Maria Paez Gonzalez
Life Within Work: Future Architectures from the Critique of Silicon Valley's Corporate 'Tech' Campus
The Corporate Campus is commonly understood as a series of large-scale, purpose-built facilities, office, laboratories and other functions that support and contain the private operations of a business in the periphery or within the city. However, the term – along with its various colloquial terminologies (office park, research park, corporate park, office campus, etc) – refers to a typology that originated in the east coast of the United States and that resulted from two main dimensions. Firstly, the emergence of Managerial Capitalism, through postwar industrial growth initiatives that resulted in large scientific innovation investment and the emergence of research as a lucrative form of middle management. Secondly, a deliberate relocation from overcrowded and mixed city centres, supported by large infrastructural state projects, leading corporations to reinvent themselves from the conceptual and formal reinterpretations of several models, namely the suburban estate, the great manufacturing factories of the midwest and most significantly the university campus, manifesting and elevating the burgeoning form of production.
Whilst these dimensions have been explored from diverse disciplinary perspectives, studies to date have focused on large urban and suburban perspectives to approach the architectural project, not only overlooking the complex multiplicity of scales and functions involved in its planning, but undermining the typology’s raison d'être, that is, the containment and sustenance of a rapidly evolving kind of worker and its labour. Described by the Operaist movement as ‘Immaterial’ or ‘Cognitive’ labour, its productive power is the capacity to yield creativity and innovation as a commodity, involving both informational and cultural content, communication and computer control on the one hand, and public consent via cultural and aesthetic practices amongst other aspects not generally recognised as ‘work’ on the other.
From this perspective, the following thesis proposes an architectural critique through a case study approach, where the dominant aspects of the corporate campus – its predominant use of landscape, formal assembly, the interior spaces it orchestrates and the body of the worker – will become apparatuses to foreground the midcentury adaptation and the recent resurgence of the typology in the east coast, specifically during the period between the 1990s dot-com boom to the surge in today's projects, having as its main site the area known as ‘Silicon Valley’.
Through extensive drawing documentation, the use of photography and primary sources of public documents as planning applications and permits for three of the main technology companies in the area, Apple, Google and Facebook, the thesis will argue how once more a turn in capitalist production has its most radical expression in the form of the corporate campus and how its rigorously calculated form, results from inner and outer pressures, shifting workers demands for self-realisation and the ebb and flow of negotiated relations with its neighbouring context, becoming a public site for corporate representation and by doing so private cultures once obscured and self-contained are overflowing onto the domain of the public realm of life and the city.
School of Architecture
Architecture Research, 2018–
Maria Paez Gonzalez is an architect and researcher. She has practiced architecture commercially for over a decade and has been a key member of several large-scale office projects, including the design and construction of Apple Park, the headquarters for the company in Cupertino, California: a project that upon its completion led her to pursue a PhD in Architecture at the RCA, where she aims to advance an architectural critique of post-industrial spaces of production and immaterial labour through the contemporary corporate campus of Silicon Valley.
Along with Brendon Carlin, Maria is co-founder of the AA Visiting School Tropicality, a nomadic research studio that for the past four years has studied domesticity through film, drawing and writing.
She is also a Tutor in the School of Architecture at the RCA, where she supports Steve Salembier and Paul Shepheard in the Architectural Design Studio ADS0.
- Diploma in Architecture, Universidad de Los Andes, Merida, Venezuela, 2009
- Houses for Work, AAXX, Architectural Association, 2017; Gendered Typologies: The Possibility of a Feminist Approach to Architectural Type, AHRA, KTH, 2016
- Gendered Typologies: The Possibility of a Feminist Approach to Architectural Type, AHRA, KTH, 2016