Concept creation – startup scene

Architects, as artists and designers, wake up every morning as startuppers. Hundreds of concepts and thousands of ideas should be placed into ongoing projects or be as DNA for the next ones. Architects, artists, and designers ‘think universe’ when rookie startuppers ‘think application’. Architects, artists, and designers (later architects) either create systems, cities, or viable organisms, and the rookies think about clicking or pushing a button once or twice. And getting something on the display. But, you live, breathe, and touch architecture. Architecture is not a smartphone application, it is a human-made universe, nature, philosophy and drama in one open-source package.

The history of thinking universe comes from Vitruvius, French revolution architects, Buckminster Fuller, and Le Corbusier-Wright-Kahn-Aalto and their likes, and from Bauhaus, the base of every 1700 architect schools of today.

The history of thinking application comes from the ancient Nokia-Symbian-approach for mobile applications and its heir fully functional Apple’s AppStore of nice and easy one-trick-ponies-to-solve-a-thing-of-nonsense. The only thing that connects architects and loser-developers is the failure rate of ideas and concepts realized: 95 % are of waste of life and work.

Because the application developer and the architect are working on totally different granularity, importance, and priority with scale 1 vs. 100 (1…100) on real-world and life solutions, they need different mechanisms to be selected for developing their concepts further. Below you find categories of typical architect’s work from small scale application and building to large societal and urban solutions.

On creating architectural concepts


Chart Architects innovating and startupping. Five examples of architectural innovations which show the differences in meaning, scale, and outcome. The first is a smartphone application as 90 % of software innovations are. The second is a structural system of architectural engineering, the third develops the idea of Sauna 3.0. Fourth is a disruptive house typology to bypass the pompous annual housing fairs. This is at the core of the architectural profession. The fifth is a large town plan and university campus upgrade. Only the first one is funny and fits to present startup culture and its mentoring and funding systems. We need a new system. Download PDF of the chart.

Innovation and startups have now reached a level of movement. Architects, designers, and artists have been startuppers for centuries just not knowing the two keywords. Ledoux created buildings that failed the year 1770 but are now possible. Normally 95 % of startups fail.

Architects and students innovate in a different way than e.g. Smartphone application developers. Architectural innovation is always systemic, creates something new, or solves problems for real life, not for fun. The right incubator and home base for an architect is a studio with 10-20 peers.

Architects and architect students need a new form of the startup scene because only small, simple, and funny architectural whims fit to present startup conferences and pitching models. The architectural competition model is too slow and expensive, and too random and politically loaded, that it does not improve the quality and evolution of architecture in large. Also, housing fairs, exhibitions, interviews, and articles are meant for a few persons, so they can’t be recommended as a normal procedure to develop architecture.

Architecture pitching and developing procedures and practices need a large common and global project led by a university architecture department as a host. A pitching mechanism can be created in two months both on the Internet and as a bi-monthly exhibition and session in different countries.

The Architecture pitching and developing mechanism needs following partners to  be realized in a reasonable way:

  1. Architecture school as a leader (NTNU, ESA, Sci-ARC…)
  2. Architects’ association as a backup (NAL, RIBA, AIA…)
  3. The industry as an enabler (BNL, CIC…), materials, structures, logistics…
  4. Cities as quickest bénéficiers (TRD, BGO, OSL…)
  5. Mentors and trusted persons from the industry (20…50…100…)
  6. Senior architects, credible ‘names’ and masters mentors (20…50…100…)
  7. Architect students as apprentices and future masters (500…1000…5000…10000…)
  8. Construction companies as first movers and bénéficiers (local, national, global)
  9. Banks, insurance companies, pension funds, investors as enablers
  10. Citizens as users and bénéficiers of architecture (1 000 000 … 2 000 000 000…).

The Architecture pitching and developing mechanism is a platform, collaboration tool, place of colleagues on-line, peer reviewers and critics on-line, funders, and investors looking for new trends, businesses and teams to be hired, cities looking for new solutions and planners.

The Architecture pitching and developing mechanism has to be a non-profit and altruistic society for the greater good and better homes, buildings, cities, and architecture. This mechanism creates well-being and new businesses in a way we haven´t seen yet.

Co-working places like Digs, WorkWork, and NTNU Accel in Trondheim don’t recognize architects, designers, and artists as innovators (in their own fields) and startuppers. These places are more for “lonely cowboy coders” to stay alone together at the premises. Of course, the aim of the places has been something else, but quite little breakthroughs have happened. An architect creating architecture would be totally lost in these places, left alone and without any peers and partners. This is why architects need their own mechanism for better architecture to come.

08.03.2016, Juhani Risku, architect, acoustician, NTNU Trondheim