Dezeen Magazine

Collage of images from most commented stories of 2022

Dezeen commenters of the year 2022

After architecture, design and interiors again ignited plenty of debate this year, Dezeen's digital team looks back on their favourite comments and commenters from the past 12 months as part of our review of 2022.

Dezeen's digital team is tasked with moderating our busy comments section, which received thousands of comments in 2022.

One commenter who stood out was Betty Rubble, thanks to a flurry of simultaneously entertaining yet serious contributions under BIG's concrete tower in Quito, which features balconies that are overlooked by the floors above.

"This building could totally have been done so a homeowner can barbecue eggplant in her underwear, dancing with her dog and a martini," Rubble said as a comment on the compromised privacy. "I'm just saying, you know, for a friend."

Things can get heated in the comments and sometimes the tone turns nasty when commenters battle it out, seemingly without seeking to listen to or reason with one another.

But Rubble walked a neat tightrope through some barbed responses, like one reply saying "don't like it? Don't move in".

"I hope you like eggplant"

Instead of taking the bait, Rubble continued to steer the conversation back to the subject.

"Unless I live there, my feedback is irrelevant?" Rubble asked. "Can we keep it on the design please?" The digital team always admires a commenter who resists getting into a war of words.

"I'll introduce you to 'my friend' if you are ever in Boston," Rubble concluded the discussion by saying. "I hope you like eggplant." Read the whole thread here.

Exterior of Iqon tower in Quito by BIG
BIG's building in Quito features a facade of cascading balconies that overlook one another

Another favourite of the digital team is seasoned commenter Zea Newland. Never loathe to offer a measured opinion in an intense debate, Newland waded into some of Dezeen's most talked-about stories in 2022. 

In April they had some choice words to offer on Thomas Heatherwick's plans for the Buckingham Palace Tree of Trees sculpture, designed as part of the late Queen Elizabeth II's Platinum Jubilee celebrations.

"It's a bit like a parody of Heatherwick or a critical commentary on how architects like to 'design nature'," Newland wrote.

Thomas Heatherwick's Tree of Trees Buckingham Palac sculpture
Heatherwick's Tree of Trees sculpture at Buckingham Palace for Queen Elizabeth II's Platinum Jubilee celebrations

When British designer Heatherwick talked about his commitment to integrating nature into his work in an interview with Dezeen in June, Newland quipped: "How did forests happen before Heatherwick started building trees?" 

"The future is parks and green promenades where parking lots used to be," they concluded. "No need to reinvent nature by putting trees in tiny planting pots on the 12th floor just to increase the value of an apartment nobody lives in."

Tree of Trees wasn't the only project that rubbed Newland up the wrong way, though. When US studio Fougeron Architecture revealed Suspension House, a large holiday home in California that bridges a creek, the commenter couldn't resist poking fun at Silicone Valley types.

"Jesus, do tech bros get claustrophobia when they enter rooms smaller than an airport terminal?" they wondered, much to the amusement of other commenters.

Domus trimaran designed as "world's first zero-emission superyacht"
Domus trimaran designed as "world's first zero-emission superyacht"

Commenter Chris Brown also brought a breath of fresh air to Dezeen's 2022 articles with their honest, playful and humorous contributions.

Brown compared the Domus trimaran concept, designed as the "world's first zero-emission superyacht", to the "home of a Bond villain" adding that "it would take James Bond ages to find the blighter on that thing, it's huge!"

"But knowing 007, he'd blow it sky-high with one of his tactically adapted Omega watches," they continued

The aforementioned Newland's also cropped up under the Domus trimaran story. "You know what else is zero emissions? Every superyacht that doesn't get built," Newland's comment was upvoted more than 20 times.

Beeah Headquarters Sharjah Zaha Hadid Architects
A camel wanders past the Beah Headquarters in Sharjah by Zaha Hadid Architects

In April, Zaha Hadid Architects completed the dune-like Beeah Headquarters in Sharjah. The story generated a lot of comments and Brown was in the mix again, especially appreciative of one project photo.

"The camel sets it off nicely!" They said. "But it does look a bit bewildered! Probably thinking to itself, 'What the...?'"

"Look at our climate – it will be too little too late"

Stories about buildings with mirrored glass facades frequently attract commenters worried about bird strikes. One of the most-commented stories of the year explored expert views on glass facades being "the main culprit" for billions of annual bird deaths.

"This should come as no surprise," dependable commenter Ken Steffes remarked. "Glass is cheap and nature is disposable. It's always all about the money."

"Humans have no regard for the natural environment when it comes to making money," Steffes continued. "Look at our climate – it will be too little too late for many birds. Another sad reality of humans' lack of stewardship for our planet."

Bird carcasses collected from the World Trade Center after collisions
Bird carcasses collected from the World Trade Center after collisions

Dezeen later published an exclusive interview with Jared Goodman of animal rights organisation PETA, who argued that the billions of bird deaths are due to the "simple indifference" of architects.

The story prompted another swathe of comments, including from Brown. "If this is happening on the scale that it does, then architects and designers have failed miserably," they said. "This is yet more evidence pointing to the fact that we exclude the natural environment when creating habitation for ourselves."

Brown's remarks spoke to themes that ran throughout much of the discourse among Dezeen commenters in 2022.

Many stories and comments this year grappled with issues surrounding the environment and development, as well as the ethics of mega-projects, migrant labour and questions around where the money for architecture projects comes from.

"What can possibly go wrong?"

Unsurprisingly, the most-commented story of the year was Saudi Arabia's reveal of plans for a 170-kilometre-long mirrored skyscraper to house nine million people, named The Line.

Some wanted to give the plans, to be developed by Neom, the benefit of the doubt. "You have to give it to Prince Salman; he has a vision of the future for his country," commented Philippe Desrosiers.

Many were sceptical, including Ellen Gaube who said: "With rising ocean levels in our future, this is a big loser".

Several commenters looked for the funny side. "This is what happens when you stay up all night drinking with Elon Musk and the dude who designed the silver orb at Burning Man," quipped Nievie. "A giant, shiny fence for the impending Douglas Adams space gymkhana."

Michael captured the debate around The Line, and in fact much of 2022's news cycle, in one succinct question when he asked: "What can possibly go wrong?"

Come back in 2023 to find out.

Neom's The Line planned to run for 170 kilometres across Saudi Arabia
Neom's The Line planned to run for 170 kilometres across Saudi Arabia

Comments update and Debate

Dezeen is the world's most-commented architecture and design magazine, receiving hundreds of comments each month from readers. Keep up-to-date with the latest discussions on our comments page, in our weekly Comments Update and by subscribing to our weekly Debate newsletter, where we feature the best reader comments from stories in the last seven days.