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The Factory of Precarity.
Generic Architecture, Freelance Labour and the Art of Dwelling

Published in Into The Great Wide Open, edited by Andreas Rumpfhuber, with contributions by Andreas Rumpfhuber, Francesco Marullo, Maria Giudici, Jon Goodbun, Elke Krasny, Matthias Moroder, Dubravka Sekulic, Christian Teckert, __ [Blankspace]. Publisher: dpr-barcelona, 2017: 102-121. More info here

   is the desert of the world
   returned to jungle

   Franco Berardi, Heroes [1]

In his 1918 lecture titled “Science as a Vocation”, Max Weber defined prekär as the condition of the young German scholars wishing to undertake an academic career.[2] Precariousness was considered a normal feature of the academic curriculum, coinciding with the period of preparation necessary to obtain tenure: a sort of traineeship limbo prior to the stability of professorship.

This status of uncertainty constituted for Weber a positive characteristic of the German university system. If on one side it condemned researchers to unpaid workloads for short-term contracts, on the other it ensured a continuous turnover of the educational apparatus and dynamism in research, avoiding the canonisation of knowledge into reproducible techniques.

Almost a century after Weber’s lecture, with the progressive collapse of welfare systems, the privatisation of public services, the imposition of regimes of austerity, and the replacement of political agonism with financial regulations, it seems that what he defined as a ‘transitional phase’ has become the permanent and ubiquitous form of employment, diffused not only within academies but across most other fields of production.

From the 1970s to the endless crisis of the 2000s, the drastic capitalist restructuring of the modes of production gradually dismantled any traditional form of salaried work, de-regulating and loosening the employment system through a whole new spectrum of temporary contractual relations, ranging from seasonal jobs to unpaid internships and project-based commissions, from on-demand mechanical Turks to zero-hour contracts, from undocumented and illegal agreements to voucher checks.

Today, precarity has become an existential condition that traverses not just the labour market but the entirety of social relations, instilling fragmentation and flexibility, competition and insecurity, angst and entrepreneurship into personal bonds and behaviours, affects, and psychological attitudes. When life as such is entirely subsumed to the dominion of production, the precarity of the labour market inevitably resonates with the ontological precariousness of any form of living.[3] And yet, despite its pervasiveness, precarity is still generally accounted as the exception to the regularity of stable employment, and often nostalgically opposed to the yearned category of the permanent job and its welfare guarantees.

However, once considered within the broader historical development of production relations, precarity seems to be the norm of capitalist accumulation rather than its exception. Instead, exceptional was the stability of the combination of Keynesian and Fordism, which occurred within the temporary convergence of combative unionism and political labour movements, a large demand for employment, high rates of occupation, and a solid intervention of the State. [4]

As Franco Berardi reminds us, it is precisely when the capitalist exploitation reaches the most intimate regions of human personality — penetrating the very ‘soul’ of the workers — that new forms of organisation and opposition arise, transforming uncertainty into a common battlefield for developing affinities among disparate needs and constructing alliances across distant movements, as witnessed by the extensive waves of protests and debates that, since 2001, have been crossing the old continent. What follows is a series of notes that delineate another trajectory around the idea of precarity, assuming it as the constituent character of the human being, influencing the way we frame thoughts, actions, and spaces or, in short, the way we dwell in this world.

Disentangled from any specific figure or social role, precarity is retraceable in any form of labour — from workers to housewives, from IT technicians to artists, from janitors to scholars, from seafarers to freelancers, from McDonald’s’ staff to Uber drivers. Precariousness could be thus considered a truly ontological feature of the human species that the current socio-economic situation has dramatically brought to the foreground.

Whereas other animals are unconsciously bound to instincts and specific milieus, humans are biologically precarious. Devoid of a specific environment, they are forced to constantly construct their own nature, reducing the worldly infiniteness through cognitive frames and spaces, practices and rituals, institutions and disciplines, codes and behaviours or, in one word, through what Arnold Gehlen defined as ‘culture’.[5] Culture is a product of the human defective existence: it is what compensates the lack of an environment (Umwelt) and relieves us of a life within the great wide open of a world (Welt).

