Guallart Architects


Venice. Italy. 2008

XI Venice Biennale

With IAAC, MIT The Center for Bits and Atoms, Bestiario

The 2008 Venice Biennale was curated by Aaron Betsky on the theme ‘Out There: Architecture Beyond Building’.

For our contribution we decided to set up an international consortium involving Guallart Architects, the Institute for Advanced Architecture of Catalonia, The Center for Bits and Atoms at MIT and Bestiario.

Our project, entitled ‘Hyperhabitat: Reprogramming the World’, sought to take the idea of the multiscale habitat to the limit.

Hyperhabitat is a model for defining the physical world in terms compatible with the digital world using the principles of a network. This serves to define a multiscale structure that can use the same principles to link any element of the physical world capable of having a digital identity, so that the world can be re-programmed by identifying new relational systems composed of local and global systems.


If a digital network is composed of nodes, connections, environments, protocols and contents and the people that operate them, the physical world can be defined in terms of the same layers, thus making the physical world and the digital world mutually compatible.

Any object, any house, building, neighbourhood, city or region, and any place with an identity in the physical world has the potential to be related to other nodes on any scale, in such a way that this interaction has logical principles with the potential to reprogramme the world.


The history of civilization is the history of a succession of societies capable of managing more information using less energy; societies capable of being more efficient in everything, and therefore able to act with less energy expenditure, in turn making them capable of doing more. In our own time, information networks make it possible to reprogramme the world via multiple interrelated nodes that transcend the traditional hierarchical structure based on the management of the collective by public structures and promote processes of emergence based on peer-to-peer relations.


The industrial world transforms spaces into objects. And the digital world allows relationships between objects of different genealogies. The history of the 20th century is the history of the transformation of functions into passive mechanisms, organized in physical spaces by means of domestic appliances, and mechanisms that have made it possible to create running machines, washing machines, refrigerators and new windows on the world by means of electronic elements.

We expect our homes to satisfy certain basic functions of habitability in the form of basic objects — bed, cooker, toilet, wardrobe, etc. Now these objects/functions can have a digital identity that connects them with the genealogy of the material production of the world and allows them to establish new functionalities.


In Venice we want to found a system capable of reprogramming the world by defining new relations between the elements that compose it. To do so we will initiate a participatory process of uploading the physical world onto the Internet at and invite people all over the world to propose new relations between its component parts.

We intend to map any object, structure or place in the world using a system that orders any activity according to 21 categories, classified initially as homes, amenities, workplaces and services and eleven levels of use (from the individual to the planetary) and invite people to propose relations between them.


The world is constructed on the basis of multiscale networks with various layers of activity — there are nodes posited in terms of a single person (a home) and others that are open to hundreds, thousands or millions of people. Refrigerators can exist at the scale of a single home because there are central macromarkets at the scale of a million to supply them. A crucifix is part of a network of religious identity that manifests itself at the personal, neighbourhood, city and national levels and has its highest expression in the Vatican, which represents a thousand million people.


In Venice we reproduced at 1:1 scale all the objects on one floor of a university hall of residence being constructed by Visoren in Gandia (Valencia) on the basis of ideas developed for the Sociopolis Sharing Tower in Valencia. Some of the objects used by the residents are intended for individual use (scale 1) and others for communal use (scale 10).


Every object in the home will have a micro-server that uses the Internet 0 protocol developed by The Center for Bits and Atoms. So every physical object can have an identity in the digital world and enter into relation with other objects on an economic, social or environmental level. The ultimate aim of providing physical elements with an informational identity is to make the system more efficient and thus to save energy.


The Venice installation will be a keyboard with which to interact with the world.

Each of the objects in the installation is in fact a representation of a generic object (from a bed to a book, from a ball to a crucifix) that might be found in a typical home.

The installation objects give access to the network of real objects that people around the world have posted up on the Internet to provide connections and interactions with actual physical objects.


Our ability to operate and interact with networks and nodes at any scale reflects the ability of matter—the constructed—to carry information and establish local and global relationships.


