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The Sunken Place - A Critique of Workamping Phenomena

Part 2 Project 2019
Zhenni Zhu
Cooper Union, USA
Since the financial crisis of 2008, many were forced to move into RVs. These unfortunate individuals, known as “workampers”, exchange physical labor for free lodging. At the time, big companies noticed and started to target this nomadic population for seasonal jobs. As a result, many new campgrounds were built to attract inexpensive labors. I became interested in this phenomenon and began my research on Amazon CamperForce, one of the bigger companies around. I travelled to one of their major facilities in Kentucky and interviewed some workampers in the area. To my surprise, most of them actually enjoyed the migratory lifestyle.

In response, I created my project in the form of a “one-mile sunken circle”, which symbolizes the negative monument that addresses the invisibility of both the workampers and the industries. The circle is forty feet sunken from the ground with the edge defining the horizon of the space. It is designed to create a deceiving image of an open field for those who inhabit the space, which in reality is a boundary. The inhabitants appear to have escaped from the urban world to pursue freedom, but they cannot escape the controlled utopia that has perverted the American Dream.

Zhenni Zhu


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