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Automated Landscapes was presented as part of WORK BODY LEISURE, the Dutch Pavilion at the Biennale Architettura 2018, under the title #OFFICE, a contribution by Marten Kuijpers and Victor Muñoz Sanz.

More than forty years after Constant’s New Babylon, the architecture of full automation is currently being implemented across the Netherlands, from the country’s main port in Rotterdam to its productive hinterlands. If in New Babylon there was only play, the territory of the Netherlands could be seen as its counterpart: a productive Cartesian landscape, designed for unprecedented efficiency. Behind this apparent banality, a machinic, data-filled beauty reveals itself—but only on screens in the control rooms inside the contemporary office, from where automated spaces are controlled and monitored.

The common image of a control room, born in the Cold War, is dismissed by automation companies for its inefficient use of space and creating stress on the operators. In a modern remote operator workplace—presented in #OFFICE as a replica of an operator desk as designed by Swedish company ABB for the APM Terminal in Rotterdam—decisions on materials, spatial organization, and furniture are based on ergonomic studies and high standards for environmental comfort. “Operators are not static robots...”—a commercial document by ABB reads— “...they are human beings who thrive on variety, stimulation, activity and choice,” and as such, they will eventually be able to personalize their workspace with the touch of a RFID wristband.

The Automated Container Terminal

TBA’s TEAMS software supplies the APM Terminal with advanced control over their automated equipment. TEAMS sits between the equipment and the so-called Terminal Operating System (TOS), and translates the equipment orders from the TOS into optimal movement plans. While these working environments give the appearance that the user is in control, preferences can “be automatically overridden by the process system in pre-determined situations.” As algorithms and AI improve, these might eventually replace human operators.

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The Automated Greenhouse

With the Priva FS Reader, a non language-dependent, easy to operate RFID scanner, management can monitor real-time labour and production data in the greenhouse. The information gathered allows to improve performance. When shared with the employees, data can motivate them “to do their best as best as possible.” Priva is a Dutch family company that specializes in the development of automated technologies for indoor horticulture. It develops software and hardware systems to control and optimize climate conditions, irrigation, light, CO2, and labour.

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The Automated Dairy Farm

The Lely Qwes system is a collar mounted sensor system measuring the most crucial information on each cow in a farm: identification, activity, temperature, insemination time, and rumination. The data from the collar and other Lely robots is converted through the Lely T4C (Time for Cows) management system into useable information for managing dairy farms—for example, alerts of suspected illnesses. Lely’s products include milking robots, and automated feeding systems, feed pushers and barn cleaners, but they also provide farmers with services, such as detailed advice on barn design for robotic milking. 

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Marina Otero Verzier & Marten Kuijpers
Víctor Muñoz Sanz (TU Delft); Marina Otero Verzier, Marten Kuijpers, Grace Abou Jaoudeh (Het Nieuwe Instituut)
Marina Otero Verzier, Marten Kuijpers, Ameneh Solati, Anastasia Kubrak & Klaas Kuitenbrouwer (Het Nieuwe Instituut); Merve Bedir, Jason Hilgefort, Junwen Wang & Lucy Xia (Future+ Aformal Academy), Víctor Muñoz Sanz
Víctor Muñoz Sanz & Grace Abou Jaoudeh (TU Delft); Marina Otero Verzier, Marten Kuijpers, Ludo Groen, Emma Paola Flores Herrera & Chris Zogopoulos (Het Nieuwe Instituut)
Marina Otero Verzier, Marten Kuijpers, Anastasia Kubrak & Ludo Groen (Het Nieuwe Instituut); Ippolito Pestellini Laparelli, Laurence Bolhaar, Aleksandar Joksimovic & Anton Anikeev (OMA); Kamil Dalkir & students (RCA)
Lichun Tseng
Design Trust Hong Kong, Consulate General of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Guangzhou and Hong Kong

Automated Landscapes is a long-term collaborative research initiative on the implications of automation for the built environment, launched in 2017 by Het Nieuwe Instituut, and directed by its Research department.