Bespoke Urban Factory
A change in consumer values has resulted in the traditional factory becoming outdated and out of touch. The ever-changing rapid and exponential development in high-tech manufacturing technologies is enabling humankind to realise products and efficiencies never conceived of until recently. Mass production is a thing of the past. People want options – bespoke products and services with the ease and precision of a well-articulated assembly line. The consumer wants to understand the process, production practises and effects of the choices they make. Since the emergence of the city itself, the public marketplace has been a critical node for urban vitality and liveliness – an assemblage of skilled creative specialists liaising directly with the consumer – where the designer is the maker and the store is the workshop. With the evolution of mass production, this once unified marketplace typology has fragmented and dispersed to where manufacturing no longer lies within the consumer’s grasp. A rich historic urban architecture has been supplanted by a distant scattering of industrial warehouses and faceless high street facades. The emergence of innovative new methods of designing and making has presented an opportunity to once again close the gap between production and the consumer interface. Imagine a new architectural typology – an innovative urban marketplace that bridges the current disparity between production, consumerism and public space. It looks to explore the way in which architecture conveys emerging innovative technologies; the way manufacturing is displayed and perceived; and the relationships it has with those who engage with it. Using a local catalyst site, the research puts forward a solution as a socially and contextually relevant node within the city of Wellington, New Zealand. Architectural ideas are iteratively tested alongside a set of typological strategies – each informing the other. Throughout this process, the research seeks to understand and stitch together the many complex conditions in which to provide an inviting, engaging, public consumer destination. This is a high-tech marketplace of sorts – a new architecture for a new era of industry.