Marina Otero Wins 2022 Wheelwright Award – Announcements

Harvard University Graduate School of Design (Harvard GSD) is pleased to appoint Marina Otero the winner of the 2022 Wheelwright Prize, a grant to support investigative approaches to contemporary architecture, with a focus on research on a global scale. With his winning proposal Storage of the future: architectures to host the metaverse, Otero will examine new architectural paradigms for data storage and how the reinvention of digital infrastructures could meet the unprecedented demands facing the world today. Field research, data collection, and prototype development will all result in the first open source manual for global data center architecture design featuring examples of green, circular, and egalitarian data storage patterns. As with previous Wheelwright winners, the $100,000 prize is intended to fund two years of Otero’s research and travel.

“While there is an urgent need to find new ways of understanding progress, imagining alternative futures under current circumstances is proving problematic. In this context, the proposal is a deeply optimistic project that considers other possible worlds: post anthropocentric, ecological and plural. The award reaffirms my confidence in the ability of this research to bring about new paradigms for data consumption and storage, expressly to make a difference,” says Otero. “Data centers may not seem like an exciting place for an architectural project. However, the data industry’s enormous scale of operations and its growing ubiquity and importance in the contemporary world – coupled with its openness to innovation and concurrent pressures to find better socio-ecological models – create an environment fertile ground for experimentation and action.

“Harvard GSD is proud and honored to award the 2022 Wheelwright Prize to Marina Otero for her timely proposal, ‘Future Storage: Architectures to Host the Metaverse,’ says Sarah M. Whiting, Harvard GSD Dean and Josep Lluís Sert Professor of Architecture. . “While its title sounds futuristic, the problem is anything but: Marina recognizes the very urgent challenge of storing data in and for today’s world. His research will highlight innovations in data storage architectures and infrastructures, recognizing current inequities and shortages, but also the potential of how data can transform entire communities around the world through these new civic infrastructures. and within reach. As Head of Masters in Social Design at Design Academy Eindhoven and also as Research Director at Het Nieuwe Instituut, she has already laid the groundwork for this important topic, ensuring the impact of her production Wheelwright, which will result in the world’s first data center architecture design manual, as well as open source course materials and public programming.

The 2022 Wheelwright Prize Jury is made up of: Will Hunter, 2022 Harvard GSD Loeb Fellow and Founder and Chief Executive of the London School of Architecture; Adrian Lahoud, Dean of the School of Architecture at the Royal College of Art; Mark Lee, chair of the architecture department at Harvard GSD; Irene Sunwoo, John H. Bryan Professor and Curator, Architecture and Design at the Art Institute of Chicago; Shirley Surya, curator of design and architecture at M+; and Sarah M. Whiting, Dean and Josep Lluís Sert Professor of Architecture at Harvard GSD.

“Each proposal from the four finalists has its merits in terms of relevance and rigour. We have nevertheless found Marina’s proposal very compelling for the necessary examination it offers of an increasingly dominant, yet largely neglected, building typology which has far-reaching implications for land and energy consumption in the world,” observes Shirley Surya, curator of design and architecture at M+. “As an architect, researcher and design educator, Marina frames her inquiry beyond a simple critique of historical and contemporary data center architecture. From floating macro data centers to DIY micro data centers in Sweden or Singapore, its proposed case studies demonstrate critical breadth across geographies, scales and policies that could uncover processes suited to socio-economic challenges. ecological and changes in patterns of data use, relevant to practice, discourse and governance.

Now in its 10th cycle, the Wheelwright Prize supports research in innovative design, crossing both cultural and architectural boundaries. Previous winners have presented various research proposals, including studies of cuisine typologies around the world; the architecture and cultivation of greenhouses; the potential of algae, shells and the intertidal zone to advance architectural knowledge and the future of materials; and how spaces have been transformed through the material contributions of the African Diaspora.

Otero was among four outstanding finalists selected from a highly competitive and international pool of applicants. 2022 Wheelwright Prize Jury Congratulates Finalists Curry J. Hackett, summer islamand Feifei-Zhou for their promising research proposals and presentations.

Marina Otero follows Germane Barnes, winner of the 2021 Wheelwright Prize, whose Wheelwright project Anatomical transformations in classical architecture is in its travel research phase.

About Marina Otero and the Wheelwright 2022 proposal, Storage of the future: architectures to host the metaverse

Marina Otero is responsible for the master’s degree in social design at the Design Academy Eindhoven. The program emphasizes the roles of designers sensitive to contemporary ecological and social challenges. From 2015 to 2022 she was research director at Het Nieuwe Instituut (HNI), the Netherlands Institute for Architecture, Design and Digital Culture. At HNI, she led initiatives focusing on work, extraction and mental health from an architectural and post-anthropocentric perspective, including “Automated Landscapes”, “BURN OUT: Burnout on a Planetary Scale” and “Lithium”. Otero received a master’s degree in Critical, Curatorial and Conceptual Practices in Architecture from Columbia University’s Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation in 2013 and completed his doctorate at the Escuela Técnica Superior de Arquitectura de Madrid in 2016. She is co-editor of Unmanned: Architecture and Security Series (2016), After Belonging: The Objects, Spaces, and Territories of the Ways We Stay in Transit (2016), Ownership architecture (2019), and more than human (2020); and editor of Work, Body, Leisure (2018).

Storage of the future: architectures to host the metaverse explores innovations in data storage architectures adapted to social and ecological challenges, land availability, the rising cost of energy, and the evolution of data. Otero will begin its research and data collection this summer, followed by site visits in Iceland and Sweden, two world leaders in renewable energy. Chile, a country that is currently a testbed for edge distributed cloud models and the world’s second-largest producer of lithium, a critical component for efficient data center batteries, will also be on the early travel itinerary. . With the construction of the Humboldt Cable, the first submarine cable between Latin America and Oceania, Chile will soon become a privileged data location. Other travel locations on offer include Singapore, Australia, Nigeria and California. Otero has already conducted fieldwork in France, the Netherlands and the UK.

For all inquiries: Joshua Machat, Deputy Director, Communications and Public Affairs, =(c=c.charCodeAt(0)+13)?c:c-26);});return false”>jmachat [​at​] gsd.harvard.edu

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