LA Reoccupation Device
“The fate of many is determined by the actions of the privileged few - the proletariat has no control over this fate.”
“Immigrants and migrants have no voice, no status, no power.”
In an increasingly unstable economic, social, and political world, these statements begin to be challenged. No longer will the proletariat accept their customary role of the oppressed. The established mantle of the bourgeoisie is slipping and an increasing comprehension of the potential implications of this shift in power is spreading throughout the urbanized world. In a quasi-Marxist reality, a worker-led revolution is brewing.
The thesis project examines a hypothetical milieu, inspired by the plight of the National Movement of Worker-Reclaimed Factories in Argentina; established in response to the nations bankruptcy. In an increasingly difficult economic environment, businesses are failing and unemployment is rife. The propensity towards excess during the economic boom at the turn of the Millennium has weakened many businesses beyond reprieve, and factories and workplaces lie abandoned throughout the United States. Los Angeles is particularly affected, due to its high volume of low-income manufacturing industries - many of which employ high numbers of immigrant and migrant workers. Workers of an abandoned garment factory in the Downtown area of the city assemble and reoccupy the building, establishing a worker-run cooperative in an attempt to restart production and secure their future. A sense of empowerment manifests throughout the local residents and the dream of creating a completely self-sustaining community is born.
Project Type: Academic
Programme: Social / Political
Size: 1000+ sqm
Location: Los Angeles, California, USA
Year: June 2009
The architectural proposal is that of a ‘reoccupation device’, intended to be deployed to abandoned workplaces to aid workers with the reoccupation process. The device is an epiphytic intervention, structured around a versatile, programmable, ephemeral skin. The
skin expands, contracts, adapts, and is modified in reaction to the changing needs, threats, and desires of the cooperative in question. When the reoccupation is successful and expropriation is achieved, the device evolves and expands beyond the confines of the workplace into the wider community. It traverses the urban fabric in the direction of other homogeneous devices, forming community-orientated interventions en route. The macro intention of the project is the formation of a network of devices, all linking numerous prosperous and unique self-sustaining communities.
Is a return to the self-sustaining small communities of past societies a solution for our future, and can architecture play a fundamental role in the successful implementation of this metamorphosis? Only time will tell ....