Building Data: Architecture, Memory and New Imaginaries

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Vast amounts of data of the built environment are continuously generated, stored, retrieved, updated, edited, and resaved – a seemingly endless cycle of coding and recoding of the past and the present, and of possible futures. Up to such a point, its material infrastructures even disrupt national energy and water grids. We are looking at a new kind of living memory system being constructed, that is generative and transformative.
All the things copied onto the xillions of hard drives and cloud storage become part of our everyday world through constant repetition, temporarily stabilising itself to finally become cultural sediment of our societies. The increasing layers of data and its infrastructures offer an unexplored kind of territory for new forms of storytelling for architecture, other kinds of imaginations and fields of knowledge.

Architects have become curators of a planetary real-time database, even beyond the planet, among others by smart integration and recombination. But while we operate with large-scale data sets of cities, public space and landscapes, it is not quite clear how we might address the actual building scale. Even when there has been radical experimentation before in the pre-digital era, with media architecture and form finding tools, with the streamlining of production flows and security protocols. Therefore, we aim to seek: where is the building in this vast, interactive and extractive information system of data production?

For possible answers we want to start with the role of repositories and data sets, digital archives and collections; they can help explore new thought-provoking opportunities to reinvent the building in our data society. We understand archives and repositories not as passive, aggregated information, but as open laboratories for knowledge production and, thus, the intellectual and cultural examination of the built environment.

Important questions we want to address include, but are not limited to:

How can we explore digital archives to think new imaginaries and develop new narratives about and by buildings?
In which visual and written languages are the new narratives and imaginaries created, and how are they organised?
Are there other kinds of narrative systems, non-visual, non-linguistic? Material and sensory ones? And what would that mean?
Who is developing the narratives, and for whom?
If post-humanism might (re-)direct the new data-landscapes, what sort of data buildings might come out of this shift?
And, how do data collections change architectural research and practice regarding the past, present, and future?

The conference is connected to ‘The New Open’, the new flagship project of the Faculty of Architecture and the Built Environment, TU Delft, led by Georg Vrachliotis and the Theory of Architecture and Digital Culture Group. It continues some of the themes of the 2020 conference: 'Repositioning Architecture in the Digital', in which we explored the emergence of the data society in the 1970s.
Period23 Nov 202224 Nov 2022
Event typeConference
LocationRotterdam, NetherlandsShow on map
Degree of RecognitionInternational