Crowdfunding could open doors for architects and their clients

Crowdfunding, the practice of investing in projects through the use of a crowd-supported web based fundraising campaign, could be of equal benefit to architects as it is to new business ventures and web-based innovations. According to a white paper by the American Institute of Architects, “Crowdfunding Architecture,” this increasingly popular tool is being used to leverage dedicated internet fundraising websites to provide investment and communications tools to encourage financing for a broad array of projects.

The report, compiled for the AIA by massolution, inc., concludes that “donation-based crowdfunding” holds the most potential as a financing tool for beleaguered developers and architects. The reason is that donation-based crowdfunding relies not on providing tangible returns for success, but rather the enthusiasm of a local community for causes such as covering an individual’s medical expenses, political campaigns or community projects that would otherwise require municipality or government funding for completion, the report concludes.

For the architect, who is often the primary catalyst for new projects and construction, the crowdfunding concept holds special promise. Usually architects’ role in funding projects is limited. But crowdfunding increases the role of architects in the funding cycle by providing investment models and communications tools for a broad array of self-selected projects, from pedestrian bridges to urban skyscrapers, the report notes.

“Crowdfunding Architecture” details specific examples where crowdfunding has already had an impact in providing financial support for community projects that were too small to get started with traditional financing methods.

This includes Colombia’s 66-story BD Bacatá [pictured] which will be Bogota’s tallest building when the project is completed. This fundraising drive is being done primarily though a crowdfunding campaign, allowing the organizers to utilise the local community’s interest in owning a percentage of the project.

Another example is the I Make Rotterdam project which allows designers to incentivise funding for a development that has benefits for the larger community. The bridge will alleviate pedestrian traffic, and investors will have their name listed across visible planks along the bridge’s outward facing beams.

A link to the report can be found here, and a link to the AIA’s database of Stalled Projects can be found here.