The Technocrat Retrofit of London

By Keiichi Matsuda, first year Architecture Masters project.

An architecture fiction project, created in response to the economic collapse of 2008.

This project is about architectural intervention, but its basis lies in economics. Our current system of economics and politics (as they have converged to a point which is hard to distinguish) is fundamentally unsustainable. It relies on debt and exponential growth, and operates on an abstracted belief system that ignores our finite world resources. Technocracy is a post-capitalist economic system devised and developed in 1920s America by academics and scientists as a solution to the waste and unsustainability of capitalism.

Unlike capitalism (and communism/socialism etc.), it does not concern itself with scarcity, but rather with abundance, with the view that the capacity exists to feed, clothe and shelter everyone in the world. This does not happen with the current system as 'there is no way to sell an abundance'. This has shown itself increasingly as false scarcity is imposed on us in the form of digital rights management, licensing for broadcasters, action against peer-to-peer services etc.

The Technocrat Retrofit of London occurs circa 2070, and marks a return to the community driven sustainable way of living so often romanticised by architects, but with the help of less fashionable technology and top-down systems of government. The stock market has crashed and the pound has moved into hyper-inflation. Banks are deserted. The mayor of London negotiates with a powerless central government to transform the square mile into a contained self-sufficient Technocratic state.

Buildings are retrofitted to create a sustainable self-sufficient community. Aerostats above the city support tethered wind turbines in the polar jet stream, supplying electricity to the Technate. Sunlight is the most scarce resource in the city, so a canopy of hydroponic greenhouses covers the Technate. Many existing buildings are used to house industrial and agricultural processes, located and inter-linked for efficiency and reuse of waste products.