Category Archives: Economy

A Workshop in Amsterdam’s Vijzelbank Building

Rethinking employment in the 21st century

work space air bnb officeUltra-flexible and cosy workspaces in a AirBNB office – is this the future?


As part of the Design as Politics graduation studio ‘Let’s Work!’, a workshop was organized by Failed Architecture about the future perspectives on work and what this could mean for the Vijzelbank, a building at the crossing of the Prinsengracht and Keizersgracht in Amsterdam’s city centre. Due to changing political attitudes, economic conditions and social and cultural preferences, the way we look at ‘work’ in the urban environment has transformed. In the past decades the Vijzelbank building has seen diverging manifestations of working in the city – from rows of cubicles to ultra-flexible and cosy hang-outs.

In his books The Third Industrial Revolution’ (2011) and ‘The Zero Marginal Cost Society’ (2014) social and economic theorist Jeremy Rifkin imagines the transition driven by new information technologies from a capitalist market economy to what he calls the ‘collaborative commons’. Rifkin describes internet technology and sustainable energy as merging to create ‘a third industrial revolution’. Lateral power is transforming energy, the economy and the world. Rifkin’s books are praised for helping shape the debate on technology displacement, corporate downsizing, outsourcing, global labour mobility, and the future of jobs. The Third Industrial Revolution has been on the New York Times Best Seller List and is translated into 19 languages.

While the change of job policies and the digitalisation of manufacturing is explained in the books, not so much is written about the spatial implications for buildings and cities regarding this ‘third industrial revolution’. These changes, however, will have a large impact on jobs for architects and urban planners – on the way they shape buildings, cities work places and thus societies.
Therefore, in the workshop of Failed Architecture, students started to imagine and discuss different scenarios for the future of a concrete project location, the Vijzelbank. Will the boundaries between work and leisure become blurred in the future – due to decreasing working hours in the Netherlands? Can we start creating new forms of living and working in a shared space? Can we think of a new type of workspace in which facilities such as administration, catering and specialist production are centralized and shared by various organizations and demands? Check it out!

Ca3Q9prUsAA7LPy.jpg-large

Who Builds Your Architecture?

transforming global workforces

Migrant-workers-Qatar-Wor-014

While looking at work in relation to architecture at this year’s theme of the Design as Politics graduation studio, we of course came across the fuss again about Zaha Hadid’s Quatar World Cup Stadium. Even more interesting is that the debate that arose around this project, triggered Laura Diamond Dixit, Tiffany Rattray, and Lindsey Lee to focus their contribution to the Istanbul Design Biennale on migratory paths of workers as well as working processes in design and construction.

In 2014 many people disagreed with the comments of star-architect Zaha Hadid on the treatment of migrant workers in Qatar. It was announced that more than 1200 migrant workers had died during the construction of the Quatar World Cup Stadium, which Hadid had designed. Probably, no one was more critical on Hadid than reviewer Martin Filler from The New York Review of Books, denouncing her carelessness to the estimated one thousand laborers who had died.

Qatar-2022-World-Cup-by-Zaha-Hadid_dezeen_ss_1

However, Hadid had a disparagement suit against Filler and told the BBC during an interview that there had not been any problems in Qatar. She considered it not the duty of the architect to deal with the terrible conditions of migrant construction workers laboring on multi-billion dollar projects. According to Hadid, architects don’t have the power to do anything about this.

Is Zaha Hadid mistaken about having no influence on worker’s conditions regarding the buildings she designs? How can architects ensure human right protection extended to those who build architecture worldwide? How do architects, designers, engineers, manufacturers, consultants, production line workers and others contribute to building processes, and who takes responsibility for the illegal migrant workers?

In a project exhibited at the Istanbul Design Biennale, visitors can discuss and experience what participation in an architectural complex building implies in the context of global mobility. In this project the convergence of global workforces on a building site is illustrated in schedules and maps, supported by reports from sources such as Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International documenting all sorts of issues in regard to migrant construction workers. The migratory paths of workers as well as processes in design and construction are imagined, and connected to ideas on solution and intervention. Could this exhibition pursue architects, like Zaha Hadid, to advocate for better working and living conditions on building sites around the world?

Global-Network-verticalWEB

Sources images: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/may/14/qatar-reform-labout-laws-outcry-world-cup-slaves ,   http://www.zaha-hadid.com/architecture/al-wakrah-stadium/ ,   http://www.e-flux.com/journal/who-builds-your-architecture-an-advocacy-report/.

