My new status is Occupied^
We are the common architect. We are the 99 percent.
We need to take our profession back from Wall Street.
Occupied^ is a project that aims to document and to suggest design alternatives to ‘Wall Street architecture’, and to generate spatial and visual instruments for this alternative, as part of the anticapitalism protests that are taking place around the world. Occupy Wall Street, Occupy Rothschild Blvd and the other Occupy groups around the world, is the revolt of the middle class against speculative capitalism. Architects, like the middle class in general, have been seriously duped by Wall Street.
Although architects and architecture should have reacted before, and are to blame ourselves, we are feeling the pain. The signature architects may not have suffered, but the average architect has: in our lost jobs; in our low income; in our difficulty to make ends meet; in the lack of possibilities for civic architecture. Wall Street fragmented our profession into pieces now shared by private companies, consultants, and experts who lack the overview and the creativity of making good and livable environments.
Together with our profession the sense of the public got lost; the places for the assembly have been privatized, owned by corporations that want us to consume or to scare us away with surveillance cameras, DNA sprays, and a heightened sense of fear and lack of safety.
These fragments of privately owned spaces are the result of Wall Street. Wall Street cut our professions and our cities into pieces and put them on auction in the financial exchange. Our homes are owned by the banks, our parks by private investors, our Dutch daycares by British companies, and our communal values are almost forgotten.
The street protests brought back the sense of the shared values, the public, and the community. They brought back the confidence to go out to the streets. When the homes are owned by the banks, the street is the alternative. People in sleeping bags or tents felt more safe and at home in the occupied public spaces than ever before.
This is where we are coming from.
This community of other people gives us confidence and a sense of safety.
Occupied^ aims at visualizing the presence of Wall Street and its role in our daily environments; spaces that shape our community; and the relations between individuals, the public, and the government. We can visualize the change.
 Wall Street represents the operation room of speculative capitalism, where ‘real’ things are transformed into financial products and are given a monetary value. By now, the world of Wall Street has taken over the world of Main Street. Value is determined not by its worth for society, but in the speculative world of finance. In this process, wealth has accumulated for the few (the one percent), while the rest have seen their assets – financial, material, labor – become worthless.
Illustrations and diagrams by FAST: Arlene Lee, Laura van Santen, Malkit Shoshan
Design: Irma Boom.
Volume magazine #30