Crowdfunding for architecture

What is Kickstarter?

Kickstarter is a reward-based funding organisation that raises startup money for projects from a large number of people (or crowd). It relies on a web-based platform to handle communication between project leaders and community supporters. Projects supported range in scale from small to large.

Kickstarter is an independent company employing 86 people and based in Greenpoint, Brooklyn.

How does crowdfunding work?

Kickstarter provides a platform and resources for independently curated projects. It is not directly involved in the development of the projects.

  1. Projects are pitched to the public on the Kickstarter website in order to attract financial pledges.
  2. Project creators set a funding goal and deadline.
  3. If people like the project, they can pledge money to make it happen. Pledges might range from $5 to $10,000, with each level of support earning the supporter a pre-determined gift in return.
  4. Funding is all-or-nothing: they must reach their funding goal to receive any of the pledged money.
  5. If a project is successfully funded, 5% of funds collected will be retained by Kickstarter. The rest goes to the project.

Thousands of creative projects are raising funds on Kickstarter right now. Since its launch in 2009, 6.8 million people have pledged $1 billion, funding 66,000 creative projects.

20140828 crowdfunding #1
Successful Kickstarter-based architectural projects have occurred in these countries.

Crowdfunding in Australia

In the United States, a recent study has found that crowdfunding is becoming a driving force behind building and community projects. In Australia, architectural crowd funding has yet to find success, with most projects revolving around smaller goods and services. In Australia:

  • Local regulations inhibit the development of local equity crowdfunding opportunities.
  • The federal government is determined to match the regulatory environment that permits successful crowdfunding in the United States.
  • Cofounder of Australian crowdfunding site Pozible, Rick Chen, can testify to the rapidly expanding local appetite for crowdfunding. When Pozible launched three years ago, it took just over a year for it to raise $1 million.

Projects successfully funded


20140828 crowdfunding #2
ClassActive: Active school
20140828 crowdfunding #3
Hemp building at Idaho BaseCamp
20140828 crowdfunding #4
Boulder Dash Pavillion
20140828 crowdfunding #5
Breakwater Chicago
20140828 crowdfunding #6
The Moiré Pavilion
20140828 crowdfunding #7
Splash House
20140828 crowdfunding #8
Caret 6
20140828 crowdfunding #9
Erect the Ocotillo Observatory

Civic Design

+ Pool, New York
20140828 crowdfunding #11
sLAB Costa Rica
20140828 crowdfunding #12
Seattle’s Chinatown International District parklet
20140828 crowdfunding #13
Librii: New model library in Africa
20140828 crowdfunding #14
The French Quarter Parklet

Detailed case study: Caret 6

20140828 crowdfunding #15

  • 53 backers
  • $5,520 pledged of $5,000 goal

The School of Architecture at the University of Texas hosted an exhibition as part of TEX-FAB 5 SKIN: Digital Assemblies in February 2014. Led by Assistant Professor Kory Bieg and coordinated by 17 architecture students, the Caret 6 installation showcased the SKIN design competition.

Crowdfunding rewards:

  • Pledge $1 or more: Your name will be featured on our blog to show our gratitude.
  • Pledge $10 or more: Your name will be featured on our blog to show our gratitude and you will receive an e-invite to the exhibition opening in February 2014.
  • Pledge $25 or more: You will receive a personalised postcard from the design team and an e-invite to the exhibition opening in February 2014.
  • Pledge $50 or more: You will receive a personalised thank you poster from the design team and an e-invite to the exhibition opening in February 2014.
  • Pledge $500 or more: You will receive a special invitation to a private dinner with the design team, and all of the prizes shown above.

Detailed case study: + Pool

20140828 crowdfunding #16

  • 1,203 backers
  • $41,647 pledged of $25,000 goal

In the United States, when it’s hot during the summer and when you’re surrounded by water, all you want to do is swim in the river. However, the water isn’t that clean. + Pool is our initiative to build a floating pool that filters river water off the shores of New York City, a pool for everyone.

Achieved so far:

  • Launched + Pool in June 2013, with a surprising amount of public and private interest.
  • Interested swimmers, designers, engineers, community organisers and consultants built a team to develop the project.
  • Talked to local cultural, developmental and environmental groups, learning about the waterways and refining the social and ecological performance of the project.
  • Talked to municipal and civic organisations to find out what kinds of permitting and approvals would be needed to get + Pool into the river.
  • Teamed up with Arup and spent the winter studying water quality, structural configurations, energy use, site potentials and of course the filtration system.

Images sources

  1. Crowdfunded architecture map, author’s own image.
  2. ClassAct: Active School by actLAB NYC. Image sourced from Kickstarter.
  3. Hemp building at Idaho BaseCamp by Hempitecture. Image sourced from Kickstarter.
  4. Boulder Dash Pavillion by USC Architecture, Second Year Studio. Image sourced from Kickstarter.
  5. Breakwater Chicago by Breakwater Chicago LLC. Image sourced from Kickstarter.
  6. The Moiré Pavillion by Studio Aiello. Image sourced from Kickstarter.
  7. Splash House by Design Workshop 2011 (Tara Mrowka). Image sourced from Kickstarter.
  8. Caret 6 by Caret 6. Image sourced from Kickstarter.
  9. Erect the Ocotillo Observatory by Lucas Hitch. Image sourced from Kickstarter.
  10. + Pool by Family and PlayLab. Image sourced from Kickstarter.
  11. sLAB Costa Rica by Tobias Holler. Image sourced from Kickstarter.
  12. Seattle’s Chinatown-International District parklet by Chinatown-ID Business Improvement Area. Image sourced from Kickstarter.
  13. Librii: New Model Library in Africa by Architecture for Humanity DC. Image sourced from Kickstarter.
  14. The French Quarter Parklet by Chocolaterie de la Nouvelle France. Image sourced from Kickstarter.
  15. Caret 6, copyright Caret 6.
  16. + Pool, copyright Family and PlayLab.

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