The capacity to project and overcome their natural precariousness is what truly characterises the human potential — or what Marx broadly called labour-power — the generic predisposition to produce, the “aggregate of mental and physical capabilities existing in the living personality and the body of a human being.”[6]

Labour power exists in the body of the workers only as potential, as a capacity that develops as per their material circumstances. Any attempt to sublimate such an undefined status is a labour effort and an act of knowledge by which human beings become aware of themselves. What humans are is never a predetermined point of departure but always the result of a process of individuation, continuous use and negotiation of the self with a context.[7]

Arguably, the long history of capitalism could be summarised as the attempt to modulate different degrees of precariousness in order to consolidate knowledge and human potential within systems of measurement and ultimately exploit them as commodities. In its early stages of evolution, capitalism ordered the world through closed forms of production, to minimise the natural indeterminacy of the labour force and maximise profit. By contrast, within neoliberal capitalism, this process has been reversed. The present forms of production exacerbate precarity rather than repressing it, elevating the indeterminacy of human nature as its highest source of profit. After centuries of enclosures and environmental niches to alleviate the disorientation and the possible exploitation of the unknown, the world is again turned into a jungle, “no longer selectively filtered through a system of cultural habits, show[ing] itself as an amorphous and enigmatic context”.[8] Neoliberalism exposes human beings to the wilderness of a whole artificial world, encouraging innovative ways of thinking, communicating, making use of the self and dwelling within uncertainty, providing endless possibilities for the labour-power to flourish uncontaminated.

Nevertheless, unlike raw materials that can be processed and assembled mechanically, a potential is alive and common: it exceeds any single individual, spatial, or temporal confinement. In this sense, the more such a new ‘factory of precarity’ extends across society, the more it physically denies itself, minimising its architecture of exploitation to avoid inhibiting or obstructing the proliferation of the living potential. Carlo Vercellone explained this apparent paradox as “the becoming- rent of profit” — that is, the emergence of an economic system in which the laws of profit cease to compartmentalise spaces and begin to speculate across regimes of rent, providing fields wherein exchanges, relations, and forms of life can freely arise within the conditioned extensions of material and immaterial property.

Rent is a passive form of revenue obtained through ownership and control of land, square metres and patents, copyrights, and other properties. In simple terms, the rentier does not produce anything but simply owns something that exploits living knowledge. While a salary corresponds to an executed performance, profit to the entrepreneurial capacity, then rent only compensates the privilege of ownership.

Considering the three main forms of income — salary, profit, and rent — the last is the only one for which a specific activity or social interest is not required. If once the capitalist had an active role within the process of industrial production — providing the means of cooperation, arranging the labour force, and ordering the manufacturing layout — within the ever-expanding field of cognitive labour, the capitalist is expelled to a more external role, exerting only indirect control and modulation overproduction through tactics of rent.[9] Moreover, rent is not only material. Its tentacles have evaporated into multiple abstract forms within the current knowledge economy. The purpose of credits, copyrights, patents, immaterial properties, nondisclosure agreements, and so forth, is to capture and exploit the value that has been collectively produced by the endless concatenations of the general intellect.[10]

Rent demands an architecture of emptiness. Finally liberated from the impediments of machinery, roofs, and partitions, and developed as a pure infrastructure for connections and exchanges, architecture becomes generic, not just for its lack of qualities but because it puts to work the generic potential of the human species: language, dexterity, creativity, affectivity, and the unforeseeable industriousness of living.[11] The formal evolution of the spaces of production — from offices to universities, from factories to housing, from retail to entertainment and fulfilment centres — confirms such an entropic tendency towards an architecture conceived as a serene background, one which flaunts people’s physical and mental capacities, which dissolves the specificity of the working space into open stages for action. The more labour-power is exploited in its generic form, the more the architecture of production is forced towards its barest form of possibility, a ‘typical-plan’: a simple, open, flexible, reproducible layout to make room and parasite any human activity.

The purest architectural outcome of a regime of rent is the typical-plan: an apparatus for the multiplication of square metres through the strategical disposition of a technical core, a series of supports and an enclosing envelope. Turning whatever it contains into commensurable and exchangeable quantities, the typical-plan metabolises the wilderness of the ‘great wide open’ into a commodity. Radically opposite forces can thus coexist and mutually stimulate each other across its surface; any equivalence becomes possible, any juxtaposition becomes profitable, any connection becomes valuable.[12]

Devouring territorial extensions while measuring their differences and contradictions, uniqueness and banality, political agonism and visceral drives on the neutral scale of economic competition and exchange, the typical-plan replicates the same paradoxical ambivalences of the wider parasitic system it feeds. If neoliberalism is a monstrous creature able to hold together totally diverging limbs through the lymph of finance — globalisation and nationalist movements, the circulation of people and the intensification of migratory policies, the proliferation of shared economies and the multiplication of copyrights, the defence of the ‘common’ and the development of private entrepreneurship, and so forth — similarly, the apparatus of the typical-plan capitalises the disordered and multifarious tendencies of the collective production without altering its internal coherence.

