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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? 


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


Due to the pandemic, this year’s edition of our annual Jaap Bakema Study Centre conference has to be very different from our previous events. Usually, we announce a call for papers in the spring, but spring this year saw the first lockdown in the Netherlands and many other countries. Now, with the second wave of the virus still gaining momentum, we are in a (partial) lockdown situation once again. With this in mind, we have decided to organise a series of online workshops and keynotes with invited scholars.

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.

Programme Wednesday 25 November 2020

Field Positions and Exchange
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 Fankhänel, Architecture Machines, c. 1970.
Keynote Alessandra Ponte: Montreal and the Artificial Intelligence’s Mandate
16.00 - 17.30

Keynote lecture by Alessandra Ponte, and a conversation with participants. Alessandra Ponte, professor at the Université de Montréal, will present her ongoing research on the technological landscapes and infrastructures of the contemporary data society.