The Architecture of Labor and the Space of Production
Ph.D. Dissertation at Technische Universiteit Delft - Berlage Institute Rotterdam
The City as a Project doctoral research group. Promoted by Dr. Pier Vittorio Aureli, Prof.Ir. Michiel Riedijk, Prof. Ir. Umberto S. Barbieri.
Thesis defended on May 6th, 2014
In a short essay dealing with the repetitive homogeneity of the Manhattan’s office layouts, Rem Koolhaas defined the term Typical Plan as one of the purest American architectural archetypes. A plan stripped of all its qualities and reduced to a calculated relation between discreet standardised elements: an empty surface able to host whatever program and on which life could be simply performed.
Nevertheless, more than a technical achievement in electric lighting, air-conditioning and fire-safety protocols, the alleged “specific indeterminacy” of the typical plan was the outcome of violent political and economical passages, epitomised by that historical convergence between the modern industrial revolution, the scientific management of production and the financial imperialism which marked the first three decades of the 20th-century.
Through the analysis of coeval case-studies in United States, Germany, Soviet Union and Italy, this thesis conjectures the typical plan as the creation of the working-class, whose struggle always forced capitalism to constantly extend its infrastructural apparatus and to further improve its architecture of production in order to ultimately reduce the genericness of labor-power as lymph for progress.
Only by reconstructing its spatial genealogy through the instruments of political economy and the dialectic of class conflict, the typical plan could be eventually reconsidered in its twofold framing character, both as managerial dispositive – to maximise exploitation and profit – but also as a platform of organisation – to articulate the workers’ opposition and resistance against any form of slavery, within and beyond the factory walls.