Interview Future Heritage @ DASA Dortmund

Future is en vogue.

In 2018, she delivered the motto of the science year “Working Worlds of the Future”.

Daily, the media discusses the extent to which robots intervene in our everyday lives and what the progressive digitization is doing to us.

And even exhibitions are not excluded from this.

Interview Future Heritage @ DASA, Dortmund, Germany, 23-24 January 2019


“How will the future look? For professionals in the exhibition business this is a very relevant and difficult problem. Because the future does not give us any objects yet.

Future is en vogue. In 2018, she delivered the motto of the science year “Working Worlds of the Future”. Daily, the media discusses the extent to which robots intervene in our everyday lives and what the progressive digitization is doing to us. And even exhibitions are not excluded from this.


Wednesday 23.01.2019, 10.15-17.00

Andreas Horbelt, Concept and Creative Director, facts and fiction Köln, „Digital is the new Normal. Also in the  Museum?“
Jessika Meyer, Cultural Scientists and Innovationmanager, Stuttgart, “Exhibiting the Future. Staging of the mobility of tomorrow”
Tristan Kobler / Dr. Bernd Holtwick, Holzer Kobler Architekturen Zürich / DASA Working World Exhibition “New Working Worlds – Open Future Exhibit“
Axel Pfänder / Ingo Zirngibl, Jangled nerves, Stuttgart
Prof. Nikolaus Hafermaas, Triad Berlin, Blended Realities – The screen dies.
Dr. Gabriele Zipf, Dr. Rüdiger Haum, Futurium Berlin, „Zukünfte zeigen: Konzepte und Herausforderungen“
Jürgen Bleibler, Zeppelin Museum Friedrichshafen, Innovationen! Zukunft als Ziel. Eine Ausstellung des Zeppelin Museums im Spannungsfeld von Technikgeschichte, kommunaler Kulturpolitik, Industrie und aktuellen Museumsdiskussionen.

Thursday, 24.01.2019, 09.30-16.00

Prof. Elizabeth Sikiaridi & Prof. Frans Vogelaar, Hybrid Space Lab, „Future Heritage“
Henrique Oliveira, Museum of tomorrow, Rio de Janeiro, „The cosmos narrative“
Melanie Saverimuthu/Dr. Andreas Gundelwein, Deutsches Museum, „Die Zukunft mit allen Sinnen begreifen“
Prof. Mitchell Joachim, Architect, New York City, “Design Against Extinction”
Marcus Starzinger, DASA Arbeitswelt Ausstellung, Dortmund, Tagungszusammenfassung


What does “hybrid space” mean, where does the term come from?

Frans Vogelaar:
We developed the term “hybrid space” for the convergence and merging of physical space and digital networks – on all scales, from exhibition installations to the (hybrid) city. In the late 1980s, we began to think through artistic projects about how our lives and the physical urban space would be transformed by the emerging Internet and digital networks.

Elizabeth Sikiaridi:
Since the Internet and digital networks had not yet established themselves, there was a great deal of space for free thinking where we could speculate freely. With our very early artistic project “Public Media Urban Interfaces”, we developed models to give all city dwellers a bottom-up active participation in the global media culture, to strengthen the local and the urban as a starting point for the global media culture.

How has the concept of “hybrid space” evolved?

Elizabeth Sikiaridi:
Hybrid also stands for our transdisciplinary approach, as our work spans across several disciplines. Digital networks – with the computer as a tool – is the common denominator that brings about major changes in almost all fields of work, including the arts, design as well as exhibitions and museums. Thus, our focus on the hybrid space proves to very relevant for many areas of life and work.

Frans Vogelaar:
This allows us to deal with different disciplines and to transfer findings and methods from one field to another. We do this in our work that focuses on cultural spaces. Digital technology and hybrid space (combination of physical and virtual space) have a major impact on exhibitions. The digitally networked co-creation brings about an opening and a redefinition of museums.

Could you briefly introduce an example of such developments?

Frans Vogelaar:
In 2014, we were invited to develop concepts for the further development of the Beijing Museum District “798”. We did not propose a new museum or a new branding, but the process-oriented strategy “INbetweenSTITUTE” to develop spaces for networked co-creation and to foster the networks of artists and creatives – on-site as well as online – and strengthen their integration within the urban fabric of “798”.

Elizabeth Sikiaridi:
“INbetweenSTITUTE” proposes a new open co-creation infrastructure that brings together the private space of creative artistic creation, such as studios and ateliers, with the public space of the audience, such as showrooms, museums, galleries, theaters or concert halls. As a hybrid concept, it integrates digital networks and urban spaces and uses participatory processes to hybridize the recipients and producers of cultural production.

