“This is the best social housing society I’ve ever seen,” begins Architects Against Housing Alienation (AAHA)’s TikTok featuring Mole Hill Community Society in Vancouver’s West End. Featuring a tour of the community’s units and amenities, the video has amassed over 40,000 views, and hosts an engaged comments section. Another responds to a comment about supply and demand economics with the declarative statement “Building more condos isn’t going to solve the housing crisis.” Both provocative and informative, these TikToks are just a few of the many videos AAHA and their student team have produced to share the ideas and demands of the Not for Sale! Campaign. While AAHA will occupy the Canada Pavilion during the Venice Biennale of Architecture, the team’s social media efforts play an integral role in engaging those far beyond the festival attendees. 

“Housing is a universal topic. Everyone is an expert in this,” says Anaïs Trembling, MArch student and member of the AAHA social media team. “We want people to feel like this is a platform for them.” MArch student Kara Crabb, who administers the Instagram account, adds that the content they create helps people understand policy, using British Columbia’s speculation and vacancy tax as an example of a topic driving much online discussion. Overseen by Assistant Professor Tijana Vujosevic, the team of Kara, Anaïs, and recent MArch graduate Lee-Ann Kam post near-daily content. Since launching on Instagram and TikTok in late February, AAHA has seen steady growth of their accounts, rapidly surpassing their established benchmarks.   

Months of planning and research preceded the campaign launch, with Tijana and the student team examining how political movements use social media to spread their message and recruit to their cause. Public relations professionals were engaged to develop strategies that cover everything from audience building to posting schedules. Instagram and TikTok were determined to be the best platforms to share the campaign, with the team citing their ability to reach the broadest possible audience as the deciding factor. The platforms also allow for quick experimentation. “We can be more playful,” says Anaïs. “It’s been fun talking to people who aren’t architects, and about things we care about.” 

The content produced by the team is timely, often responding to comments or stories in the news. While the content has skewed Vancouver-centric so far, the creation of AAHA’s ten demands has involved teams from across the country. These demands were highlighted at an event in late March at UBC Robson Square. The sold-out presentation and discussion featured SALA faculty and curatorial collective members Sara Stevens, Matthew Soules, and Tijana Vujosevic; campaign strategist and housing activist Vince Tao; as well as Land Back! team member and architect Krystal Clark. The event was an opportunity to share the Not for Sale! Manifesto, preview the demands to end housing alienation, and field questions from the community. The recording of the event can be viewed on the AAHA Instagram

In Venice, the campaign’s headquarters are taking shape. By the time the Biennale opens to the public on May 20, the space will be occupied by 15 SALA students, who will undertake a studio themed around the projects proposed by the teams behind the 10 campaign demands. AAHA’s social media accounts will continue to be active over the summer, providing updates from Venice as well as commentary on issues of housing closer to home. “We want to collaborate with teams in other cities,” said Anais, adding that features on each of the demands and the teams that developed them will be appearing on the channels in the near future. The AAHA website is also close to launch, and will provide more opportunities to engage with Not for Sale! in the coming months.