Disclosing Architecture contains a number of projects, briefly introduced below with a referral as soon as more information is available. In addition to these projects, there is room to develop new, future projects with a research-based and speculative character.
Design drawings – Restoration and conservation
The collection of Het Nieuwe Instituut consists largely of design drawings: roughly 1.4 million objects. Design drawings are hybrid by nature, generally composed of various materials and techniques, such as tracing paper, plastic foils and photographic reproduction techniques. The vast majority consists of drawings on tracing paper (transparent paper). This is a material that tears easily and is extremely sensitive to water damage. Most drawings suffer from damage due to mechanical stress caused by careless handling and incorrect packaging.
Van Doesburg Collection – Restoration and conservation
The Van Doesburg collection consists of 447 inventory numbers. The majority of these objects are drawings (and paintings) on tracing paper (330). A smaller part consists of photo-mechanical reproductions and photos. Because it is an important collection that is frequently used for exhibitions, it is essential that the collection is fully consultable and safe to handle. This means the objects need to have a uniform presentation format to maintain the object’s safety during handling and loan transactions. The project is outsourced to paper restorers and will be carried out on location.
Photos – Restoration and conservation
The Disclosing Architecture programme enhances the preservation and accessibility of the photo collection. A large part of the photo collection is currently stored together with the paper archive. However, the photo collection requires specific conservation and restoration in terms of packing and the appropriate storage climate. Due to their chemical nature, photographic images can be damaged by light, climate, harmful substances in the environment and packaging, among other things. This project initially opts for conservation, restoration and digitisation of the photo prints. More work needs to be done to identify the number and current condition of the other photographic objects.
After restoration and conservation, the photographs and design drawings, the Van Doesburg collection included, will also be digitised (inasmuch as this hasn’t already been done) to improve consultability and, with this, enhance usability and visibility. A major advantage of digitisation is that the original material no longer needs to be physically consulted, which benefits the lifespan and quality of the collection.
The Other Interface
The digital collection of Het Nieuwe Instituut is currently accessible via the Search portal. This interface is primarily aimed at (archive) researchers who are specifically looking for (parts of) archives. Many web visitors are interested in the collection of Het Nieuwe Instituut but are not directly looking for something. Het Nieuwe Instituut is developing interfaces for this target group that are more focused on ‘discovering than on searching’.
Linked Open Data
For the publication and linking of heritage information, heritage institutions need to make adjustments in their own collection registration systems. The Usable work programme looks at improving access through LOD, which will enrich data and make it more easily findable for users.
The collection of Het Nieuwe Instituut and all the knowledge it contains is not currently found on the world’s most-consulted encyclopaedia. To increase the visibility and social relevance of the collection, we will make a content donation to Wikimedia Commons by making archive material available to this database without copyright restrictions. Wikipedia editors can use that content to create or supplement Wikipedia entries on architecture-related topics.
Rethinking the Collection
Rethinking the Collection questions the value and significance of Het Nieuwe Instituut's collection, and looks back at its policy history. It explores new approaches and possible forms of the collection in the future, partly in response to the acquisition of the MVRDV archive. This forms a substantive basis for projects within Disclosing Architecture, and at the same time relates to the reorientation of heritage at Het Nieuwe Instituut.
The Architectural Reproduction
The copy plays an important role in the architect's design process. Although the original or the manual sketch is traditionally more appreciated, the meaning of the copy cannot be underestimated. The blueprint, whiteprint, plastic tone, and fax are just a few variants of the many architectural copies in the archives. Het Nieuwe Instituut's ambition is to develop new perspectives on the collection through research into the copy, questioning the existing values of the archive.
Virtual CIAM Museum
The Jaap Bakema Study Centre (JBSC) has made a proposal for a Virtual CIAM Museum (working title). This project aims to create a virtual museum with various international architecture archives and universities by means of a web platform, making these archives more accessible to an audience of professionals, researchers, students, and all other interested parties. In addition, it investigates whether this could be a format to bring together other networks of decentralised archives in a curated environment. As a broad international consortium would have its own complexity, Het Nieuwe Instituut and the JBSC will initially take the lead, and network partners will subsequently be invited to further develop the Virtual CIAM Museum.
Het Nieuwe Instituut considers it imperative to ask fundamental questions about the value and significance of the documents contained in the collection. In turn, these questions could contribute to the reorientation of notions of what could, or should, constitute heritage and archiving in specific moments in time.Its first iteration looks into feminist and gender queer spatial practices, connecting with Het Nieuwe Instituut’s ongoing ambition to reveal not only the possibilities of its rich collection, but also the gaps within it, thus recognising actors and practices that have been and are excluded on the basis of historical collection policies, for example.