Daniel Choi Adtopia: Counterspaces of Resistance in the era of Advanced Abstractive Advertisement.

  • School
    University of Auckland
Judge's comments:

A strong brief and narrative, clear concise and pure brilliance, the project demonstrate a high level of design thinking and its comical animated approach adds life and fun to what is a deep subject matter. A highly captivating visual and satirical feast.


Adtopia investigates the pervasive nature of ‘Advertisement Culture’ and the forms of representation of social life it has introduced to dominate urban dwellers’ everyday practices. The work focuses on the Wynyard Quarter’s spectacle-oriented development in Auckland, advocating a rethinking of urban creative activism as a pivotal force for ensuring the production of public spaces through discursive engagement and involvement of all parties involved.

The project is informed by the antithetical nature of the architecture of commercial advertisement and subversive urban art, and as such the projects’ core methodology deploys the speculative architecture method. It uses the recently redeveloped Wynyard Quarter, once a pivotal site for Auckland’s industrial development, as a case study to depict a new emerging trend of financialization of central public space. Claiming that its quality design, lush landscaping and eventful activation has transitioned it into a selectively utilised site, the project foregrounds how a finance-driven renewal has blurred the boundaries of the public and private sphere to serve a post-civil agenda.

The project addresses the proposal of a new zone called ‘Adtopia’, wherein the importance of individualisation, participation and commoning is endorsed in contrast to an existing mode of urbanisation that normalizes the lack thereof. The proposal is an assemblage of experimental interventions and creative spaces that transform the consumption landscape of Wynyard Quarter into an inclusionary and open realm of antagonist pluralism. The three landscapes existing within Adtopia – Adscape, Identiscape and Urbannedscape – explore and question the different emerging irrationalities apparent within the dehumanising architectures of the consumerist advertisement culture. Each landscape deconstructs these existing paradigms by creating structures for equitable and inclusive creativity that seek to re-empower and re-enfranchise the dispossessed urban commoners. They propose that urban architecture become an openly discursive platform that engages with, and caters for, the urban commoners.

The project encapsulates the need for urban architecture to provide spaces that reaffirm the roles of urban commoners as participatory members of the public, and that the spaces be about individuals becoming emancipated from, rather than enslaved to, the persisting dominance of advertising culture. It envisions new architectural infrastructures that re-establish the emancipatory role of urban centralities, advocating for spatial justice whilst countering the commodification trend. In doing so, the site finds itself reverting its market-driven consumerist redevelopment course to reaffirm the urban commoners’ sovereignty in public domains amidst the cultural and spatial subjugation of advertising culture.