If architecture has historically put the human being at its centre, how can designing for automation challenge this anthropocentric condition? Nieuwe Instituut presents Automated Landscapes, a publication examining a series of work environments at the forefront of automation, from dairy farms and greenhouses to factories and data centres. Building on five years of research, the book documents how automation is changing the way we work, and challenges the common assumption that automation is merely replacing human workers with machines.
The possibility of automating human labour has captured society’s imagination for centuries, yet its implementation only became a pervasive reality in the early 21st century. Today, automation has the power to disrupt labour markets and dictate the design and occupation of entire territories, a concern widely discussed in the fields of economics, logistics and the general media. Despite its significance, the architecture discipline has often overlooked the socio-ecological, political and spatial consequences of automation, focusing instead on using automated technologies for fabrication.
Through a combination of original material, including the documentation of nine sites, and previously published articles, events, site visits and exhibitions, this publication illustrates the evolution of arguments around automated labour explored during five years of research. Furthering contemporary debate, Automated Landscapes debunks the myth that automation replaces people with machines, revealing that human bodies remain present in assembly and supply lines while performing different tasks and governed by new rhythms.
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