Looking at the RTS headquarters in Lausanne by KGDVS, or at Junya Ishigami’s pristine box of the Institute Technology Workshop in Kanazawa, or even at SANAA’s logistic centre for Vitra in Wilhelm am Rhein — just to mention three recent examples — the architecture for production seems to have been reduced to refined empty containers, no longer measured through walls and partitions but via intervals of programmatic densities and rarefactions, as a sort of interiorised jungle punctuated by spatial episodes. Each of the three projects seems to have critically driven the features of the typical-plan to their extreme limits, either by enlarging its technical core to proper buildings supporting an open platform all around, as in the case of KGDVS; or by avoiding the encumbrance of technical rooms altogether, minimising the space of production to a series of supports, as in the case of Ishigami; or by physically multiplying the inner extension and the maximum width of the plan, transforming its envelope into an inhabitable threshold.

Kersten Geers and David van Severen defined their office proposal as “a field of opportunities organised by precise production machinery”: a suspended platform supports four separate volumes including television and radio studios, a media library, and the main administration offices. The main platform instead, flying seven meters above the ground, contains the unobstructed office landscape and the broadcast studios. The transparency of the industrial shed ensures homogeneous light conditions and the “unlimited ways of collaboration between the different redactions, endlessly adaptable to the ever-changing world of media”, as in a renewed ‘bürolandschaft’.[13] Only the sequence of supporting beams, the archipelago of patios, the opaque tower blocks, and the arbitrary weaving perimeter limit the continuous floor for production, suggestive of its endless extension through the global broadcasting networks.

In Ishigami, the similar-but-not-identical parametric variations of the columns and the calculated distribution of the furniture pieces are all that remains to qualify the space as a learning facility. What is truly at stake are people and their movements, their exchanges of information, their communication and cooperation, or in other words, the virtuosity of actions performed in the presence of others, across the enabling emptiness of an empty plan.[14] Walls and partitions have been gradually eliminated, floors and roofs flattened to horizontal slates, outdoor and indoor conditions merged into air-controlled public living rooms of sprawling workstations evoking, in a renewed fashion, the primitive future sketched by Andrea Branzi in the New Athens Charter, wherein savages wander a jungle of IP addresses.[15]

SANAA readapts the compartmentalised order of the factory to the continuous fluxes of information and algorithms, demonstrating logistics as the ruling science of neoliberal economy. While in their the Rolex Learning Centre in Lausanne, SANAA subverted the hierarchies of academic space into a weaving indoor topography, in their project for the Vitra industrial facility they eliminated any rigid subdivision of the plan and replaced the four orthogonal volumes of the old factory with a single round precinct, against the Campus grid and the repetitive layout of the industrial facilities. The approximate circular form, 20.000 square metres wide, proves to facilitate the maximum adaptability to the different rates of production, optimising the sequence of logistical operations while reducing the movements across the floor. Offices and utilities are compressed along the inhabitable perimeter, leaving the internal hall free to be arranged into four functional compounds — storage, assemblage, packaging and dispatching — able to operate either together or independently. The detailed treatment of the curved façade, which abruptly interrupts the standardised rigour of the internal concrete plates with the weaving pattern of the undulated acrylic panels, epitomised the two sides of the design company: mass-produced lines of products with a final fine-tuned customisation.

Despite their programmatic diversity, the three projects propose simple spatial enclosures that internally organise and intensify a portion of the world’s theatre of production. They all manifest an architecture reduced to its primordial sheltering task: an architecture simply aimed at circumscribing intervals of probability for enabling life to freely emerge.[16]

Adopting Bernard Cache’s terms, architecture corresponds to such a process of framing: delimiting a portion of land and making it inhabitable. The frame acts as an index of its content, as a means of expression for the forms of life it encloses. Since “one never knows how the interval that is marked off by the frame will be filled”, the frame is autonomous, albeit it continuously receives qualities from the activities and the pressure occurring within or beyond the interval it outlines. For Cache, the acceleration of the modes of production has progressively changed the articulation of the frame. Through time, the necessity to host any possible living performance smoothed its vertical and horizontal limitations, eliminating the specificity of its constituting elements, combining floors and roofs into oblique promenades, suppressing any internal hierarchy the sake of pure circulation, and finally elevating flexibility to an indisputable rule for design.

