Devices of Design: An International Colloquium to Examine the Relationships between New Media and Historical Architecture Procedures, Design and Theory

The Canadian Centre for Architecture in collaboration with The Daniel Langlois Foundation for Art, Science and Technology announces Devices of Design, a project initiated in response to the pervasive use of digital media and software technologies in architectural design, representation, and construction. An all-day colloquium will take place at the CCA on November 18 from 9 am to 5 pm, to address both the impact of new media on contemporary architectural theory and practice, and the urgent need for better understanding of the archival and conservation issues that such new media and technology raise for research institutions worldwide. The colloquium is open to the public as well as professionals in the field. An online site created by the Daniel Langlois Foundation can be accessed both through the CCA website at and the Daniel Langlois Foundation website at

Co-Chairs of Devices of Design, Senior Consulting Curator at the CCA, Mirko Zardini, and Jean Gagnon, Executive Director of the Daniel Langlois Foundation, commented: “Over the last two decades, architectural design and construction have increasingly taken advantage of new developments in computer software. The highly sophisticated instruments at our disposal today have not only transformed the processes of design, but have also fundamentally altered modes of thinking and conceiving the architectural project.”

Although the consequences of this shift are already self-evident, to adequately grasp the role and importance of new digital technologies, as well as their status as records of the architectural design process and thus their long-term fate as “archival documents,” it may be instructive to reflect on earlier revolutions in the modes and media of architectural design paper and the instruments of drawing, geometrical and mathematical measurements and calculations, analytical descriptions, blueprints, architectural models, the primal black screen of the first computers, and the advanced software available to designers at the beginning of the 21st century. In every instance where a new instrument of design has been introduced, a new attitude has been formed, a fundamental shift has occurred, a new concern has been raised, a new paradigm has been installed.

The Colloquium Devices of Design will initiate an in-depth discussion among designers, theorists and historians who have explored the crucial relationship between the tools and techniques of design on the one hand, and modes of perceiving and conceiving architecture on the other hand. These are seen as preliminary steps in the longer-range efforts of the CCA and The Daniel Langlois Foundation to address the crucial archival and conservation problems that have arisen with respect to the new-media artifacts being generated by designers throughout the world. The question of how to handle, archive, and preserve new-media artifacts presupposes a more fundamental question of what to preserve and why.

One point of departure in this regard is the issue of what ultimately distinguishes contemporary architectural projects from those of the past, and what this has to do with the Devices of Design. Colloquium Moderator, Derrick de Kerckhove (Director, McLuhan Program in Culture and Technology, University of Toronto), will launch the discussion with the questions: “Whither thine boundaries, o Architecture, in a networked, cognitive, interactive universe? Is architecture still single? Does the architecture of networks qualify as architecture?”Participants include Marco Frascari (G. Truman Ward Professor, History of Architecture, Virginia Tech.), “Architectural ideasput them on paper!”; Mario Carpo (Consulting Head, Study Centre, CCA, and Associate Professor, History of Architecture, “cole d’Architecture de Paris La Villette), “Building with Geometry, Drawing with Numbers”; Mark Wigley (Dean, Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservatino, Columbia University, New York), “Black Screens: The Architect’s Vision in a Digital Age”; Peter Galison (Mallinckrodt Professor, History of Science and of Physics, Harvard University), “Epistemic Machines: Image and Logic”; Greg Lynn (Full Professor, Universitt fr angewandte Kunst Wien), “Going Primitive”; Bernard Cache (Architect, Objectile, Paris), “After Jean Prouv: Non-Standard Folding Software”; and Giles Lane (Director, Proboscis, London), “The City of Memory.”

Admission is free. Registration is mandatory, as seating is limited. Participants can download the registration form and send it via fax or e-mail no later than November 10 to (514) 939-7020 or For further information, please contact Benjamin Prosky, Head, Special Projects, at (514) 399-7001 x2661 or