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The incursion of artificial intelligence and full automation into workspaces and productive landscapes has been recently designated the trigger for major shifts in manual labour, white-collar and service-sector work, and a key driver in job losses and declining wages. Under the premise that automation disrupts not only labour markets, but the configuration, design and occupation of entire territories, Automated Landscapes documents and reflects upon the emerging architectures and urbanisms of automated labour, looking at other actors involved in the production of spaces that remain beyond classic notions of authorship and signature.

The aims of the project are manifold, namely: to shed light on the impact of automation in various geographies and scales; to examine how the design of automated spaces challenges conventional spatial requirements and normative rules in architecture for health, safety and welfare, such as standards for light, ventilation, height, and floor areas; to reveal how these technologies bring new forms of territorial occupation, segregation and contestation; and to speculate upon the role of architects and designers in imagining and intervening in territories and spaces for non-humans.

The project focuses on the port of Rotterdam and across agricultural clusters in the Netherlands, as well as developments in the Pearl River Delta—arguably the main arena for the transition from the man-powered ‘factory of the world’ to a territory of automated production. 

Automated Landscapes was presented at the Vienna Biennale 2017, at Bi-City Biennale of Urbanism\Architecture in Shenzhen, as part of WORK BODY LEISURE at the Biennale Architettura 2018 in Venice, and has been awarded a Feature Grant from Design Trust (an initiative of the non-profit organisation Hong Kong Ambassadors of Design) in Hong Kong. 

The research on Pearl River Delta region is conducted in collaboration with Future+ Aformal Academy, and is also supported by the Consulate General of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Guangzhou and Hong Kong.

Research Team

Research department, Het Nieuwe Instituut: Marina Otero Verzier, Director of Research; Marten Kuijpers, Senior Researcher; Klaas Kuitenbrouwer, Senior Researcher; Ameneh Solati, Researcher; Grace Abou Jaoudeh, Research Assistant; Chris Zogopoulos, Assistant researcher; and Emma Paola Flores Herrera, Research Assistant. 

Víctor Muñoz Sanz, postdoctoral researcher at the Faculty of Architecture at TU Delft Merve Bedir, Jason Hilgefort, Junwen Wang, Lucy Xia (Future+ Aformal Academy).

Automation and Artificial Intelligence

Automated Landscapes is part of the ongoing commitment of Het Nieuwe Instituut to address the implications of automation and artificial intelligence for architecture, design and digital culture, developed through a series of projects, including Garden of Machines, Bot Club and Cities of Making.

Automated Landscapes in Work, Body, Leisure publication

1 AUGUST 2018

Published in conjunction with the Dutch Pavilion at the Biennale Architettura 2018, the book Work, Body, Leisure features an essay by Víctor Muñoz Sanz on his research for Automated Landscapes and an image essay on the project.

Automated Landscapes at Art Basel

26 FEBRUARY 2018

On 31 March 2018 Het Nieuwe Instituut presents Automated Landscapes as part of the Conversations series of Art Basel in Hong Kong. Speakers include Marina Otero Verzier (Het Nieuwe Instituut), Merve Bedir (Future+ Aformal Academy), Marisa Yiu (Design Trust Hong Kong), Aric Chen (M+ Hong Kong), Karel Eloot (tbc) (McKinsey & Company) and De Kai (HKUST).

Automated Landscapes at the Vienna Biennale 2017

21 JUNE 2017

Het Nieuwe Instituut's R&D department presents an installation of its long-term project Automated Landscapes at How Will We Work?, an exhibition by the University of Applied Arts Vienna in cooperation with the Vienna Biennale 2017

Design Trust Hong Kong Feature Grant for Automated Landscapes

31 MARCH 2017

Design Trust (Hong Kong) has awarded Het Nieuwe Instituut a Feature Grant for its research project ‘Automated Landscapes: Architectures of Work without Workers’.