Today knowledge and information are bought and sold as commodities, and universities are at the centre of the productive system. The vehicles for this exchange, however, are not simply the various academic departments, but rather the students themselves – subjects controlled through the manipulation of their desires, feelings, affections and perspectives. Unlike material production (for example, manufacturing), which results in objects that can be detached from the subject who produced them, it is not possible for knowledge production to detach from the commodity of life itself. Bios and experience become both means and product. Rather than absorbing specific forms of knowledge, university students learn how to live, how to network and how to compete. In this way the university becomes an Edufactory empowered with the mass production not of objects, but of subjects ready to adapt to flexible conditions of work based on social interaction.
‘Edufactory Docklands’, a combination of housing, learning spaces and infrastructure, addresses the issue of how architecture can give representation to the collective subjectivity defined by the university of today. This subjectivity is based on a way of life that is up-rooted, mobile and which relies on constant communication in order to produce new forms of knowledge.
In order to confront this issue, the project exposes the productive potential of the university by linking it with the economic capacity of the airport. In doing so a dialectic is established between the increasing intensity of social interaction in today’s global cities, and the generic architecture which is required to support it. Today the airport is integral to the project of the university, not only because it has become one of the most strategic pieces of a cities infrastructure, but also because it can be understood as paradigmatic of this existential condition. Located amongst the post industrial landscape of London’s Docklands this new productive paradigm is reinforced by the impossibility of establishing a conventional sense of place.