In September 2015 we started a graduation studio on the relationship between architecture, urbanism and work – focusing not just at the workplace, but at the place of work and the position of industry in the wider context of our urban communities.
Following great architects and urban designers such as Ebenezer Howard, Tony Garnier or Albert Kahn – who used their architecture to respond to the rapid industrialization of their times – or influential thinkers like Archigram, Cedric Price and the Dutch artists Constant Nieuwenhuys – who imagined a world in which work was completely automatized and we could lead a life of surreal, technological leisure, fulfilling our wildest dreams – we ask our students to explore how architecture and urban design could react to the tendencies in work nowadays such as the deindustrialization of the west, the rapid industrialization in the east, or the increasing flexibilisation of work.
Can we for example design factories in which the newest technologies like 3D printing can be combined with human craft, so as to reimagine the proud high tech worker? Or reimagine the entire social spatial structure of our cities, laying the groundwork for a new social contract between worker and the economy? And can architecture help the precariat to help themselves, organizing new forms of solidarity and community from the bottom up, pooling their labour and craft into cooperative workers communities? Can we design new networks, new platforms or new meeting places where new types of work, industry, services and manufacturing will come to fruition?