Infinite But Tiny
Towards a Hybrid Architecture of Dwelling
In the midst of a new Covid-19 variant—Omega—in winter 2021, the recently rebranded tech giant Meta announced the company’s vision for the metaverse: a ‘beyond universe’ of constant connection. Only a few days later, the Swedish furniture giant IKEA shared its latest version of the project Tiny Homes: an extremely condensed and cheap micro-apartment in Tokyo's district of Shinjuku. This paper scrutinises these two events and discusses the progressive upscaling of the digital dwelling and the parallel downsizing of the physical one. It argues that beyond a deadly epidemic, Covid-19 managed to upend, overnight, not only the traditional living and working practices, but also the spaces that both determine and are determined by them. It canonised a flexible life by envisioning a new architecture of hybrid dwelling where people could shift in real-time from their tiny physical spaces into an infinite digital one. Yet, this opportunity granted by the immersive, allegedly inclusive and democratic new virtual realm hides a strangely familiar set of relations. It facilitates the establishment of a new and broader economy of continuous worldwide accumulation in which constant connectedness, creation and production construct a highly ephemeral and economised hybrid space that redefines the traditional understanding of dwelling.
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