Icon of Knowledge – The Next Generation of Data Centres
Matan Gal (in collaboration with Sofia Elias)
We are in the midst of a third revolution – “Knowledge”
The accelerate transition towards a “Digital Society”, had set aside the significance of the physical material – If so, the “Monument”, a symbol of materialism, distinguished and with overwhelming appearance – has quickly been replaced by a functional infrastructure, one that consists of a grid system of generic centers (Data Centers) which physically store a “virtual world”, eternal world, one without an identity or sense – This is the “Big Data”.
Limit to know, right to forget
in the past, knowledge was stored through selective, limited and restricted methods. The transition to digital data and the constant change in trends and innovations has led to the ‘shortening’ of knowledge’s ‘life’. If so, The Data Center provides an infinite space for storage and a “stage” for updated information.
Out of the qualities of the Internet and of data centers, questions are raised with regards to the gap between the users, who absorb and emit knowledge daily and the mighty system? How do we want interact?
One must furthermore, consider that data Centers currently design to differentiate the object from the space and the community, by exclusion the internal process and that the heritage of traditional knowledge configurations has been eroded and transformed into a scattered world of digital information.
In order to keep the physical ‘Monument of Knowledge’ alive – a direct connection needs to be established between the virtual and the reality:
- Create a place that meets configurations of production and storage information in various modes – preservation of traditions through contemporary mechanisms, to the flexible infrastructure with future expansion potential that will be filled in a different program.
- Physical space to hold an additional dimension – no definite programs into it the knowledge is constantly changing (Pop-Up) then the identity of the subject is undermined and varies depending on the displayed content.
- A place for investigation and processing an information that retrieved from the real and the virtual worlds.
- To recognize and bridge the gap between the “User” and the “System”.
- Providing a new social-media identity between individuals in the Users Community – “Trade affair of knowledge”.
- Constitute a distribution station and transmission of interdisciplinary contents in real-time and different ranges-configurations.
Who influences you graphically?
The aim of the language of representation was to illustrate and provoke a time when knowledge is in constant and quick flux. The Pop-art culture properly serves the project’s principles through aggressive visual communication, transmitting messages in a quick and decisive way.
The Japanese-Tokyoites artist, Minoru Nomata, also influenced the project through his ability to create alternative-utopian landscapes that feature individual monumental objects, architecture follies , devoid of any real identity or function. Lastly, the “monolith” from ‘Space Odyssey’ (film) – was also inspiring when considering a self-centered entity that embodies great power and spread it all over.
What prompted the architectural project?
The project is a contemporary attempt to trace the monumental character of the tower, through the last architecture avant-garde groups “super-studio” – Non-Stop City project and the “Delus group”, which included Buckminster-Fuller, Doxiadis, Marshall McLuhan and others, who studied the physical and conceptual connections between reality and the virtual world, and predicted the way technology and knowledge, as the origins of the human race , would combine towards a promising future. The daring approach of those groups to speculate on a utopian, monumental, scaleless, systematic architectural-model that emphasized dynamism, and flexibility of expansion – were used to counter the hegemony of modernist functionalism, which was dubbed ‘the boredom of hygiene’.
Whilst these mostly develop horizontally what pushed you to challenge a vertical configuration as that of the tower?
“The State Square” – the name of the site was selected to locate the iconic tower of knowledge – a status symbol of the elite society in Israel. Also, in its platonic round shape, the square is used as a spatial symbol. Actually, instead of this eccentric and glamorous place, I had chosen to place a public and collaborative platform structure for an audience who interest in trading knowledge openly and egalitarian.
In addition, the tower is a social-spatial anchor that rises in the skyline of Israel’s main city, Tel Aviv, and use as a landmark from which information can be drawn at any time, even from far distance.
How did the project develop in terms of ‘form’ – what dictated the architecture of this tower of knowledge?
We, the Internet user community, carry a small capacity of knowledge. The ability to assemble knowledge of the masses rather in a physical place creates a different kind of social networking, goes on a seam of reality and the virtual reality.
The “Knowledge Monument” is a chronological stratification of knowledge-saving and sharing modes which exist inside the core spheres: the public square, the library, the convention hall and the traditional exhibition spaces were placed at the base of the tower. Above them, there are spheres of knowledge combined with contemporary technology, including research and manufacturing laboratories. In the top of the tower, there is a cluster of small spaces that have no fixed function but maintain a platform of changing knowledge, for everyone, in order to enable flexibility and rapid change of knowledge like a fashion catwalk.
