Category Archives: Let’s work

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!

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Lets Work! Da Lang Fever 2.0

DaLang151127_FASHION VILLAGE_FINAL_WEB Click on image to enlarge

In the Fall of 2015 the Design as Politics graduation Studio ‘Lets Work!’ visited the Chinese City of Shenzhen on a factfinding excursion. Part of our visit was focused on Da Lang  – a migrant neighborhood in the north of the city. The International New Town Institute, who is working in Da Lang for many years, helped us to set up an amazing program. In order to  thank them for their great efforts, we made this poster as an virtual addition to INTI’s contribution to the Shenzhen Biennale titled: Da Lang Fever 2.0, which is focused on the transformation of a vacant hotel into a place for the empowerment of  migrant workers.

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Shenzhen can rightfully be called the ‘Manchester of the 21st century’ since, just like the northern English town in the nineteenth century’, it is the capital of the current industrial revolutions. It is the place where the most important industrial activities take place, where innovation happens on a tremendous pace and where the urban form, the social structures are most affected by industry’s transformations.

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But Shenzhen is of course also a a consciously planned community, based on the twentieth century model of the New Town. Therefor it is also one of the places in the vast international network of New Towns kept up by the International New Towns Institute, with which our faculty has a close relationship. INTI had been working for some years with the community of Da Lang in the north of Shenzhen, a typical Shenzhen collage of rationally planned factories, densely packed and more organically grown urban villages, that is now making a fast and sometimes harsh transition from pure manufacturing to more design and knowledge based activities. This means that many of the existing urban villages, with their low educated migrant workers communities are threatened with expulsion and the demolition of the urban fabric.

In the middle of this contested urban situated, lies a gigantic, monstrous neo-classical husk of a never opened hotel. INTI has been working with the local community to use this building as a base where the lively culture and entrepreneurship of the urban villages might take root and express itself to the outside world, as a way to assert the value and existence of the existing community, and defend it against the blind replacement with another, rocher class of workers.

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In a day long workshop on the site, and then further design workshops in Delft, the students of the grad studio, translated INTI’s ambitions into an architectural/economic scenario for the building, filling up its endless cavernous halls and long hallways with cultural, economic, domestic and community programs.

The ambition was to show how a building like this could become a hub for a community with many different identities and activities, and could harmonize its existing qualities and people, with the exciting new future it faces as a center for design and fashion based industries. Also the Design as Politics students and tutors used this scenario as a way to report on the mind boggling richness, the density and the inventiveness that they found on the streets and in the buildings of this most dynamic of New Towns.

Our intervention questions the ability of the current top-down approach to planning. to fully regenerate the neighborhood whilst maintaining its identity. Our proposal considers how the hotel structure could be repurposed to create some of the socio-economic conditions necessary to regenerate the neighborhood whilst also incorporating the needs of the existing population of migrant workers. To achieve this, an accessible space catering for all the daily activities of a migrant worker is provided. Spaces for education, production, consumption, dwelling and leisure are provided, as well as the urban circulatory infrastructure needed to engage with though surrounding area. Through the integration of different programmatic functions we believe an active, collaborative environment may be nurtured giving opportunities to migrant workers to acquire the necessary skills and equipment to become entrepreneurs.

The design for the hotel in Dal Lang is not just a group design for the reuse of a building, but also the mémoir of a trip.

 

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.