Critical Modeling 3.0: Data Collectives

Project in Winter 2022/23

The project series ‘Critical Modeling’ investigates the spatial, political, and socio-material aspects of urban data platforms and so-called “City Digital Twins.” It explores digital infrastructure from an architectural and urbanistic point of view. Urban data is intimately related to architectural imaginaries, planning programs, and urban governance. Hence we approach the topic as an open architectural design brief.

The third edition of this format investigates data platforms as a collective architecture that (re)produces the common urban world. On the one hand, we will discuss how such infrastructure assembles data as well as political issues and urban worlds. On the other, we investigate how it transforms ways of collaboration and care for urban spaces.

“Data Collectives” introduces a commoning perspective toward urban data. Together we will gather data as a shared resource, shape collective infrastructures, and articulate visions for common urban worlds.

1 Hybrid Explorations

In this endeavor, we will cooperate with the municipality of Amberg, a small town in Oberpfalz. During an excursion, we will explore situated urban problems - ranging from public participation to the sustainability of urban ecosystems. We will analyze how these issues are represented and managed through data sets, planning instruments, and practices. Using explorative mappings, interviews, and workshops, we will create a Data Catalogue as our collective hybrid model of Amberg.

2 Remixing a Metadata Catalogue

This Data Catalogue becomes our experimental vehicle to explore and and create urbanistic visions for Amberg. We will playfully remix our data sets - and generate new critical perspectives as well as new ways of working together. How can data support critical discussion? How to create instruments for inclusive planning? How to envision emancipatory projects?

We will co-create concepts for strategies, applications, and prototypes: participatory platforms, playful visualizations, or urban simulations. At the same time, we will work on a collective infrastructure, binding these projects together - a platform for the integration and representation of the single projects.

3 Prototyping Common Worlds

Lastly, we will concretely en-vision and enact these concepts. We will prototype our ideas by designing playful applications, interfaces, and visualizations. Thus, we will materialize and perform our visions for Amberg through digital tools and connect these to a shared infrastructure.


The design project will be accompanied by technology workshops, enabling you to generate, organize, and visualize data. These activities will be complemented by conceptual workshops and engagement with theoretical literature.

Technology Workshops:

  • Basic Programming and Data Reading
  • Grasshopper and geodata (organizing, analyzing, and modifying spatial data)
  • Unity (Game Engine for Visualization and Interaction)

Concept Workshops:

  • Mapping Amberg: Space, Data, Organization
  • Playing a Metadata-Catalogue
  • Narrating and Building a Collective Infrastructure