Platforms and Dwelling
Topologies of Distributed Domesticity
Under contemporary capitalism and platform urbanism, domesticity distorts to take on new forms. Dwelling is simultaneously decentralised and re-distributed via digital and urban networks. This article argues that these new forms of dwelling necessitate new modes of critique – ones primed for this networked, spatially distributed condition. It proposes to supplement typological and topographical approaches to dwelling with the more ‘anexactly rigorous’ relational cartography offered by the field of topology.
The article begins with an outline of topology, drawing on mathematics, philosophy and geography towards a reconceptualisation of architecture as a boundary-drawing apparatus. The topological condition of modern dwelling is then retraced as a genealogy of interpenetrating edifices, mediating membranes, and prosthetic equipment, which have prefigured present-day formations of domesticity. The second half of the article trains this topological lens onto three architectural tendencies in response to platform urbanism: convivial arrangements of networked living, commoning platforms and thresholds, and counter-protocols of distributed domesticity. Through unpacking these trajectories, the article illustrates the potential that a topological approach engenders via new modes of mapping, critiquing, resisting and subverting the unequally distributed agency and power underlying the circuits of platform urbanism.
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