Daniel Grenz studied architecture at the Bartlett School of Architecture in London and is currently completing his master’s degree at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT). His work focuses on studies and speculative designs exploring the influence of technological changes on architecture and urban planning. In addition to this, in 2016 he initiated the symposium, exhibition and associated catalogue “Simulation” at KIT, dealing with the changes in the design process brought about by digital tools, in cooperation with students of the Karlsruhe University of Design, the University of Music, and the State Academy of Fine Arts. After various internships—for example, at Herzog & de Meuron, FAR Frohn & Rojas, Hütten & Paläste, and Agence Ter—he worked as a student assistant at KIT in the fields of architectural theory (Prof. Vrachliotis), space and design (Prof. Frohn), building theory and design (Prof. Morger), and currently in the department of international urban planning and design (Prof. Engel), where the project presented here was developed as a free design work, supervised by Prof. Barbara Engel and Nikolas Rogge.
A World without Labor: Speculative Urban Planning as a Testing Ground for Technological Revolutions
The advance of automation is changing the professional world, provoking the image of global mass unemployment in public debates. This is contrasted with the speculation that labor will no longer have the role of an obligation necessary to our survival. In the near future, technical progress could ensure that all work required for the daily reproduction of life is assumed by machines. This talk investigates this theory from an urban planning perspective, asking what measures can be taken to promote the potentials of automation. Using the example of a district in Madrid, a study is being made of what changes a city could undergo in a post-labor scenario. For this purpose, automated factories will be placed in the district as a first step. They constitute the starting point for the scenario: clusters of machines taking over the entire production of goods and services that humans do not want to perform. Subsequently, a set of rules will be created that can be used to establish different types of production, based on those that currently exist.
To describe the changes resulting from the end of the need to work, the following paradigm shifts in urban planning will be assumed and developed further into rules for their spatial implementation: fulfilling your duty is turned into self-fulfillment; hurrying turns into strolling; staying put turns into traveling. The result will be a district where automated production and service locations create the basis for a wide range of heterogeneous uses, free spaces and people of different origins constantly coming into contact. In contrast to most other utopias of the modern era, this project is not to be understood as a finished master plan. Instead, the potential of large-scale urban planning is investigated to bring abstract issues—in our case the automation of labor—into a provocative, physical form that can be used to spark debates on the thrust and impact of new technologies.