Call for Paperes

19.03.2007 | what’s on
by Cité de l’architecture et du patrimoine

Within the framework of the Gau:di European Project (Governance, Architecture and Urbanism: a Democratic Interaction, a research programme supported by the European Union under the Culture 2000 Programme), a conference is being organised on the long-term preservation and use of architects’ digital archives, to be held in Paris, at the Cité de l’architecture et du patrimoine and at the Institut national d’histoire de l’art.

For digital archives in general, research carried out over the last few years on the long-term preservation is starting to produce some convergent recommendations. In the world of architecture, however, these recommendations prove to be inadequate because of at least three factors: the structural complexity of the digital files produced (consisting of layers, integrating a variety of presentations, referring to linked external files etc.), the great variety of new kinds of documents (graphics, 3D models, animations, fly through, mixed presentations and so on), and finally the large number and extremely variable size of architecture firms. ‘Archival care awareness’ and a general knowledge about preservation needs are not current among architecture firms. All these factors result in very diversified behaviour. Archiving institutions who are responsible for the historic preservation of architecture archives are encountering, through a lack of professional specialisation, as many problems as the firms themselves.

The objective of the conference is to bring together archivists, architects and researchers and to encourage discussion on the preservation of digital architectural archives, on their use and their enhancement.
Preservation implies technical choices, in particular in terms of migration to other formats than the original file format, and poses the question of the choice of permanent and open formats. Since this is not without consequence on processing times and necessary investment, it is important to evaluate and compare with the processing of traditional archives. On the other hand, this new documentary material reorientates the consultation of archives, research and enhancement. The very nature of digital archives poses questions on their circulation and their use by researchers.

The conference will be organised around a series of presentations of real-life cases that are integrated into a particular action of the Gau:di European Programme, the Architectural Archives action. Since 2002, this action has brought together a group of European Institutions managing architectural archives and resulted in 2004 in the creation of a website (, a documentary and information resource portal on archives for use by architecture firms). Since 2005, each institution in the group has been working on a case study with an architecture agency or on an architect’s archives (the firms Snøhetta, Wilkinson Eyre, Mario Botta, Alfonso Mercurio, Cesare Valle, and the archives Giancarlo De Carlo et Pierre Riboulet).
As well as the presentation of these studies, the conference will be the opportunity to compare them to other experiments conducted elsewhere, and also to lay out the general data of the issue (the long-term preservation of plan files), and to evaluate the consequences for historical research and their restitution into the public domain.
1. Electronic data management in architectural firms
2. Preservation and access to digital archives
3. Dissemination and use of digital archives by researchers
No registration fees – 250 delegates as a maximum
For more information, please visit the website from 15 March 2007.

Paper selection:
Presentations of between 20 and 30 minutes, in French or English, on the general features of the long-term preservation of architecture archives and on experiments that are underway or completed (archiving, research and enhancement) are therefore expected.

Contribution proposals should be e-mailed to:

Reception of proposals by 20 April 2007
Notification by 31 May 2007
Authors guidelines
– Word format
– File name: “name of the author_country”
– Title (font: Arial 11, bold)
– Information on author: name, first name, organisation/company, function, address, e-mail and a short biography (5 lines) – (font: Arial 11)
– Text in English: 1500 to 3000 characters (200 to 450-word) (font: Arial 11)
– Summary in French: 500 to 1000 characters (font: Arial 11)
– Please also enclose the author’s résumé (file name: « name of the author_CV »)

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