Completed Theses

Francesco Marullo – Typical Plan: Architecture of Labour and the Space of Production


1. Real abstraction and labor sans phrase. Typical Plan as a machine.
2. Architecture and Revolution. Typical plan as index of generic.
3. Homeostatic bureaucracy. Typical plan as enabling frame.
4. Domestic labour and forms-of-life. Typical plan as pedagogical rhythm.
5. Background. Typical plan as battlefield of living knowledge.
Epilogue. For a generic architecture.

Francesco is a architect and researcher. Since 2006 he collaborated with OMA/AMO Office for Metropolitan Architecture in Rotterdam, the Department of Architecture and Urban Studies at the RomaTre University in Rome, DOGMA Architects in Brussels and The Berlage Center for Advanced Studies in Architecture and Urban Design. At the moment is involved in different experiments, working for Matteo Mannini Architects and teaching at the Technische Universiteit Delft and the Rotterdam Academy of Architecture. He is a founding member of Behemoth Press.

Labour is the conditio sine qua non of the City. It is not possible to elaborate a Project of the City without conceiving the City itself as an expression of production. Architecture always reflects the general conditions of economy through its own objecthood, by means of plans and sections. Any pressure of the Labour force engendered a different mode of production and, consequently, a different configuration of the territory and the urban fabric.

Thus, this research advances a conjecture. Typical Plan is a creation of labour struggle and, only insofar as labour constitutes its real propelling subject, such plan epitomizes the most refined capitalistic response towards the workers’ threat. Therefore, it could be assumed that generic architecture is a product of the working class, being the ‘generic’ not just a ‘default’ status, but rather the ontological condition developed from within the very essence of labour, the innate human engendering faculty.

Adopting the Operaist tactic ‘first the struggle and later the development’, which considers labour struggle as the living ferment of capital, it would be possible to conceive all the Architecture of Production of the advanced capitalism as an attempt to tame the violence of the labour-force, whose destructive character has always forced capital itself to develop towards its ultimate naked essence.

The history of labour movement, written in letters of ‘blood and fire’, is preserved wherever capital’s power deployed its strongest apparatuses of resistance, in its factories, in its machines, in its monuments and ruins, in its apparatuses. The ability of capitalism to absorb, subsume and making productive the annihilating energy of the labour-force, through a ceaseless technological innovation and an efficient management of production, is therefore a consequence of the workers’ threat rather than a premise.

From factories to supermarkets, from directional centers to universities, from offices to museums, the Typical Plan opposes its specific indeterminacy to labour struggle. As ultimate typology of production it embodies the fundamental paradigm through which re-reading the Architecture of advanced capitalism and its radical shift from representation to spatial management, from the orders of episteme to the domain of technique.

Typical Plan is just what it is: a compact technical core plus a minimum amount of supports and an homogeneous enclosure through which smoothing any conflict or contradiction with the least expenditure of effort. As a pure dispositif of Production, the Typical Plan does not really have a history per se but rather a series of material applications and declinations. Hence, the research will attempt to reconstruct a sort of archeology of the Typical plan through an exemplary constellation of architectures, extracted from the history of production and labour struggle, in order to eventually define a Project of the Generic, as a possible collective form of organization for a non-representative democracy.

Posts by Francesco Marullo

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