Georg Vrachliotis (PhD) is Professor for the Theory of Architecture and director of the Südwestdeutsches Archiv und Architektur und Ingeneirubau (saai) at Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT). Previously, he lectured and conducted research at the Institute for History and Theory of Architecture (gta) and the Institute of Technology in Architecture of ETH Zurich. Vrachliotis studied architecture at the Berlin University of the Arts and was conferred his PhD at ETH Zurich. He worked as guest scientist at the Department of Architecture of the University of California at Berkeley and as a guest lecturer for the theory of architecture at Vienna University of Technology. He is editor (with Laurent Stalder) of Fritz Haller. Architekt und Forscher (gta Verlag, 2016) and curator of the exhibition “Frei Otto. Thinking by Modeling” at ZKM Karlsruhe (November 2016–March 2017).
Fritz Haller: Architecture, Data and Technological Turmoil. A History Full of Controversy.
Today, notions of unlimited storage capacity shape our view of the present. The cultural practice of saving has become synonymous with the automated accumulation and evaluation of vast quantities of data that we ourselves produce. Fragments of information are continuously generated, saved, retrieved, updated and saved again – an apparent circuit of encoding and transcoding of history and present between virtualization and materialization. What and how we will remember in the future depends not only upon how and by whom storage media is organized and controlled, but also upon the media through which our experiences are handed down.
A data-based idea of society – one that self-generates and self-regulates using social traces and spatial patterns of movement – is a subject of debate. In other words, our environment is converted into a hybrid technological web that only becomes accessible if we continuously ask the well-known question concerning technology.
Swiss architect Fritz Haller also dealt with this question. In his large-scale, highly detailed drawings, Haller designed a technically-regulated future society in which the architectural object has been dispersed into the reflections and ramifications of measureless data networks. It may seem paradoxical when considering the radical drawings, but Haller’s studies of the “totale stadt“ are nothing less than one of the most brilliant and perhaps last attempts of the 20th century to link virtualization and materialization with the social ideal of modernity, and to transfer that it into a social geometry. Haller’s studies remain relevant today because they have the innate potential to open our minds to a radical space of possibility, generating new forms of perception of technologically-based landscapes and spaces, and also laying the foundations for critical research of the built environment as a data-based model and simulation.