Utopia/Dystopia: Post-Work(Place) in 2068

Today, at an unprecedented rate, new technologies and global networks (underground, in space, in the cloud) are transforming the ways we understand and consume new and invisible infrastructures that shape our societies. However, global crises, day-to-day conflicts, and collective anxiety have disrupted this desire for a ‘seamless’ and connected living. And so, in true utopian and dystopian architectural fashion, we take on these troubled times to project our hopes and fears into a future 50 years from now, in the year 2068.

This studio critically reimagines the organizational forces of architecture in a future where the dichotomy of Utopia/Dystopia is examined through seemingly paradoxical lenses. By considering factors that inform architecture, from its embroilment in volatile political economy, to accelerating shifts in technological and cultural landscapes, we ask: how can we envision a future where many of the structures that define our lives today – education, work, leisure – are radically different?

Together, we will consider post-work(place) realities and attempt to find a balance between the human and the technological – in the context of education, labor and leisure – within the natural world that surrounds and supports them. As various forms of labor become increasingly displaced and/or obsolete, how do we translate them as noticeable content to inform future and evolving forms of capital?

Framingham, Massachusetts stands out as a site of investigation precisely because it doesn’t: an inconspicuous suburb in proximity to the city of Boston and a limited beneficiary of its urbanity. It is also the home of the Dennison Manufacturing Company building complex, a former manufacturer of consumer paper products, already an architecture of post-work and the site for our studio.

The semester will begin with a 2-week exercise in “world-making,” a research-based investigation to situate a specific narrative based on notions of work, leisure and education within a utopic/dystopic architectural imaginary. This will become the foundation for the student’s architectural design throughout the course of the semester. Following a studio visit to the former factory complex in Framingham and an analysis of the provided parcels, students are expected to choose a specific site for their project and develop a program in relation to the narrative they’ve designed in the early weeks of the semester. The second part of the semester will focus on synthesizing and digesting this aggregated information to further develop an architecture – a building or system of buildings – that is both critical and practical.