towards a labor without work : the spatial logics of soft-production

with Romain Curnier
Master of Architecture diploma project
Supervisors : Mario Carpo, Jeremy Lecomte, Christian Girard

More than a representation of power and capital, the workplace and its spatial organization principles act as a mechanism of value production.1,2 Since its birth in the late 18th century, the white-collar workplace has evolved in response to particular technological innovations, social ecosystems, workers struggle and design principles.3

However, the recent development of information and communication technology - and especially the ubiquity of the network - tend increasingly to blur the differentiation between workplace and domestic space, work and leisure, production and consumption. While network information economy transformed manual labor into cognitive labor,4 the Internet of Things and large-scale adoption of smart objects participate in the creation of a spatialized information economy. We are currently witnessing the rise of a new kind of space of indeterminate nature, in which every daily action that can be recorded, analyzed and used by third parties eventually creates value,5 consciously or unconsciously, in the name of efficiency and well-being. In this context, commodification of the self and every aspect of one’s life are facilitated by an increasing panel of high-resolution smart objects and technologies such as the blockchain and machine learning, invoking a complex mesh of technical, social and political actors.6

The hyperwwwork project, through the analysis of architectural plans spanning over two centuries and prospective fictional thinking, sheds light on these existing phenomena otherwise hardly perceived. Inspired by the caricatural approach of Superstudio,7 “Twelve Ideal Offices” invites one to take a step back so as to evaluate the consequence and the risks of the implementation of smart technologies by focusing on spaces, interactions and behaviors usually not associated with value production or mechanisms of control. hyperwwwork thus extrapolates a social, technical and architectonic context in which these technologies are embedded, and seeks to reveal the role of architecture in this new paradigm and its corresponding trends, such as the quantified self, custom space experience, decentralization and 24/7 activity.

More/download :  hyperwwwork.life

Features : 

Atlas of Places, edited by Thomas Paturet. Web, August 2018

Prix 2018 des meilleurs PFE de la Maison de l’architecture Ile-de-France. November 2018.

WASH magazine, issue 03. Print/Web, TBA.

Related publications here

Notes : 

1. Pier Vittorio Aureli, “The Barest Form in which Architecture Can Exist”, in A-TYPICAL PLAN : Projects and Essays on Identity, Flexibility and Atmosphere in the Office, edited by Jeannette Kuo (Zurich: Park Books, 2013).
2. Rem Koolhaas and Bruce Mau, « Typical Plan », in S, M, L, XL (New York: Monacelli Press, 1995), pp 334-353.
3. Nikil Saval, Cubed : A Secret History of the Workplace (New York: Anchor Books, 2014).
4. André Gorz, L’immatériel : Connaissance, valeur et capital (Paris: Galilée, 2003).
5. Nick Srnicek, Platform Capitalism (Cambridge, UK: Polity Press, 2017).
6. Adam Greenfield, Radical Technologies : The Design of Everyday Life. (London / NY: Verso, 2017).
7. Superstudio, « Twelve Cautionary Tales for Christmas (12 Ideal Cities) », in Architectural Design, AD #12, Standard Catalogue Co. / Academy Editions, 1971.


privacy policy - terms and conditions

privacy and productivity on the grid

with Romain Curnier
Supervisor : Max Turnheim

The continuous working of global markets and infrastructures inscribe us in a permanent cycle of work and consumption, characterized by the absence of place or temporality in which it is impossible to buy, produce, or browse the network - the 24/7 concept described by Jonathan Crary.1 This annihilation foresees the homogenization of space and time : work, socialization, rest and intimacy are not happening in distinct and separated places or temporalities. Indeed, the multiplication of connected devices and communication technologies change the correlation between interior/exterior, private/public, productive/non-productive and domestic/professional. The significance of traditional architectural elements usually marking the separation between identifiable spaces is diluted in an ubiquitous and reticular network.

While new technologies do not constrain work to a precise geographic location, paradoxically it got relocated into spaces dedicated to family or friendship. The practice of teleworking, popularized with the emergence of mobile phones and laptops in the 1990s, still appears as an alternative to the hierarchical oppression and surveillance of the workplace, despite its own economic advantages - from the reduction of a company's assets to the creation of new rental markets such as coworking and coliving spaces. If these new models appear as an ideal in the mind of most workers, it is precisely because of this mental association of the home and the café as spaces detached from any productive activity. But beyond the relocation of work activities in traditionally non-productive spaces, the new information economy paradigm affirms the productive aspect of the household : value creation is not anymore dependent on an individual workforce, but on an abundance of data. Pure information, extracted from individual behaviors and lifestyles, when analyzed and monetized, has become as valuable as physical or mental labor.

In this context, the network, as the imperceptible support of information exchange, can be considered as a additional layer bending the traditional physical separation of spaces. Metallized PET film (used for the manufacturing of space blankets), when positioned in a closed space, can influence network connection by creating high- and low-bandwidth zones. Such an experimentation is not be considered as a demonstration of the technical capabilities of the tested materials, but more as the unveiling of the political and spatial implications of the network - may that be to create non-productive spaces reproducing the privacy of the traditional home, to protect individuals from surveillance systems, or to standardize the network bandwidth on an urban scale.

1. Jonathan Crary, 24/7 : Late Capitalism and the Ends of Sleep. (London / NY: Verso, 2013).

acqua di piacenza

community and surveillance : belongingness as a tool of control 

with Sarah Guillemain, Ava Rastegar, Aurélien Raymond
Supervisor : Nicolas Gilsoul

Piacenza, 2027. Heavy rainfalls and rising water levels result in an unprecedented degree of pollution of the Po river. The United Nations Acqua mission aims to distribute depolluted water in exchange of community services. Water is being worshipped, its perception evolving from a destructive elemental power to a vital blessing. The urban water infrastructure is exposed in order to spread the belief system : fountains, water tanks, places of worship and processional walkways populate the land.

Particularly important in the acceptance of this new way of life, Il Capo is an initiation program dedicated to water awareness and community involvement. The project reinterprets the codes of the monastic cloister to propose an inward-looking confined space, isolated from its surroundings, magnifying water through its sensory design. Community life and education are organized around multiple atriums, whose physical and visual continuity stimulates socialization - and its commodification. Inspiring trust and encouraging positivity, the miscellaneous spaces sublimate the fleshly body through a multi-sensory relationship with the sacred fluid.

The public display of all actions turn the collective space into a place of permanent evaluation, fading individual privacy in favor of collective well-being. This voluntary reassessment of privacy erects control as an appreciable entity - the collective mass transcending individuality. Does surveillance become acceptable when it is operated by the monitored themselves?