Author : Zhan Wang

University : Architectural Association

Status : Diploma 6, 2013

Advisors : Kate Davies,  Liam Young

Title : System D Logistics

As an artery of international trade and a crucial part of the global economy, seaborne trade routes are heavily monitored by various technologies that enforce regulations and detect irregular activities. The types of economic activities in question are often described as “under the table” and “off the books” as they are not taxed or included in any Gross National Product. Collectively, this type of trade is the world’s second largest economy, worth $10 trillion a year and employs over half of the world’s population.

Making an inventory of the illicit items that are contained within 1 pixel of google earth’s view of Mexico City, System D Logistics operates as a covert supply chain to smuggle these items to the US coastline. Deploying various tactics along the shipping route to evade detection, the logistics operation reveals the extraordinary lengths the authorities go to in order to tax an industry that employs the majority of the population. The technology of surveillance is not infallible, it is full of gaps, cracks and loopholes and is a infrastructural manifestation of the interests of those who profit from the regulation of goods.


S//A : What’s the most important aspect of this project that we should be aware of?
Zhan Wang_ The spatial consequences of the heavily monitored seaborne trade routes that brings us 90% of everything we consume.

S//A : What other fields outside of architecture interest you?
ZW_ It’s natural for me to be in control of the graphic language for a specific project whereas the soundscape as another important element to engage the audience is something new to me and I’d like to explore more how to actively incorporate it into building a narrative. The animated and scored end-product is a fascinating and growing area of interest.

S//A : Most important thing you learned in architecture school?
ZW_ Because it’s impossible to make everything perfect, the real challenge comes to communicating the project at hand in the most fantastic, impressive, intriguing or subtle way.

S//A : Describe your dream project
ZW_ Having explored time based media through the form of animation in the past year or so, I’d now like to investigate incorporating the physical space and objects into the narrative of a virtual project.