Intermediate 14 Sofia Pia Belenky, Intermediate 14 (2015-16), Skype Butt

Cryptoarchitecture II: World Without Work

Joseph Grima, Pernilla Ohrstedt

"During the war, in hundreds of Iliums all over America, managers and engineers learned to get along without their men and women, who went to fight. It was the miracle that won the war - production with almost no manpower." - Kurt Vonnegut, Player Piano

In his 1952 pulp masterpiece Player Piano, Kurt Vonnegut describes a future society in which all labour has been automated, humans remain in control and access to material wealth is universal - yet for most, life has been stripped of its sense of purpose.

Along these lines, Intermediate 14 continues its investigation of architectural space as a political geography defined by technological forces both visible and unseen. As the rituals of everyday life become inescapably automated and reshaped by an onslaught of disruptive technologies - from ad-driven lawyerbots to self-cleansing smart homes and fully autonomous production plants - labour, one of the key activities defining the organisation of the modern city, is subjected to an identity crisis. What is gained and what is lost in a workfree city? What forms of social relations will architecture be asked to articulate? Is the assumption that automation will spell the end of the labour-driven city correct in the first place?

In its analysis, the unit will examine what theorist Benjamin Bratton has termed 'The Stack' - the vertically thickened geography of computational and infrastructural apparatuses comprising six layers: Earth, Cloud, City, Address, Interface and User - reinterpreting these elements architecturally as the elementary building blocks of a new landscape defined by an evolving and increasingly symbiotic relationship with technology. Considering labour as a centrally designed activity underpinning the definition of private and public space, the unit will speculate on the adaptation of such space in a nearfuture reality.


Joseph Grima is a graduate of the AA and a partner at Space Caviar, an architecture office based in Genoa, which operates at the intersection of research, technology, politics and the public realm. He is also the director of the Ideas City programme at the New Museum in New York and a visiting professor of urban design at University College London. He was previously the editor-in-chief of Domus and director of Storefront for Art and Architecture.

Pernilla Ohrstedt runs a London-based design and architecture studio engaged in projects ranging from buildings to installations, exhibitions and products. Previously she worked on a number of projects at Storefront for Art and Architecture in New York, and was project director for the Canadian Pavilion at the Venice Architecture Biennale.

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