Upcoming studio, on luxury and precarity, fall semester 2020 - 2021
As a practice delineating and claiming space, architecture is intimately linked with societal, economic and political manifestations of power relationships. Luxury - defined as ‘a state of great comfort or elegance, especially when involving great expense’ or the ‘habitual use of, or indulgence in what is choice or costly, whether food, dress, furniture, or appliances of any kind’ and ‘sumptuous and exquisite food or surroundings - has been used throughout architectural history to express societal standing and power.
The sumptuous display of material wealth by those in power simultaneously gives rise to those facing the precarity of lacking such amenities. Social struggle, representative democracy, industrial means of production have led to the emergence of a middle class, making the luxuries, such as architecture, an achievable goal for an increasingly large number of people. While only partially, temporally and locally, realising the egalitarian utopia of modernism, it spiralled into an unseen consumption of resources, and the instalment a of neo-liberal market economy based on unsustainable growth and consumerism. Wealth and power is increasingly concentrated in the hands of a small number of corporations and individuals, the middle class is eroding into a global precariat living and working in uncertain conditions.
Emerging technologies are accelerating these evolutions: increasing resource depletion to provide the hardware for our planetary accidental megastructure and fuel the global demand for shipping and transportation. The emergence of a platform economy, leading the precarity of gig workers as well as opportunities for organising labour and ownership differently. The media ecology in which we operate, the impact of the blogosphere, social media and image sharing, where influencers compete for our attention.
In this edition of Fieldstation studio we will use the notions of luxury and precarity to question architecture’s position in relation to the technosphere and the anthropocene in these precarious times. We will look into luxury and precarity as a content and context for architecture through fieldtrips, research and hands-on design exercises.