Core Studio II

The Digital Archive

“Today abstraction is no longer that of the map, the double, the mirror, or the concept. Simulation is no longer that of a territory, a referential being, or a substance. It is the generation by models of a real without origin or reality: a hyperreal. The territory no longer precedes the map, nor does it survive it”

Jean Baudrillard, “Simulacra and Simulations”

“The idea of accumulating everything, of establishing a sort of general archive, the will to enclose in one place all times, all epochs, all forms, all tastes, the idea of constituting a place of all times that is itself outside of time and inaccessible to its ravages, the project of organizing in this way a sort of perpetual and indefinite accumulation of time in an immobile place, this whole idea belongs to our modernity”

Michel Foucault, “Heterotopia”


Architecture Core Studio 2 expands the scope of architectural problems to rather open up to the world of potentials and possibilities within a projective field: that is the responsibility to refute, to counteract and to respond, generating a critical discourse. If on the one hand we would argue that such stance implies first and foremost to attain a holistic and critical understanding of the world and the issues that future generations face —and to grasp how such issues can be affected by our actions within our disciplinary field, on the other hand it supposes the urgent development of techniques that can liberate thought from the local place –site, type & time, for making design-agency to care about the future, the universal conditions and to start grasping new notions that will inevitably lead to the invention of new forms of archive, production and inhabitation.

To enhance an intellectual development within the students understanding and expand the group’s knowledge of the topic herewith discussed, each section will carry out seminar sessions on Thursdays, with weekly textual assignments.


In order to enhance criticality without falling pray to either hyper-contextualism or specific technicisms of sort, we will pursue the “generic”; a building type without a specific site and time. We will do such as a means to challenge preconceived cultural conditions, the “known” and the “appropriate”, to create experimental prototypes whose specificity don’t arise from the regulative condition of a specific place but from the environmental fictions they will be subjected to —which will necessarily be crafted as part of the project’s brief. The building’s temporality will be that of a desired future, and as such we will be prioritizing the consistency of the narratives over the ‘real’ constrains of a specific environment.

Hence the “time” in which our buildings will be inscribed should be understood not as mere actuality but as an experimental field where questions are prompted and onto where designs could be experimented without the asphyxiating weight of actual parameters: it is vital to empower the student with tools and concepts that make him/her leap out of what is given in/as common “reason”. Hence, to design the ‘time’ in which the building will be made would require to understand ‘time’ as a history to be made, one of which we, as designers and as world-makers, must be active participants.

This studio will antagonize (pre)existing typologies -understanding them as constraining agents that embed the tradition and history of a world in derive-decay, in order to embark in the adventure of inventing new configurations, and more specifically, to cater for new building-forms of digital/analogue (co)existence. The design drive will be a program to organize in space and time, in a crafted narrative, a series of interfaces, material or otherwise, between analog atmospheres and digital environments.

To this end, each section will manufacture their own overarching narrative; a ‘fictional site’, a stage that will provide the students with a projected socio-cultural condition -coupled with a geographical set of conditions. Each student will develop and build his/her own A2 size quadrant site as an insertion onto the studio’s world.


We will foster within the projects a sensitiveness –much like the one of an artisan, one that stems from the utilization of certain tools and that develops by crafting together skills and end-pieces. The final work shall thus be a synthesis of the relationship between design-agency, future experience and the employment-integration of such tools in the design process; it should present an exploration of what at core is the creative potentiality of such tools and their capacities to make us not visualize but envision experiences other. To such end throughout the studio the students will be introduced to VR as means of production. VR will be taken not directly as a means of phenomenological representation, not only, but as a new tool through which design could challenge aprioristic notions of place, type and narrative, meaning, questioning the linear-accumulation of commodified experiences of spaces, in time. Within this hyperreal context the relationship between what we call ‘material’ and ‘digital’ will need to be readdressed and thus become the main driving core of the projects.

As designers we must deal with a context in which experience is modeled and lived; as designers we must find a way to hold back the ‘real’, after its post-modern questioning; as designers we must still find an answer out of the predicament that is pictured by the following words by Jean Baudrillard: “Illusion is no longer possible, because the real is no longer possible. It is the whole political problem of parody, of hypersimulation or offensive simulation, that is posed here”.

How to craft new models that neither denigrate the virtual nor incinerate the sublime possibility of physical experience?

What is thus to design a space that will cater for deep-interaction between analogue and digital experiences?

What’s the material spatial articulation needed to engage-mediate with the digital organization or archives of ‘memory’?

What’s the role of VR and of the architect’s tool in such creative mediation?

How do we position us as designers in the face of such developments?
The physical dematerialization of space-experience is exponential throughout our contemporary world, would any act of resistance to such trend be puerile?

If so, what constructive alternative to the so-called disappearance of the physical agency could we offer?

In which way shall we employ VR-AR to craft new narratives and spaces that resist pure consumption?

Within this unit all the students will learn the necessary software(s) to develop a full VR model as a main means to produce their design, visualize and communicate their designs both within the studio, during desk tutorials and at all pinups and formal reviews.


