Critical Modeling
Dissertation Project and Workshop Series

Digital shadows are cast on urban space, while Digital Twins mirror the city through 3D models, sensors, and simulation. Despite these metaphors’ dualism, such “twins” manifest as a multiplicity of things: A stand-in city to be hit by virtual disasters (we watch with fatal pleasure). Sometimes, a digital doppelgänger threatening to replace the real world. On occasion, a backup of urban areas that soon may be lost.
Digital Twinning appears less as the abstract production of evidence, but as a situated mode of understanding and planning urban spaces, with its own histories, politics, and poetics. Inspired by Science Technology Studies and Cyberfeminism, this project focuses on the material and performative dimensions of urban modeling and investigates historical trajectories and power differentials inscribed into these activities. Through collaborative modeling experiments with local stakeholders, the project explores the speculative and hallucinatory potential of (Digital) Twinning:
Exercises in seeing double through bricolaged sensors and embodied data-making.
Remixing layers of municipal data catalogs spanning from census data to everyday knowledge to formations on a geological timescale.
Calculation as a mode of world-building and situated speculation.
Experiments with agile and idiotic models of action.
A hybrid data-rama emerges from these modeling activities: a situated (Digital) Twin made of data, cardboard buildings, interactive simulations, and material diagrams. Instead of detached evidence, this model entangles multiple actors and lets them explore desirable and perilous urban scenarios.
Prof. Frank Petzold (TUM, Chair of Architectural Informatics)
Prof. Ignacio Farìas (HU, Institute of European Ethnology)

Workshop Documentations:

What spatial imaginaries do urban data platforms and digital twins facilitate? Let’s delve into architectural visions of urban data catalogs, into the infinite library, the mundaenum, or the outlook tower. By remixing ontologies and data architectures, we explore alternative compositions of urban worlds, modes of organization, and ways of making sense of a city.

How to maintain urban worlds mirrored - synchronized but separated? We engage with material practices of interweaving and isolating urban spaces, like photogrammetry, sensor-building, and data-making. Exploring urban data collections as an historical palimpsest, we investigate what is made (in)visible through these perspectives, and experiment with modified lenses to see urban worlds.

Working with narrative, bricolage, and material approaches, simulation becomes a cooperative medium of exploration and speculation. Using collages of calculation, pollution data, building cadastres, and flood simulation we create possible - perhaps even desirable - versions of a future city. These imaginations materialize as interactive data-ramas.