Securing and enabling access to knowledge for the future: archiving digital architectural records

Research Team: Christine Garnaut, Harriet Edquist (RMIT), Markus Stumptner, Julie Collins, John Gelder, Stephen Ward, Tim McGinley, Georg Grossman, Research Assistant: Chris Burns

Digital records are vulnerable to loss through technological obsolescence and degradation of physical media. Unlike traditional paper-based archives, digital records require constant maintenance in order to remain viable. Digital technology was introduced into Australian architectural practice during the 1980s and early 1990s, and digital files associated with this era are at particular risk.

This pilot project investigated the challenges associated with archiving digital architectural records by examining the surviving digital archives related to two case study buildings. The Ridgway apartment building (Charlick Court, Adelaide 1995), part of the East End Market residential redevelopment, was designed by Adelaide-based Woods Bagot architects. Storey Hall (Swanston Street, Melbourne 1995), an award-winning renovation and extension of a heritage building for RMIT University, was designed by Melbourne-based ARM Architecture (Ashton Raggatt McDougall).

A two-day symposium in April 2016 served as an opportunity to reveal and discuss findings from the pilot study and to identify areas and topics for future research. Symposium presentations and podcasts are available for download on the Born Digital program page.

The project was a collaboration between researchers across several disciplines at UniSA – architecture, construction, information technology – and with RMIT Design Archives, Woods Bagot and ARM Architecture. The Canadian Centre for Architecture, Montreal, Canada, contributed in an advisory capacity. The research was supported by a University of South Australia Research Themes Investment Scheme grant, and by in-kind support from Woods Bagot and ARM Architecture.

The final project report is available for download here as a 4.7MB PDF.