Bad Taste, Megabytes
‘Every technology carries its own negativity, which is invented at the same time as technical
– Paul Virilio
What might the future hold for the architectural profession in a world changed by open-source?
As open-source technology increasingly infiltrates both the design and the production of buildings, it has contributed to the formation of The Multitude (Hardt and Negri) – a global class empowered through collaborative activity, and thus capable of eroding existing hierarchies within the design and construction industry. Platforms such as Wikihouse, Paperhouses and OpenStructures embody this new age – democratising the design process by repudiating neoliberal modes of work and affording access to all.
However, these business models marginalise the role of the architect, who becomes a mere contributor to an infinite library of components – a situation made worse once the multinational corporation starts to enter the market. Driven solely by the bottom line, companies like Google start to get in on the action, developing 'Flux', another open source construction programme whose unending database of building elements are continuously offered up for digital fabrication by a disparate global network of freelance architects – the last vestige of the profession.
This project imagines a future in which Google enters the construction industry with a pilot housing scheme in Abbey Wood. Utilising open-source technologies and global data analytics (and adhering to the open-source principle of individual customisation), residents are offered a choice of components from the vast on-site SketchUp Warehouse. This model therefore promises to address the housing crisis through providing exactly what the market demands.
In this world, form follows finance.