Upcoming Public lectures

lets work lecturesLets Work Urbanism Poster

We have two amazing public lectures coming up next week as part of our graduation studio Lets Work! – Industry, Architecture and the City.

The first is on Monday 29 September, by Design as Politics professor’ Wouter Vanstiphout about the theme of this year’s graduation studio and what this means for Architecture and Urban Design. Albert Kahn’s daylight factory, Cedric Price’s Fun Palace, the precariat, robotization, off- and onshoring, the share economy. It’s all part of this brand new Design as Politics lecture! So join us on Monday 28 Sept. at 08:45 in Room B at the TU Delft Faculty of Architecture.

For the second lecture we’ve invited Economic Geographer and Urban Planner Ronald Wall – head of the Urban Competitiveness and Resilience department at the Erasmus University. Ronald will give an interesting perspective to the topic of work and urban development. He will talk about the relationship between global and local economic development, urban competitiveness and what this means for the design of our cities. The lecture takes place on Tuesday 29 September at 15:45 – 17:15, , TU Delft Faculty of Architecture, Room B

Lecture Ronald Wall

Wall is specialised in urban economic development, city network analysis and urban planning. He worked for various mayor urban planning offices like OMA, MVRDV and West 8 as well as for the Ministry of Housing, Spatial Planning and the Environment (VROM) –  working on planning in China, Ghana, South Africa, South Korea and various European countries. He worked for the Berlage Institute / South Korean government on the development of a new town in South Korea and worked with Volume/AMO and the Abu Dhabi Urban Planning Council, on research concerning Middle Eastern cities and their economic networks with other cities around the world.

Hoog Catharijne’s Concrete Rigidity

Catharijne RigidityWestern-entrance-830x629

Last month Design as Politics, together with Failed Architecture and the University of Amsterdam, organized a workshop and debate on the redevelopment of Utrecht’s central station area, and the adjacent Hoog Catharijne business and shopping centre. The workshop and debate focused on the financing models behind large-scale real estate projects and the historical roles and responsibilities of architects and planners in designing these. Our aim was to discuss Hoog Catharijne’s original and current redevelopment plans with experts, students and local stakeholders as part of the Design as Politics graduation studio ‘Follow the Money’.

Jan Loerakker and Tim Verlaan of Failed Architecture wrote a nice piece about the events. Read more…

Debate – The Concrete Obduracy of Hoog Catharijne

flyer

With Failed Architecture, we’re organizing a workshop on Hoog Catharijne, the iconic late 1960s business and shopping center in Utrecht, focusing on the financial models behind large real estate projects. You’re cordially invited to join the wrap-up, with student presentations and a debate about the role/responsibility of the architect. Panelists: Nanne de Ru, Wouter Vanstiphout and Tim Verlaan.

The construction history of the privately initiated redevelopment scheme Hoog Catharijne, located in Utrecht’s inner city, is a classic example of how public and private actors attempted to work together in the field of urban planning during the post-war era. Ever since construction started in the late-1960s, the business and shopping centre was contested for its allegedly grim appearance and destructive influence on the local shopping climate. However, in terms of retail revenues (for shop keepers inside as well as outside Hoog Catharijne), the redevelopment scheme has proven to be extremely successful, additionally freeing Utrecht from its image as a provincial backwater.

Now, forty years after Hoog Catharijne’s grand opening, public and private actors are working on a thorough refurbishment of the shopping and business centre. Commissioned by a whole range of real estate parties, architects and planners are making Hoog Catharijne even bigger and better, despite the insecure future for real estate and retail markets. Hoog Catharijne seems to be turning into a city on its own.

During a two-day workshop, organized in collaboration with Failed Architecture, students of the Design as Politics graduation studio ‘Follow the Money’ will explore financing models of real estate projects such as Hoog Catharijne, and the historical roles and responsibilities of architects and planners in designing these.

On Tuesday 28 January, the students will present the outcome of the workshop followed by a debate/panel discussion on the role and responsibility of the architect in this type of large real-estate projects

Program:
17:00 – 17:45 Presentation By Design as Politics Students
17:45 – 19:00 Podium Debate with:

Location: Tu Delft, Faculty of Architecture, Room K
Time: 17:00 – 19:00

Wouter Vanstiphout to comment on (De) Rotterdam

how Rotterdam lost its architectural soulDe Rotterdam_Ossip van DuivenbodeDe Rotterdam by OMA. Photo: Ossip van Duivenbode

Architectural Historian and Design as politics professor Wouter Vanstiphout was invited by Blueprint Magazine to comment on (De) Rotterdam — the city and the building — currently gracing the cover of their current issue (number 331). Wouter’s eloquent lament for a city that once vibrated with an untamed, gritty energy, is published here in full.

