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ADS2: Black Horizons – Worlding within the Ruins of Racial Capitalism

Andreea Iliescu

Andreea Iliescu is a MA Architecture graduate from the Royal College of Art. Her interests lie at the bridge between art, spatial practice and digital technologies. She investigates architecture through an interdisciplinary lens and converges interests in film, animation and alternative worldbuilding.

Andreea completed an Erasmus exchange at ETSAMadrid while pursuing her undergraduate degree at Cardiff University. She undertook a wide range of volunteering and work experiences, from research into emotional design to residential projects as a Part 1 Architectural Assistant at Martin Edwards Architects. Most notably, she volunteered for AIESEC Brazil, Open City London and was hired by one of the teams at the Terraforming Project at Strelka Institute. In practice, she discovered a newfound passion for museum design and curation and worked for Europe’s leading exhibition design company, Event Communications.

At the RCA, Andreea has been exploring the potential of alternative worldbuilding, negotiating the boundaries between the physical and the digital realms. Her first year project, completed under the tutelage of ADS8: Data Matter(s) - The Gaming Edition, investigated questions of identity and displacement of the Roma community in Romania. Andreea continued expanding on notions of othering in her second year with ADS2 with her thesis "Soundscapes of Resistance". The project utilises learnings from rave culture and applies them into the Amazon Fulfillment Centre to disrupt the surveillance in the space.

Andreea's practice is inherently collaborative - she developed a methodology of collecting first hand research through interviews and testimonies, as well as working across fields and disciplines, most notably with content designers and sound engineers.

How can the architectural analysis of the warehouse typology inform an effective disruptive strategy to allow for the conditions of Amazon workers to unionize?

What spatial consequences does the historical relationship between post-industrial landscapes and underground rave culture have on Amazon workers' union?

"Soundscapes of resistance" proposes to work at the intersection between underground rave culture and post-industrial landscapes. The ruin of racial capitalism I have studied this year is the Amazon phenomenon – a complex networked architecture that is not confined to a specific site, but a global network of logistics, distribution and cycles of consumption.

The spatial proposition focuses on one moment within this global network - the typology of the warehouse, most notably the Amazon Fulfillment Centre. Point of departure for the project were the events taking place in one Amazon warehouse in Staten Island (New York) in April 2022, when the first Amazon workers union was achieved since the company’s inception. However, this success was short-lived – for a few weeks later, in another warehouse in Phoenix, Arizona workers did not manage to unionize, as more than 50% of them voted against forming a union.

What is happening in these warehouses is an urgent pressing question. Amazon acts as an efficient model in the planning, controlling and policing of these spaces, which effectively prevents workers from unionizing. Subverting the balance of distribution of power in these spaces would allow the workers to be in a position to negotiate for the bettering of the working conditions.

As an architect, I have conducted a study of how the Amazon warehouse typology is designed and works. The architecture of the warehouse is not comprised only of the walls, floor and roof of the building itself; but rather, it is a complex ecology of systems of surveillance that has to do with very efficiently designed patterns of use – human and non-human actors, that generate an ultra efficient system for the functioning of this global network.

The warehouse typology is also historically connected to another kind of event: underground raves, which have their origin in 1980s Detroit. Originally, these events were a means to revert power relations by engaging people in complex operations of temporarily altering unlicensed spaces without authorities finding out. Building on the genealogical relationship between underground rave culture, post-industrial landscapes and global economies, I propose to use the following 3 key learnings from rave culture and apply them in the Amazon warehouse to disrupt the logic of the space:

1) Producing temporary space (for a specific time and duration).

2) Opacity at different levels - secrecy and concealment by distributing the sensible (what is seen or not seen, what is heard and not heard etc).

3) Sound as a driving force in defining how space works and is produced.

The spatial proposition is a choreography of 5 micro-strategies of resistance that are presented and distributed through a Manual of Actions for a Global Amazon strike – a precise set of architectural and spatial instructions aimed at undoing the logic of the warehouse. Drawing on Henri Lefebvre’s concept of “spatial production” – I am thus distributing the architectural agency to the workers in order to enable them to produce space differently.