To explain the relationship between frames and actions, life and expressions, Cache mentions the work of the Irish painter Francis Bacon. All of Bacon’s paintings can be considered as attempts to isolate a figure from a field of colour by means of different frames: contours, shapes, objects, fields of colours. Most of the figures populating Bacon’s work are bodies at the point of collapse, caught in a spasm or in a convulsion within ordered domestic interiors. These figures in a continuous search of self-definition seem to effectively convey the innate precariousness of the human species: the labour of becoming oneself.

Bacon’s bodies are never painted as balanced arrangements of limbs and organs, but rather as living accumulations of flesh and blood devoid of determined configurations. The process of individuation mentioned earlier finds in Bacon a sort of pictorial expression: the convergence of the generic common traits of the species within a dynamic living being, which is never in an accomplished entity but in constant negotiation with internal and external forces. The body loses its formal qualities to become an animated mass, trapped in an uncertain state between humanity and animality, and whose consistency is emphasised by the presence of frames — cages, islands, carpets, floors, rooms, partitions — allowing the figure to be. The frame provides territory for the body to exist and express itself in space, coinciding with the drive for dwelling, the very first human action upon the word.

Drawing from Bacon’s figures, among the numerous workers who consciously accepted to shape their existence through discontinuous and hybrid employments, perhaps the figure of the self-employed autonomous worker — or freelancer — is exemplary in understanding how precarity has become a form of life. A freelancer is a one-person company, or, in Sergio Bologna’s definition, a worker who assumes all three traditional roles of enterprise within a single person: the capitalist, who provides the investment capital; the manager, who administers and controls the activities of investment; and the salaried employee, who propels the activities of the firm.

The life of a freelancer coincides with their work. Their own accumulated experiences, competencies, and knowledge are all they have; working in the midst of fierce competition, they are solely responsible for the identity and success of their business. Freelance labour does not include health insurance, paid holidays, parental leave, dismissal-notice periods, or redundancy rights. Not unlike a debtor, who shapes her own subjectivity to fulfil a promise to a creditor, the freelancer must complete tasks and adhere to deadlines to maintain the credibility of their work and obtain future commissions.[17]

While salaried workers can collectively bargain their contracts thanks to their space of work and trade unions, freelancers are spatially fragmented and devoid of any professional trade association. At the same time, if the salaried worker is assigned to specific and definite workplaces, the freelancer’s place of work is inseparable from their body. Lacking any prescribed routine or mandatory protocol, the freelancer needs to plan their time, space, tasks, and deadlines while maintaining a solid psychological attitude, productivity habits, training competencies, and social relations.

Freelancers succumb to a whole microphysics of power that incorporates their subjectivities not only into the activity but also into the places in which they engage with other people. The problem for the freelancer is no longer how to plan the world outside — since there is no longer any outside to be planned — but how to design themselves and how to deal with the way the world constantly redesigns them. Freelancing is thus a mode of dwelling. For the one-person enterprise, architecture is interiorised as a bodily and mental practice, delimiting and selecting intervals of possibility for expression.

It could be thus assumed that at the apogee of immaterial capitalism and financial austerity — in the desert of the world returned to jungle — architecture becomes the art of ‘organising possibilities’. When everybody is transformed into an enterprise, curation becomes a way to expose the self, to express and sometimes even to brand a personal dexterity — the obligation to self-design, to use Boris Groys’s term. Not by chance, the curator derives from the Latin word for care. For the freelancer, curating both relates to the management of personal affects and business contacts, intimate affections, and practical abilities. A freelancer might be defined as a curator of potentialities, an architect of the self: selecting, assembling, displaying, and framing actions, administering and distilling life, relating thoughts and objects into theories by affinity or difference.

Following the same mechanisms that rule the world of exhibition value, it would be easy to demonstrate how the architectural profession has recently undertaken a curatorial shift, as architects are no longer just in charge of designing, writing, and building but also concerned with the promotion and critical arrangement of content, the documentation and fundraising of projects, the advancement of research, the publication of outcomes, and the construction of a public image through social networks and public relations.[18]

Not unlike the financial algorithmic order, the architect freelancer must be rated, reviewed, and liked, just as the scholar must be ranked and quoted in order to extend the network of trust and support, clients, and commissions.[19] This somehow justifies not only the flourishing of curatorial studies in a plethora of degrees, specialisations, and workshops — but also the parallel market of ‘archizines’, blogs, debate platforms, publishing houses, essay collections, guest-edited journals, biennials, pop-up exhibitions, independent galleries, and so forth.

