YOU ARE THE PRODUCT

1st Year Project _ MA Architecture, Royal College of Art - 2012

This 1st year MA project critiques the moral boundaries advertising companies are crossing in obtaining our most private information as well as the apparent ease of which a certain younger generation are willing to give it up. At the project’s centre is a gallery/department store that capitalises on the subtleties of interacting with space, art and products and explores architecture’s role in exploiting personal data for profit.

The project exists as a gallery /department store on old street roundabout that surveys its visitors and customers as they move throughout the space to build a personality profile with a view to capitalise on them.

The design was arrived at through a study of the increasing invasiveness of business' attempts to extract our personal information for profit. The project critiques not only the questionable moral boundaries advertisers are crossing and architecture's role in obtaining our most private of information as well as the apparent ease with which a younger generation are willing to give it up. The design is based around the idea of determining it's visitors personality employing architectural devices. By giving visitors choices of how to negotiate the space and monitoring their interaction with the architecture, art, products and other visitors, the building adds to the existing digital profile of each visitor. These include personality traits such as extroversion, paranoia and dogmatism.

It starts by bringing all visitors into the centre of the building and allowing them to make an initial decision of whether to begin negotiating the freeform organic movement of the north or the systematised regular space to the south. This starts to reveal aspects of extroversion and willingness to try new things. The two programmes of gallery and department store overlap, playing with the way art is increasingly commodified and products are becoming pieces of art. Personality is not of course a binary choice. As the grid moves from one side to the other, it starts to distort and spread further apart allowing floor plates to start undulating. Where two distorted floor plates meet in the vertical plane, they allow for vertical circulation. This progression provides a range for visitors to explore.

The building is a sensing machine, picking up every subtle movement, eye glance, touch and pause. Each signal detected by the architecture adds a deeper level of information to the visitors profile enabling advertisers to sell increasingly personalised products. The project is run by advertisers who sell space in the building based on the information gathered to to producers. Advertisers also sell directly to customers through personalised ads during and after their visit.

In summary, this gallery/department store capitalises on the subtleties of interacting with space, art and products, exploring architecture's role in exploiting personal data for profit.