In 1991 I moved to Rotterdam. At that time it still felt like an ideological choice to voluntarily attach yourself to this scar of a city, rather than self-deporting to the reservation for tourists and students that was Amsterdam.

The city I arrived in was infamous for its emptiness: its bombed-out urban voids and robotic harbour installations on artificial land stretching deep into the North Sea. Sea dykes, train lines and overdimensioned motorways ran straight through the innercity, discouraging the rare tourist to even cross the street to the museum or park, let alone negotiating this way to the Meuse river to contemplate the container-ships chugging upstream. Rotterdam was also loud and dark, producing new-wave dirges from its bands downtown; meanwhile the council flats reverberated with a particularly angry form of local hip hop and a brutish, prolish techno, known as ‘Gabber’ House (Gabber, ironically, being ‘dam slang for buddy or pal).

Rotterdam was also the city where a new architecture came from – not a new style or generation of architects, but really: a New Architecture. My first and very visceral confrontation with this was when we sneaked onto the site of the nearly-finished Kunsthal by OMA. Seeing the building from the inside out, resembling an impossibly raw concrete mess in mid-collapse, was mesmerizing. It condensed the strange infrastructural anti-logic of Rotterdam in a single building, which itself became part of the infrastructural network. At that stage it looked like a building project going surreally, Buster Keaton-esquely, wrong.

Rotterdam Kunsthal 2-OMA_1992_Courtesy OMA link to website Rotterdam Kunsthal by OMA,1992: Photo courtesy OMA

The contractor who caught us (but then showed us around) was exhausted with having to explain that this was not a mistake, nor temporary but the real thing, that this was indeed how the architect had drawn it: the public ramp running through the building and connecting the park to the seadyke, and the dark street that ran underneath, revealing the offices. Then there was the counterintuitive asphalt cladding on top of marble, on top of glass; the slanting columns in the auditorium, the picturesque tree-clad columns in the main exhibition hall and the harsh steel grids that functioned as walkways. Continue reading

Excursion Madrid

FTM_MADRIDIMG_7959

As part of our Follow the Money graduation studio, we asked our students to organise an excursion to Madrid and its surrounding area. To the (brief) disappointment of some, we told them we would not go there to see the capital’s great architecture and its vibrant city life (of course we couldn’t leave without experiencing some of it), but that we would mainly spend our time at the outskirts looking at the effects of the Spanish property bubble and explore the (sometimes) harsh consequences of political games and real estate speculation on the built environment.

We selected Madrid as the destination of this study trip because it is one of the places throughout Spain where the results of the country’s property bubble are most visible. It all started in the mid eighties -when Spain joined the European Union in 1986- resulting in historically low interest rates leading to cheap loans. During the subsequent period from 1985 until 1991 the housing prices nearly tripled and also in the late 1990s and 2000s again an enormous amount of building projects were commissioned. Banks invested strongly in the real estate sector leading to a construction industry which accounted for 12% of Spain’s GDP. Local governments made millions by reclassifying land from rural to urban, and corruption made millionaires out of politicians and developers. The bubble kept growing until the late 2000’s global economic crisis, when construction virtually came to a halt; developers went bankrupt, families couldn’t pay their mortgages anymore, neither sell their homes, and some of the banks who provided the loans, had to be rescued by the central bank. As a result, all around the country, but particularly around Madrid, you can now find unfinished or never used building projects. From complete towns as Ciudad Valdeluz , to kilometres long never-used highways and white elephant building projects, such as the Ciudad Real airport, which opened in 2008 but closed in April 2012 and is now left abandoned.

Some of the people we met during our intense three-day programme were Marcos Vaquer Caballeria who gave an very clear lecture about the causes of the real estate bubble, Jesus Leal and Almudena Martinez who took us to the megalomaniac housing project Sesena, the EuroVegas NO organization about their resistance against Sheldon Adelson’s plans to build a sprawling gambling resort known as Eurovegas and Sebastian Severino about the culture behind land development. We also brought a visit to the office of Ecosistema Urbano, explored the Vallecas neighbourhood, saw the bottom-up initiatives at El Campo de Cebada, walked around Madrid Rio and had an an intriguing  talk with Luis Fernández-Galiano (Editor in chief of arquitectura viva) about his view on architects and their responsibility towards society.

Click here for more info