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OMA and Bengler propose digital platform to disrupt the sharing economy

Oslo Architecture Triennale 2016: OMA has teamed up with creative studio Bengler to propose Panda, a app that allows workers being exploited digital sharing platforms like Uber and Airbnb to fight back against their employers.

On show as part of the Oslo Architecture Triennale 2016, which opened last week, the  "disruption-as-a-service toolkit" aims to mobilise the workforce behind sharing companies, by making them part of a trade-union-style network.

Oslo Triennale: Panda by OMA
The Panda project is on show as part of the Oslo Architecture Triennale 2016, which opened last week

The conceptual project takes the form of an app that provides individuals with services and strategies, ranging from communications networks to legal support.

OMA architect Ippolito Pestellini Laparelli described it as a "super colluder".

"It aggregates common issues across many people and defines a strategy to give them negotiating power," he told Dezeen in an exclusive interview.

Oslo Triennale: Panda by OMA
The exhibition presents a fictional headquarters for Panda, which offers a "disruption-as-a-service toolkit" for the workers of digital sharing platforms

The project is intended as a response to the contractual framework created by many of the big sharing platforms, which defines workers as individuals rather than as members of a workforce.

For instance, according to Pestellini Laparelli, Uber drivers are obliged to sign a service agreement that includes a clause preventing them from bringing disputes against the company on a collective basis.

Oslo Triennale: Panda by OMA
The conceptual project takes the form of an app that is "at once an act of resistance and a business opportunity"

The architect compares the situation with the regime of former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher.

"The Thatcher vision – that there is no such thing as society, just individuals and families – is today embedded into the contractual framework of many of these sharing platforms," he said.

"But Panda creates temporary aggregations, a web of temporary alignment for a workforce of people with similar problems. Panda is able to map them and provide them with strategies."

Oslo Triennale: Panda by OMA
The project imagines a scenario of widespread disruption and rioting coming about as a result

This service wouldn't come for free though. Pestellini Laparelli sees Panda as a profit-making business. He describes its as "at once an act of resistance and a business opportunity".

Panda comes amid rising concern about the way the new wave of stateless digital companies treat their workers, who often have few rights and lack a guaranteed income.

For the exhibition in Oslo, Pestellini Laparelli worked with Even Westwang and Simen Svale Skogsrud from Bengler to research over 400 legal cases that have brought against sharing platforms.

They used this research to imagine a situation where the masses have fought back against these frictions, resulting in widespread disruption and rioting.

This is presented through a fictional headquarters for Panda, which showcases both propaganda material and media coverage.

Oslo Triennale: Panda by OMA
The exhibition includes fictional propaganda material and potential media coverage

Panda is one of the 33 projects that make up On Residence, one of the two main shows of the Oslo Architecture Triennale 2016, located at the Norwegian Centre for Design and Architecture.

"As software eats the world, as everything solid melts into air, Panda recasts technologies of oppression into a machinery of individual empowerment," added the team.

"By providing tools to actively navigate the turmoils of new digital regimes, Panda fosters a new sense of belonging and purpose."