Apr 2018

Cold Data

Cemeteries are reflective landscapes of social and individual anxieties, places of information retrieval and comemmoration. On the other hand, dead people’s data should not be subject to copy-paste, but protected and secured instead, just like their remains. “Cold Data” explores this idea by turning the island of Gyali in Greece into a cemetery island. The island is where personal information is collected, stored in physical form and archived, protected from unregulated use and distribution.

As the volume of each individual’s personal data on the Cloud is growing exponentially larger, we collectively start questioning whether this digital existence is inferior or even simply supplementary to the corporeal one. Based on this thought, the thesis examines the ways through which this new condition is able to inform the landscapes of death and recharge their symbolical aspect as the prime landscapes of memory, body management and personal data archiving. More specifically, it attempts to reclaim the practice of archiving as the core of a commonly shared, accessible death culture and introduce a new typology for the death landscape of the digital era.

The proposed design draws references from the architecture of technological infrastructure such as server farms, data storage vaults and modular data centers while simultaneously keeping at its core the relationship between architecture and landscape, especially how the latter has marked the evolution of the death spaces since the 18th century. Special attention is paid on the reading of the island as a self-contained, existing-in-itself world of limits, otherness and imaginaires and the reading of the ground as the geophysical world of transmission, storage and archiving of information.Finally, the narrative of the architectural proposal is constructed on three, fundamental and complementary connections: the relationship between man and landscape (island), man and cognition - information (cenotaph) and finally, that between man and body (crematorium).

The project begins with identifying the parallels between archiving and burying, and how these have been reflected in architecture so far. Next, it delves into an analysis of the island itself and the possible routes that would enhance the experience. It reads various data storage techniques, choosing the Modular Data Center to inform the design of the Archive itself. Finally, it proposes the design of the Crematorium as the final node of the journey to the island.