Het Nieuwe Instituut preserves archives by Dutch architects and urban planners. We must constantly review which things to preserve and how to do that. The question of what to preserve is situated on the tipping point from a predominantly monographic to a thematic approach, which places greater emphasis on the social context of architecture. The question as to how we preserve archives is dictated by the nature of the materials that designers produce. These materials are increasingly created, shared and stored as digital files (born digital), whereas the current process of collecting and cataloguing archives and making them accessible to the public is largely directed at analogue materials. These changes, which will lead to a revised acquisitions policy and the creation of an e-depot, call for research, partnerships and knowledge exchange.
Het Nieuwe Instituut collects archives related to Dutch architecture and urban planning from 1850 to the present day. Archives covering the period from 1960 to the present day are governed by the policy document Making Choices. It marks the transition from a predominantly monographic acquisitions policy to a more thematic approach that places greater emphasis on the social context of architecture and the most important spatial developments over the past seventy years.
Rethinking the Collection: new areas of focus in the acquisitions policy
The acquisitions policy is subject to regular review. Het Nieuwe Instituut is currently elaborating two new areas of focus: ‘Digital culture and architecture’ and ‘Diversity’. These two themes take priority in the pro-active acquisitions policy and also function as stepping stones for exploring more general questions around heritage and collections forming. The plan supplements and expands the existing acquisitions policy, Making Choices (2012).
Digital sustainability and born-digital material
Understanding Digital Architecture
To foster a better understanding of digital architecture, we conducted research into the digitisation of the design process and architectural practice, and what this means for Het Nieuwe Instituut as a collecting and managing institution. The Understanding Digital Architecture report is available now and can be downloaded here.
MVRDV’s Living Archive
Because the computer is now an indispensable tool in the design process, the National Collection for Dutch Architecture and Urban Planning is increasingly collecting digital archival materials. The conference Repositioning Architecture in the Digital included a workshop dedicated to MVRDV’s digital archive: Behind the Screens. It discussed a variety of topics relating to digital archives, such as acquisition, management and preservation, accessibility, usability and publishing.
Migration and Emulation as Strategies for Het Nieuwe Instituut
Making and keeping digital information accessible in a sustainable way involves major challenges, including the ongoing development of media and technology and the wide variety of software formats, file formats and information carriers used. Het Nieuwe Instituut therefore commissioned research studies of two strategies for keeping files readable and usable: migration and emulation.
Setting up Het Nieuwe Instituut’s Digital Archive
Het Nieuwe Instituut is acquiring increasing numbers of digital archives of architects, urban planners and organisations working within these domains. This calls for a new approach to the sustainable management of digital materials. After a test project, the Digital Archive will be set up in 2020. This will facilitate the effective, correct and controllable management and preservation of the digital collection.
Digital information is a broad concept, not only in terms of collections, but also when it comes to materials and sources. Making and keeping digital information sustainably accessible involves major challenges, such as the ongoing changes to media and technology, the wide variety of software formats, file formats and information carriers, the exponential growth of digital information, and identifying which information should be stored. This preservation policy underscores the accountability for the definition of preservation and Het Nieuwe Instituut’s approach.
Meeting of Experts: Archiving Digital Architectural Heritage
The digital world has become increasingly involved in collections, archives and libraries. How do you keep digital documents accessible? What should be done with the increasing volume of data that accompanies this digitisation of architectural practice? These and other questions were discussed at a meeting of experts on 20 March 2018 to mark the visit of Tim Walsh and Stefana Breitwieser of the Canadian Centre for Architecture to Het Nieuwe Instituut.
The Future of Digital Sustainability
Paper is patient; bits and bytes, however, continually demand attention. For instance, the blue-prints of De Meerpaal in Dronten (Frank van Klingeren 1965-67) are stored at the State Archive for Architecture and Urban Planning. Researchers can request access to them, and are able to view the drawings on long, high tables. But how will we consult the oeuvre of an early 21st century architect fifty years from now? Will it be viewable at all? Essay by Behrang Mousavi - Manager of the Heritage Department of Het Nieuwe Instituut.
Learning to preserve
Digital sustainability needs heritage professionals to have the right knowledge and skills, now, and in the future. Have we already reached that point? Does the available knowledge already sufficiently meet the demand? And what is that demand, exactly?
Report Thursday Night: The Archives of MVRDV and Zaha Hadid Architects
MVRDV is transferring its archive to Het Nieuwe Instituut. Jacob van Rijs, architect and partner at MVRDV, Manon Janssens, head of exhibitions and archives at Zaha Hadid Architects, Suzanne Mulder, heritage expert at Het Nieuwe Instituut, and Annet Dekker, researcher on digital preservation, discussed the preservation and management of digital archives.