Hybrid Architectural Archives: Creating, Managing and Using Digital Archives

14.01.2009 | what’s on
by The New Institute, (former Netherlands Architecture Institute NAI)

For architectural archives, digital files are not just a new kind of datacarrier as was the case with microfilm. Digital materials require much more attention to be handled, described and stored in a consistent, safe and persistent way than paper or film. The awareness that our digital heritage is much more fragile than paper archives slowly starts to pervade the cultural heritage community. While some institutions are already testing e-repository test beds, most organisations are still searching for technical solutions for the new hybrid environment in which paper archives are accompanied by digital files.

Research and experiences
The conference will be a continuation of the Gau:di conference held in Paris from 8 to 10 November 2007 “Architecture and Digital Archives. Architecture in the Digital Age: a question of memory”. The conference is meant for architects, architectural museum staff, staff from cultural heritage institutions, architectural historians and researchers. The main purpose of the meeting is to map the development of research and experiences in creating, consuming and using digital architectural archives. The conference focuses on bringing together experts in the fields of architecture (the creators), architectural archives and museums (the keepers: preservation and access) and researchers (users).

Hybrid environment
The specific problems with permanent storage, access and retrieval of digital architectural archives are gradually revealing themselves. What are the consequences for organizations in a hybrid environment and what choices do we have to face?
With regard to digitising paper archives: should we digitise complete archives or parts of it retrospectively and describe them in the same way as our paper archives? How can we create a useful multi language thesaurus and vocabulary necessary to find the requested information? How should we present digital information and what will be the surplus value for users compared to the original paper drawings. How can users and providers make the most of this new digital content?

With regard to born digital archival material: how do we address the problem of authenticity when the digital original is the same as the copy on the web? What are the specific inherent qualities of digital designs? How do we preserve the functionalities of an architectural design produced by interactive software once the material is in a repository?

Conference themes
The questions above have been translated into the following themes:

Acquiring and processing digital archives in repositories
Producing digital archives in architectural practices
Architectural archives on the web
Users: expectations and use
Multilingual architecture thesauri and vocabularies

For more information and registration, please visit the conference website.

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