More than forty years after Constant’s New Babylon, the architecture of full automation is currently being implemented across the Netherlands. From its main port in Rotterdam, to its productive hinterlands, the logic and relations that define the physical and social landscape of work and labor are being redefined by machines, data and interfaces. Automated Landscapes: the Countryside Tour will consist of a program in two acts: a tour through automated spaces of production in the vicinity of Rotterdam, and a public event held at Het Nieuwe Instituut.
As robots and smart systems take over the toil, landscapes, working environments, the workers that populate them, and what they do, transform. Traditional port crane operators are now replaced by office workers seated in control rooms that oversee 24/7 operations. In the countryside, dairy and horticultural farmers oversee ever-growing automated operations through dashboards on desktop computers or smartphone apps. Sharing space with the robots, cows and temporary workers become data, and their bodies are managed as abstract components of a larger system, which can be accessed from anywhere by logging on the cloud.
Bringing together a select group of experts, practitioners, academics, and students of disciplines related to the built environment, a bus tour will become partly a leisure activity, and partly a workshop aimed to explore current developments in automation and their impact in planning and architecture. Marten Kuijpers and Víctor Muñoz Sanz will act as tour guides of a journey that will take the group around some of the Automated Landscapes of South Holland, including visits to an automated dairy farm, an automated greenhouse, and to the headquarters of the leading Dutch firms in farming and horticultural automation. The tour is organized in collaboration with the European Post-master in Urbanism (EMU) of TU Delft and its fall semester studio “Automation and the Changing Landscape of Work II”, with Roberto Rocco and Víctor Muñoz Sanz as instructors.
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.
European Post-Master of Urbanism
The European Post-master in Urbanism (EMU) is an advanced master degree that engages with the complexities of the design and planning of cities and landscapes, in a jointly run programme by TU Delft, KU Leuven, UPC Barcelona and Università IUAV di Venezia. All four universities adhere to the specifically European tradition that views urbanism as a collection of socially responsible disciplines, which aim to improve the living conditions of all citizens.