The Slab Stack Diagram

One century ago, Le Corbusier produced the Maison Dom-Ino diagram…

This simple set of drawings became the paradigm of the industrial production of human inhabitation, until recently. This pivotal drawing represented the hope of conciliating the humanist use-value of architecture with its market value, as if the functional utility of architecture to humans and the price of a building could have some direct relation in some sense or scale. In the period between the production of that drawing and now, capitalism has developed in such a way that the humanistic value of use became completely unrelated to its capitalist market value. In the most expensive cities in the world, real state prices have been rising because architecture became the safest investment of money, instead of production of human habitation. This is demonstrated by the examples of ‘zombie cities’ in China, where residential towers are fully sold to corporations or individuals who are only interested in architecture as a vessel to store capital.

In this scenario, the Maison Dom-Ino (top diagram) diagram became extremely inefficient. The almost 3-meter floor-to-floor ceiling height, a precursor for potential human use, is an inefficient use of building’s volume. Real-estate prices in the market are always related to floor area, measured in square meters, while the human value of use is defined in spatial and volumetric terms, measured in cubic meters.

The revised ‘stack of slabs’ diagram optimizes architecture for its actual occupant, which is capital investment. The use-value of the stacked slab building, with floor heights ranging from a minimum of 2mm, is liberated from mere human use – its inhabitants can be AI-powered autonomous agents training their performance on architectural floorplans, dark rooms for robotic manufacturing, or even empty slabs serving as containers for the abstract practice of speculative finance.