How will we work is a question that embodies feelings of wonder and fascination, but also fear and anxiety, towards one of the most significant societal shifts currently taking place. What it means to work and to be a worker is being questioned by innovations in automation and Artificial Intelligence (AI), platforms and deregulation, or the disappearance of industries which are not aligned with the goals of the ecological transition.  

There are important implications for the spatial design disciplines (architecture, urban design, landscape architecture) of asking this question. These remain little explored and are far reaching: What types of buildings do new forms of human and non-human work need, and what type of infrastructure and land use patterns are stimulated by the transformation of work are two fundamental questions for architecture and urbanism. More importantly, if work as we know it will forever change, how can designers facilitate the emergence of new economies and spaces for meaningful work?

In the context of pressing challenges as inequality, climate crisis and scarcity, thinking architecture and urbanism through the lens of work gains significance. Envisioning how we would like to work becomes a powerful, transversal theme to support society’s drive towards more just, inclusive, circular, climate adaptive and healthy cities. Grounding new circular urban economies, a revamped food production system, or revolutionary economies of green care demand solutions which are yet to be designed. To adequately reach the faculty’s ambition of questioning how spatial design disciplines can contribute to solving the grand challenges of our time, we need to start a conversation about the design of work.

My work aims to move that conversation forward. I do so by means of three interconnected trajectories : [1] on past futures of industrial, corporate and resource extraction urbanism, with a focus on their interplay with technology and management; [2] on the future of work today, tracing innovations in (smart) technologies and how these lead to transformations in contemporary landscapes, particularly around agriculture and farming; and [3] on reimagining work, exploring the role of urban design in enabling new urban economies, innovation ecosystems, and inclusive forms of work.

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