Architectural Design Workshop — Digital Archeology and Virtual Narratives (summer)

Permission of instructor
Limited to 8
Preference Given to: 
advanced MArch, SMArchS computation

Digital Archaeology and Virtual Narratives’ is a collaborative workshop, bringing together the resources and expertise from the MIT Department of Architecture and the Archaeology Department at Ben Gurion University (BGU).

This collaboration will engage and foster an interdisciplinary study of the material remains of the village of Lifta in Jerusalem - an archaeological site with remains from various historical periods, spanning biblical times, Palestinian era of the Ottoman Empire, to Jewish settlements of the late 1950s.

The workshop will study the archaeological site of Lifta, using advanced simulation techniques. We intend to produce immersive and experiential representation of the contested archeological site, making use of immersive simulation technologies (virtual-reality, augmented-reality, environmental sound production).

The participants, architects and archaeologists, will construct narrative speculations of past events, as well as possible futures in immersive environments. Through this, students will construct their own representations of the multiplicity of existing and hidden narratives with varying compositions, undermining the notion singularity of story. Working in groups, students from MIT and BGU will produce several visual installations, making available experiences that present a bricolage of Lifta’s material remains.

The workshop will consist of a 3-day preparatory session at MIT, followed by a two-week visit to Israel and the site of Lifta, and a concluding week of intensive production at MIT. Preparatory tutorials sessions will include acquiring design skill set in virtual-reality production, using 3D scanning techniques and Unity gaming-engine. During the visit at Lifta we will deploy environmental scanning using ground and drone photography, and last scanning, along with archaeological surveying techniques.

The two-week visit to Israel will include an intensive series of lectures, tours and workshops, intended to bridge the disciplinary gap between architecture and archeology, as well as expose the students to the political, cultural and historical complexities of the site. The remainder of the visit will be dedicated to fieldwork, documentation, and survey of the site, including aerial and ground 3D scanning, gathering of existing resources, site analysis and construction of spatial narratives. Lastly, as a concluding phase, the materials collected will be processed during an intensive production week at the end of the summer, generating 3D models and implementing those in VR environments while dividing various VR experiences of Lifta’s archaeological site.


This workshop has been awarded a MISTI Israel Seed Grant and is conducted in cooperation with the Archeology Department in the Ben Gurion University in Israel.


Destination: Jerusalem
Dates of travel: June 3-13, 2019