This autumn the Rotterdam-based architecture practice MVRDV is transferring its archive to Het Nieuwe Instituut. It is the first major archive to be added to the State Archive for Architecture that consists primarily of digital materials. What does this mean for the preservation and management of this archive?
Contributors include Jacob van Rijs, one of the founding directors of MVRDV; Manon Janssens, head of exhibitions and archives at Zaha Hadid Architects; Suzanne Mulder, curator at Het Nieuwe Instituut; and Annet Dekker, expert on digital collections management. The discussion will be moderated by Maarten Kloos and Flora van Gaalen.
MVRDV is among the most important architectural practices of recent decades from both a national and international perspective. Het Nieuwe Instituut is therefore extremely honoured to add the practice’s archive to its collection. In addition to hundreds of physical models, the MVRDV archive consists chiefly of so-called ‘born-digital’ materials: files that were created on computers. Which items do architects decide to keep and which items do heritage organisations and museums consider important to preserve? How does this compare with the situation at Zaha Hadid Architects, a practice that has retained archival management and access within its own organisation? And what opportunities does a born-digital archive offer for appealing to new user groups and for interrogating the archive in new ways?
Jacob van Rijs
Architect Jacob van Rijs cofounded MVRDV in 1991 together with Winy Maas and Nathalie de Vries. The fledgling practice quickly attracted attention for innovative projects such as Villa VPRO in Hilversum and WoZoCo retirement housing in Amsterdam. Since then the practice has won numerous commissions ranging from buildings and urban planning projects to the creation of design software such as Function and Region Mixer. The practice recently completed the multifunctional Market Hall building in Rotterdam.
Suzanne Mulder is an art historian and works as a heritage expert at Het Nieuwe Instituut. Her publications on architecture include Dutch Architecture in 250 Highlights and Keuzes Maken (Making Choices). She has curated various exhibitions including Treasury (NAI) en Structuralism (Het Nieuwe Instituut). She has been a guest lecturer at the Academie van Bouwkunst in Amsterdam and the Reinwardt Academie. She is currently chair of the board of the Dudok Architectuur Centrum in Hilversum.
Manon Janssens is head of exhibitions and archives at Zaha Hadid Architects, where she is responsible for setting up strategies for the conservation, preservation and storage of both the physical and digital collections of the practice. Her role also involves coordinating the office's many exhibitions, which enables the studio to show and share the collection with third parties. She has been working in the field of architecture since many years and was previously Head of Press for the offices of Zaha Hadid and David Chipperfield.
Annet Dekker is an independent scholar and curator. She is currently a researcher in digital preservation at Tate in London, a post-doctoral research fellow at London South Bank University in partnership with the Photographers’ Gallery, and a tutor at the Piet Zwart Institute in Rotterdam. She was previously web curator at SKOR, programme manager at Virtueel Platform and head of exhibitions and artists’ residencies at the Netherlands Media Art Institute. She gained her doctorate from the Centre for Cultural Studies, Goldsmiths, University of London on strategies for documenting web art.