Instagram and Architecture – A Case of the CN Tower

Instagram Toronto

I was playing around with this appliciation which lets you see Instagram images collected in a collage, based on a hashtag. I’ve always thought of Instagram as something more than just a bunch of hipters taking photos with excessive filtering. Social photo-taking provides us with tons of evidence about how people are affected by urban settings through the angles their photos take and what they decide is photo-worthy.

I thought it could really be interesting if planners and architects used these tools to get an impression of how people are viewing monuments and buildings: what parts of the monument are the most interesting? What do these buildings actually look like? It really gets down to the question of what the ‘important’ sides of buildings are to people.

So I took a look at the CN tower hashtag (#cntower). In the images below, we start to see that people generally like taking photographs of the tower in very particular angles.

View 1. The CN Tower from below: (itsdestinybb, reiitakeii, michellestaceyqueenofcanada, hahavix, rossvernal, rdmist)

CNtower - bottom up


View 2. At Night (staceyark, andie483, athenski, pavleenka, philupontacos, katethacker123):

CNtower - Night


View 3. On the road (Mrsdjoseph, indigamie, ashleyshowcase, gcgiannyboy, ladydannielle, damanbeatty):

CNtower - on the road


View 4. Skyline (agarmtz, marketink, complete_vip_services, mashq, sachaleclair):

CNtower - Skyline


View 5. Peeping (anarkiti, urbanminerals, rdubwoyto, _whiskeymouth, johnny_x, matmasaro):

CNtower - Peeking


Synthesis. abstracting forms – is this what Toronto’s subconsious looks like?

CNTower Subconsious

  1. Juliana said:

    This is a really interesting idea, for planners to take all of this user-generated data to understand the built environment. Any ideas if this is being done?

    • Sheraz said:

      No, actually I’ve been searching for something like this! I think it’s a really cool idea, but sometimes I feel like planners are a bit old fashioned haha.

      It’s also tough, data like this is only relevant for the most popular buildings (like the CN Tower, city hall etc, here in Toronto). Pros and cons.

      Glad you liked the post though :)!

      • Juliana said:

        As I’ve thought more about this, I remembered an exhibit that was done in Lubjana, Slovenia. It was at the national museum on how the capital was viewed through instagram photos and it involved an interactive element.
        At least there, the government stake holders seemed to be aware of how those photos represented some meaning of the city. While not quite the same way as what you were discussing…it seems like it could be a way to understand how people are viewing and interacting with space.

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