Our program will be informed by the cultural context of Singapore and some of its determining conditions, which are common to other parts of the world, hence somewhat universal in their relevance:

  • future growth, problems related to spatial limitations;
  • data storage problems of any sort, material and digital that will necessarily needed to be archived and accessed—cemeteries (corpses), municipal (data and historical files), libraries, museums (artifacts), biological (seeds and genes);
  • memory cultivation and preservation: a spatio-cultural issue that presents both, material/physical limitations and digital/intangible potentials.

The studio will concentrate in development of four re-invented typologies within the praxis of archiving;

  • the Estranged Theater
  • the Museum for Humanity’s Memory
  • the Proto-Cemetary
  • the Deep Library

At the end of the studio students are expected to be able to translate spatial-material-programmatic-representational ideas into visual narratives from which a comprehensive architectural proposal, digital and otherwise, emerges to articulate programs driven by the necessity to archive and to display.

The Studios


The Estranged Theater
Studio Instructor: Calvin Chua
Museum for Humanity’s Memory
Studio Instructor: Deniz Manisali
The Proto-Cemetary
Studio Instructor: Eva Castro
The Deep Library
Studio Instructor: Jason Lim


The Estranged Theater
Studio Instructor: Calvin Chua
Mise-en-Abyme: Proto-Cemetary
Studio Instructor: Federico Ruberto
Museum for Humanity’s Memory
Studio Instructor: Deniz Manisali
The Deep Library
Studio Instructor: Jason Lim

Coordinator: Eva Castro
VR/AR workshops: IRL team (Jacob Chen Shihang, Song Youngbin)
Teaching Assistants: Ho Jin Teck Daryl, Ian Soon, Heong Kheng Boon
Studio Leads: Eva Castro, Jason Lim, Dicle Uzunyayla
Ex Members: Calvin Chua, Federico Ruberto, Deniz Manisali

REFERENCES VR-AR (Narrative-Fiction-Representation),,;,;,;,

REFERENCES THEORY (Scattered Entry Points)

—Arnheim Rudolf, “Visual Thinking” (Los Angeles-London: The University of California Press, 1997);

—Baudrillard Jean, “Simulacra and Simulations”, tran. S.F. Glaser (The University of Michigan Press, 2006);

—Baudrillard Jean, “Simulations”, in “Continental Aesthetics - Romanticism and Postmodernism”, Ed. R.Kearney and D.Rasmussen (Malden: Blackwell Publisher, 2001);

—Bratton Benjamin, “The Stack: On Software and Sovereignty”, (Cambridge-London: The MIT Press, 2016);

—Crary Jonathan, “Techniques of the Observer - On Vision and Modernity in the Nineteenth Century” (Cambridge-London: The MIT Press, 1992);

—Eco Umberto, “Travels in Hyperreality”, in “Continental Aesthetics - Romanticism and Postmodernism”, Ed. R.Kearney and D.Rasmussen (Malden: Blackwell Publisher, 2001);

—Derrida Jacques, “archive fever - a freudian impression” (the University of Chicago press, 1998);

—Flusser Vilém, “Towards a Philosophy of Photography” (London: Reaktion, 2000);

—Foucault Michel, “This is Not a Pipe”, in “Continental Aesthetics - Romanticism and Postmodernism”, Ed. R.Kearney and D.Rasmussen (Malden: Blackwell Publisher, 2001);

—Foucault Michel, “The archaeology of knowledge” (vintage books edition, 2010);

—Gombrich Ernst Hans Josef, “Art and Illusion - A Study in the Psychology of Pictorial Representation” (London: Phaidon, 2002);

—Halpren Orit, “Beautiful Data - a History of Vision and Reason since 1945” (Durham-London: Duke University Press, 2014);

—Kittler Friedrich, “Optical Media”, tran. A. Enns (Cambridge: Polity Press, 2010);

—Lazzarato Maurizio, “Sings and Machines - Capitalism and the Production of Subjectivity”, trna. J.D. Jordan (Los Angeles: Semiotex(e), 2014);

—Manovich Lem, “Software Takes Command” (London: Bloomsbury Academic, 2013);

—Zielinski Siegfried, “Deep Time of the Media - Towards an Archeology of Hearing and Seeing by Technical Means”, tran. G.Custace (Cambridge: The MIT Press, 2008);

-Manovich Lem, “The Aesthetics of Virtual Worlds (;

-Manovich Lem, “Reality Media” (;

-Manovich Lem, “Cultural Data: Possibilities and Limitations of Digitized Archives" (;

-Manovich Lem, “Automating Aesthetics: Artificial Intelligence and Image Culture” (;

-Manovich Lem, “A View from Above: Exploratory Visualizations of the Thomas Walther Collection”

-Manovich Lem, “Watching the World” (;

-Manovich Lem, “Museum Without Walls, Art History Without Names: Visualization Methods for Humanities and Media Studies” (;

-Manovich Lem, “What Comes After Remix?” (;

-Manovich Lem, “Understanding Hybrid Media” (;

-Manovich Lem, “Import/Export: Design Workflow and Contemporary Aesthetics” (;