Diggy hole: Digging the biggest hole in architecture.
Exploring themes of exploitation, freedom and entrenched systems of production in the architecture and the arts. I proposed a work shop to easa to take eighteen talented architects and dig a super large hole for two weeks in the luxury resort of Villars Sur Orllon in a Swiss Alps, a mountain resort for the super rich. The workshop started as a meme proposal as commentary but quickly became real after it gathered support within the organising team.
Digging a hole
The Diggy hole probed discussion around the processes of exploitation in architecture, as constructed situation to act out the processes of architectural production in a two week long digging performance. A commentary on the large architectural office, where workers are frequently overworked and unpaid.
In a post automation economy, where a just under half of all jobs are speculated to be ‘bullshit jobs’ and another half of jobs are projected to become automated by 2050. The diggy hole exposes the new future that is emerging; where the workplace only functions to maintain hierarchies or affirm social or labor relations — and does not exist to satisfy need. In particular, much of the labor system is to focus is on the social reproduction of inequality.
The future is already here in the field of architecture, where a single competition can attract a thousand applications, absorb several years of collective labor, yet we build nothing — as this is just an immense display of power for egotistical politicians who want nothing but spectacle. Creating a scarcity for novelty, despite an abundance of work being performed. Despite this regular expression of power by politicians and developers, there is a desperate shortage of well designed housing and thoughtful civic facilities. The speculation around architecture increases as a market commodity, yet genuinely beneficial architectural production stagnates.
The real within the absurd
The diggy hole indicates a reality where architecture and society moves beyond material production towards social reproduction alone. Our potential to affect change in the physical world becomes less plausible. The image of a pointless hole in an empty wasteland to perpetuate repression becomes a more realistic representation of human life.
Architecture’s root value is arguably as a status symbol. With over 74% of all people in architecture being from a place of privilege.
The hybrid pathway of expensive education, unpaid internship; the nepotistic first job, the low paid job at the superstar firm. Are all structures that help the wealthy beat competition. Because of this architecture is something you pay to do. This means the city we live in is formed by the social reproduction of a single demographic living ideal life culture — those that can afford to intern for free create our architecture, just as those who can afford to volunteer create our public services and go on to influence our politics and so on. For others who aren’t so fortunate, it is closer to digging
In this context studying architecture is not only the purchasing of status, it is the purchased and lived experience of severe hardship — in particular for the privileged. Like a pain fetish, In architecture there are relentless displays of hard work, long working hours, all nighters for seemingly inconsequential reasons. Competition structures waste countless hours of energy, the produce of architecture being paper architecture.
But this opression in the context of immense privilege has a wider economic value as it can not only be used as a talking point validate the oppression others in the future, many of whom will be less privilege, but importantly it leads struggle. And this brings an artificially made heightened sense of friendship and purpose for those involved.
People in architecture bond over suffering, and in this way it serves a valuable social function — as a system which allows affiliations and groups to emerge that wouldn’t otherwise without the shared struggle.
Architecture profession and it’s function in the economy.
Architecture advertises to the outside world that it is about designing buildings. But in reality Architecture is the social reproduction of social relations.
In most instances there is little to no real agenda to produce spaces. A truth represented in the fact that around 98% of housing in the u.k is designed by non architects.
The diggy Hole explores this in a rare and unique luxury setting in the Swiss alps.