FIELD STATION: PLATFORMS & STORAGE

Field Station ADO is a local node in the international fieldstations network, exploring architecture in relation with contemporary fields, connected to the anthropocene and technosphere. The ADO focusses on the agency of emerging technologies and phenomena, and their impact on the culture and practice of architecture and the environment in which we operate as architects. We propose an explorative architectural design studio, aiming to investigate the potential of architecture as a medium to disrupt, explore and raise questions, rather than solving them. The academic design office combines explorative research with hands-on architectural design exercises, field trips and workshops, providing a platform for students to develop their own interests, skills and projects within the proposed topics, for 2018 we will work around the topics of platform & storage, and collaborate with Design Museum Gent.

Expanded Field.  The environments in which we operate as architects are increasingly saturated with digital technologies: internet-of-things, global communication and transportation technologies, mobile devices, increased satellite coverage, location based services, ubiquitous computing… What distinguishes this technological layer, or technosphere (Half 2014) from previous human made infrastructures is the interconnectedness of devices, people and environments. This ‘accidental megastructure’ (Bratton 2015), is not designed but emerges as related fields and radically new geographies (Mattern, 2016). The slick interfaces of our connected technologies come at a price, they are enabled through a dark side of resource depletion, cheap labor, exclusion and pollution (Young, 2016). The material impact of these technologies is so extensive it will leave a lasting imprint on our planet, prompting geologists to established the Anthropocene, as a new geological epoch (Turpin 2013). We see the technosphere as the field in which we operate as architects and want to explore the agency of technology within this expanded field for architecture.

 

Platform / Storage.  In the fall of 2018 we will work around the topics of platform and storage, as two spatial metaphors, as contemporary phenomena and  sites where data space and physical space intersect. The common meaning of platforms, as raised areas that facilitate exchange and interaction, has taken on very different meaning through digitalisation and data becoming an increasing valuable resource. What Alibaba, Facebook, Airbnb, Uber… have in common is that they work as intermediaries between providers and customers, outsourcing costs and responsibilities, harvesting data for optimisation (Srnicek, 2017).  Recent studies indicate that 90% of all stored data has been generated in the last two years. Archives and libraries are being digitised, indexing them and providing novel ways of querying, organising and curating them. The technologies that enable these present themselves as neutral, light and invisible, using metaphors like the cloud, while they have a vast impact on our physical environments (Mattern, 2016). The Anthropocene brings about new challenges for storage and platforms, from storing energy, to saving genetic information and biodiversity or storing nuclear waste. The studio wants to explore the notions of platform and storage across different timescales and applications and look into the architectural implications of the outlined shifts.

 

Alternative Practice. Field Station Studio operates as a collective practice, breaking out of the confines of academic architectural education. As part of an international network, the studio will travel and actively seek encounters with thinkers, makers, hackers and artists exploring the boundaries of architecture. The studio will have sessions and meetings on several locations to meet alternative practices and different ways of thinking, to gather and share information and to discuss and exchange ideas. In the past we have collaborated with Zwart Wild, DOK, S14, De Koer, Timelab, Wolke, Extra City, Timecircus, WTC24… This year we will collaborate with Design Museum Gent.

 

Field Trip. The studio will start with a study trip to uncover specific places where we feel the topics are urgently present.  During our visit we will meet and exchange information with local actors and explore the architectural, historical and technological potential of the site, through a hands-on sensing and mapping workshop.

 

Field Guide. On our field trip  and through meetings, lectures, screenings & literature, several potential fields will be introduced. During the first exercise these fields and themes will be mapped and investigated by small groups of students with shared interests. This work results in a field guide that documents a set of tools, strategies and media to engage with the questions of shifting borders in relation to the expanded field & architecture.


Field Station. For the second part of the studio, students will develop an individual design exercise that results in an architectural proposal for a specific site and context. The design should demonstrate how architecture interacts with a field of choice and it’s border conditions explored in the field guides. The scale, scope, format and media of this proposal are free, students are encouraged to develop their own vision, interest and ways of working. The individual projects will be shown at a final exhibition.


For every edition two zeens will be developed and the final work will be presented in an exhibition, over the course of three years we will collect the material on a platform an develop it into a publication.


REFERENCES


Bratton, Benjamin H. The stack: on software and sovereignty. MIT Press, 2015.


Frase, Peter. Four futures: visions of the world after capitalism. New York : Verso, 2016.


Haff, Peter. K. Technology as a Geological Phenomenon: Implications for Human Well-Being. Geological Society, London, Special Publications, vol. 395, nr. 1, 2014, pp. 301–09.


Kruk, Vinca, Daniel van der Velden, and Metahaven, eds. Black Transparency: The Right to Know in the Age of Mass Surveillance. Berlin: Sternberg Press, 2015.


Mattern, Shannon. Code and Clay, Data and Dirt: Five Thousand Years of Urban Media. University of Minnesota Press, 2017.


Mattern, Shanon, Cloud and Field, On the resurgence of “field guides” in a networked age. Places journal, August 2016


McCullough, Malcolm. Ambient commons: attention in the age of embodied information. MIT Press, 2013.


Oosterman, Arjen, Lilet Breddels, Leaonardo Dellanoce (eds).  Volume 51 – Augmented Technology. Archis, 2017.


Redstone, Elias, and Architectural Association (eds). Archizines. London : Bedford Press, 2011.


Runting, Helen, Frederik Torrison & Erik Siege (eds).  Lo-Res: Architectural Theory, Politics, and Criticism, ISSN 2002-0260, Vol. 1: High-Rise, 2015.


Srnicek, Nick. Platform capitalism. Polity, 2017.


Turpin, Etienne, ed. Architecture in the Anthropocene: Encounters among Design, Deep Time, Science and Philosophy. Open Humanities Press, 2013.


Young, Liam & Unknown Fields Division, eds. Tales from the Dark Side of the City, AA Publications 2016.


SINTEF. “Big Data, for better or worse: 90% of world’s data generated over last two years.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 22 May 2013.


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