Do you really trust in the power of architecture to bridge the gap between “User” and the “System”?
I think there is a real need to understand the role of knowledge, to present it in a monumental spot in order to demonstrate the complexity of it and to maintain the necessity of knowledge-center by adaptations to the 21st century.
Whereas in the past, the ‘knowledge’ was in the hands of the hegemony, at the end of the twentieth century, a change took place in this order, and today the largest community that has ever known in the history is being formed under the common denominator of the ‘Big Data’, a phenomenon that appears to be the greatest revolutionist since the Industrial Revolution.
However, the accelerated transition to “digital society” and over-accessibility by one click distance, eroded the need for physical space for knowledge, and as proof of this, the traditional knowledge-monuments, such as the museum or the library, that gained a spatial presence and a suspenseful appearance, were soon replaced by a functional infrastructure- it is the generic data centers which inhabiting a virtual world without any identity or feeling.
In order to avoid from vanishing in an alienated and closed world of ‘user’s community and the system’ – first it is necessary to increase the awareness and expose the user to the machine and point out how it works.
In fact, the project functionalism agenda was based on the ‘virtual knowledge process’: input, processing and output knowledge, but amplify this process through direct interaction of the user with the system – it is a hybrid of functionalism and technology with the human experience. Then, the happening inside the tower and out of it, will base the spirit of our time, celebrate the power of technology and will use as a prototype of the planning genre of tomorrow.
How important was the model, what is its used in relation to the two dimensional drawings?
The physical model, designed as a sectional model and composed entirely of polymeric materials. The model was built by using digital methods of laser cutting and 3D printing – thus, it was possible to demonstrate the principles of innovation and technological progress.
The model, in its size and scale, is designed to enable a comprehensive understanding of the various hierarchies embodied inside the tower-spheres and shows in a three-dimensional configuration the connections between the tower and its monumental position in the space.
What defined the use of the video? What was its purpose?
The video presents a point-of-view angle taken by means of a drone had flown on the vertical axis of the tower. The video, mixed with sampled sound, had meant to be emotional and to create a sense of spatial control and dominance from the tower’s view and location. The video is used as a complementary medium and used to be a link between the initial idea, the location and to the tower itself.
In reflecting upon the notion of the medium is the massage, did you ever thing of developing a proper medium which, aside from the drawing would satisfy this new connection between screen and world? Maybe a specific app?
What role might virtual reality play in this speculation and the future of knowledge vs architecture?
I do not pretend to have invented a new technology, but I play with my tools as an architect and designer through materials and forms within the technological field, in an effort to find the intersection between the virtual and the real – between physical architecture and the internet space. It is important to understand and recognize our limits and our role as architects, and from this point to act and change.
When Marshall McLuhan claimed at 67′ that “the medium is the message” – he argued that the medium affects the way in which we perceive, design and scale the reality. According to this statement – The tower was designed to broadcast outside a data non-stop through the facades as a “cascade of knowledge”, like a huge collective “smartphone”, in order to expose out the happening inside and to present a hot news and innovations from the internet. The digital facades can be scanned remotely by using QR scanner and if so, maintain a direct route with what happening at the Knowledge Center.
If so, I think that contemporary architecture has the ability and technology to be more flexible and change the programmatic infill (more than the physical dimension) – this quality can be leveraged create a new type of infrastructure, on which technological innovations such as virtual reality can be assembled.
The Bezalel Academy of art and design in Jerusalem, in the heart of the Israeli – Palestinians controversy, is a place which pushes one to discuss, criticise and react to trends and spatial phenomena both within and without Israel. The academic platform encourages a student’s self-expression to innovate and develop new ideas and concepts under the agenda of ‘Arts & Crafts’ which leads to exposing conceptual visions via design process.
During his studies, Matan realised a common thread between the different projects – always driven by the curiosity to define the relationship between the privet-the collective and the artificial creation. An interest to design the adaptation, new interfaces, and forms of global change.
‘I see in architecture an effective and influential tool, to give a physical expression, fulfill amorphic ideas and bridge the gap between the visionary and the reality, especially in a world of concerns and capitalism.’