A Worker's Lunch Box is a research project and film installation exploring the role of the urban factory worker and the production of things. The installation is part of an on-going project by curator and urbanist Nina Rappaport, author of Vertical Urban Factory (Actar 2016).
The Architecture Department at PennDesign is screening the films, followed by a panel discussion moderated by PennDesign’s Daniel Barber, Assistant Professor Architecture. Panelists include Nina Rappaport; Aaron Levy; executived director and chief curator at Slought; and designer Andrew Dahlgren.
From the Slought website:
“The film project begins in Philadelphia, a city once known as the ‘Workshop of the World.’ This provides an indelible backdrop for understanding the significance of factory life and factory workers during a period of manufacturing decline, while also showing a potential for its increase. The installation features a series of 18 filmed interviews with factory workers exploring the importance of work, the worker's role in the factory, the value of work to the worker, and the meaning of urban production. By focusing attention on the individual factory employee, these personal narratives demonstrate first hand the importance of urban production spaces and their social significance.
Today, many factories are leaving urban centers for exurban sites or other lands, and legacy manufacturers are dwindling. Travelers on the North East corridor, however, may not realize that many rundown-looking factories in Northeast Philadelphia are in fact full of life, thriving inside with workaday life. Traditional factories can be reinvigorated in cities because of their commitment to particular places and their workers. New advanced manufacturing has also become cleaner, smaller, and safer, resulting in the potential for new kinds of manufacturing in cities making them more resilient economically. This commitment to manufacturing is particularly highlighted in the city of Philadelphia, where there are at least 1000 legacy factories, innovative incubators such as NextFab, and a manufacturing workforce (as of 2016) of around 20,700.
A Worker's Lunch Box builds upon over 10 years of research as well as the book and exhibition Vertical Urban Factory (2011-), which focuses on the architecture and urbanism of the factory and the importance of returning manufacturing to cities in a new sustainable paradigm.”