Most of MVRDV's archive consists of digital materials – a fact that vastly expands the possibilities for searching and learning from it. Six designers (including MVRDV itself) have developed six new digital tools to explore files from emails and Word documents to images and 3D models, offering new narratives and interpretations of the studio's work and history.
Rethmann's machine learning tool is trained on MVRDV's digital archive of more than 300,000 images and renderings. By arranging pieces of blue foam below the camera, the algorithm renders the volumes in real-time in an MVRDV-designed project based on an analysis of past visuals. The tool therefore speculates on the possibility of using the archive to generate new designs.
Giacomo Nanni and Francesca Morini
Can architecture be studied merely on the basis of the texts written about it? A tool by Nanni and Morin counts how often selected words are used in email exchanges and Word documents in MVRDV's digital archive. The resulting timeline reveals, for example, the introduction of more professional and financial vocabularies in the late 1990s. Moving into the speculative realm, a second tool uses artificial intelligence to generate descriptions of fictional projects based on previous texts by MVRDV.
What does an MVRDV society look like? Through their project visualisations, the studio consciously or unconsciously builds a generation of figures, each with a specific age and gender, with different fashions and body language. Based on the analysis of these visualisations, this tool compiles five archetypes into a series of portraits.
Zonamata is a multimedia gaming environment built in a video game engine using recovered digital 3D models, with a plot and script written by the GPT-3 AI language. This tool speculates on an algorithmic vision of the future and the entanglements of architecture, artificial intelligence, nature and technology that comprise it.
MVRDV Cloud is the prototype for an interactive research tool that makes the first 400 MVRDV projects (a total of more than 240,000 images) accessible to users and designers. Images can be automatically arranged along two axes according to metadata, filtered by type or MVRDV typology. An artificial neural network learns to distinguish images better as visitors tag them over the course of the exhibition.
The Why Factory, Delft University of Technology
Calling all Visionaries! compiles a series of short films made by researchers and students at the Why Factory, the think-tank led by MVRDV co-founder Winy Maas. Each film shows scenarios for the development of future cities and, more broadly, of the entire planet, to engage in a public debate on architecture and urbanism. Including fragments from Porocity (2017), Wego (2017), Manifesta Marseille (2018), Green Dip (2019), Sky City (2020), From AMS to AM5 (2020), and The New Old (2021).
Since 1998, MVRDV has collaborated with Wieland & Gouwens to produce highly experimental video animations and installations, leading to public research projects including Metacity / Datatown, KM3, and Manyfacts. Wieland's tool re-enacts these spatial installations in a virtual reality environment, not only allowing visitors and researchers to revisit them, but also to speculate on their continued relevance.