Design, Data and Society Group

Design, Data and Society Group critically explores the technological conditions under which architecture in the age of global digital infrastructures emerges, from small to large scale and from everyday practice to the very big picture. What does it mean to design in a society that seeks its balance between the datafication of all areas of life, and urgent environmental issues?

Picture: A Macvision demonstration shows how to take pictures with a computer, one of the attractions on the Robot Day of May 11 (1985) in Houten, Utrecht, which attracted tens of thousands of visitors. National Archives, Collection Spaarnestad, Photographer unknown.

Design, Data and Society

From design information to building standards to climate models — we have become curators in a data-driven world that leads to new spatial, cultural, aesthetic, social, and political paradigms of the built environment. This also significantly influences the way we operate, for example, when designing material cycles, user behaviour or environmental data.

Datafication is nothing new in architecture, and there is a long tradition of design by statistics or empirical research. But computer vision and machine learning have fundamentally changed the cultural techniques of observing, measuring, calculating, writing, modelling and drawing, and the meaning of data itself. Data has operationalised our knowledge about space and time, people, materials, buildings, cities and landscapes, and has, in a sense, become a medium of integration, converging models, media, and methods from different disciplines and scales. This raises new questions for research and education at the intersection of design and society.

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The Design, Data and Society Group consists of an interdisciplinary team working in architectural, cultural and media history, technology theory, architectural design, computer vision, and archival research. Thus, we collaborate with the AI Lab, international photographers like Armin Linke, and cultural institutions like the Jaap Bakema Study Center at the Het Nieuwe Instituut, Museum for Architecture, Design, and Digital Culture.

We lead the research project "The New Open", one of the faculty's new flagship projects, and the cross-departmental platform "Design, Data, and Society", both started in 2021.

Photo: Bernd Seeland, 2020

Prof.dr. Georg Vrachliotis


Andrea Degenhardt

Estrella van de Swaluw