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This year’s Jaap Bakema Study Centre conference aims to critically explore the interplay between architecture and digital culture since the 1970s. How has the emergent data society materialised in architecture? What new typologies have been developed? And what role did architecture play in the emerging discussion about artificial intelligence?

In the global history of digital culture, the 1970s are seen as a transitional period: between the dazzling rise and fall of cybernetics in the mid-20th century, and the popularisation of the personal computer and early critical debates on artificial intelligence and surveillance in the late 1980s. The techno-utopian playfulness of the architecture, art and philosophy of the 1960s was replaced by the application-driven, technological thinking of the emerging post-industrial society. The focus was now on designing specific tools, digital standards and automated services for the future data society. The miniaturisation of technology and in particular the development of microchips initiated far-reaching changes not only in the natural sciences, industry and economy, but also impacted architecture and urban design.

We will look at buildings, archives, networks, concepts and visual culture. Long before the famous, formal explorations of Greg Lynn, Kas Oosterhuis, Lars Spuybroek and Maurice Nio, the digital was already firmly inscribed in the discipline. How to assess the various shifts and impacts of the digital in architecture while applying just such a historical and cultural perspective? 

Together with Georg Vrachliotis, recently appointed as full professor of the theory of architecture and digital culture at TU Delft, we have developed a programme around current research questions that probe the interrelations between the digital and architecture. This follows up on the earlier events of the Jaap Bakema Study Centre’s Total Space programme.

Watch: Keynotes by Armin Linke and Alessandra Ponte, and the Data Matters seminar.

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Report: Behind the Screens. MVRDV's Living Archive

Because the computer is an indispensable tool in the design process, the National Collection for Dutch Architecture and Urban Planning, housed at Het Nieuwe Instituut, is increasingly collecting digital archival materials. Digital files are an important component of the archive of MVRDV, the architectural firm responsible for high-profile projects such as the Martkhal and the new Depot Boijmans van Beuningen, the vast glistening bowl in the Museumpark with a curved, mirrored façade. The conference Repositioning Architecture in the Digital included a workshop dedicated to MVRDV’s digital archive: Behind the Screens. It discussed a variety of topics relating to digital archives, such as acquisition, management and preservation, accessibility, usability and publishing.

Programme Wednesday 25 November

Field Positions and Exchanges
10.00 - 12.30

Introduction to the question of repositioning the digital in architecture and the ongoing research into the interdisciplinary traffic between architecture, urban design and systems theory.

With presentations by Georg Vrachliotis, Tanja Herdt, Dirk van den Heuvel, Janno Martens and Victor Munoz Sanz.

Situating the Pre-Digital
14.00 - 16.00

A seminar with presentations of research into the pre-digital era and the early developments of the digital in architecture. With Evangelos Kotsioris (MoMA), Dennis Pohl (KIT Architecture Theory), Teresa Fankhänel (TU München). Moderated by Georg Vrachliotis.

  • Evangelos Kotsioris, Digitising Mapping: The Politics of Computerised Cartography at Harvard LCGSA
  • Dennis Pohl, Bouwcentrum Rotterdam: From Statistics to Information
  • Teresa Frankhänel, Architecture Machines, c. 1970.
Keynote Alessandra Ponte: Architecture and Information 2.0
16.00 - 17.30

Alessandra Ponte, professor at the Université de Montréal, will present her ongoing research on the technological landscapes and infrastructures of the contemporary data society.

Programme Thursday 26 November

Behind the Screens (closed session)
10.00 - 12.00

A workshop on born digital archives and their peculiarities, with the archive of MVRDV as case study. Contributions probe questions of acquisition and the exhibition of born digital materials, how to work with the technical formats and their software, and how to re-imagine the accessibility of digital archives.

With Suzanne Mulder, Frans Neggers and Eline de Graaf. Moderated by Dirk van den Heuvel.

Data Matters
14.00 - 17.00

A seminar organised by the Research department of Het Nieuwe Instituut, moderated by Marina Otero Verzier. With contributions by Marten Kuijpers and Ludo Groen on the ongoing project of Automated Landscapes, and the London Royal College of Arts research studio led by Ippolito Pestellini Laparelli and Kamil Dalkir with students Emily Choi, Meera Badran, Kyriacos Christofides and Helena Francis

Keynote Armin Linke: Data Landscapes
19.30 - 21.00

Through his work, photographer and filmmaker Armin Linke analyses the transformations of our natural, technological and urban environment as a diverse space of continuous interaction. By combining his own archive with other media archives, Linke challenges the conventions of photographic practice and conventional, singular authorship, whereby the question of how photography is installed and displayed becomes increasingly important. In a collective approach with artists, designers, architects, historians, and curators, a polyphonic narrative is created that combines multiple perspectives.

In conversation with Georg Vrachliotis and Dirk van den Heuvel, Armin Linke presents a selection of projects to reflect on the current state of global technological landscapes, from media archives and data archaeology, to control rooms and server farms.


This is an online event, attendance is free of charge.