If such a cultural extension is indeed beneficial to the advancement and constant reformulation of the architectural knowledge, it is still necessary to question the limits of such a ‘curatorial turn’ within the larger system of neoliberal economy and the precariousness of the profession, whose specific intellectual labour and creative effort have been increasingly weakened, undervalued, and often unpaid.

A revolutionary practice of organisation and recomposition of freelance labour would only begin from the legitimisation of a new juridical frame for their peculiar form of dwelling. Precisely when the generic human faculties of production have been completely parasitised, new strategies of opposition have emerged, deepening the internal contradictions of capitalist accumulation. For example, the recent claim for a guaranteed basic income in many European countries — namely, the remuneration for any living activity, independent from any other form of income — can be considered as a possible radical proposition against the instability of freelance labour.

Universal basic income is a generalised, egalitarian, and non-discriminative redistribution of wealth that precedes any labour relation: it is not a form of assistance but rather a minimal re-appropriation of the capitalist profits accumulated through the gratuitous rent of common prosperity, knowledge, information, and creativity that is collectively produced at a social level.[20] It is generic, granted for life-engendering activity and its immeasurable potential; it is unconditional, given simply for human existence, without any further obligation; it is individual, corresponding to the life of every single person; it is residential, and thus guaranteed to everybody living or residing in a territory without discrimination of race, gender, or nationality.

The establishment of a basic income at an international level would create possibilities for the recomposition, protection, and organisation of the fragmented working class, and of those who have been excluded from the benefits of citizenship, employment, and social welfare. Following what Friedrich Engels prophesied in his Housing Question, and what the feminists first claimed through their defence of domestic labour, the political demand for a basic income aims at laying down the foundations for a whole different jurisprudence, reconfiguring the terms of labour conflict and formulating tutelary measures within and against the generalised precarisation of work.

The problem is not to improve the systems of redistribution in fairer terms, but to dismantle the principles on which it has been constructed: a project to unfold and reverse the logic on which the neoliberal economy has grown and establish a generalised ‘right to an income’.[21]

Although every human being should deserve a portion of the social wealth they contributed to producing, the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights reveals no trace of a right to an income of any sort.[22] Only articles 22 and 25 referred to “social and cultural rights indispensable for his dignity and the free development of his personality” or to “a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age, or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control”, but none of them referred to an income of existence, which at that time fell beyond any proper notion of human right.[23]

The claim for a basic existence income exceeds the traditional forms of labour struggle, transforming the general problem of life-exploitation into a claim for life-valorisation and thus opening a perspective of opposition from the unwaged, temporary, precarious, project-oriented, freelancers, or part-time workers, to any living human being. Moreover, a universal basic income would offer support not only to those who have been compelled or who have chosen a precarious working activity but also to those who have consciously decided not to work at all, legitimising the possibility of abstention from labour.

The right not to work in place of the right to work would legitimise human labour-power in any form, ensuring basic wealth and freedom of dwelling.


1 Franco Berardi ‘Bifo’ (2015) Heroes: Mass Murder and Suicide London: Verso (Futures Series).

2 Max Weber used the term prekär to address the condition of the German Privatdozenten, loaded with heavy unpaid work and assigned to minor courses over long periods before reaching a fixed waged position, in stark contrast to their American counterparts, who were instead handsomely paid and immediately inserted within the University technical apparatuses. See M. Weber (1922). Wissenschaft als Beruf. In Gesammlte Aufsaetze zur Wissenschaftslehre. Tubingen. pp. 524–55. Originally a speech at Munich University, translated and edited by Gerth, H.H. and Mills, C.W. in M. Weber (1946). Essays in Sociology. New York: Oxford University Press: 129–156. See also S. Bologna Vita da Freelance. I lavoratori della conoscenza e il loro futuro. Milan: Feltrinelli, 2011: 54–56, 137; G. Standing,The Precariat: The new dangerous class. London: Bloomsbury Academic, 2011; and the EIPCP’s (European Institute for Progressive Cultural Policies) definition of the term ‘precarity’ at http://transform.

