Power House: Hacking the BBC

Resisting the vectoralists’ ongoing commodification of information, this thesis envisions mixed-reality tactics for publics to rebuild the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), the world’s oldest and largest broadcaster. The “vectoralist class,” as defined by media scholar McKenzie Wark, owns the infrastructure for producing and distributing data that belongs to the “hacker class,” or the internet-savvy proletariat. Sociologist Pierre Bourdieu referred to this particular control over the means to construct reality as “symbolic power.” Approaching 2030, the class struggle between the vectoralists and hackers will come to a head as dot-com corporations continue to profit from the masses’ reliance on networked technologies; and increased corporate control over these networks will sponsor constructed realities that circumvent public interests. Conflicts like this are uniquely noticeable in London, a city where the influence of Christianity, the Monarchy, Thatcherism and, more recently, the Attention Economy is experienced through urban form.

If architecture has historically been a conduit for institutional authority, this project redistributes the BBC’s power as a politically independent and publicly supported institution by hijacking the built matter of its headquarters, known as Broadcasting House. After nearly one hundred years, the BBC acquired enough symbolic power for it to represent the nation because of its longstanding commitment to impartiality, which was challenged by politicians like Winston Churchill and their failed attempts at commandeering its platform. Consequently, Broadcasting House became a landmark of British culture. The building has been renovated and extended over time but will need another update if the BBC wants to continue serving the public (hackers), competing with private media companies, and resisting government oversight. Power House combines selective subtraction and surfacing techniques to create a space for mass communication and collaboration, effectively recasting the capitalist city to support common concerns.
Faculty Advisor:
Cyrus Peñarroyo