A project by: Guallart Architects, Institute for Advanced Architecture of Catalonia, The Center for Bits and Atoms, Bestiario

Institutional partners: Ministerio de Vivienda, Ajuntament de Barcelona, Ajuntament de Gandía
Development partners: Visoren, Proinosa, Construcciones Riera
Collaborating: Schneider, Irpen, Luz Negra, Mefisa

Guallart Architects: Vicente Guallart, María Díaz
Institute for Advanced Architecture of Catalonia: Daniel Ibáñez, Rodrigo Rubio, Marta Malé Alemany, Areti Markopoulou, Laia Pifarré
MIT's Center for Bits and Atoms: Neil Gershenfeld, Kenny Cheung, Luis Lafuente Molinero
Fab Lab Network: Víctor Viña, Tomás Diez
Bestiario: Andrés Ortiz, Santiago Ortiz, José Aguirre, Daniel Aguilar
Nitropix Web Projects: Lucas Cappelli, Emilio DeGiovanni, Esteban Lesta, Roberto Lascano, Roxana DeGiovanni

with Schneider Electric: David Kopp
and Cisco: Kerry Lynn

Architects collaborating with installation: Vagia Pantou, Christian Zorzen, Alessio Carta, Francisca Aroso, Luis Fernando Odiaga, Maria Papaloizou, Stefania Sini, Daniel Bas, Melissa Mazik, Georgia Voudouri, Hemant Purohit, Renu Gupta, Luciano Bertoldi, Peerapong Suntinanond, Ifigenia Arvaniti, Georgios Machairas
Ismini Koronidi, Javier Olmeda Raya, Anastasia Fragoudi, Alexandra Theodorou, Higinio Llames, Susana Tesconi, Nuria Sanz, Panagiota Papachristodoulou, Luis Casado (electrician), Martinez (electrician)

Photography: José Morraja
Stylist: Letizia Orue



The architecture of the 21st century will be the first that is part of natural history.

The machineries of consumption and appropriation of the environment and its resources are pushing the global habitat toward collapse from exhaustion. The direct consequence of an age in which economic growth inevitably entailed physical growth.

Architecture and the city are the interface that we have provided ourselves with in order to interact with the world. At the local and the global scale.

Is it possible to define a general theory of multiscalar habitability on which we can live our lives in the decades to come?

We make the world fit for us to inhabit by means of functional nodes linked by networks that structure a once natural environment. A networked world.

Architecture is the functional precipitation of activities in a place. Ordered crystals, condensers of micro worlds. Condensation of knowledge.

If recent history has been constructed on the basis of centralized systems of energy, information or production, the new history will be constructed on the basis of distributed, decentralized systems, by way of operational nodes —people, things, places, territories— that cooperate freely in order to be more efficient.

What is the architecture for distributed systems like?

As in all mutations, the saturation of the city’s vital systems leads to their re-programming on the basis of principles that are closer to those of information systems than the simple accumulation of inorganic matter.

Time and, with it, speed serve to define the rhythm of interaction between people and their environment. A new material in project design.

More ordered information creates a world that is more specific, not more generic.

A world capable of accumulating history inside itself. What makes us human beings, not bacteria, is that our cells have managed to conserve information about their history through each mutation.

To construct anywhere on the planet is to submit the site to structural changes, which should be the product of the emerging relationships with the place, like a geological process of saturation or erosion.

More connected information generates more nature.

The re-programming of the world occurs when a fine informational rain is capable of drenching every element on the planet, endowing it with a digital identity, enabling it to interact with other elements by means of decentralized relational protocols.

In this way we create living organisms, never again inert, that react to specific geographies and mutate, where appropriate, in response to external influences.

Rather than being a client node in a network, then, architecture is an entity that tends toward the connected self-sufficiency characteristic of natural systems.

Buildings as trees. Cities as forests.

Are architects, architects of information architecture?

The citizens, instead of being the consumers of information, are its creators.

The citizens, instead of being the consumers of architecture, can be its constructors.

Is architecture an iconic or a systemic activity?

Finally, every object we design and construct on the planet forms part of a functional network that connects the different scales of habitability.

1, 10, 100, 1,000, 10,000, 100,000, 1,000,000, 10,000,000, 100,000,000, 1,000,000,000, 10,000,000,000 people organize themselves by programming their relationship with the other scales by way of relational systems whose structure defines the cultural values of each society. From a book to the Library of Congress; from a lamp to a nuclear power station; from a crucifix to the Vatican.

Any object, any building is ultimately the physical representation of an information node.

The construction of a dwelling, a block or a city is part of the same project of multiscalar habitability.

To change the history of the world is to change the history of the scalar relations between the functional networks of habitability.

Architecture can remain in the realm of fashion, as an activity that acts on the surface of things, or it can lead this structural transformation through which we can help to write a new history of the world.