MVRDV - Born Digital: MVRDV donates early archive to Het Nieuwe Instituut, its first primarily digital collection

Born Digital: MVRDV donates early archive to Het Nieuwe Instituut, its first primarily digital collection

MVRDV and Het Nieuwe Instituut signed a contract last night outlining the process of transferring the archive of MVRDV’s early work, spanning the 15 years from 1993 to 2008. Also included was a declaration of intent to transfer more recent projects to the museum’s archive, the largest of its kind devoted to architecture in the Netherlands.  The archive will also eventually be made publically accessible.

The vast archives of MVRDV present a unique case for Het Nieuwe Instituut (HNI) because it will be the first primarily digital addition to their collection. The archive was, in a sense, born digitally: when the office was founded by Winy Maas, Jacob van Rijs and Nathalie de Vries in 1992, they quickly began the relatively new practice of using computers to create architectural visualisations to present their designs.

‘MVRDV’s relationship with its archive is quite different than what we are used to from a historic preservation perspective’ says Suzanne Mulder, who is supervising the archive transfer on behalf of Het Nieuwe Instituut. ‘When we talk about assessing value and making selections, or about preservation and heritage management, they talk about algorithms and search engines which could unlock the archive. Het Nieuwe Instituut will use this acquisition as a pilot project to develop future policies for dealing with archives which were born into the digital era.’

Archives pertaining to the first 400 out of 680 total projects will be tranfered from MVRDV to Het Nieuwe Instituut. The ambition is not to absorb everything into the collection, but rather to make a selection that follows the development of the office over the years. Projects will include the Villa VPRO, the Silodam and the Markthal Rotterdam, as well as more theoretical projects based on data analysis, an early fascination of MVRDV: Meta City Datatown, Pig City, and 3D City Cube.

‘We have discussed various possibilities with museums around the world, and we will also give parts of the archive to other collections. But because our archive is digital, there is an opportunity to show every project book we’ve ever created at HNI. That will be a treasure trove for researchers,’ says Jacob van Rijs, architect and co-founder of MVRDV.

MVRDV will now contribute approximately 8 terabytes of data to HNI, along with numerous models and the paper archives from the practice’s early years. The rest of the archive and the formal presentation models will be transferred at a later date, and MVRDV will retain ownership of them for now. To support the cataloguing and unlocking of the archive for future use, MVRDV has made a donation to HNI. The contract for the transfer was signed last night at an event held at HNI.