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  • Writer's pictureNusrat Jahan Mim

Taming Amazon

Updated: Jan 12, 2023

This was an architectural experimentation of looking at the future of Amazon's logistics center as an urban interface right at the moment when Amazon initiated to buy the Whole Foods Market and planned to step in the online grocery services.

We are observing that to keep pace with the demands of “quick online deliveries”, physical spaces of existing logistics centers are being re-designed. The new designs and technical advancements are ensuring more speed by reducing probable slowness in the entire system. Logistics centers are being fully automated: less human, more robots, more efficiency. Hence, when this super-fast automated version of logistic center merges with the “super slow” grocery stores, and the commercial objective is to reduce the allocated time per individual order placed online, we are definitely going to lose “slow human moments” in the overall system.

Through our project we are envisioning a future, where human moments will not be replaced by the fastness of machines, rather human-machine interaction will start to develop a new set of vocabularies to perceive space, to visualize architecture. As the basis of our project we are critically positioning fast automated motions of a logistical urban interface against the "slow" human movements, to discover the moments of conflicts, and to explore the potential that slowness can engender.

We have designed a platform, where fast automated movements (Platform Bots) of distribution center meet slow activities of an informal market (IM Pods), get interrupted, and ultimately slow down. Thus, the whole system of online delivery of the logistic center slows down. The level of slowing down will be determined by the density of “human” activity in the informal market on the platform. The more crowd appears in the market the more online delivery process slows down. That means whatever is happening in physical world will start to impact the digital world associated with this space directly. We have two different types of structures with two different formal expression- towers, for storage and other activities of distribution center, and IM pods for informal market activities. While the towers represent the extremely organized, programmed, rigid, and regular activity pattern of the distribution center, the IM pods, with their playful form and irregular pattern of movement (according to “human” functional necessity) create a sense of conflict in the spatial domain of the platform. The platform embraces these two completely opposite set of functionalities and responds toward their necessities by providing infrastructural support. Grids of QR bar codes for the robots (P-Bots), tracks of pods, moveable-adjustable seating etc. ensure the programmatic involvement of the platform in the whole system. Our objective was not to design a 100% efficient distribution center. Rather we followed a critical design approach to develop a system, where fast and slow movements can co-exist and directly impact each other in a spatio-temporal framework. This project stands right at that point where real world and the digital world start to get intertwined.

Co-author- Arman Salemi

Studio Critic: Nicole Macintosh, Daniele Profeta



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