Het Nieuwe Instituut has embarked on Automated Landscapes, a long-term research project on the implications of automation for the built environment.
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 seeks to document and reflect 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 will result in an exhibition and a publication, 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 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 department, Het Nieuwe Instituut: Marina Otero Verzier, Director of Research; Marten Kuijpers, Senior Researcher; Víctor Muñoz Sanz, Senior Researcher; Klaas Kuitenbrouwer, Senior Researcher; Ameneh Solati, Researcher; Grace Abou Jaoudeh, Research Assistant; Chris Zogopoulos, Assistant researcher. In collaboration with 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.