CELLULA

MUNDANEUM

Project exhibited at the Trienal de Arquitectura de Lisboa

 

Paul Otlet’s Mundaneum isn’t just space, it is a conceptual system developed at the beginning of the twentieth century to gather and classify the world’s knowledge according to the Universal Decimal Classification System. The known ideological precursor to the internet and a milestone for data collection and management, the Mundaneum worked as a network from a global to a cellular scale. “The Cellula Mundaneum is the representation of the idea of the Mundaneum with reduced proportions. The cellula can be a separate establishment, autonomous or part of another institution, of a set. Example: School, library, museum, institute, administration. The cellula presents itself in a space of eight sides with three external doors. In the center is the pyramid and the sphere (mundus - mundaneum). On each wall the development of one of the aspects. (From the big circle of the sphere).” - Paul Otlet

My interpretation of the Cellula Mundaneum produced for the Lisbon Triennale 2019 explores the relationship between the physical human space and the nonphysical space of knowledge. In the model, the octagonal room is made out of white plaster - cast in a handmade mold - rough, personal and imperfect, it represents the Physical Realm. In contrast, the walls and pyramid of “managed immaterial knowledge” are made of semi-transparent acrylic, sterilized, clean and processed, they represent seemingly objective data. 

However, after the production and development of the project, the following question remained. If the Mundaneum gathers and shares the world’s knowledge, who is in charge of deciding what the world’s knowledge is; and who decides who gets to access it?

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