Inside

ADS5: Postcapital – Platforms, Structures and Spaces

Dr Jon Goodbun, Dr Benedict Singleton, Dr Victoria Watson

DOT/ADS5 will function as a postcapitalist research lab, oriented towards near futures that are very different to our recent pasts. Bubbling away within global capitalism, there have always been enclaves of other futures: short-lived spaces of radical imagination. Today, as the cracks proliferate, they become all the more more obvious, and all the more relevant. 

The term ‘postcapitalism’ (itself unthinkable a few years ago) is now openly used by some of the most promising thinkers and tendencies today. As conventional economics hits the buffers, self-described postcapitalists like Paul Mason, Nick Srnicek and Alex Williams challenge the prevailing mantra that competition for scarce resources is the only way to organise human society. Capitalism, they say, is not the motor of progress – political or technological – and in fact suppresses and distorts it. They call for a double move: the automation of undesirable labour alongside the provision of a universal basic income, definitively severing the link between work and survival, and opening a social space for newly adventurous projects underwritten by a technologically sophisticated and politically enlightened post-scarcity state. 

These are underdog ideas but are gaining traction fast, operating near the centre of the populist surges that have caused such confusion for the European media and political establishment in 2015 (Syriza, Corbyn). We will begin the studio by thinking about, working on, and meeting people involved in postcapitalism, in theory or practice, and how architecture might engage with it.

But we are living through a historical moment that might take take many different routes into the future. Maximising, as far as it is possible to simulate and predict, our grasp of the future possibility spaces available to us is itself a political imperative. So we will engage, too, with other embryonic geopolitical forms appearing within the collapsing order of the present––alternative ‘postcapitalisms’, but of a very different sort. Amongst these squabbling would-be heirs to the status of The System, we find the guns, dollars and drugs ‘post-misery’ doctrines of South American narcomarxist cartels, the engagement (if not yet the marriage) of liberalism with neoluddism, the megascale technoeconomic engineering projects of the PRC, the reactionary billionaires of Silicon Valley, the fascist mutations of nazbol in Russia, Islamic State’s Twitter-savvy medievalism.

In our present situation, we need new means of making sense of things: new paradises, new infernos, new typologies of trouble and oasis, new mythologies and archetypes to populate them, new tools with which to analyse map and re-imagine our environment – be they analogue, digital or cognitive. This recognition will serve as a set of foundations, or at least starting points, for the projects in ADS5 this year. We don’t yet know what role architecture and urbanism can play in these incipient scenarios. Helped by a programme of visitors to the studio who work in art, design and technology, on the one hand, and the cutting edge of political science and philosophy on the other (and sometimes both), our mission this year is to begin to find out.


Taught by Dr Jon Goodbun, Dr Benedict Singleton, Dr Victoria Watson