3 In Precarious Life, Judith Butler investigates precariousness as the inherent fragility of the human existence, oscillating between the possibility of inflicting or being subjected to violence. Such an ontological vulnerability, which emerged dramatically after the 911 terroristic attacks, ignited political exploitation of the fears and bad passions towards the “Other”, preparing the ground for the current populist wave spreading across the globe in the last decades. This short essay moves from the encounter of the ontological and ethical dimensions of ‘precariousness’ unveiled by Butler with the unbridled ‘precarity’ of the global labour market, considering them as two crucial combined features of the current neoliberal system, which essentially evolves through crisis and uncertainty.

4 In its earlier glorious stages, even Fordism appears as a system entirely based on flexibility and precarity: a regime of open-shop, wild turnovers, assembly-lines, mass production, complete fragmentation of labour, and hideous working conditions, which was only eventually arrested and regularised thanks to the strenuous opposition of the workers' unions at the end of the 1930s. I am here referring to the thesis of F. Gambino, "A critique of the Fordism of the regulation school" in Common Sense, 19. (June 1996), recently recovered in B. Neilson & N.Rossiter, "Precarity as a political concept, or, Fordism as exception," in Theory, Culture & Society 25, (7–8), 2008: 51–72; and earlier in B. Neilson & N.Rossiter "From precarity to precariousness and back again: Labour, life and unstable networks," in Fibreculture Journal, 5, 2005: 22.

5 See A. Gehlen, Man in the Age of Technology. New York: Columbia University Press, 1980; and P. Virno, Scienze Sociali e “Natura Umana”. Facoltà di linguaggio, invariante biologico e rapporti di produzione. Rubettino Editore: 2003.

6 K. Marx, Capital: A critique of political economy, vol. 1. Chap. 6. New York: Vintage, 1977.

7 Not by chance, Marx uses the term of ‘social individual’ to indicate the twofold nature of man, made both of singular determinations and generic faculties, evolving thanks to a continuous negotiation with the surrounding context. K. Marx, Grundrisse. Foundations of the critique of political economy (1857–58). New York: Vintage Books, 1973; 705.

8 Paolo Virno argued that the post-Fordist society is more a ‘world’ than an ‘environment’, meaning that the biological instability of the human species assumed new empirical evidence in the form of raw capacity to live. P. Virno, "Natural-historical diagrams: The new ‘global movement’ and the biological invariant" in Cosmos and History: The Journal of Natural and Social Philosophy, 5, 1, 2009; but also P. Virno, Mondità: L’idea di ‘mondo’ tra esperienza sensibile e sfera pubblica. Rome: Manifestolibri, 1994

9 “Whereas in the case of industrial capital and its generation of profit, the capitalist plays a role internal to the production process, particularly in designating the means of cooperation and imposing the modes of discipline, in the production of the common the capitalist must remain relatively external. Every intervention of the capitalist in the processes of the production of the common, just as every time the common is made property, reduces productivity. Rent is a mechanism, then, to cope with the conflicts between capital and the common.” See M. Hardt, "The common in communism" In Douzinas, C & Žižek, S. (Eds.). The Idea of Communism. London: Verso, 2010: 131–44.

10 See A. Fumagalli, & S. Mezzadra, "The Crisis of the Law of Value and the Becoming-Rent of Profit: Notes on the systemic crisis of cognitive capitalism" in Crisis in the Global Economy: Financial Markets, Social Struggles, and New Political Scenarios. Cambridge: MIT Press, 2010: 85–110.

11 The same etymology of the term generic — from the Greek noun genos (γενος, “race”, “kind”, or “species”) and the verb gignomai (γιγνομαι, “coming into being”, “generating”, or “producing”) — confirms this interpretation, indicating both the innate potential of the human species, the Marxian Gattungswesen, and its common ability to produce, the human “life-engendering life.” See K. Marx,Economical and Philosophical Manuscripts of 1844. Moscow: Progress, 1959

12 On the relation between the notion of typical-plan, labour, and production, see F. Marullo, "Architecture as such. Notes on generic(ness) and labour-sans-phrase," in N. Lahiji, (Ed.). Architecture Against the Post-Political: Essays in re-claiming the critical project. London: Routledge, 2014: 84–110; and F. Marullo, "Architecture and Revolution: Typical plan as Index of the Generic" in P.V.Aureli (Ed.), The City as a Project, Berlin: RubyPress, 2014:216–260.

