If architecture has historically put the human being at its centre, how can designing for automation challenge this anthropocentric condition? The book Automated Landscapes examines 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.
“Presenting years of research among many collaborators far and wide, Automated Landscapes offers insightful documentation and a critical look at how architecture is shaping – and being shaped by – one of the most consequential phenomena of our time: the evolving relationship between labour, technology and space on a territorial and global scale. We’re pleased to present this book as a capstone for a project that has been unfolding publicly over the years, having been presented through exhibitions, biennials, workshops and other programmes from the Netherlands to Milan to Shenzhen.” —Aric Chen, General and Artistic Director, Nieuwe Instituut.
Automated Landscapes is a Nieuwe Instituut project, in collaboration with the Faculty of Architecture and the Built Environment of TU Delft, Aformal Academy Shenzhen and the Royal College of Art London.
The publication is edited by Merve Bedir, Ludo Groen, Marten Kuijpers, Víctor Muñoz Sanz and Marina Otero Verzier, and designed by Hans Gremmen. Automated Landscapes was initiated by the Nieuwe Instituut in 2016.