UPDATE: So turns out the McMass concept is indeed parody—the work of serial satirists Hello Velocity. The genius, of course, is the proposition sounds all too believable—*shudder*
Whilst showing many signs of satire (yup—should've trusted our gut on this one), The McMass Project appears to be a fairly earnest proposal for luring errant congregations back to the bosom of their local church with the temptation of a mid-mass Big Mac. With a mission to "revitalize Churches as centers for conversation and cultural engagement", designers at christian design consultancy (oh yes) Lux Dei Design(a clever detail to this fiction) are aiming to crowdfund $1million in order to purchase a McDonald's franchise whilst also crowdsourcing nomination for a church to house their experiment.
The concept is reminiscent of increasing numbers of social design projects sprouting up at grad shows in recent years—the outcomes often ambitious mashups of various social infrastructure to cure any number of urban ills, complete with heavy branding and slick concept video.
Going lengths to illustrate that "Churches and McDonald are perfect partners" (they've got the money and the people; they've got the stunning central locations), the video offers up the historic precedence for the (un)holy alliance of religion and capitalism; Trappist monks having brewed and sold beer to fund their monasteries.
As noble as the projects objective may be, we can't help but wonder whether the concept points to the darker side of social design—that of course being when corporations jump on the bandwagon wholeheartedly and attempt to engineer our cities and societies in their own image.
Sam Dunne is a designer, strategist and writer based in London. Sam is founder of design strategy agency Cohere and Contributing Editor at Core77—reporting broadly on design, technology, food and object culture.