a little freedom in setting up creations that can be the most diversified possible.

This new practice also involves a new way of presenting the architectural project. In the case where one addresses the public directly to choose (and so to finance the construction), the communication by the architect must be considered in a new way. It is obviously important that the project is the easiest to understand for the uninitiated peolpe to the academic representation (plan / section / side elevations). Uninitiated people want to see today perspectives and photorealistic views. Another most important element for a successful crowdfunding campaign is to have a good video. Presenting the project in this way is not an habitual thing for many architects, but is very important for consumers. Integrating these skills usualy used on the internet is an important thing for architects and the evolution of their profession.

Sorry for my english, here ou are the same text in french :

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Hello @val thanks for this interesting article, I linked it in the summary article I am building
as one of an emerging trend in architecture.

Are there some existing platforms that are dedicated to the crowdfunding of real estate / construction projects that you think about. Because it need a dedicated platform for this special of crowdfunding.

In France (and searching in google Crowdfunding immobilier) I found those 3 :

And a the echo article that estimate the amount raised by this type of funding to 100 millions Euros in 2017 in France only.

Have you got a link to this initiative in Mexico? Is is launched by architects or by other types of actors ?

Thanks for links ! These platforms are dedicated to people who want to invest in buildings, but I think there is no relation between these investors and architects. In these case, the job of the architect could not be impacted : he works on the project pre designed, with a promotor who is the representant of a sum of investors.

The most interesting thing in crowdfunding is not the way to earn money for me, it is the relation between the creator and people on internet. In my article, I wanted to talk about architecture financed by the users .
For exemple in the case of the realization of a little library in a residential area, financed by the own inhabitants.

I think it is a quite utopic way to imagine crowdfunding (in oppisite to the actual use), but I wanted to question this way.

Sorry I wrote Mexico , but I wanted to say Columbia (and more precisely Bogota) …

Now I don’t find a lot of things on internet about it, but I wanted to speak about an exemple I find in a book ( L’architecture de demain en 100 défis , by Marc Kushner )


This is the link of the first building of the operation : el BD BacatĂ .
(This exemple correspond with the differents exemples you have sent before : people who invest in a building to earn money, not to use it)