Mingong do not sleep
A project for the redevelopment of the Q8 Creative Factory, Beijing, Central Business District, AIM International Design Competition, China. With Barbara Materia, Renzo Sgolacchia, Laura Fassio.
If in the past factories were conceived as isolated propelling machines on a territorial background, within the globalized economy the production space extended far beyond the manufacture walls, covering the whole urbanized territory, reversing the previous figure/ground relationship: the factory becomes society itself, coinciding with the metropolis.
Hence, if in the past the illegal position of migrant workers (mingong) was forced and controlled within the rigid boundaries of the hukou system, at the present such a condition has become the necessary condition of the Chinese metropolis. Chinese economy lies on a substratum of 130 millions mingong people who abandoned the rural inner region towards the biggest cities of the coastal regions, accepting inhuman and illegal working and living conditions.
Leaving their registered place of residence, migrant workers lost all their rights and benefits, degrading to the lowest position of the social ladder, without access to almost any social service: the greatest part, who is not eligible for a permanent residency, is required to register as temporary resident. Despite they are not entitled to social services such as sanitary assistance and a proper education for their children they are required to pay various fees for using urban public facilities.
In this way, their unstable juridical position offered an easy exploitable opportunity for the capitalistic regime, using the mingong as the cheapest working force. The project proposes a critical reflection on the present Chinese concealed industrial labour conditions - recently witnessed by the numerous suicides and mass strikes - by preserving the Cable 8 Factory from its gentrification and transforming it into a mingong village to provide housing, assistance structures and all the facilities negated to the mass of migrant labourers that everyday ceaselessly and anonymously works in the CBD of Beijing.