In Praise of Cybernetics: Office Landscaping and the (Self-)Conditioning of Workers

  • Andreas Rumpfhuber --

Abstract

In the late 1950s the Quickborner Team developed a cybernetics-inspired design methodology for organisations, focusing on information flow, with the aim to fully automate administrative labour and to make the organisation constantly adaptable to unpredictable future challenges. Participant analysis allowed them to quantify communication in an organisation and with that envision a new kind of office space. The so-called Bürolandschaft (office landscape), seemingly-endless, chaotic looking interiors, would allow for efficient information flow. One significant aspect of Bürolandschaft design is the non-hierarchic organisation of workers in teams that were bound to quantified decision-making processes, yet addressed as experts, scientists and creatives, ultimately conditioning them to participate voluntarily in reaching the organisation’s goal without questioning 

References

Alsleben, Kurd. ‘Bürolandschaft und ihre subjektiven Räume’ in: Kommunikation 11 (1965): 77.
‘Beschreibung der Bürolandschaft des Hauses Bertelsmann in der Firma Kommissionshaus Buch und Ton’, no further information available in the Quickborner Team archives.
Fezer, Jesko. ‘Politik-Kybernetik, Arch+, die Studenten und die IG Bau Steine Erden zwischen 1967 und 1977’, ARCH+ 186/187 (2008): 95–105.
Nieuwenhuys, Constant. ‘The City of the Future: Betty van Garrel and Rem Koolhaas Talk with Constant about New Babylon’, in Exit Utopia: Architectural Provocations 1956–76, ed. Martin van Schaik, Otakar Mácel. Munich, Berlin, London, New York: Prestel, 2005, 10–12.
Schnelle, Eberhard. ‘Organisationskybernetik’, in Kommunikation 1 (September 1965): 19. Verlag Schnelle, Quickborn, pp. 1–26.
Tügel, Peter W. ‘Portrait 3: Quickborner Team, Gesellschaft für Planung und Organisation mbH’, in Arch+ 2 (April 1968): pp. 9–13.
Ziegler, Merle. Kybernetisch regieren. Architektur des Bonner Bundeskanzleramtes 1969–1976. Droste Verlag: Düsseldorf, 2016, 51–56.

Author Biography

Andreas Rumpfhuber, --

Andreas Rumpfhuber is an architect and theoretician, focusing on new forms of labour and housing. He is the author and editor of books like Architektur immaterieller Arbeit (2013), The Design of Scarcity (2014), Modelling Vienna: Real Fictions of Social Housing (2015), Wunschmaschine Wohnanlage (2016), and Into the Great Wide Open (2017). He holds guest-professorships, amongst others at the State Academy of Fine Arts, Stuttgart, Muthesius Art Academy, Kiel, and University of Technology, Vienna.  Between 2009 and 2015 he was able to acquire an extensive archive about office landscaping, including around two thousand original slides, all publications and many internal papers of the Quickborner Team. He is currently preparing a bigger publication on office landscaping.

How to Cite
RUMPFHUBER, Andreas. In Praise of Cybernetics. FOOTPRINT, [S.l.], v. 13, n. 2, p. 85-100, dec. 2019. ISSN 1875-1490. Available at: <https://journals.open.tudelft.nl/footprint/article/view/3414>. Date accessed: 28 jan. 2020. doi: https://doi.org/10.7480/footprint.13.2.3414.
Published
2019-12-12