Curated by architect Greg Lynn, Archaeology of the Digital is conceived as an investigation into the foundations of digital architecture at the end of the 1980s and the beginning of the 1990s through four seminal projects that established bold new directions for architectural research by experimenting with novel digital tools: the Lewis Residence by Frank Gehry (1985–1995), Peter Eisenman’s unrealized Biozentrum (1987), Chuck Hoberman’s Expanding Sphere (1992) and Shoei Yoh’s roof structures for Odawara (1991) and Galaxy Toyama (1992) Gymnasiums.

These four architects went to the computer with different needs and in doing so created four very clear strands in the evolution of architecture. For Frank Gehry, the computer influenced the development of an expressive design language. The series of designs for the unfinished Lewis Residence shows a fascinating interplay between three-dimensional computer simulations and physical models that leads to a new architectural vocabulary. For the proposed Biology Center for the J. W. Goethe University in Frankfurt am Main, Peter Eisenman used scripting to create different iterations of abstract representations of DNA structures. Computing was crucial to Chuck Hoberman’s Iris Dome and Expanding Sphere projects as it allowed him to perform complex geometrical calculations. On the roofs of the Galaxy Toyama and the unbuilt Odawara Municipal Sports Complex Shoei Yoh used computer-led production to vary the length of structural members, allowing him to create sculpted roof forms that responded to heavy loads.

Archaeology of the Digital is part of a multi-year research project launched by the CCA to investigate the development and use of computers in architecture, and the first step in the CCA’s strategic objective of creating a collection of digital architecture. The project, spanning a period of three years and including exhibitions, seminars, public programs and publications, will foster research around two crucial under-addressed topics: how to collect, archive, and catalogue digital material and how to display and make it accessible to the public and to researchers.

Watch a conversation between Lynn and:
Peter Eisenman, architect of the Biozentrum;
Frank Gehry, architect of the Lewis Residence, Ohio;
Chuck Hoberman, designer of the Iris Dome;
Shoei Yoh, architect of Odawara and Galaxy Toyama Gymnasiums.

On 8 May, from 2 pm to 6 pm, Greg Lynn discusses the foundations of digital architecture with Peter Eisenman, Chuck Hoberman and Shoei Yoh. A publication coproduced with Sternberg Press accompanies the exhibition. Read an excerpt of Greg Lynn’s introduction to the book here.

Other phases of the project include the 2013 Toolkit, a CCA summer school for graduate students, and a second exhibition akin to Archaeology of the Digital opening in spring 2014.

An introduction to the exhibition by curator Greg Lynn:

A gallery tour of the exhibition with curator Greg Lynn:

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Greg Lynn, curator
Jonathan Hares, graphic designer