13 On the development of the ‘bürolandschaft’ or ‘landscape office’, see A. Rumpfuber, Architektur immaterieller Arbeit. Vienna: Turia+Kant, 2013

14 P. Virno, "Virtuosismo e rivoluzione," in Luogo comune, 4; republished as "Virtuosity and Revolution: The political theory of exodus," in M. Hardt, Radical Thought in Italy: A potential politics. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1996: 189–209.

15 See A. Branzi, Ten Modest Suggestions for a New Athens Charter. Entry for the Venice Biennale 2010; and "For a Post-Environmentalism: Seven suggestions for a new Athens Charter," in M. Mostafavi & G. Doherty (Eds.), Ecological Urbanism. Baden: Lars Muller, 2010: 110–113; but also "The Fluid Metropolis" in A. Branzi, The Complete Works. New York: Rizzoli, 1992: 50–51; and A.Branzi, Weak and Diffuse Modernity: The World of Projects at the beginning of the 21st Century. Milan: Skira, 2006

16 B. Cache, Earth Moves: The Furnishing of Territories. Cambridge, Mass.: The MIT Press, 1995: 26–30.

17 M. Lazzarato, The Making of the Indebted Man. An Essay on the Neoliberal Condition. Los Angeles: Semiotext(e), 2012

18 To use Boris Groys’ words, the self-employed worker or independent curator is “a radically secularized artist. He is an artist because he does everything artists do. But he is an artist who has lost the artist’s aura, who no longer has magical transformative powers at his disposal, who cannot endow objects with artistic status. He doesn’t use objects — art objects included — for art’s sake, but rather abuses them, makes them profane. Yet it is precisely this that makes the figure of the independent curator so attractive and so essential to the art of today”. See "On the Curatorship" in B. Groys, Art Power. Cambridge: MIT Press, 2008: 50–51; and "The obligation of self-design," in B.Groys, Going Public. Berlin: Sternberg, 2010: 21–37.

19 M. Pasquinelli, "The number of the collective beast: value in the age of the algorithmic institutions of ranking and rating," (2014) Retrieved from number-of-the-collective-beast.

20 “For basic income is intended an allocation of a regular and perpetual monetary sum in order to guarantee a dignified life, independently from the effective working performance, that is to say an income independent from wage.” A. Fumagalli, "Ten propositions on basic income" (1998) http://www.bin-italia. org. The BIEN (Basic Income European Network) in praise of a basic income had been already established in 1996, developing in 2004 in the BIEN (Basic Income Earth Network) after the Barcelona Congress in 2004. See BIN Italia (Eds.). Reddito per tutti. Un’utopia concreta nell’era globale, Rome: Manifestolibri.; A. Fumagalli, Reddito di Cittadinanza e Riduzione dell’orario di Lavoro, Derive & Approdi,1996: 9–10, 31–34; AA.VV. La Democrazia del Reddito Universale. Rome: Manifesto Libri, 1997; C. Vercellone, Il reddito social garantito come reddito primario. Quaderni di San Precario, 5, 2013; J.M. Monnier, & C. Vercellone, "Fondements et faisabilité du revenu social garanti" in Multitudes, 27, 1993:73–84; D. Purdy, "Citizenship, basic income, and the state," in New Left Review, 1994: 208, 30–48; A. Gorz, Reclaiming Work: Beyond the Wage-Based Society. Cambridge: Polity Press, 199; P. van Parijs, & Y. Vanderborght, L’Allocation Universelle. Paris: La Découverte, 2005; or, more in general, see the BIEN website

21 Right before the approval of the 1992 Maastricht Treaty, the president of the European Commission Jacques Delors attempted to issue a decree to make the basic income mandatory for all the member states, in the attempt to couple the economic reforms with a new set of minimum social standards, the renown ‘flexicurity’. Although the decree did not pass, through an official Council Recommendation no. 441/92/EEC of June 24th 1992, the European Community officially invited all the member states to formulate and issue the regulation of a basic income.

22 The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on the 10th of December 1948 at the Palais de Chaillot in Paris, available at See also the Universal Declaration of Emerging Human Rights (UDEHR) formulated within the Universal Forum of Cultures Barcelona 2004,

23G. Agamben, "Beyond Human Rights" in Means Without End: Notes on Politics (Theory Out Of Bounds). Minneapolis, London: University of Minnesota Press, 2000:15–26.