In January 1993, World Wide Web software went into public domain after a series of investigations and experiments that date back to 1969. Based on the global connection of individuals through telecom networks, this software spread rapidly through our computers and, only twenty years after its first public appearance, the internet has become the most characteristic invention of the new millennium. The global network has deeply transformed the ways we relate to our social environment, and public space has found its doppelganger in the virtual realm – where electronic places become tangible in shiny devices we can hold in our hands. Although these places no longer belong to the domains of our discipline, it seems that architecture has not been able to escape the influence of an informational environment that is silently redefining the way we approach our projects.
The relation between architecture and information technology remained on the back burner during the first years of the so-called Digital Revolution, due to its chronological parallel with the introduction of the computer as a tool for architectural production. The potential of computer-aided design and the formal universe it was able to generate absorbed architectural debates during the nineteen nineties, neglecting the increasing influence of digital media in the construction of our professional environment. Two decades later, no one doubts that computers have become a necessary extension of the architect; it is now the time to examine the influence that the World Wide Web has in contemporary practice from a critical perspective.
From this standpoint, we are trying to respond to a simple question: if the rise of mechanical reproducibility and the appearance of mass media were crucial for the development of modern architecture, what might be the role that the internet and digital reproducibility play in contemporary architectural design?
Flee Market is a project developed by the ARCH403 students at the Rice School of Architecture with the help of Lluís J. Liñán.