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The Limits of Control

Royal College of Art, 2011-12
Nicola Koller, Tom Greenall & Rosy Head

"Every technology produces, provokes, programmes a specific accident."
- Pure War, Paul Virilio

How do we decide which worlds come true and which are discarded; which visions of the future survive and which become extinct?

This year ADS4 explored 'disruptive technologies'* and the extinctions that they lead to. Utilising different working methodologies, including the construction of 'counterfactual histories', we looked back to the turning points in history that have shaped the world we live in today in order to speculate on the emergence and implications of ideas, discoveries and innovations yet to come. By tracing the evolutionary paths of these phenomena and the new behaviours they bring with them, we were able to question the limits of control. 

The site for our speculations was central London, a landscape increasingly under the influence of business, where limited companies now control vast areas of the capital through the Business Improvement District (BID) model. With these BIDs now straddling local authority boundaries, we are beginning to see London's traditional administrative units redrawn in the interests of corporate identity. Within this context we investigated the potential for architects to harness the interferences and diversions created by new technologies in order to challenge the prevailing commercial discourse. 

* A disruptive technology is one that, when introduced, either radically transforms markets, creates wholly new markets, or destroys markets for other technologies.

© Thomas Greenall