Does this mean that the “hybrid” has become a strategy?

Elizabeth Sikiaridi:
This transdisciplinary working method and ‘hybrid strategy’ allows us to convey urban development tools, such as participation, to the area of exhibition making. Furthermore, this approach enables us to develop a fresh gaze and to come up with unexpected solutions and ideas and thus open new paths, as with our project “Humboldt Jungle”, a forward-looking vision for the very controversial project “Humboldt Forum”.

Frans Vogelaar:
Our design references the naturalist Alexander von Humboldt as it proposes a hanging garden with lianas overgrowing the Prussian castle and envisions a tropical forest on its roof. It is more than just façade greening– it lets “grass grow over” and reconciles the multi-layered historical wounds of this symbolic place. Our radical proposal was very well received by the cultural world and the press as a “break-through idea” and as the “rescue of the Humboldt Forum”.

Does the “hybrid” also stand for this coming together of vegetation and buildings, nature and culture?

Frans Vogelaar:
The hybrid stands for a holistic approach to space and architecture. In this spirit, we also developed the project “Humboldt Volcano”, an extension to the Humboldt Forum with a vertical jungle, which consists of a terraced path, a roof garden, a conservatory and a waterfall. As a combination of architecture, nature and technology, the project gives the Humboldt Forum within the palace a contemporary expression radiating into the city.

Elizabeth Sikiaridi:
The project stands for a hybrid innovative architecture that merges with nature. “Humboldt Volcano” is a stacked ‘oasis’ that integrates vegetation into the built environment. This hybrid building presents solutions for integrating green in very dense urban situations. In this convergence, forward-looking architecture finds its expression – one that rises up to the challenges of the Anthropocene.

What is the potential of such a “hybrid” approach?

Elizabeth Sikiaridi:
In our current project on Valle de los Caídos (Valley of the Fallen), we examine how traditional physical architectural monuments can be transformed and reinterpreted using digital spaces. Valle de los Caídos, the Francoist monument built near Madrid between 1940 and 1959, is the most controversial active monument in the world, an example of the difficulties of the processes for transforming such controversial monuments.

Frans Vogelaar:
The project is very relevant to the whole discussion about cultural heritage. It explores how traditional physical monuments can be ‘informed’ and thus reinterpreted using digital networked dynamic archives. It raises questions about Future Heritage: what could future heritage sites look, feel, sound like, and how their digital enriched features could affect memory-making processes?

What do technological developments mean to you?

Elizabeth Sikiaridi:
We examine current developments very broadly, in the field of culture, communication, production, environment, exchange (markets) and technological innovations. We approach the technological developments from the perspective of the designer, architect, urbanist with the aim of “inhabiting” and thus transforming technology so that the latter enables and supports our ideas of how we want to live.

Frans Vogelaar:
We live in an accelerating world, with an increasing pace of technological development. Technology should not dominate our thinking and acting. Therefore, creativity is becoming more and more important. Mixing fields and combining expertise, considering environments in their multitude of dimensions is a way for us to find relevant solutions to increasingly complex spatial design tasks.

How important is innovation for you?

Frans Vogelaar:
We are a laboratory for cultural innovation, a cultural transformation agent focusing on topical interconnected spatial challenges. We see ourselves as a cultural breeding ground for incubating breakthrough concepts and fostering innovation contributing to positive societal and environmental change.

Elizabeth Sikiaridi:
Innovation is not an end in itself and not a quality in itself. Innovation is necessary to deal with an ever faster changing world. Therefore, innovation is a means to manage and steer accelerating developments. Hybridization is an evolutionary strategy enabling us to develop new solutions to changing environments in our fast-paced, highly complex globalized world.

How do you see the future of your field?

Elizabeth Sikiaridi:
Actually, we do not think in categories of fields and disciplines. At the beginning, we had a communication problem because we did not fit into the predefined disciplines. So we were repeatedly asked: what exactly are you? Designers, architects, urbanists, landscape architects, digital experts, researchers … media artists? We responded with a provocative strategy by defining our office as a hybrid laboratory.

Frans Vogelaar:
Traditional disciplines develop, transform and merge. We see our nomadic, „undisciplined“ laboratory as a catalyst for this process, as a space for development and experimentation. One should not underestimate the strategic value of crossover spaces and hybrid laboratories. We believe that it is important to strengthen non-disciplinary environments and to support creative encounters as they promote innovation.

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