Soundscapes of Resistance - A working dayExisting actors in the space
Exploded axonometric of Amazon Fulfilment Centre
Exploded Axonometric of Proposed Strategies
Worker in forklift
Amazon worker at Picking and Packing station
Motorola Handset - Surveillance Technology
Robotic arm by conveyor belt

The following documents illustrate a working day at the Amazon Fulfilment Centre. The animated film identifies the existing actors in the space - human and non-human agents, workers and machines in the rhythm of production.


Animation, Image Production, Film Stills


The Production of SpaceA form of absenteeism - disrupting the logic of KIVA robot surveilance
Workers displacing safety cones
KIVA Stowing Robots being interrupted
Intervening within the rhythm of the working day
Placing safety cones to interrupt surveillance

The idea of producing temporary space is at the forefront of the following strategy, where workers take over by displacing existing objects to disrupt the surveillance technology in the Amazon warehouse.


Animation, Image production, Film Stills


Hacking the Motorola Wristband
Reverting power relationsThe wristband allows workers to track line managers and surveillance robots in real-time in the warehouse.
Real-time trackingThe surveiller becomes the surveillanced.
A secret chat for Amazon workersThe wristband chat allows workers across different Fulfilment Centres to discuss planning the strike.
Shifting order of products on shelves
Amazon workers disrupting the ultra-efficiency of the Smart Warehouse
Changing position of products on shelves
A form of collective strike
Amazon products on shelves

Historically, underground raves were a means to revert power relations by engaging people in complex operations of finding secret locations and temporarily altering spaces without authorities finding out. The idea of opacity and concealment becomes central to the following spatial strategies, since Amazon warehouses are not autonomous, but function hierarchically.


Animation, Image Production, Film Stills


Reconfigured seating spaceThe reconfigured rack acts as a soundproof booth to allow workers to have secret conversations about planning the strike.
Instructions on setting up the reconfigured seating spaceExtracts from the Manual of Actions
A question of concealment
Amazon Scout Delivery Robots forming a barricadeThis spatial strategy allows the proposal to have a life outside one particular Amazon Fulfilment Centre. The robots are activated by a voice recognition software, that is hacked to pronounce keywords alluding to a union. Most notably, these are "Strike", "Living wage", "Line manager".
Alexa Voice Recognition System in Amazon Fulfillment CentreThe project proposes to hack Alexa through Echo Reverse Speech to enable the Amazon Scout Robots to block the warehouse doors when products are out for delivery
Roll up doors opening for products to be out for delivery
Amazon Scout Delivery Robots
Barricade at the door

Sound is the driving force defining the spatial experience in rave. Using the voice recognition system in place to revert and turn it against its master, the delivery of goods and services is temporarily stopped. The soundproof booth allows workers to meet secretly to discuss the strike.


Animation, Image Production, Film Stills


Soundscapes of ResistanceFor an optimal sound experience, please wear headphones when playing this piece Soundscape in collaboration with Daniel Brojboiu

The final output is an animation film illustrating the five micro-strategies taking place in the Amazon Fulfillment Centre. It acts as an animated manual, where the instructions are carried out by the workers in order to achieve a position to negotiate with the company for the bettering of the working conditions.


Animation, Film, Moving Image


A Manual of Actions for a Global Amazon StrikeThe Manual contains specific instructions on how to perform the five micro-strategies to set up the strike in the Amazon Fulfillment Centre. Foregrounding Henri Lefebvre's concept of "Spatial Production", I am distributing the architectural agency on to the workers.

The Manual allows for the effective planning and delivery of a 21st century Amazon Strike that is networked across multiple warehouses. The operation is planned to take place over a period of two weeks, which allows workers to be in the position to negotiate with the company for the bettering of the working conditions.


Booklet, Architectural study, Spatial Instructions
The history of the World through Electronic MusicNetwork diagram inspired by Jeremy Deller's "The history of the World" piece and "Everybody in the Place: An Incomplete History of Britain 1984-1992"

Building on the genealogical relationship between underground rave culture, post-industrial landscapes and global economies, the project takes three key learnings from rave culture (temporary space, opacity and sound) and applies them to disrupt the logic of the warehouse.