In the relationship between production activities and the territory, labour has profoundly changed in recent decades. The big transformation of the world economy and the impact of new technology related to digitalization and automation are pervasively changing the relation between work, human capital and spatial capital. This Research Field, more than the others, implies to open ENAC and EPFL to collaboration with disciplines (e.g. economics) that are not present on the Campus. Far from a limitations, HRC considers this an opportunity to enrich its interdisciplinary character.

New types of working spaces are emerging and the relationship between such transformation and the social, environmental and economic transition of our cities is a central issue. At this moment, when there is not yet a model for reference that can help advance the understanding of real phenomena, it becomes essential to go back “in the field” to observe the spaces of production. The Productive Habitats Research Field proposes to work on new hypotheses to understand how the new paradigms of labour, even when inserted into old models of territorialisation, can contribute to human settlements evolution of the City-Territory. New working spaces have become part of a larger urban debate on overcoming the concept of the zoning paradigm of the functionalist city, highlighting how, through space, and space of production in particular, ecological balance and social equity can be addressed.

More specifically, Habitat Research Center is interested to research on the material conditions of a specific type of work – production – and its role in structuring the contemporary and future urban space. This central role of productive space is strictly linked to local economy and social space, as well as to the contemporary, urgent environmental transition, developing a link between energy and resources within the framework of circular economy.

The general guiding hypothesis is that, differently from the modern industrial city, “production does not shape the city anymore”, especially in the European case. However, this does not mean that production does not “design the city”. It remains a strong agent, spatially present and active. The recent pandemic conditions have made the necessity to reconsider places and spaces of work in relation to a more general reflection on “Habitats”.