Agenda: Emerging Corporate Territories

The economist John O'Sullivan has described the shift of importance in the markets from East to West as the great convergence. It is first and foremost a convergence of capital, which seems to bypass the geo-political distinctions and rules we have been accustomed to in the 20th century.

The ambition of the Visiting School is to address this flow of capital through its architectural manifestation and impact on the city of Songdo, in South Korea, which is currently undergoing the stress of financial growth.

The classic corporate models of cities like Chicago and New York, and their evolution in the vast territories in the Sun Belt and in the West Coast, will serve as precedents to understand the operative power of corporate architecture as a total fictive world (self sufficient and autonomous) through its different elements from typical plans to curtain walls, from plazas to atrias, parking lots to elevators, ashtrays to lounge chairs.

Proposed across a span of three years, the impact of corporate architecture will be analysed challenged and re-proposed at three scales: the city and its formal planning, the building and the street, and finally at the scale of the human employee.

The territorial scale  2013 - understanding the city in its larger conception. Can we re-think the rapid informal spread of the metropolis through the insertion of fragments of urban strategies borrowed from other parts of the world? Is the grid an overall organisational tool or an aesthetic principle of order? What is the role of the natural environment within the corporate city? Using the master-plan as a design tool we will try to answer and raise more questions about the relationship between the structure of the city and its image, as well defining the boundaries of the corporate territory and in doing so exercising the limits of the proposed schemes.

The building scale  2014 -
looking specifically into the role of a single building as an instrument of communication.
Taking as a given the dominant form of the typical plan, the deus ex machina of architectural solutions, we will challenge this in-discriminant sprawl of towers strictly vertically. Each student will propose a full bleed curtain-wall facade system which will be informed by economic and technological drivers as well as by your personal critique of corporate aesthetics and by your own architectural fetishes. 

The human scale, the employee  2015
- birdwatching the grey man.
Increasingly the subject of interest of office planners, the corporate worker is redefining the interior configurations of the office as he is gazed upon increasingly as a social machine, rather than a desk one. From the simpler biological functions to hobbies, leisure, and sports, 'other' life is increasingly retained within the boundary of the white-collar office. Its conception as a mere assembly line of information is undergoing radical changes. In this third phase we will focus on the production of a mundane detail of the worker's life as an evidence of participation to a total corporate image, of the total and helpless abandonment of private life to the sphere of work. In other words, of the great convergence.